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The Islamic Themed Papers

Are people of different cultural and religious backgrounds learning to live together in harmony? 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 Caribbean food joints and specialist Indian and Pakistani grocery shops to Polish general stores. Tooting is home to a number of religious institutes, mosques and churches, a Temple, we’ve 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 Sainsbury’s 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 handmade 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 humanity. 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 1

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 something 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 unrelenting whispers surrounding phoney arrests. In these troubling times, many are asking the question, is integration possible?


Also in this weeks Issue Young Muslims gather for Peacemaking conference in Caux, Switzerland–Halima Khanom reports on the Art of Reflection. See page 3

Discussions at the conference Alchemy Of Happiness Arts and Culture Islamic Architecture Islamic Perceptions Cage Prisoners I-soc Low Down

pg 2 pg 3 pg 4 pg 6 pg 7 pg 8

Reflection of the Day... The Messages above the Trolley Homes

I’m a Pakistani Muslim. Three year ago I started wearing the headscarf and I feel that it hasn’t 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 I’ve worked in BBC World Service offices, I’ve started up a writers’ group, attended pottery classes, sign language classes, children's illustration workshops and world crisis lectures. I’ve worked in diverse primary schools and busy pharmacies. Fellow classmates and colleagues have been from all walks of life, coming from countries such as Vietnam, Bosnia, Colombia, Korea, the list is endless. (Continued on page 2)

This 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 they’re a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still, treat each guest honorably. He may be clearing you out for 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,

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