Prominent UK Imam “proud” to endorse gift from Iranian Ayatollah to Baha’is

Ibrahim-MograSheikh Ibrahim Mogra has said he gleaned “hope and optimism” from Iranian Ayatollah Tehrani’s stand for coexistence with the Baha’i community in Iran, who are heavily persecuted.

Earlier this month, Ayatollah Abdol-Hamid Masoumi-Tehrani, a prominent Iranian cleric and scholar, took a stand for coexistence with Iran’s Baha’i minority by presenting a gift of his calligraphy of the writings of Baha’u’llah – the Founder of the Baha’i Faith – to the Baha’is of the world.

“[Ayatollah Tehrani] has reminded us that Islam is a religion of peace that recognises diversity of every kind as part of God’s design for his creation. And it all came in the form of a gift – one which I am proud to endorse,” said Sheikh Ibrahim.

“I am proud, as a Muslim and as an imam, to celebrate this enlightened gift, which has such immense spiritual significance. The faiths of the world should be united in promoting coexistence to advance human civilisation.”

Sheikh Ibrahim Mogra is assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain and serves as an imam in Leicester. His is ardent defender of the values of tolerance and coexistence, and is at the forefront of deepening interfaith relations in the UK.

Click here to read his article in full (Guardian online).

Minister for Integration visits National Bahá’í Centre

The Rt Hon Don Foster MP, Minister for Integration, was welcomed on 2 July by a delegation of Bahá’ís, including individuals from Mr Foster’s Bath constituency, at the National Bahá’í Centre in London.

Minister for Integration Don Foster MP

Minister for Integration Don Foster MP  visits the National Bahá’í Centre in London

Mr Foster shared news of the impending launch of a government initiative, “Together in Service”, which will encourage interfaith social action. One of the aims of the initiative will be to consolidate the “A Year of Service” venture which was launched at the National Bahá’í Centre in February 2012 with Eric Pickles MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

“The best way for a Hindu and a Muslim to understand each other better,” Mr Foster suggested, “is by sweeping the road or helping the homeless together.”

“You continue to distinguish yourselves in the professions, the arts and particularly in the vital areas of education and conflict resolution,” Mr. Foster told the Bahá’ís.

The Minister also discussed the need for the Government to assist UK faith communities in developing a “counter- narrative” regarding the role of religion in society – to challenge the often negative stereotypes of religion that appear in the media and demonstrate its potential for positive influence.

Mr Foster felt that the spontaneous response of all faith communities after the tragic murder of Drummer Lee Rigby, in Woolwich, in unequivocally condemning the attack and standing together in unity, was a watershed moment. The show of unity and support illustrated the cohesive and harmonising role that all faith communities can have. Mr Foster said he was “very proud” of this swift and united response.

Ministers and MPs join Bahá’ís to mark centenary of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s visit to the UK

Government Ministers and Members of Parliament welcomed more than 80 Bahá’ís on 28 November to a unique event to pay tribute to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, 100 years after His visit to Britain.

It was the first time the British government had hosted a special reception specifically for the Bahá’í community.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá (1844-1921) was the eldest son of Bahá’u’lláh and His appointed successor as head of the Bahá’í Faith. From 1910-1913, following His release from a lifetime of exile and imprisonment, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá made a historic series of journeys to present Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings to audiences outside of the Middle East. His two visits to the British Isles took place in September 1911, and from December 1912 to January 1913.

Secretary of State Eric Pickles MP with Dr Kishan Manocha, Baha'i Community of the UK

Secretary of State Eric Pickles MP with Dr Kishan Manocha, Baha’i Community of the UK

The reception was held by the government’s Department for Communities and Local Government. Welcoming the guests, Secretary of State Eric Pickles MP expressed appreciation for the contribution Bahá’ís make to UK society. He praised the “little bits of kindness” he had observed among the Bahá’ís and added, “We wouldn’t tick along quite so well without Bahá’ís in our community.”

Don Foster MP, Minister for Integration, told the gathering that, of all the significant people to come from his home constituency of Bath, he was proud to include Ethel Rosenberg, a founding member of the British Bahá’í community.

Don Foster MP, Minister at the Department for Communities and Local Government, addressing the reception

Don Foster MP, Minister at the Department for Communities and Local Government, addressing the reception

“You continue to distinguish yourselves in the professions, the arts and particularly in the vital areas of education and conflict resolution,” Mr. Foster told the Bahá’ís. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s “important truth” that “we should pursue peace together and differences of race and division between religions must cease is as true today as it was then,” he said.

Kishan Manocha, speaking on behalf of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United Kingdom, thanked Mr. Pickles for hosting the event, describing it as a “tremendous honour and pleasure.”

Guests at the Department for Communities and Local Government

Guests at the Department for Communities and Local Government reception

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