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OXFORD: Christians Are Angry That Muslim Imam Gave a Sermon at an Anglican Church

OXFORD: Christians Are Angry That a Muslim Imam Gave a Sermon at an Anglican Church

Elisa Meyer
Oct. 22, 2018

The move to invite a preacher from another faith has been fiercely criticized by Adrian Hilton. Traditionalists have expressed their displeasure towards a sermon being given by a Muslim imam at a Church of England (CofE) communion service yesterday. They claimed such an act will make Christians profoundly offended.

The imam in question is the 49-year-old Monawar Hussain. He teaches Islam in Eton and performed the sermon at Oxford's University Church of St. Mary. He is also an MBE which was awarded during the 2017 Queen's birthday honors. The sermon was given at the request of Louise Richardson, the vice-chancellor of Oxford University.

The move to invite a preacher from another faith has been fiercely criticized by Adrian Hilton in his blog, bearing the curious name of Archbishop Cranmer. The Anglican blog post said it was hard to comprehend how an imam speaking at a Eucharist service sermon would respect divine worship, a sacred act in itself, an action which should be conducted as per the formularies and associated rites of CofE. The Oxford diocese has received a total of 12 complaints regarding the sermon due to Cranmer's blog post. Only three complaints come from the church's local area.

This action by the Diocese of Oxford has been endorsed by the University of Oxford. It effusively welcomed Hussain to speak after the Eucharist, pointing out that the latter is not the first individual from another faith to receive the invite to preach at the university sermon. The diocese reiterated that his presence mirrors the robust commitment of the church and the university along with other faith communities towards interfaith engagement.

Hilton, in his blog, acknowledged Hussain's stellar contribution in promoting racial and religious harmony. The author of the blog admitted to the imam's work in fostering good relations between individuals of different racial groups and faiths. Conversely, he also pointed out that as Muslims hold a disbelief in Jesus Christ's resurrection or him being the son of God, then Hussain would deny Christ's presence from the pulpit itself. Hilton went on to claim that since CofE is now open to individuals of all faiths and even to those who have no faith, the church can now look forward to a series of unbelievers, heretics, idolaters, and blasphemers preaching from various Anglican pulpits.

Hussain, who founded the Oxford Foundation, which is engaged in promoting racial and also religious harmony, said multiple voices are present in the traditions and a few Muslims will be unhappy to see him inside a church. He reiterated that Christians and Muslims should build trust among themselves and work together.


Imam to preach Eucharistic sermon at University Church, Oxford


Archbishop Cranmer
October 17, 2018

The University Church of St Mary the Virgin in Oxford dates back to 1086. It was the first building adopted by the University of Oxford in the 13th century, and was the site of the 1555-6 trials of the Oxford Martyrs, where Bishops Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley and Archbishop Thomas Cranmer were tried for heresy. You can still see a section cut out of 'Cranmer's Pillar' which supported the platform from which the Archbishop withdrew his recantations of his Reformed theological beliefs. John Wesley preached some notable sermons there, such as 'Salvation by Faith' and 'The Almost Christian', and he denounced the spiritual apathy and sloth of the senior members of the University in his sermon 'Scriptural Christianity' on 24th August 1744:

...Is this city a Christian city? Is Christianity, scriptural Christianity, found here? Are we, considered as a community of men, so "filled with the Holy Ghost," as to enjoy in our hearts, and show forth in our lives, the genuine fruits of that Spirit? Are all the Civil officers, all heads and Governors of Colleges and Halls, and their respective Societies (not to speak of the inhabitants of the town), "of one heart "and one soul?" Is "the love of God shed abroad in our hearts?" Are our tempers the same that were in him? And are our lives agreeable thereto? Are we "holy as he who hath called us is holy in all manner of conversation?"

...Ye venerable men, who are more especially called to form the tender minds of youth, to dispel thence the shades of ignorance and error, and train them up to be wise unto salvation, are you "filled with the Holy Ghost?" with all those "fruits of the Spirit," which your important office so indispensably requires? Is your heart whole with God? full of love and zeal to set up his kingdom on earth? Do you continually remind those under your care, that the one rational end of all our studies, is to know, love and serve "the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent?" Do you inculcate upon them day by day, that love alone never faileth...

He was never asked to preach there again.

This coming weekend, an Imam will preach there. He will not be delivering a pre-worship talk on Islam or presenting a post-worship discourse on interfaith reconciliation, either of which would be perfectly acceptable in a university church of theological scholarship and missional service. No, he will be preaching the University Sermon at the 10.30am Choral Eucharist.

Now, Imam Monawar Hussain MBE DL might be a perfectly pleasant and congenial chap: he is certainly distinguished and learned. The Oxford Foundation, which he established, does some manifestly sterling work in the promotion of religious and racial harmony and good relations between persons of different faiths and racial groups. And Imam Monawar Hussain would doubtless be welcomed at any church to talk about peace and love and reconciliation and understanding. But preaching the sermon at a Eucharist?

Imam Monawar Hussain, being a Muslim of orthodox belief, does not believe in the divinity of Jesus: Isa, as the Lord is called in the Qur'an, is not the Son of God, nor was he crucified at Calvary. But Isa is not the Lord, for the Jesus of the Qur'an did not die on a cross, and neither was he resurrected. Yes, he was born to the virgin Mary; yes, he worked miracles; yes, he preached in Judæa and had disciples. But the Jesus in whom Imam Monawar Hussain believes is not the Jesus of the Bible, for he believes the al-Injīl (the Gospel) to have been corrupted. In Islam, Jesus is a nabī (prophet) and rasūl (messenger) of God. He is abd-Allāh (a servant of God), wadjih (worthy of esteem), and mubārak (blessed). But for Imam Monawar Hussain, Jesus did not die on a cross, he did not lie in a grave, and was not resurrected on the third day. Imam Monawar Hussain believes in another Jesus (2Cor 11:4). Preaching the University Sermon on Sunday, Imam Monawar Hussain will deny by his presence in the pulpit the very body and blood of Christ commemorated by the Eucharist; he will refute by his mere being: "God from God, Light from Light, of one very substance with the Father...".

Being an eminent theologian and respected scholar, sensitive to spiritual contention and mindful of the need for multi-faith fraternity, he is not likely to use the occasion to proclaim Mohammed in the succession of prophets (as happened at Westminster Abbey); or to deny the divinity of Christ (as happened at St Mary's Cathedral, Glasgow). He will no doubt be preaching about love, peace, reconciliation and tolerance, all of which would be laudable topics for an inter-faith lecture or post-worship meditation. But by inviting an imam to preach not just a sermon, but a Eucharistic sermon, it is hard to understand how this glorifies the crucified Son of God; how it honours those martyrs who died renouncing theological error and deception; and how it respects a sacred act of divine worship which is supposed to be conducted according to the rites and formularies of the Church of England.

Perhaps the Rev'd Dr William Lamb, Vicar of the University Church, might help us to understand? Failing that, perhaps the Rt Rev'd Dr Steven Croft, Bishop of Oxford, might confirm that his pulpits are now open to people of all faiths and none, and that we can look forward to a series of heretics, blasphemers, idolaters and unbelievers training his congregations up to be wise unto damnation, being emptied of the Holy Ghost, and devoid of the fruits of the Spirit.

And no, there is absolutely no expectation at all that an invitation to preach will ever wind its way to Cranmer's Tower.


Row over Muslim scholar's invitation to preach at Anglican service

Blog claims sermon by imam at Oxford church contrary to 'sacred act of divine worship' in keeping with CofE rites

The Diocese of Oxford received a dozen complaints about Monawar Hussain delivering the sermon, three of which came from the local area

By Harriet Sherwood
Religion correspondent
October 20, 2018

An invitation to a distinguished Muslim scholar to preach at a eucharist service in an Oxford church on Sunday has triggered complaints from traditionalists.

Monawar Hussain, who was awarded an MBE in the Queen's birthday honours last year for services to interfaith relations and the community, will deliver a sermon at the University Church of St Mary the Virgin, following a request from Oxford University's vice-chancellor, Louise Richardson.

The move has been denounced by Archbishop Cranmer, a conservative Anglican blog authored by Adrian Hilton. He said he failed to understand how an imam delivering a sermon at a eucharist service would respect "a sacred act of divine worship which is supposed to be conducted according to the rites and formularies of the Church of England".

The diocese of Oxford has received 12 complaints about the sermon as a result of Cranmer's blogpost, only three of which come from the local area.

In a statement endorsed by the university, the diocese said Hussain was "most welcome" to speak following the eucharist. It added: "Monawar is not the first person from another faith community to be invited to preach the university sermon. His presence on Sunday reflects the strong commitment of the church, university and other faith communities to interfaith engagement."

Hilton acknowledged Hussain's "manifestly sterling work in the promotion of religious and racial harmony, and good relations between persons of different faiths and racial groups".

But as Muslims do not believe Jesus was the son of God, nor in the resurrection, Hussain "will deny by his presence in the pulpit the very body and blood of Christ commemorated by the eucharist", Hilton wrote.

He suggested the CofE was now "open to people of all faiths and none, and that we can look forward to a series of heretics, blasphemers, idolaters and unbelievers" preaching from Anglican pulpits.

Hilton told the Guardian that the diocese of Oxford's statement that Hussain's would "follow" the eucharist service was "not as billed", which suggested a change of plan since his blog was published. "If he is speaking as an addition to the service, I have no problem with that, but the publicity says he is giving the sermon."

Hussain, who is Muslim tutor at Eton College and the founder of the Oxford Foundation, which promotes religious and racial harmony, said: "There are many different voices in all our traditions. Some Muslims might not be happy at my presence at the church.

"So I'm not surprised [at the objections], but there are so many more Christian friends who are pleased I'll be there. We need to be building trust and working together."

Alan Wilson, the bishop of Buckingham, said objections to Hussain's sermon were "ridiculous".

The Oxford Foundation had done "pioneering work to help with community integration, both locally and nationally. [Hussain] is absolutely one of the good guys. His work has been fundamental in deepening our understanding of Islam and combating the threat of terrorism in this country. He is promoting a charitable and wise interpretation of Islam against a fundamentalism ideology," said Wilson.

"As long as it is plain who he is and what his faith affiliation is, I don't think it's reasonable to object to one of the leading faith figures in the area being invited to give an address in a Christian church."

Interfaith engagement was "a measure of the kind of society we need to be: respecting one another's differences, honouring one another as the people we are, and also communicating with each other".

In January 2017, a row erupted over the inclusion in an Anglican service at St Mary's Cathedral in Glasgow of passages from the Qur'an read in Arabic by Madinah Javed, a 19-year-old Muslim student.

Michael Nazir-Ali, the former Bishop of Rochester, called for those responsible for the invitation to be disciplined.


ASHENDEN WEBSITE: https://ashenden.org/2018/10/21/can-a-muslim-preach-at-a-christian-eucharist/

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