Nour Festival 2014: Souad Talsi’s text
Souad Talsi MBE, founder of Al-Hasaniya Moroccan Women’s Centre in London, set the tone for the coming activities of Nour Festival 2014 with a universal message embedded in a quotation from Khalil Gibran (1883-1931): ‘You are my brother and I love you, I love you when you bow in your mosque, kneel in your temple, pray in your church. For you and I are sons of one religion, and it is the spirit’
Here is Talsi’s text:
أنت أخي وأنا أحبّك، أحبّك ساجداً في مسجدك، وراكعاً في هيكلك ومصلّياً في كنيستك، فأنت وأنا أبناء دين واحد هوالروح.
“You are my brother and I love you, I love you when you bow in your mosque, kneel in your temple, pray in your church. For you and I are sons of one religion, and it is the spirit”
Gibran Khalil Gibran
There was a time when the world was truly vast and people were very much apart. A time when everyone relied on scarce forms of obtaining news. A time when one wrote a letter to a loved one, and waited days if not weeks to have news back.
Today’s technology, has shrunk the world into a minute entity; With the abundance of news providers, social media and fast and instant messaging, we have come to learn about events as they occur, good, bad or ugly.
Technology has also meant opening and free channel for those whose intentions are not always conducive to the greater good.
The last year or so have been particularly poignant for all. The devastating results of erroneous religious narratives, coupled with events in the Middle East, although thousands of miles away from us, have nonetheless touched us here and INDEED impacted on how we view matters and treat each other.
With this in mind it is pertinent that relentless optimism, vigilance and cooperation for the greater good must be the principal on which everyone must live by. We must work on what bring us together, and not what divides us.
And nowhere to my knowledge has this cooperation been as spectacularly positive as the one in our tiny village, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
This borough has not only been my home since the age of 12 but also the home of over 10000 Moroccans in addition to other Arab nationalities. It has welcomed the immigrant, the refugee and persecuted, the businessman and the diplomat from the Arab world and beyond.
Kensington and Chelsea encompasses the mosaic, the multi-coloured tapestry of cultures that is the rich diversity within the Arab world.
Our tiny village that is the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, has changed tremendously since the 70s, and it has changed for the better, precisely because of tolerance and peaceful coexistence. Whether as immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers or business people, a significant number of the UK Arab community in all its superb ethnic and cultural mix, has chosen this borough as its permanent home. A home that boasts with superb Arab presence; from our local Moroccan Garden in the North of the borough to the Borough’s own Nour Art festival.
Golborne Road is often referred to as the London Marrakesh, with its colourful Moroccan shops, cafes and traders. It is worth taking a stroll on a Saturday to see, feel and smell the strong Moroccan presence and may be even practice Moroccan Arabic dialect and pick up few items after a good haggle!!always haggle, it is the pleasure of doing business with Moroccans!
Arabic is now the second most spoken language in this wonderful borough of ours. It is only through tolerance, mutual respect and indeed coexistence that two so different cultures have been able to be part of our integral lives here and in perfect harmony.
The good examples are many to mention and I hope that the efforts, hard work and indeed positive energy ploughed by all concerned, will continue to bear the fruit of positive citizenship and tolerance.
On behalf of the Arab community in general and the Moroccan community in particular, I’d like to say a sincere thank you to the Royal borough of Kensington and Chelsea, for being a great home, a supporter and indeed a marvellous host: that has not only accepted our traditions and respected our faith, but continually encouraged our integration. The unyielding support has been fantastic and I’m deeply grateful.
Wishing Nour festival, success and long life.
Editor’s Note: nour, noor or nur, Arabic meaning light, is common to many other Middle Eastern, Central and South Asian languages and is also a unisex name for individuals. An-Nur, meaning ‘the Light’ is the 24th sura of the Quran.
Al-Hasaniya Moroccan Women’s Centre serves the needs of Moroccan and Arabic-speaking women and their families in London and the UK.
The centre says on its website, “Our aim is to provide support in all matters concerning the health, welfare, education and cultural needs of Moroccan and Arabic-speaking women and their families. We seek to encourage and help clients access mainstream services and to promote positive citizenship and greater understanding amongst communities.
“With over 25 years of experience, Al-Hasaniya Moroccan Women’s Centre is here to help.
“If we cannot assist you directly, we will endeavour to help you to access another service that can.