Y9 Multi-Faith RS Trip
Y9 experience a wide range of religions in a single day....
On a day of diverse weather, at the end of April, Year 9 set off on their Religious Studies multi-faith trip. Our first stop was the Umar Masjid, in Evington, where myself and Mrs Brookes, having been helped on with our hijab, we were greeted by one of the Imams. We were taken into a fragrant washroom, where the importance of Wuzu (ritual washing before prayer) was explained to the group and were then led up a sweeping staircase beneath a beautiful dome, into the main prayer hall, which was expansive and adorned with an elaborate chandelier. A stunning carved Mihrab (niche) marked the Qibla wall (showing the direction of Makkah) and a large wooden Minbar (steps where the Imam delivers the sermon or Khutbah) stood adjacent. Our guide talked extensively about beliefs in Islam and what it means to be a Muslim living in Britain, the importance of integration and problems of misrepresentation of Islam and Muslims at times in the media. Speaking passionately about living in Leicester he expressed his excitement and wish for Leicester City football club to win the Premiership and answering a number of questions at the end, he confirmed that a woman could also become an Imam and lead other women in worship.
Our second stop was Leicester Cathedral, where two guides met us in the blustery courtyard. Our guide this time, was a Rugby supporter and he pointed out that the red and green paint that adorned the Nave of the Cathedral- as well as being symbolic of the blood of Christ and eternal life, were also the colours of Leicester Tigers. Students learned about the history of King Richard III and his family through his prayer book, ‘The book of Hours’ and the significance of the design and material of King Richard’s tomb, which is made from Swaledale fossil stone, being quarried in North Yorkshire. Chosen partly so it would polish to a fine finish, but also because the fossils within it are long dead creatures immortalised now in stone. Designed by the architects van Heningen and Haward visitors are encouraged to reflect on key Christian beliefs; the deep cut in the stone allows light to flood through, symbolising that death is not the end and the Christian belief of new life in Christ after death. King Richard, as have for centuries many Christians, is buried with his feet in the east and head in the west, reflecting the belief that he will be ready to stand and face Jesus when he returns –as the sun rises in the east each morning.
Students had the opportunity to ask many questions on their way around the Cathedral building- from the history of the plaques on the walls to the themes and stories behind the many stunning stained glass windows. We were also fortunate enough to be amongst some of the first people to see the brand new stained glass windows depicting the story of Richard III, designed by Thomas Denny as these had been unveiled just two days previously. We left the Cathedral in a blizzard and an hour later, after lunch, walked the short distance to the Jain Centre in glorious sunshine.
At the Jain Centre we were first shown in a large room on the ground floor which was a museum of many glass cabinets depicting many important events in Jain history and particularly in relation to Lord Mahavira. Jains believe that their religion is extremely ancient. The Lord Mahavira, who died in 527 BC, is believed to be the last of a long series of prophets (tirthankara).