On Saturday the 13th September 2014, The Al-Mahdi Institute in cooperation with the Birmingham Council of Faiths held their second ‘Understanding Islam’ study day workshop conducted by Dr Chris Hewer. The workshop was open to all faiths and encouraged a diverse multi-faith audience to learn more about Islam. With the presence of over 25 attendees from all different faiths and backgrounds, an interactive and thought provoking discussion soon unfolded allowing the dissemination of various thoughts and opinions on Islam.
With over thirty years experience in educating people to understand Islam, Dr Chris Hewer has been delivering lectures in person and on Television specifically for adults and has thousands of followers around the UK and in Europe. Coming from a background of Christian theology, education, Islamic studies and Inter-faith studies, he has devoted his life to Christian-Muslim relations since 1986. With experience as an Inter-faith relations advisor for the Bishop of Birmingham, and at countless Institutions in London, his current work is to conduct study days, residential courses and to develop written and electronic resources available for consultations.
Starting from the very basics, Dr Chris Hewer discussed the fundamental principles of Islam such as the belief in one God, the status of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in Islam and the different sects within Islam and their beliefs. He also explained the importance, purpose and benefits of Prayer, fasting, pilgrimage and other religious duties with comparisons between Sunni and Shi’i beliefs. With an unbiased approach towards the different sects in Islam, Dr Chris Hewer also compared the similarities and differences between Islam and Christianity to remind the audience of the common beliefs within different religions.
The full list of topics discussed at the workshop were;
The Big Picture – The life of Muhammad (pbuh), revelation of the Quran, his migration to Medinah and his death.
– The Prophets and the four revelations prior to the Quran.
– Forms of guidance provided to us by God.
Pilgrimage, Prayer and Fasting – Story of Abraham, Hagar and Ishmael and their relevance to the current Hajj rituals
– Significance of Prayer, Supplication and Dhikr (remembrance of Allah)
– Importance of Taqwa (God-consciousness)
Shari’a, Politics and Economics – Definition and importance of Shari’a in Islam and the creation of fatwas.
– Definition and importance of an Alim (scholar) and Muftis or Ayatullahs in Islam
– Definition of Jihad (struggle) and the misconceptions surrounding it in today’s society
– History of Islam after the demise of the holy Prophet and the caliphate that followed
There was also an opportunity to ask questions in the ‘Open house’ segment of the workshop where issues such as, the difference between Halal and Haraam, the difference between Imams and Mullahs, issues relating to conversion to Islam and the history of Sufism and Wahhabism were discussed.
To view the images from the event, please click here.