A powerful display of faith fuelled friendship between Church and Mosque

An act of unity between two faiths
An act of unity between two faiths

This is the picture of solidarity that has since gone viral on social media.

A Birmingham duo: a Muslim and a Christian who are spreading peaceful messages from their respective faiths, of unity, love and mutual respect.

A Curate from All Saints Church on Herbert Road, Small Heath, has made the decision to join in with Ramadan fasts this year, by fasting the entire month in solidarity with Muslims at the neighbouring, Hussainia Mosque.

This initiative came about after members of the Hussainia Mosque took part in the Lenten season to display solidarity.

Anthony Murley, who is a traditionalist Catholic within the Anglican tradition, when asked, explained this was an “excellent opportunity” to increase understanding between the two faiths and to “share perspectives on fasting and abstinence in each of our traditions.”

He goes on to say: “We are aware of the difference between our faiths, as well as our common desire to serve our community with love. It is great to be able to maximise encounter with one another, to engage in shared learning and true friendship.”

In addition to his endeavours, he is also raising funds for Human Relief Foundation and what he describes as their “valuable work” for persecuted Muslims and Christians in Iraq.

Ramadan is the 9th month of the Muslim calendar and began this year on June 18th. It involves 30 days of fasting: going without food and drink from dawn until dusk. This currently stands at 19 hours in the UK. Over 1.6 billion Muslims revere it worldwide as the month the Quran was revealed.

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Ramadan is widely regarded as the month the Quran (pictured) was revealed.

As emphasised in the Muslim holy book, on a much deeper level, this holy month is a time of purification for believers and encourages them to develop their spiritual growth, self-control, forgiveness and reflection, so that they “may learn piety and  righteousness” (Quran, 2:183).

As a complete detox for the mind, body and soul, good habits are created and expected to be carried forward to the rest of the year. This includes increased giving to charity, volunteering and abstaining from harmful things.

As taught by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh): “If one does not abandon falsehood in words and deeds, God has no need for his abandoning of his food and drink”

However, there are exemptions from fasting for the following: children, the elderly, those who are sick or have a mental illness, menstruating or pregnant/breastfeeding women, as well as travellers.

Nasrin Shah, an interfaith link at the Hussainia Mosque, who initially took part in Lent, comments on it as a period of “fasting, moderation, repentance and spiritual discipline”, principles, she highlights it as very “similar” to those encouraged in Ramadan.

She comments, “I felt it was the perfect gesture to show solidarity with my local All Saints Church,who were observing lent.”

She explains that she has always felt driven towards interfaith work by what she describes as the “inspirational example of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)”, who had “lived in love and harmony with the Christians in his community. He vowed to protect their rights and allowed them practice their faith freely.”

Thus, she feels Initiatives like these are one way to “honour his beautiful message of love and peace”

The close bond between the Church and Mosque began with the Mosque gifting the Church a box of chocolates at Christmas one year, as a way to reach out, and as Nasrin describes “spread neighbourly love”. This initial ice-breaker was then met with “immense gratitude and a similar gesture where the Church gifted the mosque gifts at Eid”.

Since then, there have been many events organised between the two places of worship, including charity carwashes, meeting for neighbourhood projects and houses of worship tours for the local community.

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Community Car wash to raise money for oppressed minorities in Iraq
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Recent ‘house of worship’ tour. Some visitors were eager to try on a hijab (head-covering, typically worn by Muslim women)

Anthony has now reached well over 100% of his goal of £500 with many from the local community coming together to donate and share messages of support.

This is a link to his Just-Giving page: https://www.justgiving.com/Anthony-Murley