Stories

 

Touchstone is a listening and weaving community. We invite you to share stories that inspired you to weave:   

  • Good relationships with your neighbours.
  • Friendship with people of different faiths and cultures.
  • Good memories of visits to exciting places and while exploring the richness of nature you have stopped and said, "O God I am grateful to you for your unique artistry".

 

Email your stories to:  faith2faith(@)touchstone-bradford.org.uk  (omit the brackets when using the email address)

 

 

Neighbours

A neighbour is defined as a person living next door or very near to, or any person in need of one’s help or kindness.

The Hebrew word most often translated as neighbour is rea and has a variety of connotations:  friend, lover and, of course, the usual sense of neighbour.

The word for neighbour in Urdu and Hindi is Parosee or Hamsaya.

Hamsaya is a Persian word, ham means both, too, also or together and saya means shadow.

In Arabic a word for neighbour is Jar or al-jar.

Please share your own thoughts, understanding, definition or religious beliefs of good neighbours, neighbourhood and friendship. 

The emphasis on the rights and good treatment of neighbours is very clearly articulated in different faiths and cultures. So please share the treasure and wisdom about neighbours and friendship from your respective faith and culture.

The two great commandments that every Christian has been asked to follow are:

  • You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.
  • You shall love your neighbour as yourself.

Being good to neighbours holds the key to fraternal peace and communal harmony. The Holy Prophet (Pbuh) held this as an essential attribute of a believer in the day of judgement.

  • “Gabriel has continued to strongly recommend me to be kind to my neighbour until I thought that he would make him among my heirs”.   (Related by Al-Bukhari, Muslim, Malik and others).  

Other quotations about neighbours are, 

  • Far better a neighbour that is near than a brother far off.
  • Withdraw yourself from your neighbour house; lest s/he be tired of you and hate you.
  • As man draws nearer to the stars, why should he not also draw nearer to his neighbour? (Lyndon B Johnson- 36th. President of the USA)

 

 

Eid Party - Awais Mughal - September 2011

One of my stories about good relations with our neighbours relates to the Eid party at the Touchstone Centre last September. 

I invited some of my friends to celebrate the Eid party.  Coincidentally I did not get hold of the new key to let them in.  My Muslim friend who lives near the centre saved me from embarrassment by offering a place and hospitality to our group of 23.

Her positive response to my last minute call surprised many in the group. The women celebrated this event by sharing poems, songs, dance and food.  Our host family generously provided us with all that we needed, including tea.

 

 

Their warm welcome has touched me deeply and affirmed my belief that good neighbours are blessings and as neighbours we belong to each other.  Our good relationship and respect for each other can make our neighbourhood a peaceful place for everyone.

 

 

 

 

A Story of Friendship - Jean Tomlinson

Nasreen and I first met when my daughter and her son were very small. We lived on the same Grove and would have tea together. She grew up in Pakistan and went to a Catholic school there. I was born and raised in Bradford and am a Methodist. As is the case with any mums who have small children, it was a break to sit and chat and let them play together. Our second children were very close in age too and so a friendship began. We were there for each other in emergencies, our children were invited to each other’s Birthday parties and when they went to school, it was natural, along with a neighbour, for one person to take them and one to pick them up. We went to young wives Group at my church and whilst the children were young, I would take both sets to Junior Church. When Nasreen had Celebrations (prayers, readings and supper) at her house, to mark special occasions in the Baha’i calendar, we went as a family to celebrate with them and got to know other Baha’is, some of them we still occasionally meet.

 

With the children in school, we continued to meet for coffee or tea and to talk about our families, but we discussed other things too. I gradually got to know much more about the Baha’i faith and as we talked, we found similarities within our separate beliefs. Over the years I have gained a deep respect for my friend’s faith.

Nasreen eventually moved from the Grove and we don’t meet very often now. But from time to time we catch up on family news and invitations still pass between us for wedding, Birthday or Baha’i celebrations or, as was the case quite recently, an interfaith meeting. The friendship has lasted for more than thirty years and I trust we shall remain friends for much longer.    

 

 

The people Next Door - Anne & Peter Holroyd.

The family that had lived next door to us for 30 years were retiring to the East Coast of Yorkshire. This was 14 or 15 years ago. Who will our next neighbour be? Soon a young couple with a small child moved in.

Will they speak English? Will they talk to us? Will we get on? Almost immediately the answer to these three questions was an emphatic yes. Sameena had lived in England most of her life so communication was easy. However Ijaz had very limited English but this has improved over the years.

The small child is now 16 and has 3 sisters and a brother. The whole family are easy to talk with and seem happy to talk to the “old couple” next door. We have been able to share faith values as well as family joys and concerns.

We are grateful for our “new” neighbours and look forward to our continued friendship.

 

 

Rev Tony Dent shares some good memories of his ministry in Bradford through these stories

In January 1999 Nirmal Singh, a Bradford Sikh with whom I had become friendly through Rotary was awarded the M.B.E. in the New Year honours. His Muslim, Hindu and Sikh friends organised a reception in his honour to be held on 23 January in the Grange Interlink Community Centre. A local Great Horton Muslim, Fazal Hussain sent an invitation to me and my wife. When I replied accepting the invitation I pointed out that I would be attending on my own as my wife had died. He then wrote to me apologising quite profusely and saying “I pray for your wife that Allah may grant her paradise where she lives for ever”. I was greatly touched by that statement and have readily repeated it in any discussion of interfaith relationships.

The reception for Nirmal was an interesting occasion. There were perhaps two hundred people present of whom not more than twenty were white. When I first went in I looked round, saw no one I knew and started walking over to a group of white people. I stopped half-way and thought ‘What am I doing?’ I looked around again and saw an Asian man stood on his own - so I went and chatted to him, a Muslim bus-driver. Many speeches were given in praise of Nirmal in a variety of languages. When Nirmal replied he especially mentioned me. He said, “I am so pleased to see my friend the Methodist (or Christian) minister, set at the back there. He’s a very busy man but he’s found time to come again, another touching moment. He did once express the desire to come to one of my services at Great Horton but that never materialised. I moved on in August 1999.

I once took Communion to a retired minister who was in St James’ Hospital in Leeds. The minister had made friends with a young Hindu called Dilip. As we were referring to the service we were about to share, Dilip asked what we were talking about. The minister’s wife who I had taken with me, then explained to him in the most natural way the meaning of Communion. He then asked if he could watch. As I was setting out the bread and the wine, he said, “Not for me”. I indicated that that was fine. But when in the actual service I gave bread to the other two, he held out his hand I gave it to him too. After the service he expressed his appreciation, and said, “I often think of Jesus - nothing wrong with it”. There didn’t seem to be time, in the middle of a Communion service in Leeds, to dash back to Bradford to read up on the Eucharist, so I think it was a quick case of ‘What would Jesus do?”

There is no doubt that when my wife Sheila was battling with cancer in 1996, she was supported by people of different faith or culture especially in hospital.