In a world that is becoming divided by fear, gaining a greater understanding of each other’s beliefs seems vital. Here’s one man’s story of doing just that.
Last year, having previously produced a number of English pastoral songs on Christian themes, I found myself perusing poems by the 11th/12th century Persian and Andalusian Islamic poets Sa’adi and Ibn Arabi. Their poetry is amazingly beautiful.
The outcome of these perusing’s was composing a sequence of simple, spiritual songs, called ‘Islamic Songs of Love and Peace’. The work sets the poems, together with Islamic greetings, such as Assamalu Alaikum wa ramatullah, which means ‘Peace, and may God’s blessings be upon you’.
But who would be the audience for these new songs? I really had no idea. I decided to start by looking into the local Muslim community and I found a useful contact called Zaheera who invited me to an event called ‘Unwrapping Christmas’ at Gloucester’s Friendship Cafe. At the event we read texts from Matthew and Luke’s Gospels on the Annunciation and the Nativity, and the same story from the Qur’an in the chapter/surah called ‘Mariam’. This activity, I was to learn, is called Scriptural Reasoning.
Each person takes a turn at reading a passage of scripture from their own tradition, opening up a discussion on that passage, with each person giving a personal response. Ideally open to Jewish, Christian and Muslim participants, each religion hosts the others through introducing their own scriptures in turn.
The advantages of Scripture Reasoning are, of course, obvious. Members of the three Abrahamic faiths come together in a spirit of genuine friendship. I have met some amazingly wonderful Muslim people so far and I have been able to show my songs to a wonderful spirit based group in Stroud that might incorporate them into their repertoire.
Trevor’s journey has now led him to start his own group in Stroud, which will meet on the third Saturday of the month at 3.00pm at the Stroud Christian Community. If you are local and keen to take part or have Jewish or Muslim friends who might be interested, then please get in touch with Trevor on; firstname.lastname@example.org .
If want to look into Scriptural Reasoning further, or would be interested in setting up or joining a local group, then check out the website;
‘Prophet Abraham’s first prayer was “Oh Allah! Make this world a dwelling of peace”. I believe SR has given us the tools to make this possible or at least keep alive the hope that we can learn to embrace each other with enough dedication and sincerity.’
Ameer Hamza (A quote on the importance of Scriptural Reasoning to a participant taken from their website)
‘I am primarily known for being a musician, but recently have begun a journey of inter-faith dialogue known as Scriptural Reasoning. So how has my life in music lead me into this new world?