in News December 12, 2018

Interfaith Monuments Reveal The Rich History Of Cooperation Between Religions

Here at Faith Forum for London we embody the values of interfaith cooperation, be it through our organised events or personal friendships. The bonds between faiths dates back in history and in this article, we thought we would take a look at a selection of interfaith landmarks throughout history.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem

 

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Located in the Christian quarter of Old City of Jerusalem, The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was built on the site where Jesus was crucified and later resurrected.

It is therefore deeply significant to a number of Christian denominations, many of whom have quarrelled over the Church’s status quo in years past.

However, one constant is the Nuseibehs and Joudeh Al-Goudias, two Palestinian Muslim families who have held door-keeping responsibilities at the Church since 1192. The gatekeepers have fostered a largely peaceful coexistence within its walls for many centuries.

Maimonides Statue, Cordoba, Spain

The Maimonides Statue is situated in the Old Jewish Quarter of Cordoba, Spain. It depicts Moses ben Maimon, the Jewish philosopher who lived during the Almoravid Empire, a Muslim dynasty, in the early 1100s.

While he is primarily remembered as an influential Jewish scholar, his knowledge extended to the Muslim faith that surrounded him. Thanks to the guiding principles of cooperation that briefly defined the Almoravid era, Maimon was treated with respect by Muslims and Jews alike.

He is viewed as an influential polymath and scholar of both Jewish and Islamic worlds, the statue serving as a lasting testament to this reputation.

Saint Catherine’s Monastery, Mount Sinai, Egypt

 

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St. Catherine’s Monastery, Sinai, Egypt (2005)

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The Saint Catherine’s Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Mount Sinai, Egypt, is one of the oldest operating Christian monasteries in the world.

However, it also has deep ties to Islamic history. It is home to a copy of the Ashtiname of Muhammad, in which the Prophet (pbuh) bestows his protection on the monastery and the Christian Monks who inhabit it.

While recent years have seen Saint Catherine’s Monastery become the focal point of sectarian arguments, its associations with Islam reveal the ancient cooperation of different faiths.

The Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

 

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Following its completion in 537 AD, the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey was the largest building in the world.

The architectural marvel was built as a Greek Orthodox Christian cathedral by the Byzantine Empire, but was later converted into a mosque following the arrival of the Ottoman empire in what was then known as Constantinople.

Granted, its history speaks of invasion and upheaval, but the Hagia Sophia’s more recent narrative reflects an easing of tensions. In 1935, the Republic of Turkey transformed it into a museum exhibiting artefacts from the entwined histories of Islam and Christianity in the country.

Lately, social shifts in Turkey have seen the Hagia Sophia called into question once more, with its future use becoming a political talking point.

Bradford Reform Synagogue, Bradford, UK

Construction on the Bradford Reform Synagogue began in 1880. Its founder and Rabbi was Dr. Joseph Strauss, one of the first Reform Rabbis in Britain.

In the early 19th Century, Bradford had a relatively large Jewish population due to the city’s booming textile industry. But as the years passed and industry declined, its numbers dwindled. In 2013, the Synagogue was faced with a dire financial situation.

Yet in a show of interfaith solidarity, Zulfi Karim, secretary of Bradford Council of Mosques, helped launch a fundraising campaign to save the Grade II listed building. It was a success.

“In Bradford we are working hard to bring people of different faiths together, and to support one another as good neighbours,” Karim told the Telegraph & Argus.

“We are delighted by the way people have rallied to save the Bradford Synagogue, which is not only a work of art in itself, but represents so much in the way of Bradford’s heritage, faith and culture.”

in News December 12, 2018


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