Some of you may know that I support interfaith dialogue, so when the St Hugh’s College (Oxford University) Chaplain invited me to lead the address at the Interfaith Sunday Service, I thought why not! It was a really surreal experience sitting at the front of the chapel while the choir sang beautiful hymns, the chaplain led prayers and the address itself was very different from any of my academic writing. The turnout was around 60-70 people of different faiths and backgrounds, really wonderful service followed by dinner. Given than it was the Sunday after the Paris atrocities, I felt the theme I’d selected ‘Shared values and the common good’ was apt. Anyone interested can read the full address on the St Hugh’s website (link).
Anyhow, the verse from the Qur’an I chose to be read by a student was “Goodness does not consist in turning your face towards East or West. The truly good are those who believe in God and the Last Day, in the angels, the Scripture, and the Prophets; who give away some of their wealth, however much they cherish it, to their relatives, to orphans, the needy, travelers and beggars, and to liberate those in bondage; those who keep up the prayer and pay the prescribed alms; who keep pledges whenever they make them; who are steadfast in misfortune, adversity, and times of danger. These are the ones who are true, and it is they who are aware of God.” (Chapter 2, Verse 177, The Qur’an. Translation of M. A. S. Abdel Haleem. Oxford World’s Classics, OUP)