|Some of the group at the Islam Information Centre this evening|
The Faith Awareness series of summer visits to places of worship and other faith-related sites in Leicester continues this evening at the Islam Information Centre, Highfield Street. As well being contracted to work 20 hours a week for Leicester Council of Faiths, I now do a day and a half a week with Faith Awareness, the inter-faith programme of Christians Aware.
I was last here less than a week ago, helping out with a group of Year 5 pupils from Sandfield Close Primary on a visit arranged in association with The Mighty Creatives. The children had cameras, digital voice recorders and all kinds of art materials, to capture their experiences and impressions visiting not only here, but also the Jain Centre, Leicester Cathedral and BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir. Back in the classroom they'll be producing material for a display entitled "Faith in Neighbours" that will be on show in Curve during An Indian Summer later this month.
I'm glad to say that we have the biggest turnout so far for these Monday evening visits, with an even dozen of us at the start. Had any more arrived, the group would have had to be renamed "Christians Galore"!
Each of the three floors in the Centre has themed rooms. The ground floor and reception area is "Discover Islam". On the first floor are two rooms, "Status of Women" and "Islamic World of Science". In the last of these, we watch a short DVD feature, Library of Secrets, starring Sir Ben Kingsley, which reveals some of the contributions that Islam has made to some of the most essential aspects of the modern world. We're introduced to illustrious figures from the Golden Age of Muslim civilization (roughly coinciding with what is still called the Dark Ages in European history) who pushed back the frontiers of theory and practice in matters such as
- astronomy (Meriam al-Astrulabi, 10th century CE)
- mathematics (Al Kindi, c 801-873 CE)
- manned flight (Abbas Ibn Firnas, 810-887 CE)
- mechanics (Al-Jazari, 1136-1206 CE)
- optics (Ibn al-Haytham, AKA Alhazen, 965-1040 CE)
- surgery (Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi 956-1013 CE).
After we've toured the themed rooms, we return to the reception area, where some food is laid on for us. We end with a relaxed Q&A and I present Kamran with a copy of Meeting Muslims, the latest in a series of books on encounters with people of different faiths published by Christians Aware. I checked beforehand that they didn't already have a copy of this. They didn't, surprisingly, since it was done with the help of several friends in Leicester (including Daud) and is published by an inter-faith organization based a mere stone's throw away. I'm glad to be able to rectify that omission this evening.
This is the fourth of six Faith Awareness visits planned for Monday evenings in May and June, the others being
- Jain Centre, Oxford Street (13 May)
- All Saints Church, Kerrysdale Avenue (20 May)
- BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Gipsy Lane (3 June)
- Neve Shalom Progressive Synagogue, Avenue Road (17 June)
- Guru Amar Das Gurdwara, Clarendon Park Road (24 June)
I may not be ale to attend every visit personally, but I hope to arrange for a blog post on each of them. Watch this space!