THE GROUP'S ORIGIN

To God belong the East and West.
Wheresoe’er ye turn, there is the
Face of God. Verily God is all-embracing
and all-knowing.

Qur’an 2:115

When the Cambridge Muslim College – an independent educational institution aimed at developing Muslim thought leadership – opened its doors ten years ago it also offered the Cambridge Crescent a home, and a place to hold its first meeting. Without expectations and with no plan we held our first coffee morning. As we sipped coffee and shared croissants each person – all converts to Islam – introduced themselves and told their story. 

Most of us were unknown to one another. Each one briefly and cautiously introduced themselves to the group of almost twenty people, but as we moved around the circle the stories opened up, and entire life stories unfolded moving us to tears. It became apparent how great the need was to bring converts together in a space, to laugh, cry, share and feel safe with one another. To find a friend, companion, an acquaintance, a brother, or a sister on this journey where paths crossed at this moment in time in Cambridge, in the hope that meaningful and supportive connections could be made.

Since that first day the Crescent has blossomed, with members joining from London, Leeds, Essex, Scotland, Oxford, Bristol, Peterborough, Ely, the USA, Lithuania, Romania, Poland, Portugal, Italy, Switzerland and many more countries besides, reflecting the nature of Cambridge – often a transient place for many either due to work or study – and the challenges of meeting the needs of members who often have limited time here before they leave. Cambridge Crescent hopes that connections remain, and stories continue to be told.

OUR PURPOSE

The prophetic way, to be in the Divine Presence in every moment:

Worship God as if thou sawest
Him, for if thou seest Him not, verily
He seeth thee.
 

The Prophet Muhammad

Taking shahadah is simultaneously the final step in the quest and a new beginning. After the initial excitement and enthusiasm of being welcomed into the new faith, where does one go to find support and learn how to become a Muslim? A university town with all the brains and books, but where does one meet Muslims? Where is the community of like-minded people who appreciate the experience of leaving something of yourself behind and replacing it with something new, something inexplicable and wholly unknowable and yet utterly necessary to one’s being?

Since that first coffee morning we have held regular meetings. We have read books on seera (the life of the prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him), spirituality and ritual practices in Islam. We have held workshops, lectures, mindfulness retreats, picnics, as well as training sessions for members. 

While we learn together, we are always mindful of the primary purpose of these meetings; to hold a safe space where members can share a burden or good news, or where they can celebrate, find practical help, offer support and find new friendships. 

Marriage, birth and death are life’s great events, but the challenges lie in how we navigate through the passages that bring us to these big moments. Supporting people before and after marriage, during sickness, after birth, and providing care when a loved one passes, are some moments for which we can build a community of support for converts through the Crescent group.

Some of the work that we have done has been around how to marry, how to arrange an ‘Aqiqa (sacrificing an animal on the occasion of a child’s birth), explaining why baby boys are circumcised and how to have conversations about that with non-Muslim family, especially grandparents. We’ve also tackled questions like whether a woman needs a wali (male Muslim guardian) to get married, and whether she can she get married when her father is not Muslim and he wants to give her away in marriage? We do not claim to have all the answers, but we would like to offer support and help to find solutions.

STRENGTHENING THE INNER JOURNEY 
WITH OUTER KNOWLEDGE

Remembrance of God:

"Remember God so much that you are forgotten.
let the caller and the called disappear;
be lost in the Call"

Jaladdin Rumi

 

Our aim is to strengthen the inner journey with outer knowledge, as exemplified in the prophetic life, his companions and our scholars.

The hope is to be together in a community of like-minded men and women who meet in a group and in the community to support one another without judgement, in kindness and care with the awareness of God and the prophet in their hearts wherever they are.

The inner journey:

“Be like the sun for grace and mercy. Be like the night to cover others’ faults. Be like running water for generosity. Be like death for rage and anger. Be like the earth for modesty. Appear as you are. Be as you appear.” – Jaladdin Rumi

Settling into a Muslim way of life will bring unexpected challenges. The world is not just a place of suffering, but also of beauty and rigour. 

We are given difficulties which can bring us closer to the Divine Presence if we are present with ourselves through these challenges.

Entering Islam will have its highs and lows. There will be times of pain and sadness, ecstatic joy and gratitude, nervous apprehension, followed by conviction and calm contentment. We are in relationship with everything living, breathing, animate and inanimate.

Islam is rich in resources and enables us to dig into this treasury to navigate through our relationships and through life in a way that is fulfilling and whole.

OUR NEWEST INITIATIVE

Baby Crescent is for members who are new parents or new to the group but unable to join due to childcare issues. It provides a safe space to meet, eat, talk and learn. It is not always obvious to new parents why Muslims do what they do in pregnancy and post-natal birth rituals, and in raising children in a particular cultural milieu. Parenting can be lonely and exhausting for new and single parents. Conversations about how to bring the sacred into celebrating birthdays, how to be around parents and family during Christmas with young children…the conversations are endless.

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