My friend the imam was discouraged. We were sitting in his office next to the prayer hall. There was a weariness about him. True, this was just after the month of Ramadan and his whole sleep pattern had been disrupted, not only by the change in eating times but also leading extra prayer times at night in the mosque. But that wasn’t it. “Some people,” he said, “Some of our people are so extreme. They refuse to be flexible.”

Just over the road from his mosque, a new mosque had opened in what had been a commercial building. It was run by a group which follows a different brand of Islam to my imam friend. “You know, the holy month of Ramadan starts and finishes with the new moon. We say it starts at the time of the birth of the new moon whether it is seen or not. They say it must be seen or there is no new moon. It confuses people. We should be flexible and work together to make harmony, but no, these inflexible people they love to pass judgement if we do not follow their way. We are willing to discuss and find a way, but they just want to be right and despise everyone else. It is so discouraging.”

How does a Christian respond to such a disclosure? Probably the most natural response from a British Christian would be something like “I know what you mean! You would not believe the arguments there used to be over the date of Easter! And even now it keeps shifting about.” Or “Yes, we have some very unreasonable people too!” Let’s pause at this point. Why do we tend to respond that way?

I think it is part of our approach to politeness to try and find some middle ground to meet on. We seek to express sympathy and demonstrate that we face similar things. We try and build the relationship on the space between us, as it were. However, I have noticed that when the roles are reversed my friends of Asian heritage do not respond the same way. If I express some dissatisfaction with some Christians, they very rarely respond by expressing dissatisfaction about fellow Muslims. They don’t try to find some kind of middle ground in which to share a grievance.

So I listened carefully and asked him to explain it to me. When I commented that it was more about the foolishness and stubbornness of human hearts, the way pride gets in even when people say they are worshipping God. What we need is grace and mercy. The conversation moved on and he told me the problem they had with people making donations and wanting their generosity published. He said that it seemed to be particularly a problem here, and that he had not encountered it in other parts of the UK. I told him what Jesus had said about that in Matthew 6:3 and explained about Jesus saying that those who gave to be seen by others got no reward except the approval of people, but when we give in such a way that God alone knows then he rewards us. He nodded.

Eventually the conversation moved on and he asked about whether it was true as some people said that the Bible had been changed. I gave him an answer along the lines that it had not been changed, that as it happens, the Qur’an affirms the Bible and that the Islamic scholars who said otherwise were following a teaching that developed four hundred years after the rise of Islam. He seemed happy with this. 

We talked about our families, asylum seekers and various other things, but it was coming round to the next prayer time. The prayer hall was filling up. I got ready to leave. He thanked me for coming and said how much he enjoyed talking to me. He was looking a bit brighter by this point. 

Love – in the poems of Hafiz


Ḵᵛāja Šams-al-Din Moḥammad Širāzi (b. Shiraz ca. 715/1315; d. Shiraz ca. 792/1390) is one of the greatest poets of Persia with perhaps a more profound effect on Persian life and culture in general than any other, not excepting such great figures as Ferdowsi, Saʿdi, and Rumi. Hafiz had memorized the whole Qur’an, which can be seen in his poetry. investigation

In this article, we briefly pay attention to some aspects of love in Hafiz’s ‘Divan’, from the perspective of truth and permissibility, and their relationship with human and divine love.

Hafiz’s poetry is still relevant centuries after it was written; perhaps this is because of his focus on the concept of love.  we can say with courage that this Muslim poet’s worldview was love, though undoubtedly, he is not the first person to deal with the concept of love. Indeed, it is narrated in a hadith from the Prophet of Islam that: ‘One who falls in love and stays chaste and hides his love and then dies. He is a martyr.’ (Rūzbehān,1987, p142)

In Hafiz’s poetry however, love oscillates between virtual (human) love and divine love.

For example, here, the Sufi poet mentions an earthly concept of love: “If that Turkish One of Shiraz would take this heart in hand, for that One’s Hinduish mole l’d barter Bokhara, Samarkand.”(Smith, 2016, Gazals No: 8) In this poem, he talks about his love for a woman, and that for this love he is willing to donate two of the most important cities of his time.

Elsewhere he looks at love from a divine perspective: ‘From that one manifestation in the mirror of your face’s beauty, all this various imagination that is a mirror of mind’s design, fails’. (Smith, 2016, Gazals No: 179)

In this poem, Hafiz says that as soon as ‘God’s beauty was reflected in the mirror of the human heart, everyone creates an image of it in his mind’. From these images, various thoughts about religions emerge. It is as if Hafiz accepts that differences in religions are natural and should be tolerated by human beings.

Regarding Hafiz, it can be said that although he has dealt with human love, in fact, his attention to human love is for him to show us the love of God. An ascetic may consider human love as a trap from the devil; unable to imagine how avoiding human love actually distances them from the loving God. In one of his poems, Hafiz speaks of a kind of pure mysticism, but he narrates it using love, beauty and manifestation.

He says: ‘In Eternity beyond time, Your radiant beauty, glorification struck; then love revealed itself and with its fire all of the creation struck’ (Smith, 2016, Gazals No: 186).

He shows that love is an advantage that distinguishes humanity from the rest of the universe. From this perspective, the beauty of God comes from His manifestation. It is from this beauty that love is found in the world. The relationship between love and beauty in this poem by Hafiz connects the human aspect of beauty with the divine aspect of love.

In one of his most famous poems, Hafiz says that love can seem easy in the beginning, but it can create some problems later: ‘Hey Winebringer, circulate, offer the cup this way; for love at first seemed easy, now problems come to stay’.(Smith, 2016, Gazals No: 1)

In this poem, it is as if the poet wants to forget the hardships caused by love with the help of wine. But if the same butler represents a person who connects him with the world of mysticism, does not asking for wine from him mean that he seeks help from a butler or liaison with the world of mysticism to ward off the hardships of love? So, if his love is also mystical, it seems that the poet seeks treatment from someone who has been involved in his falling into love problems. The gazal really represents a romantic world that has its own complexities.

In this article, we have briefly showed how the concept of love in Hafiz’s poetry moves between human and divine love, and we also showed that this movement is more towards divine love in his poetry.

F Yasini

List of References


 Zarrinkoob, Abdolhossein. )1985). “Az Kuche-ye Rendan”. Tehran. p179 -189.

Khorramshahi, B. (2000).”Discourses on the culture-inspiring aspects of the Holy Qur’an”. Tehran. p101.

Smith, Paul. (2016). “Divan of Hafiz”, Gazals No: 85 (Love will hear your heart cry out and will come to you, if like Hafiz your heart knows the Koran completely, fourteen versions as well).

Baqlī Šīrāzī, Rūzbehān. (1987) “Le Jasmin des Fidèles d’amour (Ketāb ʿabhar al-ʿāšeqīn)”, published with two introductions and a translation of the first chapter by Henry Corbin and Moḥammad Moʿīn . Tehran and Paris. p142.

What’s That Flag?

Photo by K Knight. A lamp post in the north of England.

What have UK Christians got in common with UEFA and the International Olympic Committee? The Palestinian flag is increasingly visible in Britain today: whether on the football pitch, in news coverage of public protests, or simply in the possession of a local neighbour. Why is this? And how might it also affect you?

The complex issues of identity and religion, influence and ignorance are as old as the hills, yet they repeatedly find fresh expression in a new audience and context. Living online has become an international phenomenon by necessity during Covid lockdowns – overcoming some divisions but exacerbating others.

Recent mosque sermons, easily available on social media, have addressed the subject of Palestine, as violent events in Jerusalem escalated across the region. In Islam, Al-Aqsa is the third holiest site, believed to be the location of the Muslim Prophet’s Night Journey of Qur’an 17:1. One popular preacher, with hundreds of thousands of viewers, urged all Muslims around the world to support their brothers in defending the mosque from Israeli forces and from “illegal evacuation of the Palestinians”. Citing the 178 injured and 88 hospitalised worshippers when the mosque was stormed on the final Friday prayers of Ramadan 2021, listeners heard of the rubber bullets, tear gas and bomb shells used and were invited to pray that Allah “will teach the enemies of Islam a lesson”.

A contrasting Eid message from Cambridge, which to date has reached an audience of nearly 180,000, also implored a response, but “not [of] vengefulness, not of exclusion against another exclusion.” It highlighted the terrible financial inequalities in the world; teaching, “the Sunnah position is that the poor come first; give, give, give”. Recalling the pleasure of his personal visit to Al-Aqsa, the preacher revelled in “the glory of that place that comes as a crown to the city”; and looked forward to a day when the Holy Land would be free – “Jew, Christian, Muslim, equal – able to live wherever they wish, no discrimination”.

The connection, for our Muslim neighbours, with the people and the place is clear and present. They then have to consider how to respond to the calls to support and give; perhaps by waving a Palestinian flag. At first, this might appear an unfamiliar response to UK Christians, but is it?

I wonder how many people in the UK would be able to locate Israel on a map; yet British society’s awareness is nurtured through annual traditions such as nativity plays, and for Christians, it is the setting of most of the Bible. There are Zionist theological positions which foster Christian support for the current Jewish citizens of Israel; and historic atrocities which inspire Christian sympathy for the Jews. To what extent would your life be perceived by some to be flying an Israeli flag?  Christian support for Palestinians is also evident, for example in the liturgy of Christian Aid’s ‘World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel vigil’ or organisations like Sebeel – Kairos; often these differing Christian perspectives reflect a level of association with evangelicalism.

So ‘What’s that flag’ mean to you? Does the sight of someone with a Palestinian flag attract or alienate you? Is your reaction a gospel bridge or barrier? God directed Samuel to look beyond the outward appearance, to the heart (1 Sam 16:7). Jesus the anointed Messiah is calling people into His spiritual Kingdom; into His family from every tongue, tribe and nation.  Do your actions raise a banner which says to others ‘Thy Kingdom come’?

Hot Topics ticket info


“Hot Topics” ticketed events will start at 18:30 and finish at around 20:30 unless otherwise advertised.

There will be tea, coffee and water available.

These events will normally take place on the first floor of the Emmanuel Centre at Nazarene Theological College. The room will be signed from the entrance. For directions and more information about the college, please see the NTC (event venue) page.

This event will be ticketed due to likely high demand, and so all participants will need to purchase a ticket (suggested donation of £10). As these discussions are not generally designed for children to take part, no concessions will be offered.

If you feel the event is worth more than this, you are invited to give more if you can afford to, and to complete our Gift Aid form. This allows us to reclaim the UK Income Tax or Capital Gains Tax on your donation back from the government, making it worth more at no extra cost to you!

NB: If you have previously completed a Gift Aid Form for MCSCI you do not need to give us a new one. Limited exceptions apply – please ask for details if you are concerned.


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Bookstore opening: September


The bookstore will be open…

Mon. 8 September 11:00-15:00
Thur 11 September 11:00-16:00
Tue. 16 September 11:00-16:00
Thur 18 September 11:00-16:00

… then Tuesdays and Thursdays 11:00-16:00 until further notice.

Alternative days or times may be possible by appointment.

We will soon be able to offer collection from the NTC library desk, and apologise if the delay in starting this service has inconvenienced you. Please check this page again for further updates.

Bookstore opening: August


The bookstore will be


Closed from Friday 22 August until the second week of September


Mon. 8 September 11:00-15:00
Wed. 10 September 11:00-16:30
… then Tuesdays and Thursdays 11:00-16:00 until further notice.

Alternative days or times may be possible by appointment.

We will soon be able to offer collection from the NTC library desk, and hope this may be in place by the end of August. Please check this page again for further updates.

Bookstore opening: July


The bookstore will be open…

Thurs. 17 July 09:00-16:00
Friday 18 July 09:00-16:00
Tues. 22 July 11:00-16:00
Monday 28 July 14:00-16:00
Tuesday 29 July 11:00-16:00
Thurs. 31 July 11:00-16:00

… then Tuesdays and Thursdays 11:00-16:00 until further notice.

Alternative days or times may be possible by appointment.


We realise such limited hours are not good for everyone; While we are currently unable to extend our hours, we will soon be able to offer collection from the NTC library. Details will be posted here soon.

Bookstore Opening Hours: May-June


The bookstore will be open…

Thurs. 29 May 08:30-09:00, 11:00-16:00 (may be extended by appointment)

The bookstore will then be closed until mid-June. Orders will be accepted but collection will not be possible until…

Thurs. 19 June 11:00-17:00
Friday 20 June 11:00-16:00 (may be extended by appointment)
Mon.  23 June 11:00-16:00
        **Not Tuesday as previously stated**
Thurs. 26 June 11:00-16:00


We realise such limited hours are not good for everyone; not only will we review our bookstore hours in mid-June, we also hope to offer collection from the NTC Reception Desk and/or library soon.