A Liverpool chant from the terraces, to the tune of the 1996 hit ‘Good Enough’ by Dodgy, has demonstrated once again that Britain is an inclusive society which celebrates our differences. The chant is praising Mohamed Salah, an Egyptian footballer who has scored 23 Premier goals for Liverpool this season. The chant, “If he’s good enough for you he’s good enough for me, if he scores another few then I’ll be Muslim too. If he’s good enough for you he’s good enough for me, he’s sitting in the mosque that’s where I wanna be” has been described by Liverpool fan Asif Bodi as showing “how tolerant and welcoming the people of Liverpool really are.”
Salah is praying above. Sujud means to prostrate. It is like the position used in Muslim prayer movements: palms, knees, toes, forehead and nose must be the only body parts touching the ground. During prayer when someone is in this prostration position they would say ‘Glory be to God, the Most High’ repeated three times.
There are lots of Muslim players in the English Premiership. Mesut Ozil who is a German World Cup winner, and currently playing for Arsenal, is proud of his religion and happy to show it on the pitch. “I’m a Muslim, I believe in that. You can see before games that I pray and that I’m pleased to be able to go on this path. It gives me a lot of strength,” he said. “I’m someone who’s always been thankful, someone who doesn’t just wish the best for me but for the people. It’s a very important part of my life. What’s important is to come together and show respect.” In the picture below Ozil is praying with his hands in front and the palms upwards. During the prayer hands are kept openly up, towards the heavens. The two palms, standing at the level of chest as scale of a balance, wait openly for the blessings of the All-Compassionate Allah, from the heavens to come.
Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium has a multi-faith fans’ prayer room as does Liverpool’s main stand which was refurbished in 2016. This allows Muslims and fans of any faith to nip in for a prayer during their time watching football and supporting their teams.
Human evolution is not over, yet it’s impossible to predict how we’re going to turn out. When we look back at history at how we may have got to our current state, there are still lots of parts of the story which we are discovering and trying to understand.
the split between chimpanzee and humans occurred about 4-8 million years ago
the hypothetical common ancestor between chimpanzees and humans would have had a mixture of chimp-like traits, human-like traits and primitive traits that both species eventually left behind. So we don’t know if the common ancestor walked on all fours, or been more upright.
a big fossil find was “Lucy”, a 3.18m-year-old skeleton, who was excavated in 1974. Lucy is important because she has a unique blend of primitive features – a chimpanzee-sized brain, a powerful jaw and long, dangling arms – and human ones with her legs, knee and pelvis similar to our own anatomy. So it looks like she could walk and run.
the earliest evidence of Homo sapiens (us!) comes from fossils dated about 300,000 years ago which were excavated from a cave in Morocco. One of the scientists working on the dig said, “The face of the specimen we found is the face of someone you could meet on the tube in London.”
Studying evolution naturally brings us to Charles Darwin. He was an English naturalist who studied variation in plants and animals during a five-year voyage around the world in the 19th century. You can spot him in the animation The Pirates! when Pirate Captain stumbles upon the unhappy with love scientist Charles Darwin, who then persuades the Captain that the crew’s prized ‘parrot’, Polly, could be bring them lots of money. In real life Charles Darwin explained his ideas on evolution in a book called, ‘On the Origin of Species’, published in 1859. His ideas were very controversial because they can be seen as conflicting with religious views about the creation of the world and the creatures in it. The basic idea behind the theory of evolution is that all the different species have evolved from simple life forms. A film from 2009 called Creation gives you a clever way to learn about Charles Darwin whilst relaxing with a film!
An Egyptian-American journalist called Mona Eltahawy recently talked about her experience of sexual assault during Hajj in 2013. Since then #MosqueMeToo has started to grow. Muslim men and women from all round the world have been using the hashtag and in less than 24 hours it was tweeted 2,000 times.
Each year about 2 million Muslims undertake Hajj which is one of the five pillars of Islam. Going on this special pilgrimage should not involve being inappropriately touched or having someone rub against you in the crowd, things which have been reported using the #MosqueMeToo on Twitter. Some women have said they were fearful of publicising the harassment and sexual assaults incase it fuelled more Islamophobia.
Reading the BBC article you’ll stumble across key GCSE words such as:
Knowing that Hajj is a pilgrimage and one of the Five Pillars is not enough for the GCSE. You’ll need to know what the different parts of the Hajj are and why pilgrims participate in them. This isn’t a waste of time because by learning about Hajj you’ll understand some key stories of Islam about Ibrahim and discover Muslim beliefs about faith and forgiveness. These short videos from the BBC are a quick way to get that information. Type Hajj into this wordpress’ SEARCH engine and you’ll find previous links for Hajj too.
Umrah is the lesser pilgrimage made by Muslims to Mecca, which may be performed at any time of the year, and isn’t one of the five pillars so you don’t have to do it in your lifetime. In May 2017 football player Paul Pogba went on Umrah to say his thanks for Manchester United’s Europa League win.
Tawaf (Arabic: طواف) is one of the principal actions of the pilgrimage and refers to walking in circles around the Kaaba in an anti-clockwise motion. Seven complete circuits, with each one starting and ending at the Hajar al-Aswad (Black Stone), constitute one Tawaf. It is an act of devotion intended to bring the pilgrim closer to God spiritually. It is the only principal action of Hajj and Umrah which is not associated directly with acts of worship performed by the Prophet Ibrahim.
The Hijab is one type of headscarf which Muslim women might wear to maintain a modest look so that their hair and body is not on show in public. Some people believe that what a woman wears can affect whether she is harassed in public. In Iran where women have to wear the hijab by law, a popular slogan on the walls of public buildings is “Hijab is not a limitation, it is your protection.”
A Presbyterian Church in Dungiven, County Londonderry in Northern Ireland is proud that it has the only bomb proof Sunday Sunday in the UK. Last year it bought an old police station and though the original plan was to demolish it all and build a car park they instead decided to use the old police station for Church activities. It cost them over £200,000 to transform the station so there’s now a new kitchen, elevator, crèche facilities, gym space and meeting rooms.
Church Member Gladys Carmichael explained, “There are lots of rooms now for the Sunday School children and the older groups to meet and play games and if any of the kids misbehave we can also put them in the cell to cool off.”
It was only in 2010 that Dungiven Presbyterian Church made the local news when it celebrated 175 years in the town. At that event the offering money which came to over £1,500, was in aid of the congregation’s Missionary Support Fund. The congregation was supporting the work of Stephen and Angelina Cowan, PCI missionaries in Kenya, Alan and Dorothy Graham, CEF missionaries in Zimbabwe, and Eric and Anne Magowan, missionaries who work with the persecuted church in Vietnam. The evening’s theme was the words of Phil 1:27, where Paul urged the Philippians to conduct themselves in a manner worthy of the gospel. He challenged all present to do likewise if they are to present a credible witness to the world in which they live.
Presbyterianism is a denomination of Christianity.
Being based upon the teachings of John Calvin (1509-64) it has a central theme of predestination — everything that happens is pre-ordained by God.
The symbols which make up the Presbyterian Church symbol help us to understand what this denomination of Christianity focuses on…
On numerous occasions I’ve written about films and TV programmes that students can watch which will help them with their understanding of issues we study such as poverty, war, sexual relationships, climate change, abortion, the death penalty and community. Then there are the more obvious films and TV programmes which focus on religious beliefs, teachings and practises such as Noah, Bruce Almighty and the recent TV series Broken on ITV.
At Christmas time it is a great opportunity to watch Christmas films which show how the Christian festival of Christmas is celebrated:
British soap operas like Eastenders, Coronation Street, Hollyoaks, and Emmerdale will also show families celebrating the festival of Christmas, whereas comedy specials and talk shows will have their studios decorated for Christmas with some themed jokes and interviews.
Is everything linked to the commercial celebration of the festival or is there any mention of what is written in the books of Matthew and Luke in the Christian Bible?
It is such a natural form of revision to be watching TV or film and suddenly spotting something you’ve learnt in class. It is so exciting to be able to explain something, understand it better, simply because you were in that classroom, listening and concentrating on that particular day.
Some students have had the challenge of comparing TV and film which show liturgical and non-liturgical worship. Well done to my Year 10 Tuesday afternoon class who did so well on this homework.
Four Weddings and a Funeral would be a good film to watch for its many scenes inside a church. For Roman Catholics and some Anglicans you’ll also get to see some sacraments.
The BBC’s recent drama called Broken which I’ve previously referred to on the Blog is fantastic not only for showing liturgical worship (the eucharist is given in every episode) but also its depiction of a local church community with food banks and diversity.
Songs of Praise is on television every Sunday afternoon, or you can catch a number of previous episodes on YouTube.
Coronation Street has a brilliant 2 minute scene showing parts of an infant baptism from a few years ago.
There is a really peculiar scene from the Kingsman: The Secret Service film, which shows a church massacre (15 rating). Watching simply that scene makes no sense unless you know more about the film. The actor Colin Firth play a suave secret agent, Harry Hart, who recruits a kid from the streets named Eggsy (Taron Egerton) to be part of the Kingsman. But Eggsy is quickly thrown into the fire when evil tech-whiz Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) creates a technology that can cause mass terror across the globe, and only the Kingsman can stop him. On the hunt for Valentine, Hart ends up at a hate church group in Kentucky. While Hart is in the church, Valentine tests his technology, which causes the SIM cards in everyone’s phones in the church to make them become homicidal maniacs. There is then this three-and-a-half minute sequence in which we watch Hart shoot, stab, slam, and break everyone in his path as the guitar solo from Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird” plays in the background. It’s peculiar and unsettling.
Family Guy has numerous satirical moments where you can learn about Christianity. Students often forget that singing is a form of worship, New Yorker’s in Church has an opening prayer, and the Mr Booze clip shows an drinking den turn into a fake alcoholics anonymous based on a church with pews and singing.
Take a trip to London’s Tate Modern before January 28th 2018 and you’ll be able to enjoy the ironic art of Ilya and Emilia Kabakov as well as finding out some history facts about the Russia and the USSR. The Guardian describes the art as tragicomic and for a 9 year old there needed to be a lot of explaining but for a teenager who’s learnt a little about the USSR from history lessons it will all make pretty decent sense.
We really liked the man who flew into space from his apartment with all its propaganda posters on the walls. That feeling of utter desperation and the desire to escape had forced the apartment’s occupant to create a contraption so he’d be able to catapult himself through the ceiling.
Room Ten of the exhibition focuses on the Kabakov’s interest in angels. There was a little wooden model..
As well as the written explanation of How to Meet an Angel…
You left knowing that they’ve also tried it on a larger scale…
People believe in angels as a paranormal possibility, as well as in Christianity and Islam. Looking at the Kabakov’s artwork it just made you realise that people need the idea of angels coming to their aid and assistance in moment’s of individual unique need.
Tate Modern knows how to show installation art, with room and room housing thought provoking art. In a few days the exhibition Red Star Over Russia will also start, making Tate Modern the place to visit for students wanting an insight into Russia and the Soviet Union from 1905.