Within a few days of this gracious offer, I received an invitation to the centre to celebrate the UN’s International Day of Peace, scheduled to include words from the leaders of other faiths in the Isleworth area, the lighting of candles for peace in the world and an art exhibition by the mission's children.
Entering a mosque just a few days after the grotesque “Innocence” video was viewed around the world was no small step, particularly for a quiet blond American woman. But that hesitation was quickly dissipated by a warm welcome and gift of a headscarf. For the next couple of hours, I listened to a succession of messages from leaders of the Muslim faith, a rabbi, a northern Irish Anglican minister, a woman representing the Buddhist community, a Sikh granthi, as well as Isleworth’s Conservative Member of Parliament, Mary Macleod.
Each talked about the values of peace and unity that we share as a community, which begins with inner peace through faith, and which then flows out into the wider community and world. For me, one of the most memorable aspirations posed was the dual notion that we may agree to disagree on matters of belief and doctrine, but that we can nonetheless live and work together in harmony. And that our common values can be an example to the wider world and the next generation, despite ethnic and religious conflagrations elsewhere.