February 2012, Issue 14

Dear Friend,

I hope that 2012 is starting well for you. I am pleased to be writing to update you on a range of exciting developments at the Dialogue Society.

We are delighted to announce the launch of a new book, ‘Dialogue in Islam,’ by Ahmet Kurucan and Mustafa Kasim Erol (Director of our Oxford Branch). The book provides a concise, readable introduction to the relationship between Islam and dialogue. Drawing on the Qur’an, the Sunnah and Islamic history it demonstrates that dialogue is an integral part of the very fabric of Islam, dispelling popular misconceptions. It will be available to download from our website from the beginning of next week.

Since the end of January the London office has been unusually bustling. The first intake of eight students for the Dialogue Studies MA which we launched with Keele University in September have joined us for a ten-week placement and have become a valued part of life at the Dialogue Society headquarters. As well as participating in weekly training sessions and visiting a range of relevant charities, government departments and places of interest, they have been making a real contribution to intercultural dialogue in the capital in partnership with two community centres.

The first two months of the year have also seen some exciting new programmes of public events launched at the Dialogue Society. In January we launched our hardTALK programme, a dynamic format for dialogue featuring a searching interview with a top expert on a key social issue. David Goodhart, founder of Prospect Magazine, took Professor Tariq Modood into the heart of the debates surrounding multiculturalism.

The Success School, also launched in January, provides diverse 16-21 year olds, primarily from North London, with a little extra inspiration and encouragement at a key stage in their lives by bringing them into contact with extraordinarily successful people from different fields, and experts in personal development. Our first sessions, with self-help author Robert Kelsey and Rear Admiral Amjad Hussain, have been well attended and very well received by our target audience.

The Birmingham Branch will be running the Success School later in the year. Meanwhile, all kinds of events have been taking place at the Dialogue Society’s regional branches, from searching discussions of the Big Society and the Arab Spring in Birmingham to Noah’s Pudding celebrations in Reading.

As the weather gets warmer, Westminster Community Co-ordinator Amir Sabanovic will be re-starting the London Trips programme. The trips provide an opportunity to visit a range of significant cultural, religious and historic sites, sharing as a group a vivid experience of the rich heritage and eclectic contemporary life of an exceptionally multicultural city. Please see our website for further details and get in touch if you would like to arrange a trip.

I hope that you will be able to join us at a Dialogue Society branch near you in the near future.

Warmest Regards
Ozcan Keles
Executive Director
Dialogue Society

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Launch of ‘Dialogue in Islam: Qur’an – Sunnah - History’

Dialogue in Islam: Qur’an – Sunnah - History, 01.03.2012

01.03.2012The Dialogue Society is proud to announce the launch of ‘Dialogue in Islam’, a readable introduction to the relationship between Islam and dialogue by Ahmet Kurucan and Mustafa K. Erol. In the context of globalisation and urgent human challenges such as economic disaster and environmental crisis, dialogue is frequently cited as a means to peaceful intercultural relations and the productive sharing of ideas. In considering personal engagement with dialogue a committed Muslim will inevitably ask, “What does Islam have to say about dialogue?” In this book, accessible to Muslims and non-Muslims alike, the authors provide a concise introduction to the question, exploring relevant material in the Qur’an and the Sunnah and examples of the application of these sources in Islamic history. In a helpful question and answer format and a readable style, they demonstrate that dialogue is a part of the fabric of Islam, required by the God-given innate disposition of human beings, and by fundamental Islamic principles of conduct derived from mainstream, long-established understanding of the commands of the Qur’an and Sunnah. Addressing elements of Islamic sources and traditional interpretation sometimes taken as contradicting the case for dialogue in Islam, they also dispel popular misconceptions of Islam’s teachings.

The book will be available for download on the Dialogue Society website from Monday 12th March, and printed copies will be available from the end of the month.

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Dialogue Studies MA Students: Placement at the Dialogue Society

Dialogue Studies MA Students, 01.03.2012

01.03.2012 - Our eight Dialogue Studies MA students arrived from Keele University to start their placement at the Dialogue Society on 23rd January. They have thrown themselves into a range of dialogue projects in partnership with two London community centres, with the help of Academic Director Cem Erbil and our Community Dialogue Manuals. Among the projects they are undertaking are a seminar on knife crime for local residents, Mothers’ Day visits to local care homes with children who use the community centres, and the official opening celebration for one of the centres. The students have also been lending a hand with ongoing Dialogue Society projects and helping with public events. In addition, they have been attending a weekly ‘Dialogue School’, exploring skills for dialogue practice and some of the different theories and beliefs that may inform it. Attendance of external events, visits to other dialogue charities and relevant government departments, and trips exploring the rich culture of this diverse city complete the students’ busy timetable. Dialogue Society staff will be sorry to part with them at the end of March.

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Roundtable with Dominic Grieve on Faith and Integration

Roundtable with Dominic Grieve on Faith and Integration, 23.02.2012

23.02.2012 - The Dialogue Society was honoured to host the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve, for a fascinating round table discussion on the topic of ‘Faith and Integration.’ Mr Grieve drew on past professional experiences in this area, including that of leading on the development of a strategy to make the Conservative party more open to BME participation, but spoke very much as an individual, giving an engaging presentation on his personal perspective on the current situation of faith and integration in Britain. The event was attended by a select group of invited guests, including academics, directors of relevant NGO’s, senior civil servants and journalists, who brought a wealth of diverse experience to bear on the topic, leading to an absorbing and enlightening discussion.

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Success School - Week 1: with Robert Kelsey, Author of ‘What’s Stopping You?’

Success School - Week 1: with Robert Kelsey, Author of ‘What’s Stopping You?’, 16.02.2012

16.02.2012 - The first Dialogue Society Success School session was appropriately successful. The programme aims to encourage higher aspirations among young North Londoners, providing them with a little extra inspiration and advice at a key stage in their lives by bringing them into contact with exceptionally successful professionals from different fields, and experts on personal development. The seminar room was full, with a diverse group of participants between the ages of sixteen and twenty-one, who accepted the invitation to come and reflect on what success means and how they can achieve it in their lives. Robert Kelsey, author of the refreshingly down-to-earth self help book, ‘What’s Stopping You?’ which topped WH Smith’s business book chart for nine months, gave a dynamic presentation on how to deal with fear of failure and other psychological barriers to success. Engagingly drawing on personal experience, his words seemed to strike a chord with many participants, who appreciated the opportunity to chat to him after the event.

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Success School - Week 2: with Rear Admiral Amjad Hussain

Success School - Week 2: with Rear Admiral Amjad Hussain, 28.02.2012

28.02.2012 - At the second session of the Success School, Rear Admiral Amjad Hussain gave an engagingly open and entertaining interview on his own fascinating success story. He shared the story of his arrival in the UK at the age of five, his early life living in one room with his hard-working parents, and his discovery of an aptitude for teamwork and a love of constant new challenges which made the Navy an ideal career choice. He discussed the initial wariness with which people approached an officer from an ethnic minority in the early days of his career, and his experience of prejudice being overcome by proper acquaintance. He offered students thoughtful advice and insights, notably highlighting the crucial importance of education and the enormous importance of building good relationships for success in one’s career and more generally in life. Participants greatly enjoyed talking to Amjad informally over refreshments.

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HardTALK: ‘Multiculturalism: has it a future?’ with Prof Tariq Modood and David Goodhart

HardTALK: ‘Multiculturalism: has it a future?’, 09.02.2012

09.02.2012 - The first Dialogue Society hardTALK programme kicked off with an intriguing interview entitled ‘Multiculturalism: has it a future?’ with Tariq Modood, Professor of Sociology, Politics and Public Policy at the University of Bristol interviewed by David Goodhart, founder and editor-at-large of Prospect magazine and Director of British think tank Demos. Both Tariq Modood and David Goodhart have written extensively on multiculturalism and entered into a probing debate about what the future holds for this topical issue. The audience were able to have their say and put forward their questions during the Q&A following the interview. The evening also included the launch of Professor Tariq Modood’s latest publication, called ‘Post-immigration ‘difference’ and integration: the case of Muslims in Western Europe’.

The Dialogue Society hardTALK series will continue to probe urgent contemporary issues in an interview format where an expert will face direct, searching questions from a seasoned interviewer. Questions and answers together will help frame the issue and open it up for the audience to debate further. Stay tuned for more information on the next hardTALK Programme.

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Making Dialogue Effective, Discussion 2: Effectiveness at the Grassroots: Seeking the Personal and the Genuine

Making Dialogue Effective, Discussion 2: Effectiveness at the Grassroots, 18.01.2012

18.01.2012 - The Dialogue Society Durham branch continued its ‘Making Dialogue Effective’ series with Deputy Chief Constable Mike Barton at a round table discussion entitled ‘Effectiveness at the Grassroots: Seeking the Personal and the Genuine.’ The discussion highlighted the importance of grassroots dialogue between the police and the public, raising awareness about PACT meetings (Police and Communities Together). The PACT meetings are designed to facilitate a forum for locals to raise their concerns to the police, allowing the police to prioritise their needs and to make the required changes to tackle them. The round table discussion ended with a delightful evening meal where attendees, speakers and the Dialogue Society Durham Branch staff were able to continue the dialogue over dinner.

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The Arab Spring on the Streets of Birmingham: The Influence of International Politics on Local Issues

The Arab Spring on the Streets of Birmingham, 02.02.2012

02.02.2012 - This topical event explored the dramatic events of the Arab Spring, the motivations behind it and the impact of these events on communities of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds in the UK and more specifically in Birmingham. The distinguished panel consisted of Richard Burden MP, London-based Turkish analyst and writer Ziya Meral, and Professor Alpaslan Ozerdem of Coventry University’s Centre for Peace and Reconciliation Studies. They drew on observations gathered in countries involved in the Arab Spring and on recent experiences and conversations in Birmingham. During a lively Q&A session audience members put forward a variety of questions and comments.

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Other Events


Noah’s Pudding Celebration in Reading

Noah’s Pudding Celebration in Reading, 07.02.2012

07.02.2012 - The Dialogue Society Southampton Branch shared the delicious tradition of Noah’s pudding with diverse guests at the Reading Civic Center. The Right Worshipful Mayor of Reading, Cllr Deborah Edwards, attended the event and spoke inspiringly on diversity and the importance of intercultural dialogue. After the Mayor’s speech, the Director of the Dialogue Society, Oxford Branch, Mustafa Kasim Erol, talked about the Noah’s Pudding and its meaning in Muslim tradition. The pudding, traditionally made by Anatolian Muslims at the festival of Ashurah and distributed among neighbours, represents the meal made by Prophet Noah for the inhabitants of the Ark from their last supplies when they reached dry land. The Dialogue Society has long promoted the sharing of the pudding as a means of promoting neighbourhood and community cohesion (see our new manual). Around thirty people attended the event and, following the speeches, greatly enjoyed sampling a bowl of Noah’s Pudding.

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Other Events


  • 07.02.2012 | The Value of Inter-Cultural Dialogue through Community Based Forms for Building Relationships

  • 03.03.2012 | Muslim Christian Dialogue in Manchester (11): Women in Society - Christian and Muslim Perspectives

  • 16.02.2012 | Making Dialogue Effective 1: from Interfaith Dialogue to Multifaith Collaboration

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    Past & Forthcoming Events

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    Internship at the Dialogue Society

    The Dialogue Society is currently offering volunteering placement opportunities for candidates from all backgrounds and interests. We provide a unique, dynamic and stimulating work experience where volunteers are encouraged to plan, build and deliver their own projects whilst contributing to other ongoing projects and tasks.

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