hospitality

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.”
— http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/05/17/drayton-manor-death-girl-11-suffered-fatal-chest-injuriespost/

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.
— https://www.biblegateway.com

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.”
— http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/teen-invites-strangers-to-dine-with-her-muslim-family-to-fight-islamophobia_us_591c89bee4b034684b08cd37

Is it right to allow Muslim prayers or Qur'an readings in church?

Image: Daniel Burka,  Unsplash

Image: Daniel Burka, Unsplash

Is it right to allow Muslim prayers or Qur'an readings in church?

Carl asked the following question off the back of a meeting for better understanding (MBU) with local Muslims:

Is it right to allow Muslim prayers or Qur’an readings in church?

Dear Mahabba,

MBUs have built good relationships and sown the Gospel among Muslims. It has also resulted in requests for the use of our places of worship for Muslim events. One of them was for an Eid el Adha event.  This would include the reading of the Qur'an and Muslim prayers. What would your response be to this request?

 

Our response

This is a tricky one, and has caused quite a bit of debate and controversy recently, as we explored in a blog, 'Islam in church: some questions'. Rather than lay out a definitive answer, here are some responses from individuals on our online community area, The City.

 

How strongly do you feel?

"I’d be quite happy with the idea, although I know that some Christians strongly feel that such acts are totally unacceptable. Maybe believers from a Muslim background might be more strongly of the latter persuasion."

What is your perspective on the consecration of space?

"We have churches that meet in schools and pubs. We also have church traditions that consecrate space. I think to invite Muslims to confess that Muhammad is God’s messenger in consecrated space violates that consecration.

"Whether we like it or not, we tend to be secular Christians, and so we don’t take the consecration of space very seriously. We don’t do symbolism. But Muslims do, much more so than us anyway.

"I think the question is much more about how we regard our church space. Would you invite a Jehovah’s witness to preach there? How about a militant atheist? Would you allow Hindu gods to be praised in it?

"The question of whether to allow or invite Muslims to pray and confess their creed needs to be set alongside this sort of question to give it context. If space is just space, then you have no problem. If consecration means something, that is another matter."

Provision for personal prayer

"If the space is consecrated: I would not make provision for another deity to be worshipped. I would tend not to give a platform for another religion to be preached and lifted up without a counterpoint or moderation by a Christian.

"But someone who wants to personally pray, I would have no problem with, especially if they are meaning to seek the God of Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob, even if their idea of Him is corrupted.

"If their prayers are together in community and include a led confession or declaration about Muhammad, in a Christian consecrated space… that's another question."

A former Muslim's viewpoint - what does God say?

"My response would be: 'what is God asking me to do?' Bearing in mind Scripture such as Peter’s vision that all food was now clean or that circumcision or non-circumcision was not the deeper spiritual issue. Is God trying to lead us to think and react differently to the changing society we now live in?

"Having come from a Muslim background and being able to see both sides, I would drench that church in prayer and plead protection over it through the blood of Christ and then invite another faith to hold their event. If just one heart is changed through that event, if seeds are sown, would it not be worth it? I think the answer to this dilemma lies in prayer and isn’t that what we as the Mahabba Network do? And do so well, might I add!"


"I agree that we need to pray without ceasing, for discernment and for God to use the relationship to His glory. Here is an example of a church that opened its door to its Muslim neighbours on a more permanent basis."

What does Muslim tradition say?

"According to traditions, the Prophet invited Christians to worship in his mosque.

"As to whether this is a practice that Muslims emulate, Muslims have been known to say this too.

"Some Christians have often prayed quiet individual prayers in a mosque, explaining that they are making their own dua, and had no problems.

"I have known this to happen in a more public or congregational way. 

"In a dialogue meeting, Christians had an impromptu prayer meeting in the mosque, while the Muslims perform their prayers (salaat). The Muslims did not have a problem with that."

Gracious hospitality vs. faithfulness to truth

"I think there are two quite different themes at play here. One is gracious hospitality and the other other is faithfulness to truth.

"If we come across people who are marginalised and excluded, trying to find space to honestly meet their religious obligations, how could we not offer them space? That is an application of loving our neighbour and we do so in the name of Christ.

"However, if we so order things that our actions seem to communicate that obedience to Muhammad is the same thing as faith in Christ, if we seek to join the two, blurring the differences then we are being unfaithful and no longer witnesses to the truth. Nor do we witness to the Muslim guest.

"Our love for the other and our security in Christ should enable us to be hospitable, but it should not lead us to bend over backwards so that we affirm the denial of Christ."

 

Since you're here...

... we have recently reached a total of 40 local Mahabba prayer groups in the UK - awesome news!

With your help, though, we would like to continue to sow, plant and support Mahabba groups.

Our work involves a small team of regional reps and central hub personnel investing in local coordinators and groups, as well as spreading the word.

To continue this vital mission to Muslims, we need to increase our regular monthly income.

Our initial target is to raise up 100 individual regular donors, giving an average of £10 to £15 per month.

Could you be one of the 100?

Entertaining angels

Image: Samantha Sophia,  Unsplash

Image: Samantha Sophia, Unsplash

Entertaining angels

I remember whilst travelling in Israel/Palestine many years back arriving in a town at night.

We were travelling by car, two of us, looking for somewhere to stay.

We asked a local for directions and ended up being invited to his home, where we were welcomed and given food and somewhere to sleep.

We also got to meet his family the next morning over breakfast.

This incident had a profound effect on me, as I was on the receiving end of what has been called the ‘kindness of strangers’.

This is something I, like many others, have experienced frequently as I travel.

This is also the chosen title of journalist Kate Adie's autobiography.

Maybe you can also think of incidents where you have been on the receiving end of hospitality...

In ‘Cool Britannia’ we can be somewhat slower in offering hospitality.

And it seems that, post-Brexit, incidents of Hate Crime are increasing, as reported in the Independent recently.

Xenophobia is on the rise in Britain (literally the fear of the stranger/foreigner).

The Bible encourages us to ‘practice hospitality’ thereby ‘entertaining angels unawares’ (Hebrews 13:2 ESV). An intriguing phrase…

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares
— Hebrews 13:2 ESV

The answer to xenophobia is to respond in the opposite spirit – ‘philoxenia’ which is the Biblical (Greek) term for generosity or hospitality.

It literally means love of strangers and foreigners.

Go on try it. Practice generosity or hospitality with a stranger.  And maybe just maybe you will encounter an ‘angel’...

Phil - an Anglican minister, who is also a Street Angel, and a part of Mahabba