Coffee Morning: Ladies' visit to the Al Mahdi Centre

'Everything stops for Cake and Conversation'

On Saturday 4th November over 40 ladies from St Peter's church in Titchfield and St Nicholas in Wickham joined together to visit the Al Mahdi Centre on Fontley Road where we were hosted by our Muslim friends.

cakeWe were warmly welcomed by their Imam, Sheikh Fazle Abbas Datoo, who showed us around the Centre. Shabbir Walji and Taki Jaffer gave a talk explaining the great thought and passion behind the concept of their building. Money had been raised and the land purchased and then the building was designed to blend in and compliment the surrounding area, partly modelled on Titchfield Abbey. The planning also involved making the building environmentally sustainable – 'oh how I wish this could be possible in our ancient churches!'

We then had tea and refreshments and sat at tables, for about 5 people, which were hosted by the ladies from the Centre so that we could ask questions of each other and learn about each others faith and life experiences. The conversation helped to build many bridges between us as we learnt some of the traditions and challenges that Muslim women have today living in the UK.

There were plenty of questions about Ramadan: learning that fasting in the month of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam and a way of learning self-control and will power and exercising a spirit of charity.

"A wide range of topics were covered in the open conversations including our lifestyles, faith, traditions and understanding of stories from the Bible and Qur'an" said Fatim Jaffer, the host from Al Mahdi Women. She added that this event left us all feeling connected and contributed to eradicating misconceptions that exist through our lack of knowledge about one another.

cake2One lady was delighted to learn the family line to both Mohamed and Jesus; she understood better just how closely related the two faiths are.
Another lady commented that she was very 'fearful of those who wore hijab but having been to this event, she has left all her fears behind'.

The unanimous feedback from the ladies was that they felt it had been a really worthwhile visit, one said 'it is important that we go out of our way to learn the truth for ourselves and not just rely on what we hear so often in the media'.

The morning was rounded off by Khudayja Datoo- a youth in the community, as she read us a poem that she had written about 'Iconic Women in Islam'.

Reverend Jane Isaac said, "The Wickham ladies are all 'star bakers' and so they really appreciated the wonderful food we were offered during our visit. Sharing food andcake3 conversation is a wonderful way to make new friends, and in coming together as two faith communities to talk about the ordinary everyday things like recipes and family life we opened up conversation about some of the deep realities in which we all share.

The morning passed by too quickly and it was time to go. All of our ladies thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the Centre and as we left we were encouraged to come again at any time; we will certainly try to do that and also to host a reciprocal visit to Titchfield and Wickham early next year.

Reverend Janet Trevithick said 'Reverend Jane and I were overwhelmed and really encouraged by the interest shown by our ladies. We are so grateful to our Muslim hosts for such a memorable and enlightening, warm and friendly visit to the Al Mahdi Centre.

Everyone is very much looking forward to our next meeting!

Al Mahdi Centre
Fontley Road
Titchfield, Fareham
Hampshire, PO15 6QR
England

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