Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Cross Cultural Connections


Zia Ulla Khan

Yesterday my colleague Peg and I journeyed to Halifax to meet with Ziaullah Khan, the Director of the Centre for Islamic Development.  

About a year ago Zia started serving as the Muslim Imam for the Atlantic region and regularly visits the inmates at Springhill who are seekers after the Islamic faith.  We have shared many conversations and meals around the table at Spring House (thank you Millie) and worked together to address some of the issues that face our Muslim brothers who are incarcerated.

Zia is such a generous soul.  He has a great sense of humour and a heart for the disenfranchised.  It was a gift to spend time with him in his context and learn of his work with the Muslim Community.  After a tour of the Centre, before taking us to a wonderful middle eastern restaurant for lunch we dropped by the Chebucto Mosque and were given a tour of the yet to be completed building.  Simply stated, it is huge!!!  It blends in beautifully with the surrounding architecture and will I am sure be a blessing to the 25,000+ Muslims in the greater Halifax area.

Reflecting on our visit this morning I am struck again by the similarities in our communities, the similarities of how God is at work in our communities and in individuals calling us to places of meeting pain and brokenness, nurturing hope and restoration.  The individual beliefs that motivate our actions may be different - but the ultimate goal - the caring for God’s people and God’s creation is the same.

It is such a shame that we in the west have in so many ways demonized those that we do not understand.  Our fear gets in the way of our learning.  Our prejudices block our capacity to receive love.  My journey of friendship with Zia has opened to me even more ways to how God is at work in the world - and for this I am so grateful.

“If a country is to be corruption free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference. They are the father, the mother and the teacher.”  Abdul Kalam

Zia, thank you for being a teacher to me.

Photo: Zia with his second youngest son.

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