Quakers

September 6, 2008 at 12:37 am (Uncategorized) (, )

I was reading qur’an on the bus today, and a lady came to sit next to me. Usually, when I’m reading qur’an, I don’t really pay much attention to my surroundings (not actually a good idea)(and because I need to concentrate on keeping it together), so it was a moment or two before I noticed the lady leaning in my direction. She asked me if that was a qur’an I was reading, and then asked me to read it to her. Of course, I was delighted (and a little embarrassed at reading qur’an to someone, but da’wah > embarrassment), and she seemed genuinely to enjoy it.

We got talking, and she told me she was a Quaker, and in fact on her way to a meeting in Friends House, as the representative for Dorset/Devon/somewhere. She even took out her meeting notes to show me, and the first item on the agenda was the abolition of torture. I’m always a little wary of small or fringe groups with apparently over-ambitious aims, so it was with a large dose of doubt that I asked how they planned to achieve that, and whether Amnesty International were involved. It turns out Amnesty International was founded by a Quaker. At this point, I suddenly realised she was doing all of the da’wah, and I wasn’t doing any! All of those stories of people enlightened on trains by anonymous Malaysians went through my mind, and of course, I had to honour the tradition, even though it is not my general method of working. The fact that she was genuinely interested helped, and by the time we had disembarked at Russell Square, we had exchanged phone numbers and addresses, with promises of Quaker Club coffee-meetings (that weren’t during Ramadan), and were firm friends. Yay to making friends on the bus! I think I shall send her an Eid card. If I haven’t already lost her address.

Also this afternoon, I went to farewell a former colleague who is retiring. While there, I mentioned my bus-encounter to my former boss, who does a lot of interfaith work. His church interfaith group would like a muslim to come and join their meetings, to talk to them about Islamic things, particularly current issues (although he said they would like someone sane? Mean old man). I feel hesitant to offer to do it myself, since I am not really informed on those subjects, and also, I usually let people do their talking while reserving my own thoughts, and nod and smile a lot. So I am probably not a good person to do it.

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