All posts by Julie Lewis

On Wordpress, Julie writes the blog for Humphrey Fisher. Humphrey Fisher was born in New Zealand and lives in the Welsh borders. His interests and career span the near East, West Africa, the history of Islamic West Africa, slavery, Islam and Christianity. He was born in New Zealand, moved to Britain aged 4 and sent to Canada aged 6 for safety during the 2nd World War, spent teenage years at a Quaker school in America, returned to UK for studies and then spent many years travelling and working with his young family in Palestine, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Ghana, documenting his travels in diary, His strong interest in primary sources led to diary, tape and slide recording of his travels and field trips, together with translations from the German of imprtant documents from the 19th centry subn-Saharan traveller Nachtigal, and critical anaylisis of ancien Islamic sources in his academic work. He has contined the journal habit during his 20-year Welsh retirement, and founded a pilgrimage based on local churches mentioned in another 19th Century diarist, Kilvert. His wife Helga's war experience differs greatly from Humphrey's, as she returned agen 8 from Peru to Germany during the height of the U-boat war, and her experiences, together with slides of their family travels, also feature in this site.

Young Iraqi Christians, Muslims, and Yazidis are the seeds of dialogue in a Land broken by the Islamic State

Seeds of hope!!!

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

6606442621494827991ERBIL: In order to overcome the murderous madness of the Islamic State, which has covered with blood a land already brutalised by years of wars and violence, it is necessary to start with “a plan of dialogue and outreach at the local level”, involving first of all children and young people, the new generations, “who will be tasked with building life together” beyond their respective religions.

Starting from such premises, Fr Samir Youssef, pastor of the diocese of Amadiya (Iraqi Kurdistan) who has long been on the frontline of the refugee emergency, is promoting a project to transform “young Muslims, Christians and Yazidis” into “seeds of dialogue ” to breathe new life into Mosul, the Nineveh plain, and Iraq as a whole.

Speaking to AsiaNews, the priest mentioned an initiative that is in its initial stage, but one that has already garnered “the enthusiastic participation” of some thirty of…

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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:

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

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:

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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