I had been invited by my good friend Monowar Hussain of The Oxford Foundation to speak at the Three Faiths Week they were holding in the respected College of St John’s.
Most of us are likely to have neighbours who are part of different faith communities. Too often, our image of how they live their lives is conditioned by media reports, and we do not know what really makes them tick, how their faith and culture shapes their lives, and what the internal concerns of their community are.
The Oxford Foundation team has years of experience of running residential conferences for Jews, Christians and Muslims to enable us to learn about each other, and to experience the worship and weekly ceremonies of the three faiths.
I had been asked to give a speech on my experience and the way forward. The audience were clearly moved by my talk, many of them were in tears.
The people I met there were all in their own way inspirational. The importance of being able to ask questions of different faiths, to experience what goes on in a faith’s ceremonies is so important in the fight against the prevailing hate that is so common in our society. I learned a great deal and was honoured to have taken part.
One of the highlights of my visit was meeting up again with my friend Ahmed Nawaz. He is truly an inspirational young man. The Birmingham schoolboy who survived a Taliban attack which wiped out his school is now devoting his time to preventing teenagers becoming radicalised.
Image: St John’s College, Oxford © Lawrence OP