Following Abraham, peace be upon him

Bismillah. From the Christian-Muslim Forum:

This is the most recent news item posted on our News and Events page.

* Following in the Footsteps of Abraham – A Retreat for Men *

This was a very successful, enjoyable and spiritual event, living up to our expectations and the confidence of the Inlight Trust in providing the funding. Men from across the country, including Wales, converged on St Deiniol’s Library from Birmingham, Brighton, Burnley, Dorking, Leighton Buzzard, London, Manchester, Merthyr Tydfil, Nottingham and Rochester.

Tony Aylward, a Baptist from Rochester, wrote the following account.

Reflections on the Men’s Retreat

I went on this retreat with great expectation as I believe God wanted me to be there. It was entitled ‘In the Footsteps of Abraham’ and my hope was that it would inspire my thinking on male spirituality and also renew my contact with Muslims following my departure from Leicester. It was a small gathering of 13: 6 Christian and 7 Muslims and was led by Symon Hill and Abdullah Trevathan. We looked at 3 areas:

• The life of Abraham in the Qur’an and Bible
• Dealing with conflict
• Being Male

We shared worship in the form of meditation/reflection using Muslim chants from the Sufi tradition and Christian ones from Taize and Iona.

When we drew up a list of Abraham’s character from our scriptures, we discovered that many of them were the same. Key ones from both texts which we identified were:

• Spiritual wayfarer
• Absolute faith
• Friend of God

One major difference in respect to Abraham was that in the Muslim tradition all prophets are without sin whereas in the Christian tradition only Jesus is without sin and so the prophets are flawed people. We spent some time thinking about Abraham the Absurd, defining ‘absurd’ as not normal or ordinary. As people of faith we are called to be an extraordinary people. By being together as Christians and Muslims for this retreat we were being absurd. We were challenged as to whether we had become to cosy in our faith and not therefore taking risks. Are we going through the motions of faith without it really affecting the way we live our lives?The conflict resolution sessions were very helpful in enabling us to think about the root causes and not just the reasons people often give for their positions. We looked at a diagram that required us to think about where we were in relation to personal goals as against relationships when dealing with an issue of conflict. Although compromise in some cases is the only way we were encouraged to try problem solving the issue to see if there is a better way for the parties involved. I was not alone in finding how ready as a group we were to accept the very different issues between our faiths. Perhaps that said more about the participants who were more focused on areas of agreement.

The final session on male identity caused the most discussion as we completed a questionnaire expressing how important certain criteria were to our identity. What was striking for me was the relative passion that people gave to particular headings. We considered whether our responses would have been the same had there been a woman present, for which the majority view was that it would. The question of what are male characteristics is a problem area when it comes to looking at male spirituality. Draw up a list and there will be people who disagree with you. I am a firm believer that at times this is because men may not like a particular trait or they believe they do not portray it. The walk we had on the Saturday afternoon was a wonderful demonstration of a male trait in action. We had identified of Abraham that he was focused and indicated that this was a male attribute. On the walk we talked, mainly in pairs but on occasions in single file. We maintained a brisk pace rarely stopping to take in the creation around us. We even managed to be blissfully unaware of ‘Private’ notices. Now that is what I call focused!

Overall it was a great experience of men sharing the journey of faith. For me the translation of the Muslim chant, “La ilaha ill’allah” as “There is nothing but God; there is only God,” called me to refocus my life on the things of God. To daily ask the question, “What will God do with me today rather than what will I do today?”

Tony Aylward

What Next?

Many thanks to all who took part, the retreat leaders and Tony for his reflections. We would like to hold another retreat and have an invitation to an Islamic retreat centre in Spain. If you are interested in being involved in exploring Christian-Muslim men’s spirituality please get in touch.

We are also organising a women’s retreat for London-based Christian and Muslim women on 31 July/1 August in Kent. Please contact us for more details.

An event for everyone: Friends and Neighbours, 30 June/1 July 2010.

Julian Bond
Director
Following in the Footsteps of Abraham
Christian Muslim Forum
70 South Lambeth Road
Vauxhall
LondonSW8 1RL
Telephone 0207 820 0444
http://www.christianmuslimforum.org

Company Registration 5461960
Registered Charity 1114793

6 Responses to “Following Abraham, peace be upon him”

  1. Dustin Says:

    This is really encouraging. I’d love to be able to attend one – if only it wasn’t so far!

    I’m asking myself right now, “What will God do with me today?” I am excited to find out.

    • Usama Hasan Says:

      Glad you liked it, Dustin. Let’s hope God enables you to attend a similar event sometime. Btw when I had my PhD viva in 1998, my dad asked me in Arabic, “What did God do with you today, Usama?”🙂

  2. Christian Muslim Forum « HIS PEACE UPON US Says:

    […] 16, 2010 by Dustin I read about a men’s retreat for Muslims and Christians that looked at the life of Abraham in the Bible and Qur’an and explored the issues of dealing […]

  3. Christian Muslim Forum « HIS PEACE UPON US Says:

    […] read about a men’s retreat for Muslims and Christians that looked at the life of Abraham in the Bible and Qur’an and explored the issues of dealing […]

  4. Laurence Truett Says:

    I looking for a Muslim apologist/expert/ecumenical voice to debate in Chiswick West London in 2011.

    My name is Laurence Truett and i work with Gunnersbury Baptist Church in Chiswick, West London.
    Recently we have run three mainstream live public debates of a Christian vs Atheist/other faith style. They are in aimed at stirring people of all worldviews up to new thought and consideration.

    We have had so far:
    1) Rev. David Robertson (Author of ‘The Dawkins letters’ and Pastor of St. Peter’s Church in Dundee) vs. Peter Cave – Chair of the Humanist Philosophers of the British Humanist Association. The subject was ‘Are we better off with or without God?’ See the debate free athttp://www.gunnersburybaptistchurch.org/resources/viewvideo.html?event=6

    2) Prof. Russell Cowburn (Professor of Nanotechnology at Imperial College and Christian Apologist/debater) vs. Prof. Lewis Wolpert (esteemed Biologist and Nobel prize winner plus a head of the British Humanist Association). They debated ‘Has science disproved God?’ Se the debate free at http://www.gunnersburybaptistchurch.org/resources/viewvideo.html?event=13

    3) Finally Rev. John Richardson (online blogger, Christian Author/lecturer and Parish Vicar) debated Prof. Richard Norman (Emeritus Professor of Moral Philosophy and Chair of the BHA). They debated the question ‘Can we be good without God?’ Watch this debate free athttp://www.gunnersburybaptistchurch.org/resources/viewvideo.html?event=29

    These debates have been very well attended by both Christian and non-Christian attendees as well as many from other religions. The audiences have been around 300-500 strong.

    We are planning three big debates for next year. These will focus on some of the following areas:
    1) Islam/Christianity.
    2) Historical reliability of the Bible.
    3) Secularism and tolerance.
    4) Stephen Hawking and ‘God is superfluous’…

    Due to popular request, I am looking to run a Christian/Islam debate in 2011. The subject would involve the live theme of religious tolerance and ‘freedom of religion’.
    Due to the nature of Christianity and Islam – I would like to propose a title of ‘Can Islam and Christianity tolerate each other? A question of absolute truth.’

    However, this is fully open to suggestion and change according to your individual desires.

    Can you help with this – or do you know someone who could be good? Do you have dates free for 2011?

    I look forward to hearing from you,

    Many thanks,

    Laurence Truett
    Gunnersbury Baptist Church with London City Mission
    07807 003553

  5. ramadan 2012 Says:

    ramadan 2012…

    […]Following Abraham, peace be upon him « UNITY[…]…

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