journeys at home and abroad
Today was #VisitMyMosque day – local Islamic centres welcoming in visitors, offering a cup of tea, a look around & a chat. At the launch was Dr Shuja Shafi, whose Muslim Council of Britain took the initiative in response to the Paris attacks last month.
My few words were about openness; that the response to the attacks shouldn’t be to retreat into our different religious, humanist & atheist communities, but to be more open, to visit each other, to get to know one another.
A man came up to me afterwards, thanking me for including people who aren’t religious. For me, & particularly since the Paris attacks, this is one of the more significant divisions, so more visits, more tea, more getting to know people across different world views seems obvious.
From my twitter feed, the participating mosques were busy – visitors & hosts enjoyed themselves. I was questioned on the ideology of the particular mosque I visited and whether it represented most Muslims. Reputational damage in this area seems to be a worry. For me, the whole purpose of these events is to meet and get to know people with whom I disagree, to enjoy their company, learn & understand a bit better, work together on as much as possible (& there’s plenty of that), and to ‘disagree well’.
By the end of #VisitMyMosque day, I was reminded of Rabbi Danny Rich’s letter to the Guardian recently on antisemitism – the only meaningful response is openness.