Primary Current Assemblies
(15 November 2012 – a movable feast)
Suitable for Key Stage 2
To consider the meaning of ‘community’, and the beginnings of Islam.
Preparation and materials
- Whiteboard and pens.
- The word ‘community’ on the whiteboard.
- Map of Saudi Arabia.
- School badge.
- Today we are going to be thinking about the meaning of the word ‘community’.
What do people mean when they talk of a ‘community’?
(Draw out from the children the first definition.) A community may be described as a group of people living together in one place or area, sharing common services.
- (Show school badge.) The school is also a community.
A second meaning of community is a group of people of all ages brought together with a common goal. In the case of our school, the goal is education and also learning how to live together, to belong. (Mention could be made of the school ethos.)
- And even within the school we have communities.
(Ask for a show of hands for each of the following.)
Do we have a community of sports people in the school?
Do we have a community of music lovers in the school?
Do we have a community of book lovers in the school?
(Add any others that are relevant to your school.)
So the word has a third meaning: people brought together by a common interest.
It’s good to have friends who enjoy the things we enjoy.
(If yours is a community school then it would be useful to consider all the clubs which share the common services afforded by the building.)
The word ‘community’ is derived from a Latin word communis. (Write this on the whiteboard.) It means ‘in common’, ‘belonging to more than one’, ‘general’.
- Many hundreds of years ago there was a community at a place called Mecca in western Arabia (now Saudi Arabia). (Locate Mecca on the map of Saudi Arabia. If time permits identify the physical geography of the country.)
This was a very holy city to many tribes of Arab people. The people in the cities, towns and villages of western Arabia had many things in common. The land was poor and barren in many areas. The climate was very hot. There was not much water.
But there were also many differences. The people came from many different clans (tribes) and followed different religions. They worshipped a supreme god but also many different idols and gods. There was not much sense of community.
A lot of quarrelling and bickering went on between the tribes over everything from camels to gods.
- Over 1400 hundred years ago a young man named Mohammed lived in Mecca with his uncle. Mohammed spent many hours on his own, meditating and seeking to know God and truth. He wanted to bring unity among the tribes. He wanted to bring a sense of community. He believed there was only one God (Allah) and he went around speaking about this.
Because of his interest in spiritual things, Mohammed was called a prophet, which means someone who hears from God. The prophet Mohammed soon had a number of followers, men from many different tribes, who lived together and shared everything they had.
But Mohammed also had many enemies who liked things just the way they had always been.
So it came about that Mohammed and his friends had to flee from Mecca and move west to a place called Medina. (Locate Medina on the map of Saudi Arabia.) Their escape from Mecca is called hijra, which means ‘departure’.
In Medina, Muhammed and his friends found the people more willing to listen. The people of Medina believed that the teachings of the prophet Mohammed were the right way to live and many joined his community.
A number of years later Mohammed went back to Mecca, now with a huge number of followers, and over the years all the people in Mecca also became followers of Mohammed.
- The followers of Mohammed were known as Muslims, which means ‘people who submit to Allah and obey him’. Their faith is Islam, which means ‘submission to Allah’.
Today there are millions of Muslims in the world. They still come from many different tribes but the Muslim faith has given many of them a great sense of unity.
Mecca is still a very important place which thousands of Muslims visit each year.
- The Prophet Mohammed left Mecca to travel to Medina on 15 November in the year that Christians know as AD 622. This was a new beginning. It marked the start of the Muslim community in Medina. Muslim years are now dated from this date and are termed AH, which stands for ‘Al-Hijra’, or ‘After the Departure’.
Al-Hijra is celebrated every year as New Year’s Day, the beginning of the new year. On this day there are parties and celebrations just as on our New Year’s Day on 1 January. And in the celebrations in the mosques, stories are told of the prophet and his companions.
- So now we have learned that the word ‘community’ can even refer to a group of millions of people all over the world who share a common faith.
Time for reflection
Think about the communities you belong to: your class group, your school, any club you are part of, your town or city or village, perhaps your faith group or church.
Think about a particular community that means a lot to you. What do you appreciate about it?
It is a gift to have friends who come together with you to share their hobbies and interests, their education, their lives and their faith.
thank you for our school community,
for our friends and teachers,
for our clubs and for our shared desire to learn.
Thank you for our wider community,
for our neighbours, our shopkeepers,
for places like the library, the shops, the local hospital,
for community services which we all share.
Thank you for our faith,
for the things that we believe in about God
and for all who seek to teach us about these important issues.
‘The family of man’ (Come and Praise, 69)