Wednesday, 1 December 2010
It's cold and dark. The reclaimed structure amber illuminated in front of me is the British Muslim Heritage Centre. Later I would discover the facts, figures and future plan for this magnificent building, but, for a moment, I just want to marvel in the majesty and authority of this building, before scratching underfoot, the grit on the stone steps, and enter to receive the welcome warmth from the massive hot air blowers placed like sentinels at the apex of the inner stairwell.
At night, this neo-gothic structure presents as imposing within the surrounding grounds; walled in within Whalley Range, an area of Manchester I learned of while sitting in my barrack room with my suitcase sized Walkman, listening to Morrissey and the Smiths,
What do we get for our trouble and pain? Just a rented room in Whalley Range...
True, these rooms have been the temporary home for those of Faith and Trade, and now, the former Lancashire Independent College is in the midst of a multi-million pound renovation project, and as such is a major foundation stone for British Muslim Heritage.
The evening is underway - the large white vaulted hall, fills to a seated brim with those gathered to listen. For this evening is dedicated to literature, discussion and reflection. Professor Tariq Ramadan is succinctly interviewed by Manchester Muslim Writer's founding member, Zahid Hussain on the tactics and logistics of authorship and moreover, opening out Professor Ramadan's latest book, The Quest For Meaning', for the audience, now settled and quieted into position to hear the finer philosophical suggestion and theological understandings of the text.
It is I feel, of great credit to Mr Hussain and his eloquent line of questioning, that such thinking printed into text is kept on a platform I can reach, and I reached the place in time to catch the ride. I found myself nodding in agreement with each answer involuntarily, for I was afforded the clarity of deep thought made easy, punctuated toward the end with several questions fielded well.
And with a wink, Professor Ramadan was gone, ushered out into the night, while those left gathered to feast on the delicious food which had taken several days to prepare.
I have not yet read, The Quest for Meaning', though i now appreciate the intentions within the text. My one hope for today, as I script this entry, is that all those who bought the book, will read it and pass it onto someone else, and spread those words like a table cloth over the new year to wait for the sun, like a semi-colon; preparing the sentence for change.