Meeting on Islam 5th July 2012
Our summer meeting took place as usual at the Friends Meeting House in Stratford-upon-Avon. We were hoping to hear from Mr Qamar Bhatti, a distinguished Muslim from Coventry, about the variety of Muslim traditions in the world today, and how what he describes as the ‘silent Muslim majority’ can play its part in creating a compassionate, creative society in Britain.
Unfortunately Qamar was delayed on a journey from Glasgow by the seven-hour closure of the M6 toll road, and was unable to be with us. In his absence the Chairman initiated a discussion with some reminiscences of his own 40-year engagement with the world of Islam, and by asking the assembled company whether they thought that Islam and Muslims were treated fairly in the British media. Most acknowledged that they were not, and Canon Lamb was able to point to instances of press distortion recorded in the book Meeting Muslims, which has just been published.*
Discussion continued to range far and wide over the character of religious belief itself, and in particular its relationship with politics. ‘Muhammad, it has been said, was his own Constantine’, in the sense that Christianity was a persecuted minority faith in the Roman empire for 300 years before the conversion of the Emperor and the move into a privileged position, whereas for Muslims that shift into the exercise of power occurred in the lifetime of Muhammad himself. A number of those present thought that the ability to wield political power was detrimental to the integrity of the faith concerned. At this point we would have particularly valued Qamar Bhatti’s contribution, but we did hear from a new, Muslim member of the Forum.
* Meeting Muslims, edited by Ataullah Siddiqui & Christopher A Lamb, published by Christians Aware, 2 Saxby Street, Leicester LE2 0ND, 2012 at £10. [ISBN 978-1-873372-40-1].