Saturday, 26 July 2008


(Please note that this blog is a monthly magazine with new material added every new month)

St. Ethelburga’s is a small church which managed to thrust itself in the midst of all these international banks, multi-national corporations and giant finance companies of the City of London. At night the back streets are teeming with hookers. The Church was bombed by Irish terrorists and was rebuilt to become a centre for reconciliation, peace, non-violence, religious co-existence, inter-faith dialogue and spiritual meditation. Courses, conferences, and sessions on faith, meditation, and religions are constantly held there. The programmes include concerts, ethnic music of all nations and story-telling of folklore literature. This is the secret behind my frequent visits to this church. They consider music and singing as means for dialogue and understanding between communities. There, I heard Sufi and Quali music and Islamic chant. In April, there was a session for a story teller from Syria, a hakawati.
The Church has also a well furnished kind of tent in its well looked after garden, constructed specifically for spiritual meditation. It contained most of the main holy books like the Old and New Testaments, the Quran , the Vida. Zuradisht, etc. There are also facilities for listening to religious music of any sect. The Church has also a clock which keeps striking at the hour. I found it abominable to hear it striking at the time when some one was talking, singing or playing music. I was going to mention it to the administration but I was reminded that it was a good means to keep reminding us of old TIME. Son of man, remember: Your days are numbered. The clock is ticking and with it is your time on earth.
I went to Ethelburga’s to listen to Turkish, old Ottoman music of Sufi origin. As I arrived too early for the concert, I went into the tent, sat in a corner and let my thoughts take their course. No sooner did I do that than a couple of young people walked in and sat on the carpeted floor opposite to me. In a few seconds they started to touch each other, embrace and kiss. They went into a loving session. Somehow, I found it objectionable to indulge in such activities in this place dedicated to the world of the spirit, religious worship and meditation. This is not a love nest. I was on the verge of speaking to the young couple and ask them to respect the place. But another thought struck my mind. Isn’t this a place of love? Their Christianity tells them that God is love. The preachers tell them from the pulpit that loving one another is part of the faith. This is what is repeated all the time. I worship God in my own Muslim way and these two young people are worshipping Him in their own way. Perhaps, they are only performing what they are instructed. Oh, God , give us the power to love and not the need to be loved( St. Christopher).
Who knows? This is London and not Basra where lovers had to hide away and act furtively. An English young man can kiss and hug his girl publicly in the street or any where he likes. Why did these two young lovers come to this religious place of all places to indulge in love? Is it that the spiritual atmosphere of the church moved them into this state of love, emotion and desire to exchange tokens of innocent affection and relationship? I have often heard that faith involves mutual affection and desire to belong. It is the love of the Creater in the love of his creatures and the love of his creature in the love of Him. But why in front of me? Why should I , myself , encounter this demonstration of romance and dwell on its significance? Shouldn’t I have the right to tell off these two young people and ask them to go and have their sexy exhibitionism somewhere else and not in front of those deprived of their passion? I was pondering this question and hesitating when the church clock struck the hour of seven. Oh, son of man, remember old time. And it was the time to hear the Sufi singers, singing the love of God and the love of man. I took my way to the main body of the church, followed by the two young lovers holding each other's hand.

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