Remona Aly
Monday 30 October 2017 BBC Radio 2

Interfaith selfies

Faith in the world

It’s pretty amazing I didn’t grow up more confused.

Like a good Muslim girl, I went to church every Monday during school, sang my heart out with Christian rhyme and reeled off the Lord’s prayer which I can say to this day in my sleep. At weekends I’d join a conveyor belt of restless kids at the mosque to read verses from the Quran, but back at home I’d digest a book on Judaism that sat on my parent’s shelf. I grew up seeing my dad hang out with his Sikh homies, his Hindu BFFs, his Jewish kindred spirits.

It was the norm. It was my norm.

Sharing Diwali with Sikh and Hindu friends, breaking challah bread with Jewish families, praying alongside Christians, campaigning alongside humanists:

All of these strands came together in my garden on Eid day this summer, when I snapped the ultimate interfaith selfie.

We might have looked like the odd squad to some people, or a Godbotherer convention to others. But every faith, non-faith and background you can possibly think of were contorting, shifting, configuring together like a human jigsaw in front of the blessed camera lens of my mobile phone.

Faith in the World week on Radio 2 has been asking ‘who is my neighbour’?  I reckon that photo pretty much answered that question.

There was one clear thing bringing us together – well two if you count the food – but the number one gel binding us all, was of course, Love.

“Love is the divine Mother’s arms; when those arms are spread, every soul falls into them.” said Inayat Khan, the Indian Muslim founder of The Sufi Order in the West. He added, “By our trust in the divine beauty in every person, we develop that beauty in ourselves.”

There is such beauty in the rich variety of belief, such colour in the kaleidoscope that we reflect in each other.  

When my Hindu friend says she prays in her temple for me to find my soulmate, or my Christian colleague says she mentions my name in church every Sunday to find love, I think wow I’ve got all bases covered. But in truth, I’ve already found my soulmates, they’re my spiritual partners, my neighbours, my family, my loves.

“You will not have faith” said Prophet Muhammad, “until you love one another.” After the life I’ve lived, it sounds like a pretty good bargain to me.