Heart and Soul-logo

Heart and Soul


Personal approaches to spirituality from around the world.

Personal approaches to spirituality from around the world.


London, United Kingdom




Personal approaches to spirituality from around the world.




USA: A discussion about race

In this special American Impendence day program, presenter Martin Bashir brings together Ilyasah Shabbaz - the third daughter of Malcolm X, Joshua DuBois - President Obama's former spiritual advisor and Lama Rod Owens - a Buddhist Black radical thinker to discuss the nature of the Black Lives Matter movement. They discuss the objectives and methods of the movement and interrogate if the use of violence is a necessary evil in search of equality. The three guests draw upon their own respected...


The paddle-out

The sight of dozens of surfers circled together and floating beyond the breakwater will always mean one thing - that another surfer has died. A paddle-out is a way of honouring someone who’s had a love for the ocean. It’s a practice which has become entwined with surf’s cherished culture. On the coast of Cornwall we meet a gathering of surfers who have come to pay homage to their friend Riccardo, who has recently died from cancer. We join them as they prepare to paddle out with flowers...


Redemption in recycling

In Philadelphia, husband and wife George and Mimi Limbach sit down in an old warehouse with 15 men who have recently been released from prison. Surrounding them are hundreds of old computers, which these former inmates will soon recycle as part of a rehabilitation programme underpinned by the couples Christian faith. They feel by offering these former offenders work they are keeping true to values such as forgiveness, love and second chances. “No one is here to judge. We are all on the same...


Moving Forward

In this final programme of a special Heart and Soul series for the BBC World Service, the journalist John McCarthy brings back together those who have been sharing reflections and insights on faith during the Coronavirus crisis. We hear how they’re coping now. How have their attitudes to rituals, compassion, solitude and community, changed in the last six weeks? What are their personal thoughts on moving forward, and through, this pandemic, now that many countries have lifted, or have left,...



A man finds himself by chance in the country he fled as a political prisoner as the virus spreads and he is trapped. An atheist looking for peace in lockdown. A writer looking for a way to stay united with her community. Very different people, with very different beliefs, united in prayer. In a special Heart and Soul series for the BBC World Service, amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, the journalist John McCarthy brings together reflections from people of faith around the world. In this fifth...



In this fourth programme of a special Heart and Soul series for the BBC World Service, amidst a global pandemic of Coronavirus, the journalist John McCarthy hears how the notion of community has changed as many people continue to be denied the chance to gather for religious practice. Across the world the way people live their daily lives has radically altered. What new communities are emerging? Whether online, in our family or households, or simply a new relationship with neighbours, we hear...



In a special Heart and Soul series for the BBC World Service, amidst a global pandemic of Coronavirus, the journalist John McCarthy brings together reflections from people of faith around the world. In this third programme, John hears how isolation and solitude can be an opportunity to develop a deeper spiritual practice. When the mind throws up challenges – doubt, fear – what comfort and opportunities does faith provide? Solitude is often sought after and even craved by many people of...



As coronavirus crisis unfolds, with its confusion and heartbreak, John McCarthy brings together reflections from people around the world. In this programme he hears stories of compassion. Most religions teach that compassion is what allows us to understand the suffering of others, but you need no faith to give or receive it. Compassion nurtures kindness and charity, both sorely needed now. We hear from Bernard Gabbott, an Anglican minister in rural Australia. His community has suffered years...



Rituals are at the heart of many religions, they are vital to the practice of faith giving structure, comfort and focus. The best-selling Indian writer Amish Tripathi sees daily yoga practice as central to his Hindu faith. He loves the calm and balance it brings. But with the virus bringing fear of respiratory problems he newly appreciates the breathing techniques which ease anxiety. Miriam Camerini is an Italian trainee Rabbi who is stranded in Canada, unable to travel home. She is...


Joshua Wong: Standing up to a superpower

Joshua Wong has been the poster boy of the Hong Kong democracy movement for over five years, despite being only 23 years old. An evangelical Christian, he continues to do what he sees as the right thing in his fight against Beijing’s influence, despite the personal hardship involved. Mike Wooldridge hears from Joshua, and about concerns in the Hong Kong church around the actions of some of his followers. (Photo: Joushua Wong)


The inseparable twins

Senegalese twins Marieme and Ndeye were born sharing much of their bodies, and doctors advised that an attempt to separate them would be fatal for Marieme. But Marieme’s heart condition put both twins in danger. Mike Wooldridge hears from Ibrahima, now in the UK, who had to face an impossible dilemma - whether his daughters should be separated. (Photo: Ibrahima with Marieme and Ndeye)


Faith in lockdown France

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought religious practice to a halt in much of the world. Religious leaders, a large part of whose life’s work is to get people to come to church, mosque or synagogue are urging them to stay away. The church, defined by Jesus as wherever people gather together in God’s name, has been suspended. The gestures that carry much of the meaning of the faith – for Christians, the exchange of the Pax Christi, for example, or the taking of Holy Communion – were banned in...


The Tattooist of Jerusalem

"Every time I tattoo someone, I feel the links of faith, blood and ink in an unbroken chain of thousands of pilgrims, going back hundreds of years" - Wassim Razoouk, 'The Jerusalem Tattooist'. For some, it's a kind of baptism. To others, it's a very personal souvenir. For everyone, it's an indelible mark of pilgrimage to one of the holiest places on Earth: the Old City of Jerusalem. For more than 500 years, Wassim Razzouk's family have been tattooing the pilgrims to Jerusalem. In this...


Buddhist detox

Buddhist temple Wat Thamkrabok in Thailand has a worldwide reputation for its successful mix of ‘cold turkey’ and Buddhism in combating addiction. The treatment begins with a sacred Buddhist vow never to use drugs again. For five days, the ‘patients’ drink a strong herbal medicine that induces vomiting. No contact with the outside world is permitted. Through Buddhist teachings, the former addicts confront the bad habits that dominated their past lives and commit to building a life for...


The discussion

If you ask Cosmo the robot what faith he is, what does he answer? We’ll find out when we bring together young digital media users of different faiths to meet him at MediaCityUK at Salford in the UK. Sophia Smith-Galer has been exploring how digital technology is changing the ways we worship and her guests will give their thoughts on what she’s found during our #ReligionintheDigitalAge series, and what they think about the future of faith and technology. Presented by Sophia Smith-Galer...


Take me to VR church

Worshippers are gathering for a church service led by Pastor D.J Soto in Virginia in the USA. Many of them are at home or even in other countries. For DJ, this church is important for worshippers unable to attend a physical church, such as the disabled, the ostracised and the persecuted. VR technology is also teaching future generations about religious tolerance. Every year Jews and Holocaust survivors from across the world make a pilgrimage to Auschwitz in Poland. Alongside them is Karen...


Finding and losing my faith online

Digital journalist Sophia Smith-Galer hears from young faith influencers using social media to spread the word and meets an ex-Muslim who can talk online about losing her faith, but hasn’t told her family. Do you want to leave the evangelical church? There’s a subreddit for that. Do you want to find a practising Muslim spouse? Well, there are, at least,10 Facebook groups for that. For millions of us, social media is subverting the traditional ways we find like-minded people around the world....


Religion apps: Daily prayer and the devil's data

There are thousands of religious apps offering to help you worship in the right way. In the first of a new season exploring the digital world and the spiritual world, Sophia Smith Galer considers whether they’re a quick convenience, or a legitimate means of getting closer to your God, and asks if they are all really as pious as they seem? Search iTunes, Google Play or the App Store and you will find thousands of apps offering to help you practise your religion. And as our smart phones become...


Consulting the Oracle

Not many countries can boast of having a state Oracle. Tibet can, although the medium for their principal oracle – the Nechung – lives exiled from his native land in North India. Cambridge anthropologist and broadcaster David Sneath travels to Dharamsala to meet the medium of the present State Oracle of Tibet and explore the history and meaning of this remarkable institution. He examines the function and practice of an oracle in the 21st Century and considers how important his presence is...


Meeting the bombers who killed my mum

Sarah, together with her father and brother, meets the bombers who killed her mother as she and her family attempt to understand how the men who carried it out could be followers of the same faith – and claim to carry out the act in the name of Islam. On her fifth birthday Sarah’s mother died from injuries sustained in a terrorist attack. She was the victim of a car bomb that exploded outside the Australian embassy in the Indonesian capital Jakarta in 2004. It was one of a series of bombings...