Westminster Interfaith: Promoting Dialogue Between People of Faith

The agency of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Westminster for Interreligious Dialogue

Westminster Interfaith Newsletter

Issue 65 – February 2010

Balham and Tooting Community Association Peace Event

An unusual and dramatic sight greeted commuters and passers-by outside Tooting Broadway underground station on the evening of Wednesday 18th November when an event was held to mark the National Inter Faith Week. On the large "island" outside the station a group of Faith Leaders were gathered in a gazebo hung with lanterns beside tables covered with candles. Large posters invited people to "Light a candle for Peace " and to say a prayer if they so wished.

Many stopped to ask questions, then stayed on to talk and share their thoughts and experiences in a very spontaneous way.

When a large crowd had gathered, the focal point of the event came, when each Faith Leader in turn prayed for peace in his own tradition including Buddhist, Christian, Muslim and Sikh. There was an atmosphere of quiet respect as people listened. The Muslim leader's address is printed below. Then a member of the Council read a letter of support from the local M P, Sadiq Khan, who was unable to attend but wanted to stress the importance of such an initiative in creating an opportunity to increase understanding and friendship within our local community.

It was a simple event, but the symbolism of lighting candles together in the wintery darkness of a South London street in a busy rush hour was a moving witness to the deep rooted desire for His Peace within each one.

Maureen Liddy

Address by Muslim leader

May I begin by greeting you all with the Muslim greeting of Peace: Assalamu alaikum!

Our Imam from the Tooting Islamic Centre, Sh Sulaiman Gani was unable to make todayís gathering as he is currently on the annual pilgrimage of Hajj, where he will be tracing the footsteps of our common father and ancestor, the prophet Abraham (may peace be upon him). He has asked me to say a few words in his absence.

Islam is a religion of Peace, security and submission. Almighty God states in the Holy Quran, that He has made us into nations and tribes that we might come to know one another. The clear understanding of this verse is that had God willed he could have made us all the same, but he chose, in His Wisdom, to make us from a rich and diverse multitude of colours and religions, and in so doing, affording us the opportunity to benefit from each otherís experiences. It is in the spirit of this verse that we can learn to understand and value our differences, allowing us to practice peace amongst ourselves.

Islam fosters a culture of tolerance, of mutual respect and a greater understanding. Our beloved prophet Muhammed (may Peace and blessings be upon him) said: the best amongst you is he who benefits other people the most. I repeat, the best amongst you is he who benefits other people the most. And it is with these noble words echoing in our ears that we, in the Balham and Tooting Community must continue to build the bridges of cooperation and goodwill, so that together we may shine light where the darkness of prejudice and hate persist.

The amazingly diverse community in which we find ourselves today presents a unique challenge and a great opportunity . . . that together we can develop a role model of multi-faith partnership and stand as an example of how diverse communities can work together for the common good. After all, despite our differences in race, colour or creed, we all have one thing in common – our humanity. Let us strive together to make our community and our world a better place in which to live.

Thank you and may peace be upon you all.

Rahim Jung

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