Bishop of Portsmouth Diocese Visits Khoja Shiites Center in UK

Bishop of Portsmouth Diocese Visits Khoja Shiites Center in UK

The Church of England's Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Rev Christopher Foster, together with the Dean of Portsmouth Cathedral, The Very Rev David Brindley, visited Al Mahdi Centre on 24th September, 2013.

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) The Church of England's Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Rev Christopher Foster, together with the Dean of Portsmouth Cathedral, The Very Rev David Brindley, visited Al Mahdi Centre on 24th September, 2013.

The visit was initiated by Wessex Jamaat to showcase the new centre and the amenities to the local Church community.  Wessex Jamaat has had strong relationship with Portsmouth Cathedral since 1990s.  This was, in the history of Wessex Jamaat, the second time that the Bishop of Portsmouth visited Al Mahdi.  The first ever visit by the then Bishop of Portsmouth, Late Rt Rev Kenneth Stevenson, was when Marhum Mulla Asgher M. M. Jaffer visited the community on the occasion of the birth of the Noble Holy Prophet Muhammad S.A.W.W. in 1997.

During the visit the Bishop Christopher was accompanied by Rev Canon Nick Ralph, Residentiary Canon and Social Responsibility Advisor, Rev Canon David Isaac, Bishop’s Chaplain Rev Jenny Gaffin, the vicar of Wickham and Shedfield Rev Bruce Deans, the area dean of Fareham Rev Susan Allman, Sister Evelyn Cardoz and colleagues from the Park Place Pastoral Centre.

Wessex Jamaat was represented by the Resident Alim Sheikh Fazle Abbas Datoo, Vice President of Wessex Jamaat Hajj Shabbirbhai Walji,Sheikh Mujaheedali Sheriff, Haji Amirbhai Asaria, Haji Mohammedbhai Noormohamed, Yasinbhai Rahim, Chairlady Fatimbai Noormohamed, Waheedabai Rahim and other members of the community.

The guests were conducted around the centre to highlight the eco-friendliness of the centre and the duty of Muslims to be the stewards of Allah SWT. After the recitation of verses from the Noble Qur’an, Bishop Christopher read the following blessing from the prayer of the day from their liturgical traditions:

Lord God of us all,
You have made us for yourself,
And our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you.
Bless this community and this place.
Pour your love into every heart to draw us to each other and to you,
Our God forever and ever. Amen

Thereafter Jabir Nathu arranged for presentation of a short movie outlining the story of the growth of our community in Wessex, culminating in the creation and opening of the new Al Mahdi centre.

Sheikh Fazle Abbas then initiated a discussion on the next steps in the journey of our friendship as faith communities.

Bishop Christopher highlighted that the journey thus far (since 1994) had been based on the value of respect and it now needed to move onto the phase of mutual “trust.”

To enable that transition, we needed to learn from each other through sharing of knowledge.

The attendees actively participated in the discussions facilitated by Yasinbhai Rahim, the Interfaith and Intrafaith manager. The highlight of proposals that enable the building of trust included arranging discussion programmes on themes such as “Marriage, Family Life in Christianity and in Islam” and “Traditions, Culture and Religion in Christianity and in Islam”, supporting the youths to live a life of faith through the schools, and undertaking social action projects.


Bishop Christopher said, “Wessex Jamaat community has had strong links with our cathedral for several years. It was good to be able to sit around a table and think about the areas in which people of faith might work together.”

The task for these projects was given to Sheikh Fazle Abbas Datoo and The Very Reverend David Brindley, Dean of Portsmouth Cathedral.

The area dean of Fareham Rev Susan Allman closed the proceeding with a prayer and presented a gift of painting of the St Peters Church. The church, located close to Al Mahdi Centre, was built in 680 C.E. (61 A.H.) corresponding to the year of tragedy of Karbala.

Sheikh Fazle Abbas Datoo said: “This was a unique opportunity for Wessex Jamaat to build on our past achievements of having such cordial relations with the Portsmouth Cathedral and the Diocese of Portsmouth.  We have an obligation as members of the ummah to share the gift of Islam and the teachings of the Ahlulbayt A.S and this is done through the injunction in the Quran by way of wisdom, fair exhortation and reason. "


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