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1This being human is a guest house.Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meaness,some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.Welcome and entertain all!
Even if theyre a crowd of sorrows,who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you outfor some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,and invite them in.
Be grateful for whomever comes,because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.Jalal ad-Din Rumi,
By Saira Niazi
All my life I have lived in Tooting, one of the most culturally diverse areas in London. Walking down the high street on a busy Saturday afternoon I pass an array of vastly different shops, ranging from African Car-ibbean food joints and specialist Indian and Pakistani grocery shops to Polish general stores. Tooting is home to a number of reli-gious institutes, mosques and churches, a Temple, weve even got a Sikh Gurdwara; evidently we are a community grounded by faith.
Every morning on my way to the high street I pass two trolley homes. Transparent plastic sheets and cardboard boxes are placed shoddily over a disused Sainsburys trolley to form a makeshift dwelling and bizarre refuge for the occupants within. Stuck on the wall behind these homes are newspaper cut-outs and colourful hand-made posters with a wide range of different messages on peace and harmony. There are also a few religious notes including; Jesus loves you, Eid Mubarak and Merry Christmas. Inside lives a Caribbean woman and her young daughter. They are our local peacemakers who have nothing but misunderstood advice to offer human-ity. I was once lucky enough to speak to the older woman, her name was Mary. She told me she had an epiphany from God at 2am down at the Broadway. She had been asked to set up a stable by the edge of a dusty road, to give up her material life and devote her time to bringing everyone together in this individualist society; to spread the calm. Tooting has its fair share of what can only be described as flamboyant eccentrics each drifting through the town, day in day out. It has its own unique set of characters, the blond dread-locked man who never seems to budge from his spot on the bus bench, the rambling old alcoholic, and the quiet hobbling giant. I live in an incredibly vibrant town, a town in which I feel the locals are integrated. Never have I waited at
the bus stop and not had someone strike up a conversation with me, the eastern European guy new to town, known locals, the old people who always have some-thing to say about the weather.
In recent years, however, I have seen my community change drastically. Tensions have risen and given way to racist attacks and vandalism fuelling mutual distrust amongst all parties. A few weeks ago an old Muslim man was attacked by a group of local youths. His subsequent death has been the cause of much distress and has led local Imams to plea with Muslims against revenge attacks. Since 9/11 there have been evident changes in community life, from an increase in police to unre-lenting whispers surrounding phoney ar-rests. In these troubling times, many are asking the question, is integration possi-ble?
Im a Pakistani Muslim. Three year ago I started wearing the headscarf and I feel that it hasnt changed things much for me. I still meet new people and make the most of all the opportunities that come my way. In the past Ive worked in BBC World Service offices, Ive started up a writers group, attended pottery classes, sign lan-guage classes, children's illustration work-shops and world crisis lectures. Ive worked in diverse primary schools and busy pharmacies. Fellow classmates and colleagues have been from all walks of life, coming from countries such as Viet-nam, Bosnia, Colombia, Korea, the list is endless. (Continued on page 2)
Are people of different cultural and religious backgrounds learning to live together in harmony?
The Islamic Themed Papers
VOLUME I , ISSUE 1NOVEMBER 11TH 2009
The Messages above the Trolley Homes
Also in this weeks Issue
Young Muslims gather for Peacemaking conference in Caux, SwitzerlandHalima Khanom reports on the Art of Reflection. See page 3
pg 2pg 3pg 4pg 6pg 7 pg 8
Discussions at the conference
Reflection of the Day...
Alchemy Of Happiness Arts and Culture Islamic Architecture Islamic Perceptions Cage Prisoners I-soc Low Down
2They all have something in common; they each take pride in their heritage and accept people from other back-grounds. We get along very well as were always learning about each others cultures and ways of life, hence integration happens. Within these small classes and work places over time we bond and learn to get along in harmony. I think one of the problems is that people have trouble breaking out of their cultural group into the wider world, perhaps they dont integrate as they feel that they wont be able to relate to one another.
What would a Muslim youth have in common with a Korean lady? Youd be surprised. Sometimes youll find you can relate to the most unlikely people. Maybe its something else, maybe people fear rejection or they stick to their own as they share the same beliefs and ideals as each other. Ive been volunteering at a refugee centre for a long time now, and I find that people from the same countries stick together. This could be down to similar negative experiences and their high level of understanding of one another. Segregation in different areas around London is evident, go down to Peckham on a weekday night and youll see mostly African and Carib-bean people around, or go to Southall and most of the population will be Asian. Read the newspapers and youll undoubtedly come across something very right wing and racist, something along the lines of these bloody eastern Europeans are taking over the country or some more nega-tive propaganda on Islam, something really scathing. The British National Party is said to be getting stronger, the number of people in support of them is on the rise, perhaps due to fear evoked through newspaper articles like these. Although there is segrega-tion I would like to believe it is get-ting better- after all were all human. We all share the basics; flesh, blood, a unique mind. I think the only thing that is missing is empathy. If people
are to live together in harmony theyll need to understand one another.
Since coming to Goldsmiths over a year ago, I have found myself spending most of my time with other Muslims. Why? Perhaps because we are all treading the same path, were all searching for the same thing. Islam is a religion that tran-scends the boundaries of race, and age, gender and ethnicity. Muslims are all connected in a deep way, they live their lives based on the universal Islamic principles. Those following the real Islam are never separated, or divided, they hold no feelings of enmity in their hearts. You can see it when they pass each other on the streets with smiles on their faces, when they offer greetings of peace.
I think the solution is to extend this good will to everyone, it should be adopted by both Muslims and non Mus-lims, then and only then will integration be possible and desirable. We will all need to reach out to one another un-afraid of receiving nothing in return. We need to let go of all this fear and anger and distrust and unite. After all we are the children of the earth.
KNOW, O beloved, that man was not created in jest or at random, but marvel-lously made and for some great end. Although he is not from everlasting, yet he lives for ever; and though his body is mean and earthly, yet his spirit is lofty and divine. When in the crucible of ab-stinence he is purged from carnal pas-sions he attains to the highest, and in place of being a slave to lust and anger becomes endued with angelic qualities. Attaining that state, he finds his heaven in the contemplation of Eternal Beauty, and no longer in fleshly delights. The spiritual alchemy which operates this
change in him, like that which trans-mutes base metals into gold, is not easily discovered, nor to be found in the house of every old woman. It is to explain that alchemy and its methods of operation that the author has undertaken this work, which he has entitled, The Alchemy of Happiness. Now the treasuries of God, in which this alchemy is to be sought, are the hearts of the prophets, and he, who seeks it elsewhere will be disap-pointed and bankrupt on the day of judg-ment, when he hears the words, "We have lifted the veil from off thee, and thy sight today is keen."
God has sent on earth a hundred and twenty-four thousand prophets to teach men the prescription of this alchemy, and how to purify their hearts from baser qualities in the crucible of abstinence. This alchemy may be briefly described as turning away from the world to God, and its constituents are four: 1. The knowledge of self, 2. The knowledge of God, 3. The knowledge of this world as it really is, 4. The knowledge of the next world as it really is.
The Knowledge of Self
Knowledge of self is the key to the knowledge of God, according to the say-ing: "He who knows himself knows God," and, as it is written in the Koran, "We will show them Our signs in the world and in themselves, that the truth may be manifest to them." Now nothing is nearer to thee than thyself, and if thou knowest not thyself how canst thou know anything else? If thou sayest "I know myself," meaning thy outward shape, body, face, limbs, and so forth, such knowledge can never be a key to the knowledge of God. Nor, if thy knowledge as to that which is within only extends so far, that when thou art hungry thou eatest, and