Come Dine With Me
Ulfa Aid is a relief agency founded in 2004 by Shaykh Babikir Ahmed Babikir, the Imam of Yusuf Islam’s Islamia School. Ulfa Aid pioneered a mini relaunch as it branched into community based projects with the event ‘Come dine with me – An evening of faith, friendship and food.’ The idea was as a Muslim you buy a ticket and bring a non-Muslim to engage in interfaith dialogue with inspiring speeches by Sheikh Ahmed Babikir and Timothy J Winter at the Kensington Hilton.
As the guests arrived, they were greeted by the delectable Arab pastry otherwise known as Baklava accompanied with drinks. Approximately 15 minute session of mingling and networking finished as the guests were ushered in the main hall.
The evening began sensationally with the beautiful recitation of the Holy Quran followed by translation in English. Shaykh Babikir introduced the event to the audience with a lovely opening speech as he compared human kind to lights. As always Shaykh Babikir addressed everyone with a warm smile as he explained lights like humans come in different shapes and sizes from street lights to chandeliers. But in the end, we are all filled with spirit just as lights are powered by electricity. He underlines that we all share one common thing: Humanity.
Shaykh Babikir’s introduction was followed by the starters. As the clattering of cutlery ensued, the murmurings of conversation were concurrent.
Timothy J Winter’s eloquent introduction into ‘What composes a Muslim’ and ‘What is Islam’ was riveting. Winter quoted Persian Poet Jalaluddin Rumi:
You were a prized falcon trapped by an Old Woman.
Then you heard the drummer’s call
and flew beyond space and time.
This message resonated not only with non-Muslims but with Muslims, as Winter reiterated that we live in this world, in a dreary sleep of existence and we must be spiritually awoken by the ‘drummer’s call’ to indeed ‘fly beyond space and time.’ Winter suggested that before we are simply buried in a hole in the earth, as humans we yearn to find our raison-d’etre.
His arousing speech left many people, including myself in awe as it followed a question and answer session. The evening ended with desserts and music from the group Al-Nur, it’s colourful percussionists and singing ended the night perfectly.
Events organized like this by charities like Ulfa Aid are hugely important to give greater understanding to differing communities about what ‘Islam’ is. ‘Come dine with me’ was a tremendously well organized and interesting event which gave everyone – Muslim or non-Muslim something to think about as they left.
By Mohamed-Zain Dada