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Language: English / Gàidhlig

Chamber and committees

Meeting of the Parliament

Meeting date: Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Topical Question Time, Economic Impact of Leaving the European Union, Decision Time, Endometriosis Awareness Week


Time for Reflection

The Presiding Officer (Ken Macintosh)

Good afternoon. Our first item of business this afternoon is time for reflection. Our time for reflection leader today is Dr Mohammed Ali Shomali, who is the resident imam and director of the Islamic Centre of England.

Dr Mohammad Ali Shomali (Resident Imam and Director, Islamic Centre of England)

In the name of God, the compassionate, the merciful.

Presiding Officer, members of Parliament and everyone here, I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to address you today. I have been to Scotland several times and always associate it with welcoming people and beautiful nature.

If we reflect on the development of religions and traditions, we realise that there has always been a central question: how to keep your people together and convince them that, by remaining inside the circle, they are better off. Otherwise, you may lose them. It is closely related to the issue of identity: how we understand our position in relation to others.

Unfortunately, the way to demonstrate that we are better off in the circle was often to distance ourselves from others. Instead of saying what you are, the focus was on what you are not. That type of identity is based on fear and exclusion. It will certainly not work in today’s world. If it worked before, it was because the world was very partitioned and people often did not meet people of other faiths, ethnicities or cultures.

That is not today’s world, and that fragile understanding of identity no longer works. We need a new type of understanding that is based on what we have, can offer and appreciate in others. Relating to others is an essential part of everyone’s identity. I cannot be a good Muslim or Christian—or a good Iranian or Scot—unless I know how to relate to other people and accommodate them in my own identity.

For believers in God, that is a very important part of our faith. How can we believe in God, the creator of all, and then fail to care for part of God’s creation? For us, every human, animal, bird, flower and drop of water is significant because it is a manifestation of God.

So, now, we need to rethink our understanding of identity. Human bodies have different organs and each has its own function. However, nothing survives in isolation. Humans can survive only in relation to others, finding their role within a bigger unity. When I look at the Qur’an, I see that that is actually God’s plan. In his creation and revelation, God has showed us the way towards unity. God’s plan is that humanity unites around the truth, and one of the places in which we can establish a model of mutual recognition, respect, love and unity is Scotland.

May peace be with you.