Joint Interfaith Iftar

HFOF and Al-Mustafa Welfare Trust held a jointly organised Iftar on Thursday 7th April.

Thanks to the generosity of West Thames College the Joint Iftar was held in the beautiful Music Room and Winter Garden Room of Spring Grove House. About fifty people representing most of the faith communities in the borough, West London Humanists, Hounslow Council and the Police attended the meeting. Charanjit AjitSingh, Chair of Hounslow Friends of Faith and Asma Bilal of Al-Mustafa Welfare Trust were co-hosts and introduced the speakers see pictures below:

Michael Michaelides, Executive Director of Resources and Student Experience at West Thames College welcomed everyone and gave a brief introduction about the college which is a diverse community of 6,000 students. Then Rizana Latif, a founder Trustee of Al-Mustafa Welfare Trust, explained that the Ramadan fast month reminds Muslims to be ‘God conscious’ and become more responsible human beings which includes giving charity to those in need. Shafiq Rehman, a Trustee of HFOF, brought greetings from Hounslow Jamia Masjid where he is General Secretary. He said that Ramadan fasting is not just about abstaining from food and drink but about purifying the heart in order to come closer to God and that all people are united by a common humanity and must work together for justice. Maqsood Ahmed, Director of UK projects for Al-Mustafa Welfare Trust, spoke about the work of the charity. Projects in the UK include help for the homeless, distribution of unsold food to the needy and a resettlement programme for female Muslim prisoners released from Bronzefield Prison. Some of the Trust’s many international projects mentioned were cataract operations performed around the world, a specialist eye hospital in Lahore in Pakistan, provision of water bore holes and pumps in desert areas and helping to build mosques with solar panels which in many ways give help to poor communities.

At sunset the Muslims present had the opportunity to say prayers in the Banks Room and break their fast. Then everyone enjoyed a delicious plant based meal, courtesy of Al-Mustafa Trust, provided by caterers Cha Cha’z of Feltham.

New Patrons of Hounslow Friends of Faith

Ajit Singh MBE and Prem Sondhi were appointed as Patrons on 18th November 2021 at the Hounslow Friends of Faith Interfaith Week meeting held in Hounslow House. Both have given longstanding support to Hounslow Friends of Faith and to promoting interfaith harmony.

Visit to Heston Coptic Orthodox Church

Hounslow Friends of Faith were invited to visit St Mary and Pope Kyrillos VI Coptic Orthodox Church Heston on Monday 3rd February and join committee members of the International Association of Religious Freedom, following their regular meeting, for lunch and a presentation by Father Morkos Fakhry Gamil giving the history of the Coptic Church. A number from HFOF and MP Ruth Cadbury accepted the invitation and enjoyed their visit.

After lunch Mrs Charanjit AjitSingh, as a committee member of each organisation, gave a brief introduction about the International Association of Religious Freedom and HFOF.

Then Father Morkos gave a comprehensive history about the Orthodox Coptic Church. Here are some of the facts he shared. The Christian message was first brought to Egypt by St Mark who is known as the first Pope of Alexandria. During the time of the Roman Empire Christians suffered persecution particularly under Emperor Diocletian. Important theologians from the Coptic Church include: Origen, Athanasius and Cyril the Great. The monastic way of life also started in Egypt with St Anthony, St Pacomius and St Shenauda. The Great Schism between the Oriental Orthodox Church and the Western Church occurred in 451 AD following the Council of Chalcedon when there was a difference of opinion about the language used to describe the nature of Jesus.

The Coptic Church survived the rise of Islam in Egypt in the seventh century. Public Christian teaching was not allowed but songs about faith were introduced.

Through the years the Coptic Church introduced schools for both boys and girls and had an early ability to print books. During the first half of the 20th century the church was very influential and there was a Coptic Prime Minister in 1908 but he was assassinated after only a year in office. Then during the time Nasser was Prime Minister there were economic changes and tensions and many Christians and Jews left the country. At the present time there are good relations between Prime Minister Sisi and Pope Tawadros II. Copts make up 15 – 20% of the population of Egypt.  

The St Mary and Pope Kyrillos VI Coptic Orthodox Church in Heston was started six years ago and now serves the local community through providing worship services, support for homeless in Hounslow and music and other education sessions.

Father Morkos was thanked for his most interesting presentation and he and the management were thanked for their generous hospitality. Those who wished were given a tour of the church and shown the icons of the saints and the colourful windows depicting three miracles of Jesus raising the dead to life. An open invitation was given to attend worship – see the church’s web site for details of times. It is not recommended that visitors attend on a Sunday as the church is always very full on that day for the three hour service.

Holocaust Day Event

This year’s Holocaust Memorial Day Event was hosted by St Mark’s Secondary School, Hounslow on Monday 27th January. The event was led by the Area Dean Reverend Richard Frank and attended by the Mayor, the Deputy Mayor, the Leader of Hounslow Council and other members of the Council, local MP Ruth Cadbury, representatives from Hounslow Friends of Faith, the local community and pupils from the school. The theme was Stand Together.

The Guest Speaker was Natalie Cumming who gave an enthralling talk based around her book ‘The Fiddle’, a true story about her family and how a violin helped her family to flee from Bolshevik Russia in the 20th century and her aunt to later survive in Auschwitz and Belsen Nazi concentration camps. Members of the school orchestra played the Nimrod theme and  the school drama department performed a dramatised reading of the poem Tormented Hearts by Misba Sheikh.

AGM 2019

The well attended AGM was held on 24th July in the splendid environment of the top floor of Hounslow House, the new Civic Centre. The keynote speaker was Maqsood Ahmed OBE, Director of UK Projects for the charity Muslim Hands. His theme was The Importance of Interfaith Dialogue in Contemporary Societies. He expressed the view that  dialogue is about building bridges through ta’rafu – which means knowing each other. His vision is to work for the good of humanity not retaliating to hostility or negative views. He described the Muslim Hands Project in Hounslow called Open Kitchen. This restaurant on the Great West Road is open daily with nourishing free meals for those in need.

Walk of Peace and Friendship 2019

Outside the World Zoroastrian Centre, Feltham

This year’s HFOF Walk of Peace and Friendship was held on Saturday 22nd June with more than forty walkers taking part. The walk visited the World Zoroastrian Centre in Hanworth Road Feltham, the Gurdwara Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak in Martindale Road Hounslow, the Islamic Integration Community Centre, Staines Road Hounslow and St Mary’s Church in Bedfont. The Mayor of Hounslow Cllr Tony Louki attended and as always the walkers were given a warm welcome at every venue. 

Farewell to Bessie

Farewell to Bessie White

HFOF Women’s Group Outing

Empire of the Sikhs

I am pleased to circulate the Group’s outing details to see an exquisite exhibition at the Brunei Gallery, SOAS, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London, WC1H 0XG. Admission is free. Nearest Tube Station Russell Square (Piccadilly Line) on Saturday 11th August. We will meet at Osterley Tube Station at 10.00am or you can join us at the venue at 11.00am. A guided tour has been arranged so please wait for the group.

 

Empire of the Sikhs Poster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smiles and Friendship in Feltham

There were smiles and welcome at every venue for the 2018 Walk of Peace and Friendship on 24th June.  Our annual event took in four places of worship in the Feltham area with, in the words of local MP Seema Malhotra, once again the message of the value of walking in each other’s footsteps and through each other’s doors.  Mayor of Hounslow Councillor Samia Chaudhary also attended and welcomed the work of Hounslow Friends of Faith.

The Walk began at the Athula Dassana Buddhist Centre in Hanworth where monk Bhikkhu Assaji explained Buddhist philosophy and practice before the community members provided lunch.  After crossing Hanworth Park the second visit was to the Riverside Vineyard Church in Browells Lane where Senior Pastor Andy Chapman explained the work of the church in meeting the needs of the area.  He described their newly completed community centre and the Storehouse Project which provides food and equipment to families in difficulties.

There was a warm welcome at HIRA (the Hounslow Islamic Relief Association).  Imam Sheikh Mohammed Sayed gave a short talk on Ramadan before a tour of the centre. He joined us for the final visit to St Lawrence’s Catholic Church on The Green. Deacon Colin Macken responded to a range of questions about the church.  The wealth of the church he said is its people.

Thank you to everyone for an excellent day.  And the sun shone!

Faiths celebrate their Commonwealth Heritage

A ‘Big Lunch’ to celebrate the Commonwealth heritage of many residents of the borough is being held on 19th April.  Hounslow Jamia Masjid in Wellington Road South is taking the initiative to mark the meeting of the Heads of Government of Commonwealth countries taking place in London in April 2018.  Events have already taken place and Hounslow Friends of Faith was represented at a reception to mark the occasion which took place at Buckingham Palace in February. Members also attended a reception in March at Hounslow Civic Centre at the invitation of the Mayor of Hounslow, Councillor Sue Sampson.

General Secretary of the mosque Shafiq Rehman sees the lunch as a great community event, once again celebrating the diversity of Hounslow borough.  He hopes to have people present at the lunch from as many of the 53 countries of the Commonwealth as possible, many of whom will be of different faiths.  Get in touch with Hounslow Friends of Faith if you would like to attend or know someone else who would like an invitation.