Around 100 people attended a joint Christian-Muslim service of worship on Sunday 23rd October at Padiham Unitarian Chapel. Entitled 'Uniting for Peace', it included readings from scripture, prayers for peace, hymn singing and Sufi mystical chanting (in Arabic, Urdu, Farsi and English). Many attenders praised the 'joyful spirit' that prevailed.
The service was led by the Padiham minister, Rev Jim Corrigall, and Sufi Muslim leaders Rauf Bashir and Nasser Rasool of the Free Spiritual Centre in nearby Pendle. An inter-faith choir, Singing for the Soul, led congregational singing, while another group combined old Lancastrian shape note singing (with its Christian roots) with Sufi chanting -- in an extraordinary fusion.
In a short sermon, Rev Jim Corrigall said the service came at an important moment … with hate crimes on the rise in Britain following the vote in June to leave the European Union, and in the approach to the anniversary of the Paris attacks last November carried out by people acting in the name of Islam. The minister said their ideology was in fact a complete distortion 'of the great faith of Islam', and it was vital that people of goodwill came together to assert their common humanity.
But there were deeper reasons for the service, the minister said, and he used the development of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, to show how closely these three mono-theistic ('One God') faiths were interrelated. Above all else, these faiths espoused love and peace.
In his address, Rauf Bashir of the Free Spiritual Centre made clear that Peace was at the heart of the Islamic faith, the very name Islam deriving from the word 'peace'. He made clear Muslims revere the great founders of the Jewish and Christian faiths, most particularly Abraham, Moses and Jesus. Islam, Christianity and Judaism were after all, rightly known as the three great Abrahamic religions of the world.
The service was followed by a shared meal downstairs, a meal prepared by members of both communities, with food and conversation flowing freely.