King Offa and the Muslim inscription: Linking Welsh borders and Islam

Humphrey Fisher is not the first link between the Welsh borders and Islam! The  fantastic Muslim Museum Initiative includes a coin that King Offa had minted with an Arabic inscription. Fascinating how the contact goes back so far: http://muslimmuseum.org.uk/king-offas-dinar/

Offa’s dyke runs through Newchurch, where Humphrey lives, and he has walked many sections of the Offa’s Dyke Path, little realising the connection with his academic work on Islamic history!

Off’as gold coin with Arabic inscription

Indeed another section on the website shows the Celtic cross with Islamic inscription, physical evidence of the long-thought of links between the Celtic and Arabic worlds.

Here is the text on the MMI website, courtesy of the British Museum where the coin is held.

In 773-774 King Offa of Mercia minted a coin that imitated a dinar. It bears the shahadah (Islamic declaration of faith). It is on display at the British Museum.

An Islamic inscription on an English coin

This unique gold coin of Offa, king of Mercia, is one of the most remarkable English coins of the Middle Ages. It is remarkable because it imitates a gold dinar of the caliph al-Mansur, ruler of the Islamic Abbasid dynasty. Although the Arabic inscription is not copied perfectly, it is close enough that it is clear that the original from which it was copied was struck in the Islamic year AH 157 (AD 773-74). It seems that the engraver had no understanding of the Arabic script: the name and title OFFA REX has been inserted upside down in relation to the Arabic inscription.

The purpose of the coin is uncertain. It has been suggested that it was made as a gift for the pope (it was first recorded in Rome), but it is unlikely that any Christian king would have sent the pope a coin with and inscription stating that ‘there is no God but Allah alone’, however badly the Arabic had been copied. It is more likely that it was designed for use in trade; Islamic gold dinars were the most important coinage in the Mediterranean at the time. Offa’s coin looked enough like the original that it would be readily accepted in southern Europe, while at the same time his own name was clearly visible.

(c) British Museum

http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/cm/g/gold_imitation_dinar_of_offa.aspx

Building pyramids of Trust? Christians and Muslims discuss co-existence

Top Muslim and Christian clerics from the Middle East gathered in Cairo on Tuesday for a two-day conference on promoting co-existence, as sectarian conflict continues to ravage the region. The “Freedom and Citizenship” conference is hosted by Al-Azhar, one of the leading Sunni Muslim authorities based in Cairo. It comes as Coptic Christians in Egypt’s […]

via Al-Azhar hosts meeting on co-existence between Muslims and Christians — A Center of Christian-Muslim Engagement for Peace and Justice: News and Views

Much needed good news for Christian Muslim relations

When the Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump stated in December 2015 that the United States should close its borders to all Muslims, the reaction from American Christian leaders was admirably swift. Mainline Protestant clergy, prominent evangelicals, and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops all lambasted it. “Anyone who cares an iota about religious liberty should […]

via Christian Leaders Nearly Unanimous in Opposing Trump’s Muslim Ban — A Center of Christian-Muslim Engagement for Peace and Justice: News and Views

Aleppo 54 years ago … and now?

A family with two young children leave Syria, travelling through Turkey to Europe.

In 1962, Humphrey and Helga traveled through Syria with a 7 month old & a two year old in a transit van, returning home from Jordan to Germany & the UK. Not a journey to be undertaken willingly now, yet many such families have to attempt it, fleeing unwillingly.

Roman road Syria, somewhere between Aleppo and the Turkish border, 8 June 1962
Roman road Syria, somewhere between Aleppo and the Turkish border, 8 June 1962
Aleppo Citadel, 8 June 1962
Aleppo Citadel as seen by the Fishers, 8 June 1962 – also the top picture in this post.

The sights meeting the Fishers eyes contrast with those we see in our newspapers.

Today, thousands of families are hoping to flee before it is too late for them too, as shown in the  Guardian’s photo-essay of Eastern Aleppo as pro-Assad forces move in (15 Dec 2016). The final picture shows damage around the citadel site seen from the air (Photograph: Omar Sanadiki/Reuters)

These villages on the Fisher’s journey may be some of the places people flee through today. Here is something small we can do – try and get every country in the world to protest to prevent more massacre in Aleppo: click on Avaaz’s petition

Syrian village between Aleppo and the Turkish Border, 8 June 1962
Syrian village between Aleppo and the Turkish Border, 8 June 1962

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nigeria University reconciles Christians, Muslims divided by Boko Haram

When Humphrey was in Nigeria 50 years ago he spoke to people who couldn’t tell the difference between Christians and Muslims. So much has changed since then, but here is a sign of hope!

A Center of Christian-Muslim Engagement for Peace and Justice: News and Views

aun-photoThe American University of Nigeria (AUN) on Tuesday took a major step to reconcile residents of Mubi Local Government Area of Adamawa State.

Mubi is one of the local government areas in Nigeria’s North-east zone that Boko Haram insurgents overran and occupied for months in 2014.

During the crisis, the relationship between Christians and Muslims in the town said to be one of the largest in the state, was seriously strained.

But through its Peer-to-Peer Challenging Extremism campaign tagged, #IAmABeliever, the AUN brought members of Christian and Muslim self-protection groups together for training and sharing of stories on how they survived the Boko Haram carnage.

The programme titled, “Stories-for-Peace Workshop,” was organized by AUN students in collaboration with Illusions of Reflection – a Mubi-based youth group.

The workshop was attended by over 500 members of the Boys Brigade, a non-denominational Christian security group and the Nigerian Aid Group of the…

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And the whole world is Scottish on Hogmanay …

Well, a slight exaggeration, but Auld Lang Syne brings the words of the poet Burns to millions across the globe, linking hands in global solidarity.

hands
From ‘Capital of Scotland’, given to visitors to Edinburgh in 1942

Burns, along with Schiller and Goethe in Gemamy, was one of the first poets to think that  ‘a man’s a man for aye that’,

 That Man to Man, the world o’er,
Shall brothers be for a’ that.

writing at the same time as the French revolution, 10 years before the setting of ‘War and Peace’ currently showing on the BBC. and 10 years after Schiller’s poem Ode to Joy spoke of the brotherhood and unity of all mankind

Written large in the hearts of the Scottish  diaspora, sentiments such as

Here’s a health to them that’s awa’, …   May tyrants and tyranny tine in the mist…    ‘There’s nae ever fear’d that the truth would be hear’d,  But they the truth would indite  

became associated with Scotland all round the world, not least in the  hearts of the Fisher and Gibson descendants of the couple who left for New Zealand straight after their wedding went to New Zealand later that century, and proudly remembered their Scottish roots. Allan Fisher, Humphrey’s father, could wax lyrical about the contribution of the Scots to New Zealand,  Australia and South  Africa, as in this letter from his colleague H J Paton in 1968:

scotland letter short

It would be intriguing to know exactly what Allan wrote in his own account, which must have been part of a letter commenting on Paton’s book ‘The Claim of Scotland’.

The picture of linked hands above is from a booklet found in the Fisher family archives. Many of its sentiments are typical in showing how the Scots viewed their role in the world. From the foreword: ‘As Lord Provost of this city in wartime, [the book is to] bring together, permanently, those men and women of many nations who throng the streets of this ancient Capital … may it help forward the greater cause of friendship among all Cities and all the Peoples of the World’.

capital.jpg

The choice of languages to translate into,  and the translations into  Russian and Polish from the W.V.S. Allies Information Bureau, give an interesting insight those nations most represented in Edinburgh in WWII.

picture

text 4 languages.jpg

Today we still yearn for the ‘greater cause of friendship among all Cities and all the Peoples of the World’.

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