Sunday, November 13, 2011

Islamic Sufi Retreat in Spain (Al-Andalus)

BBC2 launched a new three-part series called The Retreat in which volunteers lived in a remote Islamic study centre to learn about and practise Islam. 

Six people spent a month at the Alqueria de Rosales retreat in Spain where they will pray daily, study the religion and even fast for the holy month of Ramadan.

The show - from the team that produced The Monastery and The Convent - aims to shed light on the religion and broader questions of faith today.

And TV bosses also hoped for some lively debates between their hand-picked group.

Muslim Aisha Alvi is a 31-year-old single law graduate from Cheshire whose work specialises in Islamic law. At 14 she campaigned successfully for the right to wear the hijab at school.

Khadejah Begag is a 32-year-old married mum-of-one. Formerly Claire Sullivan, she converted to Islam 10 years ago and married an Algerian man. But she worries she is losing her faith and is fed up with abuse since 9/11 and 7/7. 

Sarah "Pom" Jenkins is 28 and single. She is a psychotherapist in London, was brought up a Christian but is still seeking a faith, having tried alternatives including Kabbalah.

The group will be led by scholar Abdullah Trevathan. He lives in Spain but also works as a lecturer at the University of Roehampton in Twickenham.

Azim "Han" Ziaee is 34, single and an advertising salesman from Birmingham. He was born into a Muslim family but rebelled from an early age.

Muddassar Ahmed is 23, single and from East London. He leads a hectic life running various businesses and is rarely off his mobile. He sees Islam as a chore rather than a conviction.

Divorcee Simon Yarrow, 36 is a scuba diving instructor. He describes himself as a "questioning agnostic". He beat cancer in his twenties and prefers rationalism to religion.

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