On Wednesday 18th November 2015, the Al-Mahdi Institute held an interfaith presentation of 3 spiritual paintings by artist and theologian Jyoti Sahi. The three spiritual paintings which were once displayed in the former UCA Chapel, what is now the Al-Mahdi’s multi-faith chapel were to be divided and relocated between Selly Oak Methodists Church, the Al-Mahdi Institute and St Mary’s Church Selly Oak. The presentation was well received with representatives of each society and former United College of the Ascension staff sharing their appreciation and past experience within the Chapel.
The program began with the recitation of the Holy Quran, followed by a spiritual message from Revd Donald Eadie who was involved in the restoration of the former UCA Chapel. He shared about the wonder of ‘taking off our shoes’ and being in the presence of God in the chaos of the world but also provided insight into the history of the former Anglican chapel and described it at present as a ‘whole new threshold’ of prayer and worship in a community gathered from every corner. He expressed his thoughts that the paintings could be the means by which three religious establishments could be drawn together as a gift from God, and shared a mantra that had been flowing within him of ‘thou our lord art in our midst’ to close.
Presenting his interfaith vision for the future AMI’s director Sheikh Arif Abdulhussain made some important insights that as humans of faith we are all extremely blessed by God, to be his ‘apparent and intimate friend’ giving life meaning and purpose. Through the faith we are blessed with we receive direct recourse to the teachings of God and access to examples of those that lived by Gods teachings, allowing us a better quality of life.
He explains his vision that as faith communities we should aim to come together to share the blessings we have been given and care for humanity at large, and describes the importance with a narration
The Holy Prophet (pbuh) is told on the day of judgement, you will be asked
‘I was naked, did you clothe me?’
‘I was hungry, did you feed me?’
‘I was lost, did you guide me?’
This set the tone for the interfaith vision, he states ‘humanity is in the reflection and image of God himself’ and we have a trust of the divine with us that does not belong to us, to be shared with His children, those who do not have this in their life are cheated of it by those who do. The aim is to find ways to take the goodness of God to others without necessarily preaching. To come together to share our unique experience of God in humility and to do this regularly in every capacity so that the truth of God may pour out into us from the other, and we can benefit from each other.
Now the vision of AMI is to explore the truth for what it is worth. He shares the understanding the truth appears to be equally shared by one and all, and God deserves souls to approach him sincerely and for Him to suggest the truth to them as it stands.
Following this Canon Dr Andrew Wingate (Former principle of UCA) in summary shared insight on the transformation from UCA to the Al-Mahdi Institute and his delight that so much can be learnt from interfaith sharing of the truth, and then presented the three spiritual paintings to the representatives of each establishment as follows;
– The Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane to Selly Oak Mehodist Church
– The Martydom of Stephen to the Al-Mahdi Institute
– Women of Jerusalem to St Mary’s Church Selly Oak
You are invited and encouraged to view the paintings at each of the religious establishments.
To close the programme Arul Israel, member of Selly Oak Methodist Church gave a theatrical performance titled ‘Creation’. It was a classical Indian performance depicting Genesis 1 of the bible and a great end to the evening.
To view more images of the event please click here
To view the video of the event please click here