Wednesday, 23 March 2011

The banquet: music of the faiths

The banquet started around 6 pm at St peters. more than 100 people came.

First we had some music from bahai faith: an iranian devotional song in farsi and a song in english with the guitar

the islamic singer was a shia muslim from pakistan, he first recited or chanted in melodious voice one of surahs from Qur-an (which means to recite) when macca was about to be taken, then another about a similar event where god is strict on believers forcing them to reflect inward.

Then were the ananda marga. first they sang a song composed by sri sri ananda murti in bengali from the 6400 songs he wrote in the last 6 years of his life. then the 2 singers sang a mantra baba nama kevalam, also in the tune which anandamurti used, which means that the most lovable one who is god, only his name should be chanted and glorified.

then a christian group sang 2 taize songs in a deep and beautiful slow rainbow of voices, one was bless the lord o my soul, another was ubi caritas et amor.

the hare krishnas then sang and danced to the traditional krishna mahamantra, starting with homage to the guru prabhupada (namah om vishnu padaya). there were 4 people including one person with mridanga drum and one with an instrument that made clanking sound, dressed in traditional dhoti kurta.

a nigerian christian group, the rock foundation, which is affiliated to christian union, then sang a song, hosanna in the highest, which was sung to jesus by residents of jerusalem on lent when he rode in a donkey, the words hosanna meaning protect us.

a buddhist group chanted the heart sutra in korean accompanied by a moktak drum, the instruction was to not pay attention to the words but just be with the no mind as advised by the zen master seung sahn. heart sutra is a major buddhist sutra which contains the theory of emptiness.

then a sikh group sat on the floor with harmonium and tabla and sang some kirtans from guru granth sahib, which is the living guru in the form of a book.

finally, an orthodox jewish group, which recites in german jewish tradition, recited parts from the torah where moses was anointing a relative as the high priest, but hesitated in the middle. torah scrolls have no vowels so people use a trick to remember them. also a girl sang a chapter from book of ruth. then they sang a welcome song welcoming holy shabbath as a bride.

at the end, the organiser john thanked everyone who had publicised the event, everyone thanked john who is leaving manchester shortly. then we had delicious range of food both veg rice and daal and non veg chicken curry.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

The banquet

About 50 people attended the banquet. It started at 5:30 pm in St Peters and ended about 8 pm.

The topic of this banquet was "Diversity in religion".

The first speaker was the Islamic speaker, sister Rubina. She spoke about how there are many levels of differences, even within the same family or same culture or same nation, what to mention religion. Its just how people are. Many people don't like differences, for example in marriage the family prefers to have someone of the same background. but we must learn to respect differences and live together.

Felix gave the talk on behalf of Christianity. His talk focused on the concept of tolerance. In the gospels there are different quotes on the topic, such as in Matthew: if you are not with me you are against me, in another gospel its whoever is not against me is with me. The early Christians were very open minded in some ways, on the other hand were very intolerant on who they allowed to join their church. Jesus bestowed power and authority on the church. Yet he also said, my kingdom is not of this world. For Christians the weapons are truth and prayer. Jesus himself died for his faith, in spirit of charity and love. To the truth all cannot belong, yet it is for salvation of all people. tolerate means not to prevent something considered wrong, yet not approving it. love for truth and for other people is a precondition. Passive virtue: let it pass, do it wisely.
There is a hierarchy of goods, ie. the lesser good, the greater good. People and religions have different understandings. We should respect all of them. I have got to give, knowing all this. There is also a historical understanding: many wars were fought in the past but the people who fought these wars thought they were the best way to do good. Now our understanding has become much more broader. The greater good is for us to have tolerance. Christ said to turn the other cheek. Of course, all this does not mean diluting the sense of truth. We respect the freedom of the person to discover truth for themselves. Christians believe that anyone who is seriously seeking the truth and doing charity is on the way to salvation.
Christians believe that Jesus of Nazareth is the only way to interpret the nature of God. There is this exclusivity to the claim for the truth, and Christians have to balance this exclusivity with tolerance.
Q: Not only Jesus, but Baha'ullah also lived most of his life in prison and died there, so he can be said to have also given his life for the faith. In Quran so many prophets are mentioned as having died for the faith.

The Buddhist speaker was Cathleen.
She started the talk by relating what Buddhism was for her, her understanding of Buddhism and then relating it to diversity.
Buddhism means to speak and behave in a way that brings peace and happiness, its a way to understand the mind.
For example, when you think of a juicy slice of lemon, you're looking at it, holding it in your hand, you may find you start to salivate... :P ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Thus, the mind is powerful!
We should all radiate goodness, so smile at people around you, and you will find that people smile back at you.
Everyone is good and capable of enlightenment. to quote a famous psychologist named Daniel goleman, its like pieces of gold buried in a mine, we need to extract layers of dust to see the gold that is in the mind. Buddhism also believes in cause and effect, also in impermanence: all things change.
How related to diversity: Buddhists believe that a good person is not defined by their religious label, more with what you say or do. Dalai lama said that its like common illnesses have different cures, for Buddhists that is meditation, for other religions might be different, we are more concerned with curing the disease rather than demonstrating which medicine is better. Buddhism encourages us to accept, understand and respect differences. For example people may call a chair by different names but all use it for sitting. Buddhist philosophy and principles are applicable to all, gay and straight, people of different cultures: china Vietnam Thailand India Tibet UK America etc. Everyone has their own way of practicing, theres still room for diversity. Being responsible for our own actions, we should be respectful of our differences and care for each other. We should think in terms of the bigger picture. Also, genetically speaking, more than 99% of all human DNA is same, the diversity comes from only less than 1%.

Saha, the Baha'i speaker then gave her speech. Baha'i faith is the newest world religion. Its based on 3 oneness's:
Oneness of God, the great spirit, higher power, all religions call him by different names such as Jehovah, Allah etc but its still the same god, he is the source of religion.
Oneness of religion, based on faith in god which is changeless, one religion that is based on love and peace.
Oneness of the human family. The Baha'i faith seeks to unite all the races of the world. it preaches unity, but unity is not uniformity. If everyone thought the same way there would be no wars.
Abdul baha said the negative aspect of differences is that it leads to conflicts. The positive aspect of diversity is that it is the symbol and secret of perfection.
Baha'ullah came in 1844, 165 years ago, thus its the newest faith yet the second most geographically widespread.
An example of diversity: the dance group called 'Diversity' in Britain's got talent. Everyone of different ages and backgrounds and ethnicity yet dancing the same flawless moves.
Bahai's also believe in universal education, moral education to improve virtue and spirituality and help people reach their potential. Would you prefer a garden with same type of flower or filled with many kinds of flowers? The Baha'i faith is not some type of customised new religion, where someone can prefer not to say their obligatory prayer. Baha'is believe that despite diversity we are all one, what counts is the soul, we all need love and spirituality. We believe different religions are like the sequential chapters of the same unbroken religion, like pieces of a mosaic.
Questions: is Baha'i faith really the 2nd most geographically diverse after Christianity, or is it Islam? but we shouldn't be getting into a contest here.
Isnt it more important to teach diversity to adults rather than children, who dont really see many differences anyway?
How to Baha'i worship when there are so many different ways of worshipping for different religions. In case of conflicting teachings we follow the teaching of Bahaullah.

Interesting News: Theres now a research project MU/MMU about what a multi faith architectural space would look like, and whether its possible to pray together. Perhaps there can be lots of plants, as gardens full of water and plants is said to be a vision of heaven. There already are multi faith prayer rooms in airports and shopping malls.

Then there was question time for all the speakers.
Questions for the Baha'i speaker:
All the Baha'i believe is exactly the same outlook as in Islam, except that some duties and rights had been taken away to suit modern life. But the same point could be said for Islam too.
Islam too believes, like the Baha'i faith, that the message of the prophet Jesus came as was suitable for that time, but Prophet Mohammad was the final revelation, and its concluded. Kitab e Aqdas and Old testament essence of the message is similar.

Bahais believe humanity is progressing to different levels of maturity like children, that's why we have different religions, each suitable for that day and age. For Christians, God is the ultimate revelation. So its very difficult for Christians to believe the concept of progressive revelation. For Christians, Jesus' death brings salvation and redemption to the world in a very factual way, this transcends time. In this way what you THINK Christianity teaches is not the full picture of the wholeness of Christianity and how Christians see the world. Counter question: but there are so many sects of Christianity who all follow completely different beliefs eg Unitarian and trinitarian, so how can you make a claim for all Christians. A: See the mainstream sects, the catholic church, Anglican church etc. Their broad beliefs are the same and quite well defined, for example its a fact that Jesus lived on the earth and died on the cross, nobody disputes that.

After all the speakers had spoken and the question session was over, came the time for the meal. We counted 1 to 5 dividing into 5 groups for sitting in circles for socialising and having dinner. The discussion topic around dinner was: what is it that we celebrate about any other faith than your own. The dinner had chicken curry, veggie curry, boiled rice, sweet yellow rice, bread, and drinks. Kosher food was also separately available for anyone who needed it.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

The Banquet

The topic of this term's banquet was profits and prophets.

Buddhist speaker was Oxana. She spoke about
Buddha's method, he varied it as per the person who asked, was flexible, usually gave them certain meditation practice suited to them
3 points of Buddhism
Do no evil: she gave up meat since last 3 years, was difficult at first, then realised she really didnt have to kill all those animals, sweatshops: didnt shop in high street at all, instead hand knit, charity shops, swap shop etc
Do good
Train the heart and mind: did meditation
Capitalism: greed. Buddhism: to control greed
Quote from Dhammapada on the mind, and on love can conquer hate, so Buddhists dont like to fight

Sikh speaker: Mukteshwar.
Capitalism: exploitation of the proteriat
capitalism is here to stay, might as well accept it, cant say its wrong, lets make ti more benevolent and equitable
Sikhism: to share with others, earn honest living
So if you are accountant, be honest in your dealings etc
Equality: no distinction of race, caste, gender
Can have ideals but cant force everyone to think that way, so have to made do with capitalism, work with it, make it fairer
Maya: money, distracting from what matter, to be with God, need detachment

Hindu speaker: sahila goswami
Companies, corporations to maximise profits
if use profits for greater good of society: good
ancient varna system: each person grouped as per ability and occupation, each person's duty to fulfil potential. All fulfil their roles to the best of their ability
incentive: development of society, not personal gain at expense of others
Marrying capitalism with morality, ethics, religion, values, principles

Muslim speaker: Khan moghul
Islam: middle of road approach
duty to fulfill work, maintain family and society
disposable income: pay 2.5% tax to society
Zakaat: contribution from individual to society
each pound you earn has contribution from other members of society
No restriction to earn money: earn by fair means, put part of money back to society
islamic world: in some parts govt takes 2.5% directly off the bank as zakaat, goes to fund various projects. in others, no compulsion, obligation to individual to pay dues, as a good muslim, else no bonus positive points in the next world.
if you accumulate lots of capital: burden on you
not rich get richer and poor get poorer, bring them toegther, rich contribute to society and poor benefit from contribution
Answer to question: zakaat on top of tax, if your income below threshold no need to pay zakaat, only by and for muslims

Ananda marga speaker: avadhoot acharya ravi shankar ananda
Intro: with a namaskaar, i salute divinity within you, acknowledge divine consciousness no matter who, love of heart whatever be your language or culture.
Meditation society: Wednesdays, burlington rooms 4:30-6:30 pm
role of meditation is to build relationship with supreme being call by whatever name
vegetarianism: in whole yoga tradition
capitalism by itself isnt wrong but the present form its evolved to is fundamentally wrong. its got impact on human life, responsible for brutality, wars fought under different pretexts, causes disguised but wars are for certain values. the beneficiaries of capitalism are getting fewer and fewer, it perpetrates very inhumane system.
huge social impact of the system, even in uk 5th richest country: also on psychic and emotional level, people dont live wholesome life
we measure wealth in materialistic terms, there should be an index for well being
its wrong how we have allowed capitalism to degenerate
analysis of social orders:
history before industrial age in uk: holy roman empire, run by intellectuals, priests
before that: run by military, qualities of warriors
present financial system: run by merchants, nucleus of control of todays society is in the hands of those who control the means of production
All these systems were good when they started, then became bad. time to shift social cycle away from capitalist system and
Economic system as alternative to both capitalism and communism proposed in india in 1950s by mystic indian activist PR Sarkar
progressive utilisation theory
based on 3 levels of economy:
huge industry such as electricity in habds of govt, national industry
vast bulk made of cooperatives, people who are working own them
corner newsagents etc: privately owned
Book titled "After capitalism"
Quote by PR sarkar: o humans get up and awaken, why you waste time, supreme being calling you, tear the shroud of darkness

Christian speaker: Felix martin
Christianity is a religion of one person, Jesus christ, not systems, not merging into world
Christians therefore seek to follow Christ
christ was a jew, grew up in parents home, led normal life, was carpenter. he was historic figure. similarly the church lives in time, is historic, needs to own property.
it doesnt have to be against human capital
Jesus said: pay ceaser what is ceaser's. pay God what is God's.
so we should pay our taxes to govt
one can follow christian values in a monstery
but jesus himself worked, earned his living, and also preached
we need to set priorities in life, all things belong to god but we should recognise other peoples contribution also
so work, make things little more christian. christian values: all human beings have dignity, right to eat, procreate, right to life from conception to grave, freedom of conscience: free to choose any faith/belief
we are children of god, made in image of god
act like jesus christ did, he is our guide
prayer: we understand sim, we are not on own, its a high ideal, we fall short. we need to acknowledge sin, as for god's grace to improve

Bahai speaker: Gopi raman
what is the model: our own needs, needs of society, improvement of planet
people have physical needs and also spiritual
if you work in spirit of service to othert people, it becomes like worship
bahais: no prohibition of wealth, wealth creation Vs manipulation. people should be rewarded for efforts
no extremes
profit motive guided by moral value
honesty is foundation of all virtues
family baslance and gender equality: expression of female values also: care for others
education universal
globalisation may have disadvanges, but its real and here to stay. we cant escape it
bahai principles: a new world order, global commonwealth, international law, one currency, auxilliary language
thus bahai faith principles seek to put systems in place, understand how to make it work
oneness of humanity: special paradigm shift.
what is effect of wealth creation on community/environment
all religions are connected.
consciousness of the world is shifting, individual to oneness
can elarn a lot by how bahai community governs itself
organic, groing around world, 800 million, decisions through consultation

Q1. activism and injustic, coencept of jehad, 3 layers of jihad
jihad: technical term against injustice
2nd step of hihad: write ro talk about injustice till it stops
3rd step: think in heart: i abhor it
Bro Bilal: muslim chaplain

Discussion questions:
1. do teachings of your faith favour capitalism? if so why?
2. does your faith uphold capitalism: how and why? discuss in 4 groups

Thursday, 6 March 2008

The Banquet multifaith meeting

Today was the Banquet, the multifaith discussion on the issue of what religion has to offer for promoting peace in the community. This was part of the manchester peace week, in which among other things theres a solidarity walk tomorrow in some parts of manchester that have been hit by youth gang violence.

There were short talks by representatives of different religions. The sikh speaker was most inspiring, he spoke with a lot of passion, he said sikhism is a peace loving religion, they have never persecuted people on basis of what you believe, yet sometimes its necessary to act when injustice is being done, if a poor woman is being beaten on street its necessary to defend her etc. So sikhs have historically done that, many centuries ago thousands of sikhs including one of their gurus laid down their lives defending some hindu pandits from religious persecution. He showed the ceremonial dagger all male sikhs are expected to wear, how they face lots of persecution for that, also recently decided not to meet the pope in his visit to US because of this.
The Jewish speaker gave a very well structured and logical talk, spoke of how all jews arent zionists and vice versa, the core teaching of judaism is dont do to others what you dont want to be done to yourself. The muslim speaker spoke about how islam, based on complete surrender to the will of God, is a peace loving religion and what many terrorists do in name of islam isnt supported theologically. The hindu speaker spoke of Gandhi's ahimsa and how whatever happens in life is all for the best, therefore no point of violence. There were no speakers from some other religions such as wicca and buddhism, partly to keep number of speakers manageable so there could be time for discussion. Question-answer session was over food, the food was most delicious curry with both vegetarian and non vegetarian options. All people who came really liked the discussion and the speakers views.

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Interfaith Soc meeting this tursday

Hi, Everyone. Next Tuesday is usual curry meal + film. We will be discussing the Banquet which is happening in three weeks. Oh, and why not discuss about Danish Cartoon controversy? Last weeks' discussion about Sharia comment made by the Archbishop of Canterbury was interesting.

James. Can you finalise the time and the room. Plus could you ask Garry to make the poster.
Mo. Can you bring my memory stick and "Everything is Illuminated"
Kevin. Can you make a contact with Hindu speaker.
Enrique. If you are attending, could you bring two special funding request forms.


Last week's email

Hi everyone. There will be a meal followed by a documentary film called "The Great Silence" and is about Cartoussian (a Catholic order) monks in the South of France. .

See you


Islamic awareness week announcement

Islamic Awareness Week 10 -14th March

In the Famous Hadeeth, Rasool Allah (S) said to the effect:
Facilitate things to people (concerning religious matters) and do not make it hard for them (the unbelivers) and give them good tidings (1:69 Saheeh Bukhari)

As you all know every year the Islamic Society hold an "Islamic Awareness Week" which is a week dedicated to non Muslims intending to relay to them the collect image of Islam to best of our ability. There will be an array of activities and talks designed to educate and enlighten non Muslims about Islam.
Every Prophet (A) informed their people of the truth from God and this event gives all Muslims an opportunity to for fill this Sunnah of the Prophets (A)

nhsf : get involved


Calling all members!! Do YOU want to get involved with the organisation of our events? Have you wanted to co-ordinate events such as Sitaare or Omkari, or organize our weekly Football? THIS IS YOUR CHANCE...

This week our weekly member's meeting continue...

Date: Monday 18th February 2008
Time: 6.00pm
Venue: Manchester Met SU, Conference Room 2, 3rd floor

The meeting will look at the structure of the society and it's activities. An excellent opportunity to have one-to-one discussions with committee members.

Here are some of the areas of the society where you can make a difference...

* Football
* Netball
* Kabaddi/Kho
* Dance Workshops
* Education
* Sewa and Fundraising
* Graphics Design
* Publications and Articles
* Events Management (Omkari/Sitaare)

Meetings will continue throughout the semester. Please come along, and join the team. This is your chance to get involved with NHSF and become part of the committee selection process for next year, and will be a great opportunity for you to direct your opinion, comments, suggestions and questions directly to the committee regarding the running of NHSF Manchester so far this year.


NHSF Manchester.
t: 07092 258 264