This week is Inter Faith Week, and what better time to consider how we can improve our connections with others of different faiths and cultures?
Inter Faith Week‘s aims are to:
Archery for recreation is increasingly popular within the UK’s Muslim community. Here, Farah Sabtu, who took up archery recently with her family at Stratford Archers in Warwickshire, tells us about her enjoyment of the sport.
“Archery has always been known as one of the activities recommended to Muslims by our dear Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). There are many hadiths about this, but the one that stuck to me was: ‘Practice archery and practice riding, and that you should practice archery is more beloved to me than that you should ride.’
“I did try horseback riding as a child. However, archery was not something available easily to me then, due to the scarcity of archery clubs/venues where I lived; compounded by the tight academic schedule and other commitments. Having completed my final academic examinations – by then a wife and a mother – I had always wanted to try and take up archery but again, finding a club and fitting it into the schedule as a full-time working mum was not easy, so this was placed on the back burner. However, realising that my child enjoyed archery when school introduced it, and that they both showed interest in archery when they came across it at Warwick Castle, my interest in the sport rekindled.
“I remember thinking to myself, what better way to pursue something that is recommended in Islam (sunnah) than in something that the children already liked. I wrote to a few archery clubs locally to see if my children could join a beginners’ course but for a long while they were deemed too young. Instead, I managed to book us into Archery Legends in Loughborough which the children, my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed. We felt that it was one of a few sporting activities in which all members of the family could do together and enjoy at the same time. Who would have thought that the act of loading, drawing, and loosing arrows against inanimate targets would have had the children squealing in laughter? This enjoyment, fulfilment and endorphin releasing effect is echoed by the hadith: ‘There is no harm for any of you to take up your bow when you are overtaken by care, and thereby do away with your worries’.
“Eventually we managed to attend a taster session by Stratford Archers, and book to join their beginner’s course. However, all sessions had to be cancelled due to lockdown. When taster sessions resumed two years later, the cheque was well expired and we had a new addition to the family. Childcare became a bit more of an issue, but we finally managed to attend their beginners’ course this summer, which I must say the children, my husband and I again thoroughly enjoyed.
“Now, as members of the club, I am still enjoying myself. In the last session I attended, I manage to surprise even myself. The course organiser and the coaches have been brilliant. I’ve met people I would not have met elsewhere, made a few new friends along the way, and the children benefit from the discipline of being in a sports club.
“Despite the differences in our faiths, the common theme of peace, respect and caring for one another is echoed throughout the club. Whatever motivates them to join, whether it be watching Robin Hood movies or Legolas, it’s clear to see that the other new members enjoy this as well. They even helped organise a Halloween themed session recently.
“The Prophet was also known to have said: ‘What an excellent diversion for a man is the casting of arrows; and whoever leaves archery after having learnt it, he has rejected a gift of grace.’ Minus the lockdown, isolation rules, work commitments etc., I must say that I am enjoying it too much to stop shooting and it’s good to know that the Prophet frowns upon us stopping archery altogether. I can see myself and the family enjoying this in many years to come.”
Inter Faith Week is on now – see how you can get involved here.
Archery GB’s Project Rimaya is key to changing attitudes and opening doors for ethnically diverse communities and female archers. The SportsAid-funded initiative, launched in 2018, started at Eden Girls’ School in Coventry, an Islamic faith institution for which archery has a strong cultural significance. As a result, encouraging Muslim females across the country to take up the sport recreationally has been a focus for Project Rimaya [the Arabic word for archery] and its success to date is spreading.
The project’s initial objectives were modest: to introduce the sport to a new audience and environment; increase participation within schools and their communities; increase awareness of archery as a worthy pastime; create a sustainable training environment and develop individuals from ethnically diverse communities’ self-worth, health and lifestyle.
Pre-pandemic, three schools in Birmingham and Coventry were involved in weekly archery sessions. This has inspired new volunteers in the local communities to train as Level 1 coaches at facilities that have been specially created to meet the requirements of the Islamic faith. As the project gains momentum, with new partnerships coming on board and the expansion of the project into other areas of the country, it is hoped a wider range of people will seek out the benefits of archery.
For more information about Project Rimaya, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org