Prof Karel Werner speaking

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Prof. Karel Werner of SOAS, Religious studies Department, University of London, reviewed the history of Mysticism contrasting paths of doctrinal belief and ecstatic mystical union. His statement that ‘belief in doctrine was childish’ caused some discussion. He compared also the experience of interfaith dialogue and relationships today with the communities of mystics who have appeared throughout history. He added that the backlash against  those who transcended their belief to enter an ecstatic, mystical oneness has also been a common historical theme.

Read more: Mysticism as Doctrine & Experience: Prof. Karel Werner

Rita Payne taks on Internatioal Womens Day 2010

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Rita Payne, a former Editor of BBC Asia and currently the Chair of the Commonwealth Journalist’s Association, reflected on the status of women in current developments and her own experience in the media in her speech, Women and Success – Is Hard Work Enough? ‘2010, on the face of it, is not a bad year for women’, she said, for example pointing to Katherine Bigelow’s Oscar success on the eve of International Women’s Day but 'the battle for stronger representation for women is far from over.’  (more) This was a joint WFWP - UPF event.

Dr. Naznin Hirji Experiencing the Sacred

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An evening with Islamic scholar Dr. Naznin Hirji

With a series of monthly interfaith events, the UPF’s Interfaith Committee has been exploring spirituality from many different traditions. Our February event featured author and Islamic scholar Dr. Naznin Hirji, who talked about how to create the right conditions to experience “the sacred,” a subject at the heart of her doctorate.

“According to the polishing of one’s heart can see the hidden meaning of things,” she said, quoting the 13th Century Persian poet Rumi as saying. The sacred could be found in “the silence that speaks” and “a thread that extends from the heart to the lips.”

Read more: Experiencing the Sacred

Hadia Saad speaks on Humanity Before Gender on International Women's Day

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Hadia Saad had just returned from attending the 54th UN Congress on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York representing the Alulbayt Foundation in London. She also attended the UPF Parallel CSW event in New York. She shared about both experiences. She was left with the sense that there is still a long way to go to obtain justice for women. She reflected on the position of women in Islam stating that tensions develop when the cultural traditions confine Islamic principles. (read more)

Women Initiating Change - The Strength of the Outsider speech by Kat Callo

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During the International Women's Day event Kat Callo, a 17 year former Reuters correspondent, explained the tragic cause of her work as a Trustee of Project Mosaic. Her cousin, a New York City firefighter, died in 9/11 trying to save those within the World Trade Towers when the buildings collapsed. She began Project Mosaic, a UK-based educational charity that helps teach young people to be more tolerant of those coming from a different background – whether that’s a different race, ethnicity, religion, nationality or culture. She said, 'Violent extremism … plays on the theme of  “the outsider” – but it combines it with fear and ignorance, to creates a poisonous cocktail for our young people. With a conversation, over a cup of tea or at a youth club or at a gathering of mothers at a refugee centre or talking with family members and friends. We are working to amplify the voice of the outsider – that person that takes a weakness and transforms it into a strength.' (read more) This was a joint Women's Federation for World Peace and Universal Peace Federation event.


Group photo

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It has become our tradition to celebrate Gandhi’s birthday every year. The 3rd year celebration was organized mainly by Dr Krishna, one of our Ambassadors for Peace, sponsored by UPF Bristol. Dr Krishna was very happy to organize the event when we invited him to, as he thoroughly enjoyed organizing Father and Mothers Moon's birthday earlier this year.

Read more: UPF Bristol Celebrate Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday