Oxford Diocese defends invitation of Islamic scholar to preach at University Church

Monawar Hussain was invited to deliver a sermon by Vice-Chancellor Louise Richardson

The decision to invite an esteemed Muslim scholar to preach at the University Church last Sunday has provoked criticism from conservative Anglicans.

MBE recipient and esteemed Islamic Scholar Monawar Hussain was invited to deliver a sermon at the University Church of St Mary the Virgin, located in Radcliffe Square by the university’s Vice Chancellor Louise Richardson.

This decision has caused uproar amongst a number of traditional Anglicans.

The conservative Anglican blog “Archbishop Cranmer”, run by Adrian Hilton, told The Guardian that he believed the Church of England would now be “open to people of all faiths and none, and that we can look forward to a series of heretics, blasphemers, idolaters and unbelievers [preaching in future].”

Since then the Diocese of Oxford has received twelve complaints about the sermon, although only three came from the local area.

In a statement endorsed by the University, the Diocese of Oxford said that Monawar Hussain was “most welcome” and that he would “speak in his own right” whilst being “mindful of the rules of Eucharistic hospitality”.

Hussain is the founder of the Oxford Foundation, a scheme that mentors young people using theology and the arts to contribute meaningfully to British society, and is a tutor at Eton College.

He said: “There are many different voices in all our traditions. Some Muslims might not be happy at my presence at the church.

“So I’m not surprised [at the objections], but there are so many more Christian friends who are pleased I’ll be there. We need to be building trust and working together.”

Hussain was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in 2017 for his services to interfaith relations and the community.

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