The Islamic Centre of England hosted an interfaith event on the future of faith in the UK.
Ahlul Bayt News Agency - Sheikh Hanif presented the idea that in the West the role of religion is declining because religious people are affected by secularism as a new religion, which claims to be universal with ideas permeating religious dialogue. To promote religion you need to look at the psychology of people who now seem to want concrete proof and experiences. In Christians and Muslims the spirit of mysticism practise is on the increase where people find things they believe in by experiencing them and if you cannot experience them then they find people who can. The Prophet said, ’The people are asleep and wake up when they die, die before die so you can witness things”. When a person dies they are cut off from the world. Fasting are important preliminaries to ascetism.
We should try to rediscover our mystical paths to see the realities that have been taught to us.
Spirituality and social action unite us. Every human is spiritual.
Catriona Robertson, Acting Director of the Christian Muslim Forum asked, ”What kind of secular society are we talking about? “ She quoted that in the last census three quarters identified with a world religion so as a majority we can say that we are religious. Linda Woodhead in a report stated that people have a spiritual life but it may not be institutionalised.
Catriona regards herself as a “Secular “person as well as being a Christian. Gone are the days when Christianity held a control over people. Public space needs value based voices, how we live what is important to us including the secularist voice. Sometimes senior public servants think the religious institutions are chaotic! We bring together our history we each have complex heritage which matters to us. Below the radar, there will be at least one Islamic Centre and one Church and if something goes wrong who do you go to? You turn to communities of hope and love. If spirituality is lived out so we are bothered about hate crime migrants poverty and do something then we have a living faith. If spirituality is not lived out it becomes dry and dusty.
Dr MA Shomali, There is something of value in people who call for secularism who think people who are religious are divisive. There is however a positive role that religion can play. What religions can contribute is much greater to prosperity. We accept religion should not be imposed as far as Islam is concerned. In the Quran, the verse,” There is no compulsion in religion” was revealed in Medina when Islam was very powerful. When this verse was revealed about a person whose child converted to Christianity, he was instructed to leave them free. We should accept that being faithless and being disrespectful to religion is imposed on people. What we observe are policies coming in are against religion and against certain norms. We face in name of freedom religion we are going through a pressure from people who do not believe in religions. The Quran tells us about a great Trust that was offered to mountains and mankind accepted His Trust, and to be vicegerent on earth. The problem occurred when mankind exhibited ignorance and injustice. There are two obstacles and without religion we cannot get rid of these two problems. The only factor that can humble human beings and being a voice of mercy is when we see ourselves answerable to God. There is a problem of misuse of religion with some of the big tragedies that have happened in the name of religion. Anything powerful to unite people can be misused. If religion is misused what about weapons and armies are they not being misused. Why are we not calling for a world free of armies?
Despite all the difficulties we face we religious people can do a lot to serve humanity. We have entered a new era, we have reached a point our future is guaranteed only if we work together in face of pressure of materialism. Our progress lies in working together we would have association partnership of different religions that work for unity and happiness of mankind.
The morning session can be summarised that the term secular and secularists promote the ideology of Godlessness.
We have to work together for common good and spirituality should be lived out otherwise it becomes rusty. There is positive role that religion can play in social life.
There are two major issues that prevents reaching full human capacity, that is ignorance and injustice.
In both Islam and Christianity we both feel responsible to share the gift of God. If a person wants to live a life of piety and become conscious of God responsibilty is a main priority. As a Muslim we should help people of no faith to become Christian. Through social action and unity there is a need to love our neighbour’s religion as our own.
We have to take initiative, by introducing people to each other.
Christian Aid formed after the wars, we have faith based charities like Islamic Relief and we need to do more of that.
Dr Damion Howard of Heythrop University described how “Faith and secular “ are two words with lots of baggage. The New Testament described how Jesus believes in God. What is faith? In the Gospel of Mark:
Jesus went walking on a lake and asked Peter to take courage and said,” It is I, do not be afraid Lord if it you tell me to come on water. ‘Peter came towards Jesus and cried out, ”Save me.”
Jesus said,”You of little faith why do you doubt?”
Faith is not just the belief that God exists but that He saves. Even when I am strong there is not a moment when we do not need God to save us.
The signs of times are that we are going to need faith to deal with the challenges which include:
- Pluralism- in London and Europe, its not easy to get to know each other. There is a lot of work to do!
- Global justice- there is the situation that people are demanding to part of prosperous Europe- God will save us.
- Care of this common planet and how we are addicted to gadgets.
God will save us! We can address problems calmly because God will save us!
I am just going to have fun and leave the mess to someone else attitude.
When I catch myself moaning, a reality check is that in modern life there is a very ambiguous mixture as to how is it that godless has anything good?
Secularism is not foremost of not believing in God, it is a symptom and not a cause as it is very hard to believe in God . In the last 500 years there is something profoundly different about individualism, since before people were deeply connected to others .
What happens is that the barrier between me and everything else outside and is disconnected and is the heart of secularism .
500 years ago everybody accepted the law of Christianity, but now people have to come to religion on own terms since faith is a journey.
Finally Sister Dhanji practising Muslim woman with faith in the UK at a social level .
Lived amongst the first generation of Muslims displaying faith in public growth with pride and a resilience in Islam as faith was on the increase in cosmopolitan areas. Global religions futures project not only a decline in religious affiliation, growing spiritual areas but not as a religious movement.
Aside from mosques and churches to say ‘G’ word one can’t say God and faith is not relevant.
People of faith can remedy to keep faith.Places of worship offer a sense of community. The appeal of the community is dwindling.
People of faith cannot gravitate together. People don’t need places of worship we have to be active can’t continue and expect to attract youth. Aid organisations are good examples of faith. Godliness fuels our caring unconditional as state retreating faith based groups mobilise skills in welfare net. These are opportunities to get involved in public support, social action in delivering services, charities faith groups can expand the PR of faith .
Traditions appreciate anyone and everyone. It’s purpose is to increase knowledge and reduce detriment. The people of faith must stick together and build on a common ground. Peaceful co existence solidarity of people of faith compassionate justice.
What if secular non religious people are right?
Try to imagine if there was no God how would my life change?
People could say, ”If I wasn’t religious I would be having a great time”
Imam Ali said, ‘If I obey God out of fear that is a religion of a slave, if a person obeys out of reward that is worship of a merchant and if someone prays out of love that is worship of a free person.”
There are lots of people who think religion is taught through fear.
To be happy is a natural condition of human being.
The Quran mentions how the souls were questioned,’ Am I not your Lord ?”
That means, are you not a relationship with me?
There is in every single human being, a vacuum filled by divine guidance when it comes to him or her they feel at home.
How do we evaluate Islamic teaching? Then if truly teaching about Islam it should reverberate in the hearts.
St Augustine said you made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until we rest with you.
There is no religious gene this is natural condition of all human beings. Prophet Muhammed came in order to lead people to a happy life and paradise .
In Christianity there is an understanding of being filled and growing into divine nature. Transformation into fullness of humanity. In every being there is the divine to be awoken is there to be turned on.
There was something our great religious figures something so appealing about Jesus.
People aught to be looking and saying there is something fascinating.
St Fransis travels through Muslim lands and writes a set of instructions first thing keep mouth shut or ridicule what Muslims find holy live subject to their norms serve those most in need. Seek to live a life that your life evoked questions and make a real sense of religion as a biting force.