Columban leaders welcomed at Birmingham Mosque

Feb 8, 2024

Columban leaders from Hong Kong – Fr Brian Vale (Vicar General of the Columbans) and Sainiana Tamatawale (Columban Lay Missionaries Central Leadership Team) – joined the Columban Inter Religious Dialogue team in Britain last week to visit the Birmingham Central Mosque, writes Mauricio Silva, Columban Inter Religious Dialogue Coordinator in Britain.

Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham was paying a visit to the Central Mosque on the same afternoon, so the Columban group had a chance to chat and to have our photo taken with him.

The mosque was constructed in 1969 and opened to the public in the early 1970s, becoming one of the most recognised religious buildings in Birmingham and a place where dialogue with people of diverse faiths occurs. Imam Mohammed Assad and Chairman Mr Muhammed Afzal greeted and welcomed us.

In 2001, the Central Mosque was the site where local Rabbi Leonard Tann stood shoulder to shoulder with Muslim leaders after they received abusive calls in reaction to the atrocities of 9/11.

This significant encounter gave rise to the Faith Leaders Group, along with other interfaith initiatives supported by Columbans, such as the Highgate Interfaith Forum, which meets there every month.

Local faith guide, Tahir Alam, showed the Columbans around the building which can accommodate up to 4,500 worshippers every Friday.

The group also had the chance to meet Nasreen Akhtar, the Faith Guide who was trained by a project supported by the Columbans – the Faith Encounter Programme. She shared information about the hundreds of school visits she guides every year and how fulfilling the experience is of sharing her faith with others.

They also met Mahmooda Qureshi, a local Muslim faith leader, who spoke about work promoting community cohesion and dialogue among the diverse communities.

Mahmooda reflected with them on the tensions created locally as a result of the tragic events in Israel and Gaza.

We were delighted to show our international visitors some aspects of the work the Columbans have done over the past decades to promote life-giving relations among people of different cultures, all faiths and none.

Courtesy: Columbans in Britain and Independent Catholic News.

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