This meeting was held at the Ilford Islamic Centre on Thursday 20 September at 7.30pm, and the topic was: Coming to Terms with Bereavement.
We were welcomed to the centre by Imam Khurram Rafiq and then we were divided into groups of eight, with members of each of the three faiths being represented in each group, as this was a Scriptural Reasoning session. We were given forty-five minutes to consider three pieces of scripture from each faith in turn, each piece being relevant to the theme.
The first piece we looked at in my group was some verses from the Qur’an. We listened to the words read by Immam Rafiq, who then explained to us why they were comforting to Muslims who have just lost loved ones, as they spoke of returning to God after death and how those who have died now rejoice in being in the presence of their Lord.
Then we moved on to looking at some words from Psalm 103, read to us by a Jewish woman, who belonged to a reformed synagogue in Redbridge. She explained how important their faith community is to Jewish people at the time of bereavement as traditionally, a period of seven days of mourning is observed, when people support those who have lost a loved one by eating meals together and saying prayers.
Next we looked at three Christian texts, Psalm 23, John 14:1-7 and Revelation 20:1-7.
It was explained that the words of Psalm 23 are frequently read to those on the point of death and sung very often at funeral services to comfort the mourners. The passages from John’s Gospel and Revelation give assurance that death is not the end for those who believe and there is a place prepared for us with God.
This was followed by a question and answer session when Zahrah Awaleh, who is a chaplain at University College Hospital told us how she usually supports Muslim families there, but she has prayed with Christians facing death as well.
There was a great deal of agreement among the three faiths in how we come to terms with bereavement, showing how much we have in common.
The next meeting of the Forum will be on Thursday 11 October at 11am, when a visit to St. Paul’s Cathedral has been arranged.
We also heard that a Peace March will take place on Sunday 23 September in Valentine’s Park and an Open Day at the Ilford Islamic Centre and Mosque would also be held on that day.