By
Peter Riddell
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28 March, 2011

Ahtsham Ali opens session
Ahtsham Ali opens session
One hundred and seventy Muslim Prison Chaplains from prisons all over England and Wales watched the film The Imam and the Pastor last Sunday 20 March at their annual conference. It was followed by a presentation of how the film can be used in prisons to assist strategies for reducing violence and reoffending.

Ahtsham Ali, Muslim Adviser to HM Prison Service and head of all the Muslim prison chaplains had witnessed the effect of the film on young offenders when Imam Ashafa and Pastor James had visited Rochester Young Offenders Institution (YOI) in Kent last November. Opening the session, he encouraged the chaplains to use it in their work in prisons, and to become acquainted with Initiatives of Change.

After viewing the film, the chaplains met in breakout groups to discuss ‘how the message of the film can be used in prisons to reduce re-offending’. In the first of two presentations on ways of using the film, two members of the Rochester YOI Chaplaincy, Shaffiq Din, Coordinating/Muslim Chaplain, and Sarah Tranter, Pastoral Care and Faith Alliance

Howard Grace and Musa Aliyu
Howard Grace and Musa Aliyu
Manager, described how they have used the film with groups of young offenders. They also spoke about how it has helped them work together to serve the young people. This was followed by a short video report of the visit by the Imam and the Pastor to Rochester YOI made by Howard Grace and Owen Lean.

Howard Grace, a former teacher, and Musa Aliyu, a Muslim Nigerian journalist and adviser to the film-makers, then described what they do when they together conduct sessions based on the film in school Sixth Forms. Musa recounted an experience which he uses in schools, of how, some years ago in his home town, he had gone to the rescue of a young Christian woman who was being attacked by Muslim youths, barely escaping with his life.

In the Q&A, there were questions ranging from practical issues of how to go about organising a session, to the cause of

Sarah Tranter, left, facilitates breakout group
Sarah Tranter, left, facilitates breakout group
conflict in Nigeria and theological questions raised by the film. At the end, one of the chaplains stood up and said, ‘You have given us an experience, taken us on a journey. The film has already changed many lives. God bless you!”

Each chaplain received a copy of The Imam and the Pastor and its sequel An African Answer, as well as a newly-produced Guide to using The Imam and the Pastor as a dialogue resource containing much of the material used in the presentations.

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