Interfaith week, was, for me, the most amazing week of university so far, and this is coming from someone who’s loved every minute of my uni experience since Freshers week.
Personally, the interfaith fun started on bonfire night. I attended a bring-your-own dish dinner, followed by watching the fireworks with people from other faiths at Hyde Park. Throughout the week I continued meeting many different people and learned new things about their religions and beliefs. This week made me realise that there really is no better way to appreciate the wisdom of all faiths than from an interfaith perspective. I gained a massive appreciation for having my religion as a foundation from which to learn about the incredible wisdom and beauty of other religious traditions.
A major highlight event was the Temple Run on Wednesday, where we went from one place of worship to another: a kind of holy version of the Otley Run. The amount of churches, mosques, temples and synagogues in Leeds is remarkable, and the powerful effects of the majestic architecture and interiors gave way to feelings even deeper than aesthetics. Every religious sanctuary felt sacred in its own unique way. There was plenty of time to ask questions about the different faiths, and it was an incredible opportunity to talk to each other about our different religions. What was most memorable was finding out how much our faiths actually had in common. It was touching for my Catholic friend to hear how St Mary is respected in Islam, and for my Jewish friend to see some striking similarities in Muslim prayer.
Another highlight was the panel on Friday, which took place in the Riley Smith Hall after a chance to observe Jumu’ah Prayers. The panel of twelve, chaired by Rachael Amy Vickerman, represented all of the LUU faith societies, crucially including the Atheist and Humanist Society. Questions had been submitted throughout Interfaith Week, and the ones chosen were compelling, critical and thought provoking.
Interfaith week has had a profound effect on my connection to my own religion and beliefs, and I finished the week feeling totally inspired. The week renewed my commitment to my own religious community and exposed me to the enlightening experience of interfaith dialogue. The fantastically organised series of events also provided an incredible way to kick-start my interfaith journey in Leeds, showing me that I can only really understand my own religion by looking at it through an interfaith perspective.