Our Diocesan Interfaith Advisor is Revd David Gifford
David aims to be a bridge between the diocese and other faith groups and communities who are our neighbours. He hopes to share information and news from time to time and we will update this page accordingly. Please contact David Gifford for details about his work.
There are lots of resources available to help churches and individuals explore interfaith dialogue and build communities.f you are interested in finding out more about resources available for those interested in interfaith partnership and relationship building, please contact David Gifford.
The following is a list of organisations and their websites that may offer some useful information and support:
- Presence and Engagement - The Church of England’s national programme equips Christians for mission and ministry in the wonderful diversity of our multi-faith society.
- Near Neighbours - A national Church Urban Fund network that aims to bring near neighbours in communities that are religiously and ethnically diverse together.
- The Interfaith Network - A national network that advances public knowledge and mutual understanding of the teachings, traditions and practices of the different faith communities in Britain.
- Interfaith Week - This usually takes place in November and aims to: Strengthen good interfaith relations at all levels; Increase awareness of the different and distinct faith communities in the UK, in particular celebrating and building on the contribution that their members make to their neighbourhoods and to wider society; Increase understanding between people of religious and non-religious beliefs.
- Council of Christians and Jews - The leading nationwide forum for Christian - Jewish engagement
- Christian - Muslim Forum - The leading national forum for Christian-Muslim engagement.
- Interserve - A non-denominational Christian missional community that works in cross-cultural mission in the UK as well as abroad.
- Global Connections - Global Connections have brought together resources and materials to help Christians understand and share their faith with people from other faith backgrounds.
The month Ramadhan and Fasting
Ramadhan is the 9th month of the Islamic Calendar and holds a special significance as it is the month in which Muslims all around the world fast, i.e they refrain from any food or drink from dawn until sunset each day.
Ramadhan will commence on April 2nd 2022. As the Islamic calendar is based on the lunar cycle, the month is either 29 or 30 days and each year Ramadhan shifts by around 10 days (i.e., in 2023, Ramadhan will commence circa. March 22)Fasting is a required act of worship for all adults who are healthy and capable of fasting, the Quran gives the reason for fasting as a means of developing a greater awareness and consciousness of God: “Fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may be mindful of God” (Translated Meaning of Quran: 2:183) This verse also mentions the fact that previous religious communities were also prescribed to fast and indeed references to fasting can certainly be found in Christianity and Judaism (both of these communities are extensively referred to in the Quran as “People of the Scripture”). Fasting is also a means to engender a sense of gratitude for the blessings which we have and create empathy towards those that don’t have such good fortune. It’s also a method to create self-discipline and self-improvement.
In addition to fasting other acts are strongly encouraged, prayers, reciting the Quran and charity being among them, so every evening, additional prayers are held in most mosques and fund-raising activity also takes place. Abstaining from poor behaviours which are generally discouraged such as quarrelling, raising one’s voice, backbiting, gossiping and breaking family ties are emphasised in even stronger terms during this month, the idea being that if one is prone to these acts, then by breaking these habits for the month will facilitate leaving such things for good.
The end of the month is marked by the Festival of Eid, in which special prayers are held in the morning, charity is distributed, and families generally get together to mark the end of the fasting period. Although fasting is required during Ramadhan, voluntary fasting on Mondays and Thursdays and the three middle days of each month as well as various occasions throughout the year are recommended.
Zack Pandor, a Muslim member of Herefordshire Interfaith Group explains how we observes Ramadhan:
"A typical day for me in Ramadhan would be Breakfast around 4:30 (this would change by a minute or two each day), consisting of cereal and a banana and a large glass of water, followed by prayers.
Then a few hours sleep before work (start around 08:30 until 4:30) with a break for prayers around 1 pm.
After work, I will probably try and get a ‘power nap’, about an hour or so then prayers and get ready for breaking the fast around 8 pm. It’s traditional to have dates and water to break the fast and I normally have some fruit and a homemade fruit yoghurt as well (see recipe below). We will then say a short prayer and then have our main meal. What you find after a few days of fasting, when your body has adjusted to a new routine, is that a small amount of food is sufficient.
After dinner, we have the main night prayers at the mosque, and we get home around 1130pm, so a few hours sleep, then back up again for breakfast.
This is Zack's Yoghurt Recipe:
• 3 tablespoons of thick Greek yogurt per person
• Chopped Dates, walnuts and berries
• Cold pressed honey (avoid the supermarket stuff!) or brown sugar to taste
Passover or as it is correctly known Pesach ("PAY-sock")
Pesach begins at sunset on Friday 15th April 2022 and will end at sunset on Saturday 23rd April (our Easter Day). The days before the festival begins are an extremely busy time in the Jewish household with the women (mostly) cleaning up the home in preparation. The important part will be clearing the house of chametz – any leavened products. But there will be special crockery and ornaments to be brought out and groceries to be bought in like Matza (unleavened bread) and special Passover wine.
Jewish faith is very much celebrated and remembered in the home, and so family and friends will gather at a special meal called the Seder, where the story of the Exodus from Egypt is re-told and often modern-day parallels are shared. The Seder Table will have at its centre the Seder plate: some are very ornate, handed down as treasured possessions over many generations.
Many Jews will go to Synagogue on the first day of Pesach; but typically a synagogue is principally a place of learning, not necessarily like a church where we go to worship and share the Eucharist. Most Jewish people will call the synagogue the shul: a Yiddish word for school; that explains a lot about the role and function of the synagogue.
In the end, Passover may be interpreted many ways but essentially for most Jews, it represents the idea of rebirth and a release from darkness into light – and the faith that together people are stronger than they are as individuals. It is a richly meaningful Festival
If you meet a Jewish person over the Festival, you can always wish them a Happy & Meaningful Passover with: "Chag Pesach Sameach" (""KHAG PAY-sock sah-MEY-akh")
Unlike Pesach or Passover, Purim is a minor festival – so unimportant that the psalms of praise normally recited at festivals are not recited at Purim. Purim falls in the spring and recollects a fantasy, recounted in the late biblical book of Esther (the chief wife of the king, and Jewish), of the deliverance of the Jews of Persia from king Ahasuerus’s wicked chief minister, Haman, who plans their elimination because of the refusal of Esther’s cousin, Mordecai, to bow to him. In a reversal of fortunes, Haman himself is deposed and executed, Mordecai replaces him and the Jews themselves embark on an orgy of violent
revenge. The book seems to have been written in the fourth century BCE. The rabbis who compiled the final canon were determined to include Esther. Not only does it display Jews acting in an unacceptable manner, but it attributes the deliverance entirely to human machination, not divine intervention. The book doesn’t mention God at all. But it made its way in, and the festival of Purim is celebrated with an exuberance uncharacteristic of Jewish festivals generally.
The book of Esther is read in synagogue from the megillah, a single stem scroll, with each mention of Mordecai greeted with cheers and of Haman with boos. It is the one day of the year when Jews are licensed to get drunk – so drunk that they cannot distinguish between “Long live Mordecai” and “Down with Haman” – a licence of which in fact few Jews take full advantage!
People dress up in masquerade, and a play of the story is often performed. The whole festival is analogous, in fact, to other riotous folk festivals where, for one day, the servants become the masters.
It is traditional to send gifts of food to friends, and to give to charity. The traditional food for the festival is Hamantaschen – triangles of baked or fried pastry filled with poppy seeds.
The word Purim itself means “lots” and refers to an incident in the book where Haman casts lots to decide on which day to carry out his planned massacre.