On Sunday 15th of March, members of the Jewish and Muslim communities came together at Oadby Central Mosque – Masjid Al-Ameen, home to Oadby and Wigston Muslim Association (OWMA), to build upon the hopes and aspirations of the first event held at Neve Shalom in February 2015. The gathering was to further the opportunities to build bridges and establish friendships between the two faiths.
Attendees which included several schoolchildren, met just before the midday Dhuhr prayers where Jewish friends observed their Muslim colleagues taking part in the congregational prayer. This was followed by a welcome from the Imam of Masjid Al-Ameen and from Hafeez Katib Chairman of OWMA. Mr. Katib spoke about the shared history between Islam and Judaism and reflected on the legacy of the various prophets recognised by their respective Hebrew and Arabic names.
Rabbi Mark Solomon of the Progressive Jewish Rabbinate, spo ke about the historical parallels between Islamic and Jewish worship in Egypt during the age of Maimonides – a prominent figure in the shared history of both faiths.
Gary Kramer, Chairman of the Leicester Hebrew Congregation spoke about the shared identities and of the importance of such gatherings as an opportunity to build bridges and establish friendships.
Suleman Nagdi of the Federation of Muslim Organisations, began by asking the gathering to pause for a moment of reflection for the tragic loss of life in the bomb blasts at two churches in a Christian neighborhood in Lahore, Pakistan.
Suleman then spoke passionately about the shared heritage of Islam and Judaism and of the need to continue to nurture this friendship.
Councillor Jeffrey Kaufmann of Oadby Brocks Hill ward spoke about his close friendship with the Muslim Deputy Mayor of Oadby and Wigston, Councillor Muhammad Latif Darr echoing the theme, aspirations and purpose of this gathering.
It was pleasing to see much interaction between those in attendance with many smiles across the faces of so many people. The sharing of food over samosas, sandwiches and pastries courtesy of the OWMA, provided a suitable platform for dialogue. With all the ills of the world around us, the breeding of stereotypes, misconceptions and enmities, this was truly a gathering to promote peace and friendship between Judaism and Islam.
Speaking after the event, some of the younger member of the Jewish congregation said, “As soon as we stepped into the building we got an overwhelming sense of community. It was lovely to be in a different environment, but one that was both welcoming and peaceful. Our hosts could not have been kinder. I hadn’t realised how similar our communities were.”
Many thanks to Hafeez Katib and the board of trustees at OWMA for organising such a wonderful event.
Many thanks also to Riaz Ravat of St Philip’s Centre for once again, coordinating the event.
It was agreed by all present that this unique forum of friends must continue and grow. Plans are already being made for the next event.
Federation of Muslim Organisations