Exploring Perceptions

Part of World Interfaith Harmony Week

The Edge Report

Exploring Christian and Muslim Women's Perspectives

Christian and Muslim Women's Programme

… the global socio-economic conditions have forced us to become more resourceful,
more resilient, more determined; whilst remaining hopeful, we must work together to challenge and strive for something better – to this end women are crucial for change…
Wahida Shaffi, Women’s Programme Lead


Come to the Edge

Women's Programme

The women's programme built on work carried out among Christian and Muslim women in recent years. In 2011 the Christian Muslim Forum gathered information at women’s focus groups in Burnley, Bradford, Leicester, Birmingham and London. The key issues raised by the women were fed into The Edge Report, which was unveiled at the first national Christian-Muslim women’s residential in Northampton in March 2012, and launched across the country during National Inter Faith Week in November 2012. The programme culminated into The Edge Faith, Fear and Friendship event that was held at St Ethelburga's, London in 2013 to mark World Interfaith Harmony Week. Materials submitted to the WIHW website can be viewed on this page.

World Interfaith Harmony Week 2013:
Faith, fear & friendship

A Rose for Friendship Photography Exhibition:

Stories & articles from the event:

Papers by speakers at The Edge event:

The Edge: Faith, Fear & Friendship - Contextualising
Islam & Christianity in the UK


Award winners

Rabiha Hannan, a Pharmacist by training, holds an MA in Muslim Community Studies, with a specialisation on gender issues. She is co-editor of the book 'Islam and the Veil' (2011). She is co-Director of the Community Relations Initiative, a consultancy which works on research, educational and practical projects aiming to bring communities together. She has been Vice Chair and Chair of the Leicester SACRE (2007-2009) and was on the implementation team leading to the formation of the national Christian-Muslim Forum. She has previously been President of the Leicester branch of the Islamic Society of Britain (2001-2005), and is currently member of the National Policy Board of The Islamic Society of Britain and leads on their work in schools. She helped to found projects such as Dine@mine and Eat’n’meet – a campaign to support the homeless of Leicester. She is currently acting as a Consultant to the Muslim Burial Council of Leicester and sits on the Scrutiny Committee for Children and Young Peoples Services. Rabiha is married, has four children and lives in Leicester.

Diane Johnson was ordained priest in the Church of England in 1998. After serving her curacy in the village of Great Bowden, Leicestershire, she was appointed to serve in the parish of St Philip, Leicester, in one of the most multifaith parts of the city, with a mosque directly facing the church. She made friends with a Muslim woman and through her was introduced to a group of Muslim women. Together with them, she started a Muslim/Christian Women’s group in her church rooms. Members of the group were invited to participate in the “Soul of Europe” Conference in Brussels in 2003, and in the “Parliament of the World’s Religions” in Barcelona in 2004. In 2005, her parish was selected to be the midland centre for the Church of England’s “Presence and Engagement” initiative, and she helped persuade the church council to release £60,000 over three years to pump prime the work. The St Philip’s Centre for Study and Engagement in a Multifaith Society was established in 2005 and opened by the Archbishop of Canterbury in 2006.

Following retirement in 2007, Diane studied for and was awarded an MA in Inter-religious Relations at the Centre. She continues to participate in inter faith dialogue.

Nuzhat Ali has been involved in voluntary work in the community for 21 years. As a member of the Islamic Society of Britain, she has helped to run study groups and has participated in organising conferences, lectures and workshops for people of diverse backgrounds. She has helped to organise highly successful inter faith events including ‘Islam Awareness Week’, liaising with Education Bradford and Bradford University Peace Studies department, as well as local businesses and the local media. Nuzhat has also worked at Bradford Cathedral as the Interfaith Development Officer. During this time she helped to organise events which brought Christians and Muslims together in dialogue, part of this was the Scriptural Reasoning which she helped run with Dean Frances Ward, as well as the setting up of the Common Good initiative With Dean David Ison.

Nuzhat also regularly contributes to the work of BCDD. Nuzhat is a member of the Muslim Women’s Council in Bradford and helped to organise the first National residential for Muslim women in the North.

Nuzhat also home-educated her two younger children for 7 years and gained a first class honours degree in Education during this time, she is currently working on her dissertation for her MA in Islamic Studies.

Rev Dr Barbara Glasson is a Methodist Minister and Team Leader at Touchstone in Bradford. Touchstone is a Church based community project that has engaged with inter faith work for over 22 years and is developing into a place of listening both for neighbours in Bradford and with the international community in Pakistan. Barbara has written four books and her fifth will be exploring matters of faith resilience in inter faith contexts. Barbara has travelled widely, recently returning from a Churchill Traveling Fellowship to visit weaving cooperatives in India, Nepal and Indonesia. She is grateful for this award and accepts on behalf of all the Touchstone staff who have shown long-term commitment to inter faith work.

Saraya Hussain is a single mother of 4 children who resides in the diverse city of Birmingham. For several years she has been involved in charity work both in the UK and abroad and has more recently been heavily involved in fundraising campaigns for women’s empowerment projects in Kenya.

During the course of the last year or so she became aware that many women in her local community were facing various social and economic problems which were impacting on both the wellbeing of themselves and their children, this prompted her to set up an organisation known as the SHARE Women’s Project based in Birmingham aimed at supporting and empowering these women to achieve their aspirations however big or small and go on to lead fulfilling lives.

During the course of her work she came across an event being held by the Christian Muslim Forum (Come to the Edge in Northampton) which turned out to be a thought provoking experience.
br> She has since been actively involved in helping to build links between different faiths particularly between women and actively lives by the motto ‘Let us Build Bridges and Not Walls’.

Natasha Griffith is a senior youth worker with The Feast, working around the Sparkhill community of Birmingham, England. Coming from a background in schools work, student support and mentoring, Natasha has brought a wealth of experience to her role with The Feast, including in two local secondary schools which have a high proportion of students from Pakistani and Bangladeshi origins, most of whom are of the Muslim faith.

Natasha's core work is to provide many youth events, workshops and, on occasion, residential programmes where teenagers of different faiths can come together, learn to openly discuss their faith, build new friendships and look for ways to engage in positive social action.

This work has also extended to working with women through organising Women Of Faith dialogue events to celebrate International Women’s Week and through running Mums and Daughters events through The Feast.

Tasneem Husain is currently working as Community Involvement Officer in Southwark Council’s Community Engagement Department.

Her current work covers direct assessment of involvement needs of local communities or neighbourhoods; identifying resources and/or local partnerships to develop and deliver short-term or long-term projects which focus on promoting the involvement of specific marginalised communities. The Rockingham Women is one such project, it has been developed to promote multi-faith activities that support women of different faiths to share information and build understanding with each other. Activities include how people from different community prepare bread, simple meals etc. The objective is learning about ways everyone worships and finding commonalities and differences to build community unity and understanding. This group has become a support system for individual women to draw on each other's skills and to run workshops throughout the year.

Tasneem also worked on project involving young and older people in the community, coming together to do planting of vegetables. Besides learning about how vegetables grow the project was a platform to break the intergenerational gap between the youth and older people and help reduce fear of crime preventing people coming out of their homes. Tasneem is currently working with Tower Hamlets on Homecare Services provision with colleagues from the Council. This partnership will open up training opportunities for Southwark residents to gain skills in homecare services for jobs in Southwark.

She supports equalities groups (disability, young people, and the elderly) and has direct involvement in setting up charities and supporting the infrastructure development.

Catriona Robertson: Born and bred in the Scottish Highlands, Catriona has been part of local multifaith communities in India, the South Pacific and London.

Exploring ways of living well together, while remaining different, is close to her heart, particularly at a local level, and she has been privileged to work with exceptional women and men.

Catriona has been instrumental in bringing together several networks including Clapham & Stockwell Faith Forum, Wandsworth Multifaith Network, the London Peace Network and the European Network on Religion & Belief. She is an advisor on policing and has contributed book chapters and journal articles on social justice and public policy. She also blogs and tweets.

Catriona contributes to the Christian Muslim Forum, Faiths Forum for London and several other groups and currently convenes the London Boroughs Faiths Network. She also enjoys the many conversations that take place below the radar, especially with women from religious and other traditions.

As a Christian, Catriona is inspired by theologian Howard Thurman, who said, "Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what brings you alive, because what the world needs is people who are alive."

Saadat Yusuf has been involved with the Muslims Sisters Jamaat (MSJ) in Brixton for the last 20 years and is currently the coordinator. MSJ was a partner with the Christian Muslim Forum in the LIFE Project which ran between 2009 and 2011. Within MSJ Saadat was able to support a number of women who converted to Islam, drawing on her experience of living and learning with Christian friends and neighbours in her native Nigeria. She also invited a Christian woman to teach yoga to the members of MSJ.

Saadat was involved with the South London Inter Faith Group in a programme of visits to places of worship of other faiths. One of the high points of her recent inter faith engagement was a Christian-Muslim women’s retreat that took place in Kent as part of the LIFE project. Saadat had a key role in encouraging Muslim women to attend and obtaining the support of the local imam for the sisters to go on a journey to the edge, both geographically and religiously. She was one of 50 people who attended the Christian Muslim Forum’s 2010 leadership event at Lambeth Palace which brought together a wide range of leaders from around the country. She was also a member of the former Clapham and Stockwell Faiths Forum.

Further awardees:
Kathleen Bill, Burnley – Lifetime Achievement Award
Beatrice Foster, Burnley - Outstanding Contribution to Inter Faith
Samina Ali, Burnley - Outstanding Contribution to Inter Faith

Inter Faith Week 2012:
The Edge report launch roadshow

Birmingham: Photographs, Summary, I Wish...wall
Bradford: Photographs, Summary, I Wish...wall, 
Prayers weaving and Film
Leicester: Photographs, Summary, I Wish...wall
London: Photographs, Summary, I Wish...wall
Burnley: Photographs, Summary, I Wish...wall
Come to the Edge, Report launches dates & info

National residential 2012: Come to the Edge

The Gratitude Wall: by women at Northampton Residential, March 2012

The Edge report: Exploring Christian and Muslim Women's Perspectives

Press Release: Christian & Muslim women come together to celebrate Faith, Launch report on 'Togetherness'

Info from the residential

Photo Gallery

Photos from the residential

The Edge report
Focus Group Listening Exercises: The report brings together the key issues identified by the women’s focus groups that met in Burnley, Bradford, Leicester, Birmingham and London during the Summer and Autumn of 2011.

Research & Findings 2011/2012: The themes identified by the women were considered to be the most pertinent to Christian and Muslim women living in Britain today. It is hoped that both the findings of the listening exercises and the residential will help to inform the future work of the Christian Muslim Forum.

  1. ‘The Other’
  2. Private and Public Spaces
  3. Perceptions/Stereotyping
  4. Young People
  5. Overcoming Obstacles
  6. Impact of Global Issues