I HAVE been fortunate to live in and visit many incredible communities around the globe. But time and time again, my heart leads me to one of the world's most beautiful college towns - Cambridge, England.

I had distinct privilege of living in Cambridge as I earned my Diploma in Education from Selwyn College in the mid-1960s. and later when I served as the Iqbal FellowChair of Pakistan Studies for five years in the mid-1990s.

I was a fellow at Selwyn College for over a decade, and finally returned as the Diane Middlebrook and Carl Djerassi Visiting Professor for the Michaelmas Term in 2012.

Recently, I returned to Cambridge to launch my new book, Journey into Europe : Islam, Immigration and Identity.

On this visit, however, I could sense the spirit of deep cosmopolitan embrace in the floral Cambridge air more sharply than ever.

My visit began with a unique event at the Woolf Institute which is directed by Dr. Edward Kessler, who founded the Institute in 1998 and whom I profiled in this column in December 2017.

Dr. Kessler has emerged as one of the world's leading champions of bridge building among not just the Abrahamic faiths, the primary focus of his work, but non-Abrahamic faiths as well.

On May 17, in conjunction with my book launch event, he pioneered another great achievement for the Institute, its first ever Iftar.

When Dr. Kessler informed that my book launch event would be held in conjunction with the Institute's first Iftar, he wrote, ''This will be auspicious occasion as it will combine the launch of the important book and our first Iftar!''

The event was held in the Institute's smart new building, which was recently inaugurated by Princess Anne and intends to highlight commonalities in the human experience through artwork and an open, airy design which portends a welcoming spirit.

One of the buildings highlights is a sculpture in the courtyard titled : "Tree Of Life : Encounter" by Helaine Blumenfeld OBE.

As Bloomenfeld describes for the Woolf Institute's annual calendar of events brochure, "Tree Of Life : Encounter is a powerful statement for the struggle for unity, with three strands joining together at the base and moving upward through dissonance and chaos to a beautiful flowering of hope.''

The three strands are designed to represent the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim faiths respectively.

It is worth noting too that the building's construction was funded by Jewish, Christian and Muslim donors, thereby enshrining a bridge building legacy on the hallowed ground of Cambridge.

The Honor and Serving of the Latest writings, and thoughts on All Religions continues to part 2. !WOW! thanks Professor Dr. Akbar Ahmed, Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University, Washington DC


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