Local Christian - Muslim Friendship

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					      Local Christian - Muslim Friendship

How to be friends with the church or mosque next door


This booklet about making friendships between neighbouring mosques and churches (‘twinning’), is
inspired by the well-known twinning between towns and cities in the UK and other countries. Our
aim is to build and demonstrate strong local friendships between Christians and Muslims. We intend
to inspire people to get to know their neighbours and offer our ideas, and support, to help clear
hurdles and build bridges.

Friendship – the energy for growing these relationships comes from friendship. Twinning mosques
and churches is not a project, or something forced upon the unwilling, it is a celebration of being
together as friends and neighbours. Friendship and sharing encourages the Christian Muslim Forum
in its work to promote ‘strong personal relationships between Christians and Muslims, based on faith
in God’. The importance of friendship for the creation of the Christian Muslim Forum as a joint
Christian-Muslim venture was highlighted by the late Bishop John Austin: in his description of our
initial phase:

‘As the process unfolded what became increasingly clear was just how important it was that the
initiative was a partnership between Muslims and Christians. It would have no credibility at all
without the genuine collaboration of a group of Muslims and Christians who have become fast
friends through the work they have shared together.’

Why Inter Faith?

Inter faith engagement entails a vast array of action carried out by people who want to build mutual
understanding and respect. Some of the main reasons for Christian-Muslim engagement include:

   Demonstrating appreciation of people of other faiths and their contributions to society
   Demonstrating to fellow Muslims and Christians the importance of positive inter faith relations.
   Campaigning on common goals, such as social, political or economic justice
   Challenging prejudice and hatred of Christians, Muslims and other people in society
   Learning about the history, beliefs and doctrines of each others faiths
   Articulating the validity and religious truths of one’s own faith
   Acknowledging historic injustices experienced at each other’s hands

The First Inter Faith Week for England

This resource is being launched during Inter Faith Week (15-21 November 2009) as a public
commitment to developing friendships between Christians and Muslims in England, and more
widely. We are putting building local relationships and working locally at the heart of our agenda as
a national organisation. We aim to show how a national vision can energise local relationships and
initiatives and how local initiatives can begin to change the national landscape. We offer this
resource, our commitment, and all our work as a role model for strong, productive, real friendships
between Christians and Muslims.

Why Build Local Relationships?

We believe that:

•   not enough Christians and Muslims are involved in building bridges and meeting each other
•   there are many grassroots initiatives but not enough to change perceptions in society
•   encounters between ‘leaders’ do not trickle down.
•   the benefits to our society of good Christian-Muslim relations are only rarely seen
•   ‘religious’ messages of extremists challenge faith communities and positive inter faith work.

Passionate individuals, willing to reach out to their neighbours in other faith communities, can give
real meaning to what it means to be a neighbourhood.

Why Mosque-Church Twinning?

It is often noted that a lot of inter faith work is restricted by the irregularity of events and because it
only reaches a small section of faith communities, not impacting communities at large. Twinning is a
unique opportunity to build an ongoing and wide-reaching relationship between faith communities
both at leadership and congregational level.

Friendships develop over time and grow stronger with more interaction, friendships between faith
communities are no different, mosque-church twinning helps to develop this friendship. Forging a
firm relationship with people of other faiths enhances our understanding of people of other faiths
and in the process can also help us in understanding and enriching our own faith and the role it
plays in relation to those of other faiths. Twinning is:

•   a committed public relationship between a neighbouring mosque and church involving the
    members of both congregations, their leaders and trustees. It includes women and men, young
    people and the elderly and will have an impact on others who make use of both sets of
    buildings. The involvement of places of worship and congregations are central to twinning.

•   an effective means of dealing with any suspicion and mistrust that sometimes occurs in
    communities. If there is a strong connection between a mosque and church there is a direct and
    effective means of dealing with difficulties through friendship and community ties. A long-lasting
    relationship between a mosque and a church will help people to cope with challenges facing our

Christian and Muslim Scriptures on Relationships

The messages of both Islam and Christianity are not restricted to particular groups or nations but
are for all humanity and having relationships with each other is central:

‘’We have created you male and female, and made you into nations and tribes so that you may
know one another’’ (The Qur’an, Surah 49.13)

‘’Love the Lord your God with all your heart… your neighbour as yourself’’ (Mark’s Gospel, 13.
29 - 31)

Case Study: Building Bridges Pendle

For ‘One World Week 2005’, Building Bridges Pendle created the ‘Faith Communities Project’. This
project involved the pairing of two local Churches and two local Mosques, with the aim of further
strengthening the links that already exist between these places of worship in Nelson.

The project was given very careful consideration by Building Bridges Pendle when it was designed.
The desired intention being; to achieve bringing inter faith dialogue to a new level between our Faith
communities but at the same time, aiming to remain sensitive as to how far we can push the
boundaries of what is currently accepted as the perceived limits of integration, in this case
specifically between the Christian and Muslim faith communities.

There have been many examples that have demonstrated the success of this project which can be
seen through events held by places of worship within the twinning scheme, as well as a number of
events between Ministers and Imams as a result of the twinning scheme. For example;

1. The Faith leaders of each of these places of worship took part in a workshop to produce a
   statement of commitment to work together over the coming years; ‘As a Faith leader of a
   sacred place of worship, I make a promise of working together with my fellow neighbour who
   does not share the same Religion or culture as mine. I will aim to bridge a common
   understanding between our congregations and build a relationship of friendship and respect.’

2. Between the Nelson United Reformed Church and the Muhammadi Mosque, the Church
   congregation were invited to take part in a prize-giving ceremony for children held at the
   Muhammadi Mosque. In return, the Mosque leadership and worshippers were invited to the
   United Reformed Church for a meal on Shrove Tuesday. In both of these events, there was
   considerable learning about the religious and cultural practices between the Imam and the
   Minister and also between the congregations of both Faith communities.

3. Christ Church in Nelson and the Central Ghausia Mosque, hosted a joint Christianity and Islamic
   awareness day. Events took place at both the Church and Mosque where the Priest and Imam,
   adults and children from both congregations had an input. Another important element during
   this event was that members of the Mosque helped to make and serve tea and coffee at the
   Church. Members from Christ Church helped to serve the food at the Mosque.

4. Ministers and Imams involved in the scheme and others came together for a workshop and
   intense discussion on their role as well as the role of their congregations in developing cohesion.
   A pledge to make a difference was produced; ‘We pledge, as leaders and members of Faith
   Communities, to honour and respect all people in our neighbourhood by creating friendships
   and opportunities to share issues and concerns, experiences and expertise; To increase our
   understanding of diversity and faith: to be positive and active role models of open dialogue and
   constructive work as a community in our neighbourhoods: based upon our shared
   understanding of the oneness of God contained within our own faith tradition.’

The ‘Faith Communities Project’ has served to highlight the potential of what can be achieved with
strong leadership from faith leaders in bringing their congregations together and sharing in each
other’s company. It has also shown that it does not compromise one’s faith to take part in inter faith
projects such as this one. As small and subtle as any activity may seem, they are very significant in
the impact they have on developing the attributes of friendship in people’s hearts. Brave steps have
to be taken, prejudices be realised and challenged in the process. This is a long-term journey.

We pray that this positive model of inter faith work will be followed by other projects throughout the
country. What has definitely been appreciated is that people of different faiths can come much
closer to each other than is perceived.

Rauf Bashir
Building Bridges Pendle

How does Twinning work?

The case study from Nelson shows that openness, friendship and hospitality are key, as is building
on an existing relationship.

Some ideas for twinning:

Invitation to mosque/church open day: making people welcome and become familiar with each
others places of worship. Discover how people of different faith worship and create friendships with
people of other faiths.

Informal Faith leaders meeting: develop dialogue between local faith leaders and reflect on their role
in community development. A chance to plan regular meetings and plan future communication.

Invitation to attend festivals: a great chance to learn about other people’s faith and worship by taking
part in festivities

Exchange of speakers: this can be an amazing insight to what faith means and how it is understood
by individual members of the faith community in your locality.

Scriptural reasoning: scriptural reasoning is text study between Christians and Muslims that takes
part in small groups. Together we can discover and share our intimate relationship with our
particular scriptural revelations (see Resources for further information on Scriptural Reasoning)

Meeting of faith leaders to discuss common concerns in their communities: working together on
shared common goals and concerns. Discuss shared concerns and how church and mosque can
work together.

Joint fundraising or awareness events: holding events to raise money for Christian and Muslim
charities, e.g. Christian Aid and Islamic Relief.

Working together to organise awareness on climate change among our communities and our role as
people of faith in global issues.

Eight Other Steps

•   arrange a meeting between your imam and minister (unless they are already meeting)
•   invite people from the other congregation to an event
•   arrange a friendship lunch or dinner at a special time in your religious calendar
•   organise a ‘learn about Islam’ or ‘learn about Christianity’ meeting and invite each other
•   help each other with collecting donations during Christian Aid week or Ramadan
•   organise a community meeting together on a local issue
•   arrange a friendship meeting between Christian and Muslim parents of schoolchildren
•   arrange Christian-Muslim sporting events (especially for young people, with mixed-faith teams)

What to do next

The Christian Muslim Forum is committed to assisting and enabling communities to establish
mosque-church twinning. We can do this in various ways by providing:

•   Contacts and support in making contacts
•   Facilitators and access to Forum members
•   Leaders’ training
•   Financial support for initial meetings
•   Unbiased information on Christianity and Islam

About the Christian Muslim Forum

Our mission is to

•   Create a space where Christians and Muslims meet, learn about and understand each other
•   Live faithfully with difference
•   Heal Christian-Muslim relationships

Since our launch in 2006 we have:

•   Brought imams and ministers together in pairs and shared case studies of working together
•   Run retreats for Christian and Muslim women
•   Organised activity weekends for small groups of young Christians and Muslims
•   Provided training for youth workers
•   Organised international exchanges for small groups of Christian and Muslims
•   Brought Christian and Muslim young people together on global issues such as Climate Change

Friendship has been at the heart of all of these, our vision is for many more Christians and Muslims
to get to know each other.

If you require more information on mosque-church twinning or any other Christian-Muslim issue
please don’t hesitate to contact us:

Christian Muslim Forum
70 South Lambeth Road
Telephone 0207 820 0444
Fax 0207 840 5811,

Support and Resources


Christian Muslim Forum:
Inter Faith Network for the UK:
Three Faiths Forum:
St Ethelburga’s:
St Philip’s Centre:
World Council of Muslims for Inter Faith Relations

Useful Links

Ethical Guidelines for Christian and Muslim Witness in Britain:

A Guide to Etiquette for meetings between Christians and Muslims:
Christian Muslim Forum Ethos Statement:

Issues in Christian Muslim Relations, World Council of Churches, 1992.


Building Good Relations with People of Different Faiths and Beliefs, Inter Faith Network, 2005

Celebrating Difference, Staying Faithful, Andrew Wingate, Darton, Longman & Todd Ltd, 2005

Guidelines on Dialogue with People of Living Faiths and Ideologies, WCC, 1990

Interfaith Dialogue: A Guide for Muslims, M. Shafiq, M. Abu-Nimer, IIIT, 2007.

Islam and Other Faiths, Ismail al-Faruqi, edited Ataullah Siddiqui, The Islamic Foundation,1998.

Scriptures in Dialogue: Christians and Muslims Studying the Bible and The Qur'an Together, and
The Road Ahead: A Muslim-Christian Dialogue, Michael Ipgrave, CHP, 2004, 2002

Striving Together in Dialogue: A Muslim-Christian Call to Reflection and Action, WCC, 2001

The Local Inter Faith Guide: Faith Community Cooperation in Action, Inter Faith Network, 2005