Borrow a pastor

Borrow a pastor - a blog from Mahabba Network; helping Christians engage positively with Muslims

Borrow a pastor

This is a blog from a friend of Mahabba Network. Names and details have been deliberately removed to protect the identity of those involved, but praise God - he is working in the lives of Muslims to reveal Jesus!


Can we borrow another pastor?

“What will we do now that the pastor has moved on?”

…they asked.

This was not a worried congregation but rather some church members who had boarded the roller coaster of befriending Iranian asylum seekers.

The pastor had pitched in by leading a private Bible study for them, but he was moving away.

“Can we borrow another pastor?”

…was one question that was asked.

We found another solution.

With a little coaching, the ladies started using Come Follow Me.

The participants work through the lesson on their own in English, Farsi or Arabic and then once a week they all come together to discuss, share and pray for each other.

The material does not take them off into theological puzzles or doctrinal disputes but focusses on living as followers of Christ.

If we go back to the Great Commission we find that Jesus himself put the emphasis on teaching people to obey all that he had commanded – most of which was the stuff of living.

So they started.

A retired office worker and a lady who irons clothes for a living were engaged in cross cultural discipleship.

We are all familiar with the cry that the labourers are few (Matthew 9:36-38).

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
— Matthew 9:36-38 New International Version (NIV)

Oh, how we would love to see an army of multi-lingual, highly trained, specialist workers of proven experience turning up on our doorsteps asking what we have for them to do.

The people Jesus called that day to pray for labourers became the labourers.

The truth is that for the most part we do not need more bodies, but we need the bodies we already have to be equipped and to discover that they can do the work.

Come Follow Me is a wonderful piece of kit which enables non-experts to engage with confidence in helping new believers grow in Christ.

The next training day is in Wakefield, Yorkshire, 27 October. Maybe request one near you?

Upcoming events

Come Follow Me training day

Saturday 27 October
For full details, contact Flora

Regional gathering

Monday 1 December

For full details, contact Gillie


Joining the dots

Joining the dots - a blog from Mahabba Network

Joining the dots

This is a blog from a friend of Mahabba Network. Names and details have been deliberately removed to protect the identity of those involved, but praise God - he is working in the lives of Muslims to reveal Jesus!


Reflecting on the dots

A Sunday on La Grande Jatte

A Sunday on La Grande Jatte

In the 1880s French artist Georges Seurat introduced an art form known as pointillism. As the name suggests, Seurat used small dots, or points, of colour to create an artistic image.

Up close, his work looks like groupings of individual dots. Yet as the observer steps back, the human eye blends the dots into brightly coloured portraits or landscapes.

We can think of September as a month when we start filling the picture of our year with dots. Each day fills with greys, reds, ambers and greens, that may fill us with trepidation or excitement, and leave us feeling anywhere between exhausted or invigorated at the end of the day.

It’s only when we step back and reflect that we start to see patterns and shapes.

The picture that emerges may square up to the one we had in mind at the start. But more often, it has unexpected shades of light and dark that present us with a different image to the one we planned.

In the same way, the two on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13) were reflecting on the ‘dots’ of events that had happened over the Passover weekend in Jerusalem.

They saw only dark and sombre tones of violence and death. The picture of Jesus, as they left Jerusalem, did not square up to the picture they had planned for Jesus, the prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and the people (v. 19).

Then Jesus joins up the dots for them, bringing the light and shade of Moses and the prophets, and all the things the scriptures had been saying about the Messiah (v. 27).

As Jesus breaks the bread at home in Emmaus, they are given a moment to stand back and see the full, beautiful picture.

In the same way, our ministries may push us right up against the canvas with busy schedules, scarce resources and a lack of workers for the harvest.

We might have only our own dot and a couple surrounding in sight (and their colours might even be on the opposite side of the colour spectrum to ours). But are we perhaps forming a beautiful image together?

On 13 October, Birmingham wants to have such a day of standing back and joining the dots of those working to engage with Muslims in our city.


A place of peas


A place of peas

This is a real-life story of recent events from friends of Mahabba Network. Names and details have been deliberately removed to protect the identity of those involved, but praise God - he is working in the lives of Muslims to reveal Jesus!


Vandalism to Vegetables

About 5 years ago one of our regulars got involved in a sort of city farm project.

It is in an area of stark terraces almost entirely occupied by Bangladeshis.

The project was secular but with several white Christians heavily involved.

When we met to pray, we heard tales of plastic tunnels being vandalised and project personnel being threatened.

All we could do was pray.

The other evening, I  went to the site for a prayer meeting.

The gate was open. There were no high fences, no barbed wire, no security measures of any kind.

Some Asian teenagers sitting on the benches greeted us politely.

The project is highly valued by the community. Members of many families use the project. They grow vegetables. Children come to learn about nature.

It is a place of peace and harmony. God has answered prayer.


Your turn

Have you been touched by this story? If so, you can play your part.

  • Share the amazing news of God moving among Muslim with your friends via e-mail or social media, using the links below

  • Support Mahabba in its work to equip everyday Christians to build relationships and share Jesus with Muslims

Lost, asleep & on the wrong path

Lost, asleep & on the wrong path - a blog from Mahabba Network

God is moving among Muslims

This is a real-life story of recent events from friends of Mahabba Network. Names and details have been deliberately removed to protect the identity of those involved, but praise God - he is working in the lives of Muslims to reveal Jesus!

Lost, asleep & on the wrong path

Hello everyone, I was born in Iran. I thank God that he hasn’t left me lost and asleep on the wrong path. From childhood I was brought up as a strict Shia Muslim however I always felt weak. I used to pray and worship but I wasn’t able to reach God in the way I wanted to.

I was always looking for a God of love and friendship and so finally I decided to look for God in another way. For this reason I started looking into Sufi Islam. I felt I was lost and I was looking to find the right way. Many times I went to Sufi meetings however I was still not satisfied.

When I had a problem with my job, I decided to go into a church and light a candle. After a few days, the problem was solved. A short time later, when a different problem arose, I had to leave my country.

When I arrived in England, I got to know some new Iranian Christian friends and I got a lot of information from them. Little by little, I began to feel that following Jesus was a better way and understand that Christianity is a complete way to reach God, until God accepted me and I came to faith in Jesus.

I understood that all my life I had been following the wrong way and that there was no other way than following Jesus to reach the God of love because all the other ways put distance between me and God. However, following Jesus enabled me to become a friend of God. Now I am a son of God and he has become my Father – I’m not a slave of God.

The teachings of Jesus have taught me about life and how to live in love. He taught me how to relate to people around me, who I used to think were my enemies, and be at peace with them; how to live in freedom and help others to live freely too; how to find when Satan was working against me; how to put to death my selfish pride; that God is a God of love we can relate to, not a God of fear.

He answered my childlike questions and gave me a new outlook. Through my words, those who oppose the Gospel can understand and get to know God, whether they’ve had information before or not. The Lord’s return is near and he has given us a great responsibility to go and make disciples of all the nations, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Lord Jesus, I confess that I’m a sinner. I know I cannot attain salvation and become righteous through my own power or good works. I believe you were killed on the cross for my sins, were buried in the grave and after three days you rose again from the dead.

I believe that you’re alive and have the authority to forgive my sins and count me righteous before you. I surrender my whole heart and life to you. Thank you for hearing my prayer, Amen.


Your turn

Have you been touched by this story? If so, you can play your part.

  • Share the amazing news of God moving among Muslim with your friends via e-mail or social media, using the links below
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Hope & healing

Hope & healing - a blog from Mahabba Network

God is moving among Muslims

This is a real-life story of recent events from one of the local Mahabba groups in the Network. Names and details have been deliberately removed to protect the identity of those involved, but praise God - he is working in the lives of Muslims to reveal Jesus!

Our contact in a church in London, tells us what happened...

Hope & healing

About 75 people came to our church event for people of other faith backgrounds. It was lovely to see about fifteen Muslim women there in their hijabs. Other less religious Muslims were also there and many Hindus. All invited by Christian friends.

The whole evening was very enjoyable and peaceful. People stayed for a long time even though we were very challenging in plainly sharing the Gospel with them, but in a gracious way.

We began with refreshments, and a fun quiz. This was followed by a free halal and vegetarian meal. After this we gave the quiz results and prizes. 

We then gave a fifty minute presentation on the theme of hope. People listened attentively to someone from a Muslim background sharing his testimony of coming to faith, boldly and lovingly.

There was a short talk on the reasons for our Christian hope. This was followed by an invitation for prayer for healing. Two healing testimonies were shared, one of a healing from a cyst. Later a lady came for prayer with the same condition.

About 25 to 30 people came forward for prayer for healing. There was a queue!

One person said their post cancer operation pain had left. Another who had pain in their foot said it was gone.

All the guests stayed well past the finish time as we ended the evening with coffee and cake. 

Lots of people came at the end and said how much they had enjoyed the programme. We are now planning our next event!


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Surprising connections

Surprising connections - a blog from Mahabba Network

God is moving among Muslims

This is a real-life story of recent events from one of the local Mahabba groups in the Network. Names and details have been deliberately removed to protect the identity of those involved, but praise God - he is working in the lives of Muslims to reveal Jesus!

John, the coordinator, tells us what happened...

Surprising connections

The Mahabba Basingstoke group ran a very successful Easter Party for Muslims in the town recently.

It was at the request of a local Muslim association.

Others invited did not accept or were unable to come, but we did generate some interest and enabled other Christians to do something more to engage with Muslim colleagues or neighbours.

We explained Easter using language that would resonate and help generate discussion.

As we led a tour around a local church as part of the event, there were lots of questions about the furniture, stained glass windows (popular) and especially about the display of the Lord’s Prayer, Ten Commandments and Creed.

We discovered unrecognised links – children knew each other from school and an older Muslim mum had come to the church carer & toddler group, so was able to recommend it to others.

Some discovered shared sporting interests, so we were able to develop friendships and opportunities to meet more often.

We continue with Scriptural Reasoning, and have found the newly-published Grove booklet very helpful and thought provoking.

We hope to discuss this method of building friendships and sharing faith more at the Regional Gathering in Gloucester! 


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Real value


God is moving among Muslims

This is a real-life story of recent events from one of the local Mahabba groups in the Network. Names and details have been deliberately removed to protect the identity of those involved, but praise God - he is working in the lives of Muslims to reveal Jesus!

Real value

One of my friend’s moved recently so I went to visit him. He is originally from a Middle Eastern country. He was brought up as a Muslim.

After a while on Google Maps and a few calls on my mobile I found my friend. We walked to the new place. I took off my shoes as not to spoil the carpet.

My friend showed me around his new accommodation. The flat was pristine and still smelled of fresh paint.

A multitude of ornaments on the window sill sparkled in the morning sunshine. Everything was in its right place - including a meticulously arranged shoe cupboard.

I was offered a cup of tea, then I was shown the pictures of the flat before he moved in. It was unrecognisable from the place I was sitting in.

The carpets were dirty and walls were full of holes. My friend explained that he had scraped off all the old wallpaper, filled the holes in the walls, repainted and scrubbed the carpets.

The ornaments and the pictures had come from a charity shop and been brought to life with some vigorous polishing.

The sofas came from a friend who was storing some surplus furniture in his garage. The place looked very bright and inviting.

He then told me that people from his culture were very proud and looked down on having anything that wasn’t brand new. He gave me the following example.

If someone was cold and you lent them a jacket - you would never wear it again after it had been returned.

He informed me that it was only after he started to follow Jesus as part of a church community that he was able to get a handle on his pride, accept help from others, value things that were not brand new and not care so much about the negative comments of others.


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Quenching hunger


God is moving among Muslims

This is a real-life story of recent events from one of the local Mahabba groups in the Network. Names and details have been deliberately removed to protect the identity of those involved, but praise God - he is working in the lives of Muslims to reveal Jesus!

Quenching hunger

We were inspired by another Mahabba group and are hoping to put on a discussion with some mosques inviting believers and Muslims.

At the event, the Qur’an is read then discussed, then the Bible is read and discussed.

We are hoping this will provide a chance for Muslims to ask questions and open up the word.  

I have spoken to two mosque leaders about it: one was keen, one is speaking to their imam about it.

The one that is keen also seems very spiritually hungry and a couple of us have done some one-to-one Bible study with him and have given him scriptures.

We are praying that he will come to know Jesus and lead his congregation to follow him.

Please pray that the practical details all get sorted and that many come to know Jesus.


Your turn

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  • Share the amazing news of God moving among Muslim with your friends via e-mail or social media, using the links below
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This is a real-life story of recent events from one of the local Mahabba groups in the Network. Names and details have been deliberately removed to protect the identity of those involved, but praise God - he is working in the lives of Muslims to reveal Jesus!

My peace I give you

It is not every day you get to walk along the main road with the chief imam of the town’s most prestigious mosque, but that was my privilege.

We had a great talk.

Along with all the general things, we talked about similarities and differences between our respective faiths.

I discovered he owned a Bible.

At one point we got talking about how proper respect should be shown to the prophets.

When Muslims speak of Jesus they have to say,

Peace be upon him

I told him I could never say that.

How can I wish peace on him? He is the one who promises peace to us. I would rather say, ‘May his peace be upon us’

I took out my wallet and drew out a printed scripture text,

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid
— John 14:27

It is one of the texts I always have with me because this issue comes up.

Two weeks later he accepted my invitation to have lunch at the church café.

For him it was unanticipated view of church and church people.

Again we talked about lots of things.

At one point we got on to the disobedience of the Prophet Jonah.

The imam talked about all the prophets asking forgiveness.

I pointed out that one never needed to, Jesus Christ who never sinned.

He did not argue. Islam does not disagree. 

We are building a friendship. We will see where God takes it. There are more opportunities in round here than meet the eye.


Your turn

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  • Share the amazing news of God moving among Muslim with your friends via e-mail or social media, using the links below
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Imam Karim's story

Imam Karim's story - Mahabba Network

Imam Karim's story

This is a real-life story of recent events from one of the local Mahabba groups in the Network. Names and details have been deliberately removed to protect the identity of those involved, but praise God - he is working in the lives of Muslims to reveal Jesus!

Not what you may be expecting

Imam Karim calmly talked of his upbringing, his pride in Islam and, in a matter of fact tone, how he regarded Christianity as not worth considering, as too easy to be taken seriously.

The gasps and stunned looks on the faces of the Christians said it all.

Imam Karim was being interviewed before an audience of Christians but the involuntary responses I witnessed came from my friends watching the DVD as part of the Friendship First Course.

Twenty minutes later Imam Karim was on again telling them how God had spoken to him, commanded him to follow Christ and then the hardships he passed through.

The difference in the room was palpable.

They had come to learn something about sharing Jesus with Muslims.

I think they expected it to be hard work and problem-focussed.

At the end, one of them shook his head and said,

This has been so uplifting.

Your turn

Have you been touched by this story? If so, you can play your part.

  • Share the amazing news of God moving among Muslim with your friends via e-mail or social media, using the links below
  • Support Mahabba in its work to equip everyday Christians to build relationships and share Jesus with Muslims

Barcelona, Turku, Greenbelt and a Giant Samosa!


image credit: Ruben Whitehouse/flickr

This week's media has been dominated by the Barcelona attack where a van was driven into people in a popular street, Las Ramblas, in Barcelona. 13 people were killed and another killed in a separate attack at a seaside town. Incredibly an Australian who survived the attack was also present in terrorist attacks in London and Paris.  Although recieving a lower profile in the media Finland also experienced its first ever terrorist attack.  where two women were killed and six injured. A Moroccan man has admitted his role in the attack and three other Moroccan men have appeared in court.  The President of Finland has stated:

“The people’s security and feeling of safety has been shaken.”

In the aftermath of the attack in Barcelona thousands of Muslims have joined marches against terrorism attended by the President, Mayor and members of the local council.  A statement expressing support for the victims was read by representatives of the Islamic community in Spanish, Catalan and Arabic. Banners were also displayed throughout the protest.

The crowd held placards reading “We are also victims,” “Terrorism has no religion,” and “We are all Barcelona, not terrorisms.”

At the front of the procession was a large green banner reading: “We are Muslims, not terrorists.”

The situation in Europe will be further inflamed by yesterday's publication of a cartoon in the satirical Charlie Hebdo magazine. The cover shows a white van and bodies on the floor with the words, " Islam, the religion of Eternal Peace."  The editor has justified the publication on the grounds that it is a message that the French leadership were to afraid to share. Former French MPs have stated that the publication was "very dangerous" and urged restraint. On social media many people have criticised the magazine for spreading Islamophobia

In the week after the attacks Channel 4 has aired a four part drama about Islamic State.(Available to watch here) The programme viewed by 1.4 million people has been criticised as a recruiting tool. The daughter of David Haines who was killed by ISIS in 2014 urged that programme be postponed in the wake of the Barcelona attacks. However many expressed a more positive opinion.

“One of the most thought provoking, brave and terrifying things I’ve ever seen.”
”extraordinary piece of work”.
”I thought #thestate was gripping and depressing...In no way did it glamourise ISIS if anything it should put people off.”

Following on from the drama one evening this week was a repeat of My Son the Jihadi. The award winning 2015 programme follows the story of how Thomas Evans, a 21 year old electrician, left High Wycombe to join al-Shabaab in Somalia. According to the Telegraph "it was a stunningly sad, detailed and dignified portrait of a devastated mother , and a masterful piece of television about British citizens being recruited to terrorist organisations abroad." After four years in Somalia his mum leaned that her son, a vulnerable convert to Islam, had been killed. 

Clothing is always in the media. One Muslim model has been celebrated for being the first contestant to appear in a Kaftan rather than a bikini. In another report a TV presenter has posted a picture of herself on holiday in a bikini and received death threats as a result. 

On a more upbeat note, Christians and Muslims are working together in Lebanon. Organised by a Carmalite nun based at a monastery two and a half miles away from the fighting with Islamic State, Working together up to 300 people work together to make lunches for 5000 soldiers who are battling against Islamic State.  Mother Agnes Mariam of the Cross has stated, " is a beautiful expression of solidarity...All religions are unified with the purest love for our country, our wounded country,

In news closer to home, Greenbelt is  building bridges with the  Muslim Community as part of a commitment made after the 9/11 attacks.  However they stress that they are not promoting Islam rather to overcome the headlines and to share and to learn about one another.

And finally its official! The Guinness Book of Records has a new record. The biggest Samosa has been created by volunteers at Muslim Aid UK. They beat the previous 2012, 110.8 kg  record samosa that was held by Bradford College. The winning samosa took 12 volunteers 15 hours to make . It was created on a huge wire mesh, lowered into a massive vat of cooking oil and officially weighed in at an East London Mosque. The enormous samosa weighed in at a humungous  153.1 kg. It has been divided up into hundreds of portions to be distributed to homeless people in London by the Salvation Army.


A Case of Mistaken Identity, A Spectacular Mosque, Muslim Cycling Revolution and More

Image credit: Hijab Girl Peter MacLeod/ Flickr

Image credit: Hijab Girl Peter MacLeod/ Flickr

Happy holidays! Welcome to this week’s roundup. The purpose of this blog is to glimpse what is going on beyond our immediate location, to see a fraction of what the media is reporting about the quarter of the world’s population, to enable us to see the variety of people that are called Muslim.   This week there is the case of mistaken identity, a spectacular Mosque, cycling Muslims and more.

A Norwegian anti – immigrant group have been terrified and disgusted by what they saw recently. It was ‘really scary’ and they feared concealed bombs and weapons. Comments read: “Ghastly. This should never happen,” “Islam is and always will be a curse,” “Get them out of our country – frightening times we are living in,” 23 pages of outraged comments were also posted. What they think they saw was a group of women wearing burqas. The reality was a picture of six bus seats.  The group have been ridiculed for their comments and the story has gone viral.

The head of Norway’s Antiracist Centre, Rune Berglund Steen, told the site that people plainly “see what they want to see – and what these people want to see are dangerous Muslims”.

Something else that requires another look is a fantastically decorated mosque in the Turkish city of Kirsehir. The inside was designed by an Azerbaijani architect and includes trees painted on the walls, the ceiling is decorated as the sky and the floor is covered with a grass like carpet.  The inspiration for the design comes from a verse from the Quran which states

“(Allah) Who has made the earth a resting place for you, and the sky as a canopy, and sent down water (rain) from the sky and brought forth therewith fruits as a provision for you. Then do not set up rivals unto Allah (in worship) while you know (that He Alone has the right to be worshipped).”

A group of eight Muslim cyclists from London are attempting to ride 2000 miles through 7 countries, with over 110,000 feet of elevation to Mecca.  The organisers of theride first met on a charity ride to Paris in 2015. Muhammed, one of the organisers, stated:

‘...honestly, I thought I was the only Muslim cyclist in London. I’d been cycling since the age of 9 or 10, and on a road bike since 2007, which I used to commute to university, work and to the mosque, where I currently work and am trying to get Muslims on bikes.
I think it’s working. There’s a cycling revolution happening in the Muslim community here.’

They hope to raise a million pounds for ambulances in Syria. The progress of the cyclists- otherwise known as pedaller pilgrims can be followed on facebook.

This ride follows from the Ride 4 Your Mosque initiative. Now in its second year, this event aims to get people on their bikes as well as raising money for a Mosque in East London.

In other transport news, Transport for London has recently dropped a two million pound safety campaign after being accused of sexualising children. The campaign was ended after an investigation by a Times reporter, and a complaint by a Muslim mother. Sadiq Khan the mayor of London, who also chairs Transport for London, has apologised.


The portrayal of a pre-school female child wearing a hijab was most obviously offensive, because it is commonly accepted that Muslim women – if they choose to wear a hijab – do so in adolescence or after puberty because of the link to the growing sexuality of a woman’s body. But all the characters were lazy stereotypes. Political correctness gone awol, you might say.

You will probably have seen a lot about India and Pakistan in the news over the last few weeks as they are celebrating seventy years of independence. So today's last link goes to three Muslim women speaking about the partition of India

Lebanon, Miss World, Fashion & Mind blowing Halal Sex

image credit: flickr bellmon 1

image credit: flickr bellmon 1

Welcome to this week's edition of the roundup.

One of the Mahabba Facilitators has been in Lebanon recently and has met an inspirational couple who are running a school for refugee children.

They explain how they started the school and state:

This is a special time. You can look at the refugee issue and see it as either a problem or an opportunity. They are coming to us now, so we can ask, do we have something to give? And of course we have a lot to give...

The Syrians are coming to us. Instead of hating them, we should preach the gospel. Where others see horror, I see children of God; I see future pastors and apostles among them.

There is also an account of a Muslim lady who started to attend church in Lebanon and came to faith.

She saw the love of Jesus and got baptised and then her husband did the same after a month. They are now in another country, sharing about the Lord with Muslim people there.

I thought I was coming to help refugees, but I see now they are helping me, praying for me. All the relief work this church does is now done by Syrian people. It’s like living in the book of Acts. I’ve learned not to put God in a box; I knew he was big; now I’m seeing this with my own eyes.

I think that is a challenge to us, wherever we live!

A Muslim woman who spent time in a Bosnian refugee camp has been crowned Miss World Australia.

Twenty five year old Esma Voloder moved to Australia at five months old. She has a degree in psychology and currently works as a criminal profiler.

She has been reported to be using her new found fame to challenge Islamophobia.  She will go on to compete at the finals in China at the end of the year.

She has stated:

The Islam that I know, that is in the Quran, I don’t associate that with any acts that are occurring around the world.

Women's clothing is also once again in the news. The burkini which was often in the news last summer in France has now reached the the headlines in the Czech Republic.

Apparently complaints about wearing the garment aren't  abased on religious intolerance rather concerns regarding hygiene.

Water parks vary in their response to the burkini - with some banning them, others 'tolerating' them and other locations inspecting swim wear on arrival. 

A denim hijab, modelled by a Somali refugee, has also made the headlines.

Staying on the hijab theme, a new hijab emoji has been created by a Saudi teenager after being unable to find an emoji that represented her.

The design was accepted by Apple on Monday- and now headscarf wearing women around the world will have an emoji to represent them.

And finally a Muslim sex guide for women has been published - entitled The Muslimah Sex Manual: A Halal Guide for Mind Blowing Sex.

Written anonymously, the author has received "disgusting messages" as well as praise.  

Muslim women’s organisations have praised her, saying the book will empower Muslim women and protect them from entering into sexually abusive relationships

The range of articles referred to today comes from Lebanon, Australia, America, The Czech Republic, and the UK. They are about people in different situations dealing with different issues.

I am sure there are other views. But I suggest that this week's media snap shot illustrates some of the diversity of the Muslim world.

So how should we respond?  I'll leave you with one suggestion:

Relax. Enjoy your friends. Enjoy their company along with the company of Jesus. Point Him out, freely, without fear or intimidation. You’re not responsible to sell Him to them. You’re simply saying what you’ve seen. You’re not the judge. You’re the witness. We’ll go further and further into this way of thinking until you’re free to speak of Jesus often and always. And you’ll see - people will listen. Not because we’re so good, but because He is compelling!

Elliot's Roundup: The hate preacher, the gay wedding and the baker

image credit: flickr Jamie Anderson

For those convinced that every Muslim is a terrorist, just try reading the news. My search came up with a few different stories. A radio station suspended for broadcasting al Qaeda recruiter's speeches, possibly the first Muslim gay wedding in the UK, and Nadia's thoughts about appearing on the Bake Off.

Twenty five hours of speeches by "the Bin Laden of the internet" were played on a Muslim radio station based in Sheffield during Ramadan.  After a complaint received about Anwar Al-Awlaki the watchdog Ofcom made the judgement that the lectures:

“amounted to a direct call to action to members of the Muslim community to prepare for and carry out violent action against non-Muslim people”.

Jahed Choudhury and Sean Rogan have been recently got married in Walsall. Their wedding has been reported as the first gay Muslim wedding in the UK.(although another gay couple- one of whom is Muslim married in Birmingham in October last year.)  Jaheed  has married after being bullied at school ,barred from attending the Mosque and attempting suicide because of his sexuality.

Now married and very much in love, the couple, who recently returned from their honeymoon in Spain, said they hope to show the world “that you can be gay and Muslim”.

They have recieved a lot of online abuse since getting married.  Many comments have been made online such as: 

“Just putting asian costumes doesn’t make it a Muslim marriage, there is no concept of gay marriage in Islam.
Another said: “They are not Muslims, we don’t have gays and lesbians.”

Nadia Hussain, winner of The Great British Bake Off 2015, has also been in the news this week. The article mentions the negativity and aggression she felt before appearing on The Great British Bake Off.  Although apprehensive of being the "token Muslim" on the programme. 

“We are so much more accepting than that: I never realised Britain had such open arms”... and realised “what a lovely country I live in”.

Is every Muslim a terrorist? Is every Muslim opposed of gay marriage? Has every Muslim baked cakes for the Queen?  Perhaps its time to let go of some of our stereotypes and get to know some of the individuals around us who happen to be Muslims.  

Please get in touch and tell us how it went.

Elliot's Round up: Acid Attacks and Hampers

image credit: Hiroyuki Takeda flickr

image credit: Hiroyuki Takeda flickr

This week's media selection starts off with acid attacks. According to one report Newham has been named as Britain's acid attack capital with 415 attacks since 2010. There has also been a sharp rise in attacks in London with 431 last year compared to 261 in 2015. UK wide there has been a doubling of attacks. Jameel Mukhtar and Resham Khan have been left with life changing injuries as a result of an attack in East London in June. Initially police refused to register the attack as a hate crime but have reclassified it as a racially or religiously motivated crime.  There is currently a petition to ban the sale of acids without a licence that can be signed.

Research suggests that the government's anti radicalisation "prevent" strategy is counter productive and causing Muslims to become further marginalised.  Promoting "British Values" and emphasis on "Britishness" is seen as particularly problematic. Instead of "equipping them with the knowledge to question extremist and radical views," the policy could be causing increased stigmatisation of Muslim students making then less likely to speak out. 

In a more positive light, Muslims are preparing to deliver hampers as a token of appreciation to fire fighters who fought the Grenfell Tower fire. Swansea's Muslim community has also been in the news for inviting everyone to an Eid in the Park event on Sunday, which will involve food, magic shows, inflatables and a football tournament. Eid was also celebrated in Trafalgar Square recently.  (Video available here).

Swansea's Eid event  is open to "all people regardless of age, sex, religion, creed or race." What  an invitation!  A free event- where everyone is welcome! What a challenge to me. I could probably be welcoming once a year given enough time to work up to it. I have received some great welcomes and magnificent hospitality so I know its important. But could I be welcoming everyday of the year, not just on a special occasion?  I know a friend who is welcoming everyday not only for free but also for the desperate, the hungry, the thirsty, the overlooked,the tortured, the imprisoned, the refugee and the unloved.  Jesus is still ready to welcome.  Are we ready to follow him?

Elliot's Roundup: Hatred, heroism, hunger, heatwave...

image: flickr Moose

image: flickr Moose

The attack on Finsbury Park Mosque, the imam who has been hailed as a hero, fasting during a heatwave and more. 

Monday saw a 47 year old father of four from Cardiff drive into a crowd of Muslims outside a London Mosque in a rented van. One person died and eleven were injured. The man who had interest in far right groups had recently voiced hatred for Muslims. 

“This was quite clearly an attack on Muslims who looked like they were probably Muslims and they were coming from a prayer meeting,” said the Met police commissioner, Cressida Dick. “We treat this as a terrorist attack and we in the Met are as shocked as anybody in this local community or across the country at what has happened.”

As the van driver was wrestled to the ground, the imam intervened to calm the situation.  

“The imam came from the mosque and he said, ‘Listen, we are fasting, this is Ramadan, we are not supposed to do these kinds of things, so please step back.’
“For that reason this guy is still alive today. This is the only reason. If the imam was not there, he wouldn’t be there today.”

The imam has been widely praised for his actions  and recently visited by Prince Charles who was 'deeply impressed' by the imam's actions.  

Terrorist actions dominate the news. But daily life for many Muslims continues to be a struggle do to fasting for long hours in a heatwave. If fasting wasn't challenging enough, think of the estimated 148 million diabetic Muslims worldwide, according to the article, half of British diabetic Muslims fast.  Guidelines for managing diabetes during Ramadan are available, other Muslim diabetics have come to the conclusion that Ramadan is about fasting from the fast.  

Muslim women are also in the news this week. One article highlights the tradition of women only mosques in China. 

While Muslim women face restrictions in most mosques around the world, either being segregated by sex within the building or in some communities being banned from entering altogether, many Chinese Muslim women pray at institutions dedicated to serving their gender, a unique Chinese tradition.

According to the article women only mosques have come about through merging of the Chinese and Islamic traditions. The idea has come about through  receiving the first Muslims in China as honoured guests and having a national culture of not barring women from public life.

Muslim women sporting pioneers have also been in the news. Dana Abdulkarim was teh first hijabi athlete to represent England- then teh first hijabi P.E. teacher.  Salma Bi was teh first Muslim woman to play cricket for Worcestershire, Anisa Ansar plays cricket for both Hampshire and England.

We have different tastes and preferences on how we live our lives and navigate our careers. Some of us wear hijabs, some don’t. Some have families who are supportive, some who aren’t and others that take a little more convincing.

Heroes, the hungry, Chinese, diabetic and athletic, it is clear there is no Muslim only many individual Muslims with their own interests, families and stories.

Could you be hospitable, share your interests and introduce them to your Father?

Elliot's Roundup: Hate is easy. Love takes courage.

image: clive wren flickr

image: clive wren flickr

Travelling through the city centre I was startled to see messages of sympathy and support for the victims of the Manchester attack. I pass the same way regularly but for some reason I had not seen it before. Just as that tragic news became our new reality, the London Bridge attack happened.  Following on from that- this week the the Grenfell Tower burst into flame and quickly spread through the building. Today's media roundup comes in the light of all these tragic events and loss of life.  The title for today's blog and picture come from a Muslim community rally against terrorism that was held in Sheffield less than a week ago.

There has been further condemnation of the London attack by various Muslim communities in the UK. Three thousand roses were handed out on London Bridge by Muslims as a show of unity with those who were injured and killed in the attack.

We are here to write narratives of love of love and solidarity. Not hate and division.

Grimsby Islamic Community have also invited wider members of the community, including the North East Lincolnshire's Mayor,  councillors, members of the police and public to en event in the mosque. The aim was to show that the London Bridge attack was "not in my name."  Elsewhere in Glasgow a Muslim anti-terror rally has been held. 

The generosity of a Muslim in Surrey has been seen online. The article describes how a Muslim lady shared a meal with her non-Muslim neighbour as well as sharing some information about Ramadan. A picture of a Muslim who helped an elderly lady who had collapsed on a bus has also been shared tens of thousands of times on social media this week. 

“Her gesture has really made me think – it’s one of those things which stop you in your tracks, and make you look at yourself like ‘what am I doing now, and if I’m not doing anything, what could I do?’

“I’ve always grown up with the ‘someone else will do it’ attitude, but it’s about time I started being that person rather than observing that person.”

Since the London Bridge attack there has also been a rise in hate crime, a 500% increase in Islamophobic crime and a 40% rise in racist incidents has been reported. for example: recently  a Muslim mother was punched in the face in Birmingham,a bag of vomit was recently thrown at a car carrying two Muslim women in Blackburn, Lancashire. 

Perhaps this spike in incidents will be turned around by the reporting in the Telegraph, Independent, Sun, and Daily Mail and elsewhere. Many Muslims have been hailed as heroes for saving lives in the tragic Grenfell Tower fire in London. The blaze tore through the 24 storey building causing many to be hospitalised and 17 at this time are known to have been killed. Muslims in the area were awake and so were able to help evacuate the building and prevent further loss of life. The fact that Muslims were awake because of Ramadan and so were able to help was also widely reported on TV news including Channel 4 and  BBC news.   The charity Muslim Hands have launched an appeal, as have Muslim Aid who are also working in conjunction with churches to aid those who have been left homeless. 

There are many opportunities to interact with our Muslim neighbours, colleagues and friends. Let's not be part of the problem. Let's choose love not hate. Many Muslims say that they got to know Jesus though supernatural dreams, reading the and having a longterm friendship with a follower of Jesus.  Let's be that friend this week. The message of Jesus comes wrapped in a person- that means you and me!

Elliot's Weekly Roundup- Ramadan Mubarak

image credit: Salma Says flickr

image credit: Salma Says: flickr

In the aftermath of the Manchester bombing what is in the media?  Other tragedies such as Egypt, Baghdad, and Kabul should not be forgotten where many more were killed and injured. 

A mosque in Manchester was set alight as a response to the bomb attack in Manchester. Muslims have been targeted and blamed for the Manchester attack elsewhere. In one report taxi drivers in Leicester have been verbally abused and suffered from road rage style Isamophobia.  Owner of a Leicester taxi firm spoke about the difficulties he had encountered  since the Manchester attack,  "We know there were Muslim taxi drivers in Manchester offering people free rides to help the get home straight after the bomb went off but some people choose not to recognise that. I don't know if anyone will listen to me but I'd just ask people to show some respect and act properly towards people who are only trying to do a job."

Muslims in the UK have voiced their disgust at the killings, including the Chester Muslim Community.

But it needs to be more than a just a few words at the mosque. We want to be more open and transparent as a community and build understanding.
We shouldn’t be isolated and we need to integrate better in the community.

Muslims were joined by non Muslims on a peace walk in Manchester  organised by North Manchester's Jamia Mosque to show their support and solidarity for the bereaved. Around 500 joined in the demonstration against terrorism walking three miles from Cheetham to hold a vigil outside Manchester Arena.

I’m a Muslim and I trust you.
Do you trust me enough for a hug?

Baktash Noori has spent days blindfolded offering hugs to passers by in Manchester's Market Street.  The video he has made documenting his experience has been watched over thirty thousand times in recent days.  He stated: “I did not expect so many people to come and hug me, let alone give me such positive comments, but it was the best thing I've ever done.”  By the end of the day the queue snaked down the street with a long line of people waiting their turn to be hugged. 

Further afield in Iraq Muslim volunteers have shown solidarity with non Muslim members of their community by working on a ruined monastery near Mosul, with the aim of demonstrating that "Mosul is yours as it is ours" and that "our differences are our strength" 

Zain- the Kuwaiti mobile phone operator- has recently produced an advert.  The advert released at the start of Ramadan shows a man in a suicide vest walking through staged scenes based on recent bombings. The video has received a mix of positive and negative reactions. It has been criticised for using images of terrorism in an exploitative way. One image, perhaps familiar to us all, was of Omran Daqneesh- little boy who was pictured waiting for help after one of Bashar-al Assad's air strikes on Aleppo.  


Others have hailed the performer as a hero. The cast also includes people who have been victims in atrocities in Iraq Jordan and Kuwait and recreates some scenes of terror attacks. It has some great lines including:

You who come in the name of death. He is the creator of life.
Worship your God with love not terror.
Confront your enemy with peace not war.
Let’s bomb violence with mercy.
Let’s bomb hatred with love.

It kind of reminds me of something someone else said. Its a challenge to all of us. If you haven't seen the advert you can watch it here.  I'm not so interested in your intellectual analysis, discussion of camera angles,or artistic merit- as how your life is impacted by responding to this challenge today and this week.

Please get in touch we'd love to hear from you!

My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.
— The Message-

Elliot's weekly roundup: a funeral, voting, a speech and hospitality CHALLENGING misconceptions

Image credit: unsplash

Image credit: unsplash

So what has been in the news in the week after the Mahabba National Gathering? There's a funeral,  voting, along with Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia. and hospitality challenging misconceptions.

You will probably remember the recent tragic accident in Drayton Manor theme park that resulted in the death of 11 year old Evha Jannath when she fell from a water ride. On Tuesday more than 600 people gathered at the Muslim Prayer Hall at Saffron Hill Cemetery in Leicester. Please pray for the family whom are grieving for their, " happy, laughing girl." 

“I loved my daughter too much, and she loved me too much. “I have no tears left in my eyes because I have cried so much.”

There is an election coming up just in case you hadn't heard! The Muslim Council of Britain has issued a list of 8 key issues affecting Muslim Communities.  These fall under the headings of engagement, religious liberty, bigotry, democracy, security, equality, free Palestine, and foreign policy. Muslim Engagement and development have also published their manifesto for the upcoming election. It focuses on investigating anti Muslim prejudice, discrimination, negative misrepresentations of Muslims in the media, the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan.  All of this highlights our need to pray for our country at this time.

1 Timothy 2 v 1-3
The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Saviour God wants us to live.

The same verse is applicable to the next article in the media as the American President flies off to Saudi Arabia. He is set to give an  “inspiring yet direct” speech on his “peaceful vision of Islam..." His speech is set to be controversial as at least part of it is to be penned by Stephen Miller- the person who was at the centre of developing and delivering Trump's immigration ban.

And finally I will leave you with a more uplifting article. A family in America have invited strangers to dine with a Muslim family to break down lack of understanding.  The article is well worth reading, demonstrates the value of hospitality and of overcoming prejudice with understanding.  I was challenged by their hospitality and openness to others. Perhaps we need to take a leaf out of their book and be more welcoming. Let me know how you get on!

By the end, we were just a bunch of friends laughing together. Food has a magical way of doing that.”

Elliot's weekly roundup: cancer, eradication and refugee hunting

image credit: flickr cranky messiah

A Ukip parliamentary candidate has described Islam as a "cancer" as well has praising  the founder of the English Defence League. Ms Santos later said,

“It was a turn of phrase, I’m not referring to a quarter of the world’s population any more than I meant the word ‘cancer’ to be taken literally.”

A Labour candidate has been sacked for reportedly making a number of comments about Islam.

Mr Merralls also allegedly engaged in conversation where he reportedly posted: “On a positive note that should eradicate islam from our continent for years”.

Further afield in Germany physical violence has taken over from verbal aggression. The article highlights the rise of  " vigilante mobs" that hunt down refugees.  According to the article four men set upon a refugee in his car with a baseball bat and knuckle duster. They also beat him when he was on teh ground and trying to escape. Nine days later the man died of his injuries including a fractured skull. His two children are traumatised by the death of their father.

The family’s lawyer, Christina Dissmann, said his wife “cannot comprehend how the perpetrators could continue attacking him when he was already lying on the ground…again and again they went after him and beat him”.

Reading the article reminded me of the violent attack in April on teenage asylum seeker Reker Ahmed in Croydon. These events are the very opposite of what we as Jesus followers stand for and seek to demonstrate. We have a choice how to relate to those around us. 

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.
— James 3 v 17-18