Category Archives: News and Events

Asylum seekers & refugees talk ~ Belfast, 31st August

NICRAS Speaker at Frederick Street – 31st August

Justin Kouame, Chairperson of the Northern Ireland Council of Refugees and Asylum Seekers will be speaking at Frederick Street Meetinghouse at 7.00pm on Wednesday 31 August.   He will speak about his experiences as an asylum seeker and about refugees in Northern Ireland.  He would be happy to answer questions and discuss how we, as Quakers, can help the work of NICRAS.  Tea and coffee will be provided.

 

Alternatives to Violence workshop ~ Dublin, 9th-11th September

AVP2An Alternatives to Violence basic project workshop will take place in Dublin on 9th-11th September.

This will be open to anyone willing to explore volunteering for Alternatives to Violence – a training programme enabling participants to deal with potentially violent situations in new and creative ways.

The workshop will take place in Tallaght West Childhood Initiative Development on Fri 9th September from 5.30-7.30pm, on Sat 10th September from 9.30am-6pm and on Sunday 11th September from 9.30am-6pm.

Maximum: 20 participants

Cost: €20

For more info see this flyer – Alternatives to Violence workshop – and to find out more about Alternatives to Violence, click here.

Culture Night ~ Dublin, 16th September

welcomeEustace Street Meeting House, Dublin, will be open again for Culture Night. Visitors will be welcome from 5pm to 10pm on 16th September 2016.

Eustace Street Friends are expecting the same wonderful help from other Dublin Friends this year! Volunteer sign-up sheets have been forwarded to the other meetings.

Sign up, come up, link up and play your part in welcoming 100s of visitors through the doors!

EcoQuakers booklet to help Meetings become more sustainable

EcoQuakers Ireland has produced a booklet to help Quaker Meetings in Ireland become more sustainable in line with the commitment made at Ireland Yearly Meeting in April 2016 that each Meeting would develop a sustainability plan before January 2017.

Responding to IYM 2016 booklet coverThe booklet, Responding to IYM 2016: Living sustainably and fairly on this earth, aims to help each Meeting answer the call to live peacefully and sustainably, with a vision that emerges from their own Meeting.

What does your Meeting feel led to do? What does love require?

The Quaker testimonies of equality and peace are witness to our vision of a world grounded in love and in answering that of God in each other. They call for a transformation of the economic and political system, as well as the ending of the misuse of the Earth’s resources, which we recognise creates inequality, destroys community, affects health and wellbeing, leads to war and erodes our integrity.

Friends all over the world are – in the Quaker tradition – stepping out of their comfort zones to see where their lives may contain the seeds of war in relation to sustainability. As part of this, the 2016 Friends World Committee for Consultation World Quaker Gathering in Peru called on Yearly Meetings around the world to initiate at least two concrete actions on sustainability by January 2017. In response, IYM in Spring 2016 committed to divest from fossil fuels, and has asked all Meetings to develop a sustainability plan, no matter how simple, before January 2017.

The booklet, which you can see here, outlines two example sustainability plans to demonstrate how different they can be, and contains some possible actions under the categories of Energy and Transport, Food and Biodiversity, Consumption and Finances, Cultivating Community and Speaking Truth to Power. This process needs to be joyful and spirit-led, and the booklet contains only promptings to help you create your own vision for sustainability within your Meeting.

We hope you find the booklet inspiring, comforting and challenging, and we look forward to exploring each others’ experiences at IYM 2017. In the meantime, please get in touch if you’d like a member of the EcoQuaker committee to come and talk with your Meeting. More importantly, we must remember to be compassionate with ourselves and others as we hold each other accountable to this task. This challenge is as much a spiritual call as a material one, to act not in fear, but with hope and love.

EcoQuakers Ireland – Richard Bloomfield (Cork), Alice Clark (South Belfast), Lynn Finnegan (Coleraine), Fiona Murdoch (Rathfarnham), and Jane Touhey (Churchtown). The IYM representative to Eco-Congregation Ireland, Gillian Armstrong (Rathfarnham) is an ex-officio member.

Minute 39 of Ireland Yearly Meeting 2016:

Call to action on Sustainability from Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC) Plenary in Peru Claire Conboy-Stephenson has read the minute agreed at the FWCC Plenary in Peru urging the worldwide Quaker community to re-double its efforts in relation to sustainability. It calls on Yearly Meetings to initiate at least two concrete actions on sustainability by January 2017.

The Special Interest Group facilitated by Eco-Quakers Ireland has reflected on this and has proposed a number of actions. We agree to the following two actions:

1.To commit to making all the Meetings within Ireland Yearly Meeting as sustainable as possible, considering such factors as accessibility by public transport, energy efficiency, use of Fairtrade tea and coffee and use of organic and locally sourced food when possible. We ask Meetings to develop a sustainability plan, no matter how simple, before January 2017. We ask Ireland Yearly Meeting to take its sustainability plan into consideration when planning for its next Yearly Meeting.

2.To follow in the steps of FWCC by developing an investment strategy, by January 2017, to ethically invest all the funds within the Yearly Meeting in sustainable and peaceful companies, and divest from destructive industries, including fossil fuels.

We also ask all Meetings to consider how truth prospers with regard to sustainability, taking care to relate this to all of our testimonies – peace, simplicity, truth and equality.

 

 

‘Muslim Cultural Awareness’ evening

P1140141 (2)Twenty-nine people attended the ‘Muslim Cultural Awareness’ evening hosted by the Welcoming Refugees Group in Churchtown Meeting on 23rd June.

Shaykh Umar Al-Quadri, Imam of the Mosque at Al-Mustafa Islamic Centre Ireland in Clonee and Chair of the Irish Muslim Peace and Integration Council, began the session by teaching attendees the Muslim greetings As-salamu alaykum  (Peace be upon you) and Waʿalaykumu s-salām (And upon you, peace).

Shaykh Umar Al-Quadri is an Islamic scholar who co-founded the Al-Mustafa Islamic Cultural Centre Ireland and is also the Chair of the Irish Muslim Peace & Integration Council, a national representative Muslim body with branches in Dublin, Cork, Athlone, Portlaoise and Belfast. He represents the Muslim community of Ireland in various governmental and non-governmental bodies and organisations, including the Fingal Ethnic Network, Fingal County Council, Citizen Information Centre Blanchardstown and  TCD Scriptural Reasoning Group. He writes occasionally on Islam related affairs in Irish newspapers, particularly The Irish Times.

He was not eating or drinking until 10.00pm because it was Ramadan, fasting time.

Some of the other aspects he talked about were:

The difference between Arabs and Muslims. Arabs are people who speak Arabic. Of the 367 million worldwide, some are Christian or Jewish. 30% of them are Muslim. Not all Muslims are Arabs. There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world today, approximately 24% of the total world population.

Muslim attitudes towards the West. There are Muslims who hate the West. Some look up to the democracy, respect for human rights and some political systems of the West. There are Muslims in-between on this spectrum. While there are cultural differences between Muslims from different countries, the binding concept that all nationalities should worship together is central.

Integration. In Ireland Muslims are well integrated, unlike Britain where they don’t all speak English or even Arabic. There they often worship in their own language together.

The most important things for Muslims are first faith and then family. They would not consider having their elderly parents in nursing homes. They feel a duty to look after them at home as they looked after their children. And usually children would not marry someone of whom their parents did not approve.

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Teachings. There are 3 major categories –

Iman i.e. Theology (what they believe). Jesus, Abraham and others were prophets but for them, Jesus is not the Son of God. There is life after death and its quality will be decided by how life on earth is lived.

Islam i.e. 5 pillars of faith –

Shahadah: to believe there is only one God, Allah

Salat: praying in the proper way five times each day

Zakat: paying alms (or charity) tax to benefit the poor and the needy (2.5% of one’s annual savings : if paid during Ramadan its spiritual benefit is multiplied 700 times)

Sawm: fasting during the month of Ramadan (some women and children are exempt)

Hajj: the pilgrimage to Mecca

Ihsan i.e. the state of a person’s heart/a pure heart or actions for the love of God.

Correct knowledge of faith. Most Muslims are ignorant of their faith and some confuse faith and culture. This is because children from 5 to 10 years of age are taught to read the Koran but they may not necessarily understand what it means and their religious education may stop then. For instance, all that is required for an Imam to legally bless a Muslim marriage is that both the man and woman are adult and sane, that the man has paid a dowry and that there are two witnesses. Many Muslims think that the parents’ permission is also necessary but this is not so.

Many of the wars in Muslim countries, although described as wars between different branches of the religion, are cultural or economic. A comparison with the Troubles in Northern Ireland was made.

Sufism is the mystical movement in Islam.

Cultural habits and some hints when interacting with Muslim refugees

  • Unrelated males and females do not usually shake hands although they may in an intercultural setting. Usually the man would put his hand on his heart and bow towards the woman. The men may kiss each other on the cheek. The women may hug each other.
  • Visiting a Muslim home. Bring a gift but not alcohol or pork.
  • In a Muslim community, unlike ours where it is considered polite to look someone in the eye, it is considered polite to be shy and not look someone in the eye.
  • Id, which will fall on 6th July, is like Christian Christmas. It’s the end of Ramadan and people prepare a special meal and exchange gifts.
  • Pakistani and Indian Muslims have a strong culture of sharing.
  • It is considered rude to sit in such a way that you point the soles of your shoes at anyone.
  • Syrians take off their shoes when entering a home.
  • The only rule of the Koran for women’s attire is that they cover their hair, neck and the side of their face i.e. wear the Nicab. No other clothes are prescribed by the Koran.
  • “Mashala” is a blessing on a new baby wishing that the Evil Eye may not look at it.
  • It’s best not to talk differences – Sunni or Shia etc. The majority of Muslims are Sunni: they usually don’t go to Shia Mosques. There are less Shia and they will worship at a Sunni Mosque.

Further learning

  • Most Hollywood movies portray Muslims as fundamentalist suicide bombers. Some more balanced are:
  • The Messenger – Muhammed’s life story.
  • Le Grand Voyage – the story of an elderly man’s pilgrimage to Mecca
  • Journey into Europe – Prof Akbar Ahmed’s film on life for Muslims in Europe after 9/11
  • Rumi – a film still in production and starring Leonardo di Caprio, which aims to present a different Holllywood image of Muslims.

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The evening concluded with Shaykh  Al-Quadri inviting all present to the Mosque in Blanchardstown on Saturday 2nd July to celebrate an Iftar dinner.