Tuesday, 12 December 2006

Dec 12: Last meeting of year

Today's interfaith society meeting was the last meeting of the year. The next meeting will be on Tuesday 23 January 2007, after the XMas holidays.

We had a few new muslim friends today, including Abdul Hannan, Issa and others, and a no-religion friend Yoji. First we discussed about the future of the society. It was decided to continue with our programme of visits to places of worship. So far this year we have been to a Jewish reform synagogue (in city centre), Bahai centre (in fallowfield), Hindu temple (in chorlton), and Sikh Gurudwara (near Salford). Abdul suggested we could visit a Mosque either ithe Didsbury Mosque or in Cheetam Hill. Other candidates for a visit are a Catholic Church, Anglican Cathedral, Buddhist temple, Jain community centre in Longsight etc.

We also reviewed the multifaith week in the student union that was last week, and the very interesting interfaith dialogues on Religion and Gender (Thursday), Religion and Conflict (Monday), Faith and Environment (during Abraham's table on Thursday), Religion and science (on Friday) etc. We can also continue to discuss such important issues from different religious persepctives in a friendly atmosphere in the interfaith society meetings as well. After all, most religions have similar perspectives to many such issues and it will be worth stressing on our commonalities and where we agree.

Abdul also played a very interesting recorded speech by Tony Blair and a piece from a US radio show (although it was a hoax) about discrimination against muslims. We had a long and friendly discussion about the issue from various perspectives both faith and non faith. Abdul also spoke his views about the meaning of tolerance and how followers of different religions should get together to fight discrimination.

Finally, John informed us that the next Abraham's table will be sometime in March 2007 (also jointly organised by interfaith society and the multifaith reference group, and including delicious food like last week!) and Tariq Ramadan, who is a very famous writer, will be invited as a speaker.

Tuesday, 5 December 2006

Dec 5: Interfaith workshop

Today, in the interfaith society meeting, we had an interfaith workshop as scheduled.

Nassim and Anisa conducted a nice and soothing Tranquility Zone with music and Bahai quotes about unity in religion, and then spoke a little about what the Bahai faith is all about, including its principles of unity of God, unity of religion etc. Unfortunately Kalpa from Hindu soc couldnt make it, but Joy gave a small talk on Hinduism and its rich variety of beliefs (including about God and the various aspects and forms of God to suit people of various personalities) and meditations (such as meditating on OM and in the full lotus posture), and and a taster of "Who am I" meditation. Kevin, John and Claire gave a short speech on Christianity and its diversity and what it meant to them, and also about the love and sacrifice of Jesus for all mankind and his perfection and that Christianity is also about life before death, as in the Christian Aid slogan. Oxana spoke about how she became a Buddhist and about gender equality in Buddhism, and about a Zen Buddhism inspired martial art called Ko Do Ryu which is completely non violent, the idea being to not attack the other person but use their own force to skillfully defend oneself, and how this philosophy of giving way to others resonates with the Zen Buddhist attitude of letting things be and just sitting. Finally, Oxana gave a nice demonstration of the martial art for those of us who were there, including a few simple forms or Kata (sanchin and seisan) and their application in sparring, and an introduction to the pushing hands technique. It was especially interesting to see how keeping the hand in physical contact with the other person helped to anticipate their movements. You can see more from http://www.kodoryu.com/kobudo.php

Earlier we had a meeting with Natalie and Hana, and decided to meet again (probably last meeting of the year) for next Tuesday at 5 pm and finalise the arrangements for the interfaith society. We also decided that future interfaith society meetings will be from 5 pm - 6 pm. I hope it will make it easier for some of you to attend, who are busy at other times.

We also agreed that its best not to have a formal hierarchy of people to run the interfaith society, but rather to have at least one representative from major world religions in the committee, more than one is also not a problem. The provisional representatives from different religions at present are as follows (maybe later once the society gets established and gets lots of members, we will have a formal election):
Islamic rep: Hana Jewish Rep: Natalie Buddhist rep: Oxana
Christian rep: Kevin Hindu rep: Kalpa Bahai rep: Nicholas, Anisa
Sikh rep: Not decided yet

Monday, 4 December 2006

Dec 4-8: Multifaith week in Student Union

Multifaith week in Student Union

Venue is Manchester University Student Union unless mentioned
(Rooms MR1, MR2, MR3 are on 2nd floor of student union, St Peters Chaplaincy is on Oxford Road opposite to Blackwells bookshop and near Precinct centre, Grove House is the white building on Oxford Road opposite to McDonalds, Holy name church is the big Catholic church on Oxford Road near Catholic chaplaincy opposite to student union, Holy Trinity platt church is in the Plattfields park, near the end of Rusholme very near Oxford Road)
Monday 4th:
1pm - 2pm Interfaith Dialogue: Why does religion appear to cause conflict?
7.30pm Buddhist Meditation class VENUE: MR3
Tuesday 5th:
1pm - 2pm Interfaith Dialogue: Religion, Gender, Society. Spiritual path : is it a lonely one? VENUE: Women only in MR3, Men only in MR2
5pm Manchester Debating Union Does religion cause conflict? VENUE: Meet in Students Union Foyer
6pm Interfaith Workshop by Interfaith Society VENUE: St Peter's Chaplaincy
Wednesday 6th:
10am - 4pm MULTI-FAITH EXHIBITION: Information Stalls, Creative Space, Art workshops, Music, Dance, Food and Excellent Company VENUE: Council Chamber and MR1, Students Union 2nd Floor
Thursday 7th:
1pm - 2pm Interfaith Student Dialogue: Is tolerance violence? Secular and Religious VENUE: MR1
2pm - 3pm Talk by Christian Science Organisation
Healing through prayer VENUE: MR1
6pm 'Abraham and Sarah's Table', "Faith: Saving People, Saving Earth?" VENUE: St Peter's Chaplaincy
7.30pm Talk by Buddhist Society 'Ko-Do Ryu: a non-violent martial art' VENUE: (Reading Room, Grove House, Whitworth Park)
Friday 8th:
1pm - 2pm Interfaith Dialogue: Can science and religion co-exist? VENUE: MR1
7.30pm Christian Union Carol Concert. Festive refreshments served afterwards. VENUE: Holy Trinity Platt Church.
You are also invited to:
Saturday 9th:
5:45pm International Christmas Carol Service VENUE: St Peter's Chaplaincy
Wednesday 13th
7pm University of Manchester Carols by Candlelight VENUE: Holy Name Church, Oxford Road

Tuesday, 28 November 2006

Nov 28: Interfaith discussion

We had a really interesting, lively, informative and friendly discussion touching on many different topics including the following:
1. Perspectives on food: Vegetarianism and different religions perspectives on whether it is ok to eat animals and which animals and also how they are killed in Jewish Kosher tradition, for example.
2. Perspectives on reincarnation (Buddhist/Hindu) and life after death as per the Buddhist, Christian and Jewish views
3. Perspectives on God and what is nature of being human, what is good and evil, what happens to sinners, what is karma theory, what is eternal vs created and destroyed, the diferent concepts of Trinity in Hinduism and Christianity
4. Worshipping idols and perspectives on what is really meant by idol worship

Tuesday, 21 November 2006

Nov 21: Social

We met and discussed the future of the multifaith society and decided to rename it as the Interfaith society. We finalised plans for multifaith week, Abraham's table etc. We also had a bit of paper cutting, helping out with decorations for a party in the chaplaincy, and finally had some tea.

Tuesday, 14 November 2006

Nov 14: Scripture Study / debate

We had a reading from the Bahai Kitab-i Iqan (Book of certitude) , one from the Hindu Bhagavad Gita , some Buddhist Zen Haikus (Japanese poems on the theme of nature and how we an derive spiritual teachings from nature) by Oxana, a reading from a Holy Quran (as translated by Abdullah Yusaf Ali) in both Arabic and English and a Psalm reading from the Holy Bible along with some Egyptian Coptic orthodox hymns.

Tuesday, 7 November 2006

Nov 7: Film Night, a multifaith comedy

We watched a multifaith film organised by Oxana. Its called "The mad adventures of Rabbi Jacob". Its IMDB link is http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0069747/ Oxana writes about it "It is a French comedy from the 1970s. It is about a man who starts off as a French Catholic chauvinist, but then has to disguise himself as a Rabbi and hide in the Jewish community to save himslef and an arab revolutionary. It is very funny and uplifting. "

Wednesday, 1 November 2006

Nov 1: Meal social in Sanam resturant

Abraham and Sarah’s table POSTPONED. Instead we had a meal and discussion in Sanam restaurant, Rusholme.
There was lot of useful feedback from the dinner, some of which is as follows:

1. Publicise the regular or special events of various student faith societies (such as islamic awareness week of Isoc, meditation class of Budsoc, Yoga of Hindu Soc, Sikhi week of Sikhsoc, Hanukkah party of JSoc, prayer meetings of Bahai soc, multilingual Xmas carol) , and actually go and attend them. This way we can quickly publicise the multifaith soc and get more interested people on board. Also we can publicise multifaith soc through the already existing publicity channels of various religious student societies.

2. Increased publicity of multifaith events through student direct newspaper (by emailing communiation@student-direct.co.uk or information provided in any week's newspaper), as well as on the student union website: http://umsu.man.ac.uk/diary/submit
(but for that we have to quickly get registered as a official society with 30 signatures first, which should be easy but need to do th paperwork)

3. Doing a nice show and publicity during multifaith week coming in second week of December 4-8 organised by student union esp by Karolina Kopiec the international officer, who is the organiser. we have to discuss this with Karolina as well.

4. One of our major problems is lack of manpower, lack of pople to run the society since James is busy, Sandika is also busy and I may be unavailable in a few months. So maybe we need to build an autonomous structure so that whole task of running society doesnt fall on one person or few people.

5. On 28 Nov Tuesday we are running a workshop of different faiths. During that workshop their will be different stalls from different faiths, each stall shall do something related to their religion, as a kind of taster session. Example are a session on Buddhist meditation or Hindu Yoga or Bahai or Christian music. If you have any proposals to do a session please email me. The venue will hopfully be a hall in St Peters chaplaincy.

6. Temple and place of worship visit: although we have them currently but many people dont know too much about thse. so far we have visited a Bahai centre, Sikh gurudwara, Jewish synagogue and Hindu tmple. We also welcome offers from people for visits to other places of worship such as Catholic or pentecostal or Anglian Church or Buddhist vihara or Jain community centre or moque, and also visits to centres relating to other branches of the same religions.

7. We have got the following few volunteers now to help in running Abraham and Sarah's tabl of 7 December and maybe matters related to the workshop (or something else I forgot)
Sophie, Naseem, Anisa, Joy, Kevin, Mo, Raymond, Angela, Kalpa and Shohel. We will meet at 6:30 coming Tuesday 7 November to discuss this further, just before next multifaith soc meeting at 7:30 when we shall be watching a multifaith film organised by Oxana.

8. A survey questionnaire (through the student faith societies) to assess what problems faith students are facing to practice their faith and what they expect from the multifaith society.

9. Someone suggested we do some things that help in students applying religion to their daily life, such as meditation class or yoga or prayer. Thre is already a free meditation class run by Buddhist soc on Mondays and a yoga class I think by Hindu soc which will start shortly etc, but they need to be publicised more among interested students.

10. Someone suggested we publicise multifaith society and multifaith event through our existing members and ask volunteers to put up posters in their halls of residence or maybe in their departments or bring their friends along and tell more people about them. This is another untapped avenue of publicity.

11. The website needs to be updated regularly and a forum put in there really soon.

12. We need to become an official student society really soon.

13. Having a stable venue and resources. St peters chaplaincy has kindly agreed to support us in all possible ways with venues etc.

14. Food Events like the upcoming Abraham and Sarah's table on 7 December in St Peters chaplaincy, we can publicise this kind of events quite a lot among students.


* We should also tell our friends about the Multifaith Society because they trust us, and if we show excitement about it, they'll be excited too.
* A press release needs to be written before the multifaith week so that BBC radio and others can be informed about and invited to attend the events of the multifaith week.
* New students could be informed about the Multifaith Society by advertising for it in their 'welcome pack'-thing.

Ideas for activities of the Multifaith Society:

* Visiting activities of Faith groups and activities to get to know them and make us known. We need to be open-minded!
* Rock climbing as a communicative activity (also sightseeing or other outdoor activities).
* Sharing sessions. There could be a set time for sharing meetings, and one or two people volunteer to organize a session where they bring something they want to share (art activities, singing, devotional, yoga class, etc...).
* Meditation classes or courses (they exist already).
* Volunteer work in our own departments or places of accomodation.

Other points:

* We should really celebrate the multifaith week!!
* What are our resources for the Abraham's table in December? Theme, speakers, activities? Any ideas and suggestions are welcome.

Tuesday, 31 October 2006

Oct 31 : Visit to Gurudwara Sri Guru Harkrishan Sahib Ji (Sikh temple) near Salford

We paid a visit to Gurudwara Sri Guru Harkrishan Sahib Ji (Sikh temple). All of us enjoyed the readings from the Guru Granth Sahib (the sikh holy scripture), the lovely kirtan or devotional music, the prasad (blessing) of delicious halwa sweets and most of all the great food and hospitality.

Special thanks to Mo for finding out about the Gurudwara, Tim for driving us all there (simply couldnt have walked to the place !!!) and also to our new friend Gurdeep Singh (at the gurudwara) for so kindly telling us so much about Sikhism and sharing with us the story of his life, not minding that his own food got cold for talking to us for hours! If any of you are interested in attending their Saturday service from around 7 pm (and the meal afterwards) for which we have been invited, its name is Gurudwara Sri Guru Harkrishan Sahib ji and address is 12 Sherborne Street, Manchester, M3 1FE Website: http://www.gsghks.org.uk/

Tuesday, 24 October 2006

Oct 24: Film (comedy) social

Because of reading week it seems not many people turned up: we saw a movie as planned: My Big Fat Greek Wedding. We also decided on the plan of the events for coming weeks.

Tuesday, 17 October 2006

Oct 17: Scripture Study and guest lecture on Bahai faith by Dr Tim Anglin

After the usual icebreaker, we had a nice presentation including some presentations about different religions mostly by people who did not follow that religion including about Hinduism (by John), Zoroastrianism (by Nicholas), 7th day adventist (by Shimon), the Quaker faith (by Hugo), a fact about Judaism (by Michael). We had a few people including myself, James and Mo who could not speak about the faith they had prepared due to lack of time but dont worry: we shall have their presentation at the next available oppurtunity. We also had a session of question about the Bahai faith that was kindly led by Tim.

Tuesday, 10 October 2006

Oct 10: Visit to Bahai Centre, Fallowfield

We visited the Bahai centre in Fallowfield.

First Shimon gave an introduction to the Bahai faith, and Nicholas answered questions. Then we were shown pictures of various Bahai temples all over the world. After that we had tea and biscuits kindly provided by our hosts, and had a discussion that lasted until 12:45 am for some of us (poor Nicholas!). For those who want to know more about the Bahai faith, heres a website http://bahai.org.uk/

Sunday, 8 October 2006

Oct 8: Visit to the Manchester Reform Synagogue

The visit to the Manchester Reform Synagogue was a huge success, I believe. the service was beautiful and moving, everyone was friendly, shaking the branches was exciting and the tent outside was beautiful. I hope we could come there again for some other holiday. We had a security check on entering the synagogue, and the men had to cover their heads. There was a traditional Torah reading (in Hebrew) by the Rabbi and a few other people during the service.

Tuesday, 3 October 2006

Oct 3: Scripture Study

Each of us again introduced themselves and their religion. We had some music yet again. Then we had a scripture study: each person produced their favourite quote from their scripture, including the Bible (Christian scripture), Quaker faith and practice, Bhagavad Gita (Hindu scripture), Dhammapada (Buddhist scripture), Quran (Islamic scripture). Then we will had tea and biscuits as usual.

Wednesday, 27 September 2006

Sep 27: Visit to the Gita Bhavan Hindu temple

We went to Gita Bhavan Mandir in Wilbraham Road, Chorlton, for the Welcome Evening organised by Hindu Society. It consisted of a traditional Hindu Arati (offering) and singing devotional songs, followed by a delicious dinner.

Tuesday, 26 September 2006

Sep 26: Introduction to the Society

We had a brief introduction to the Society, an icebreaker game (getting to know each other), consisting of introducing each other in pairs to everyone else, some singing (A traditional humourous Russian folk song (along with cartoon) sung by Oxana, and a Christian hymn Ubi Caritas Et Amor, Ubi Caritas Deus Ubi Est prepared by James). Then we asked all present members to introduce their own faith. Finally we had tea and coffee.