World Interfaith Harmony Week celebrations conclude

Posted on February 14th, 2016

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: The celebrations of World Interfaith Harmony Week (WIHW) 2016 concluded at the Modern Islamic Studies Centre (MISC), Islamabad, with concerted efforts to create understanding between different faiths and religions in different parts of the country.

A ‘Peace Prayer Day’ gathering was organised at the head office of Modern Islamic Studies Centre, Islamabad, which was attended by a large number of people from different faiths and religions. UC 21 (Sohan) Chairman Malik Amir Hussain was the chief guest on the occasion.

World Interfaith Harmony Week celebrations conclude

Addressing the audience, MISC President Dr Allama AGR Chishti, said that the interfaith harmony is not a new phenomenon, as it was the path followed by Sufi saints of Indo-Pak subcontinent, as through this system they attracted attention of non-Muslims therefore it is responsibility of every Muslim to join this cause for betterment of Muslim Ummah,” he added.

Dr Chishti was of the view that his visits to Bahawalnagar and Cholistan (February 1-2), Lahore (February 3), and particularly to Swat and its adjoining area, Besham (February 6), recently, was of great importance, as both later areas had been plagued by terrorism in past, but now have returned to normalcy after military operations there. “We visited a Tableeghi Centre and met Amir, Tableeghi Jamaat, Ahmad Khan. The elders of the Tableeghi Jamaat as well as tribal elders appreciated MISC’s gesture for visiting the centre and apprising them of interfaith harmony. They were of the view that the philosophy of interfaith harmony has become the need of the hour and could help our society recover from the losses inflicted by religious intolerance and terrorism in past. They said Common Word Initiative, Amman Message and celebrations of WIHW can help bring long lasting peace in tribal areas,” Dr Chishti added.

Dr AGR Chishti spoke on interfaith harmony and ‘A Common Word between Us and You’. He said that celebration of world interfaith harmony week goes to ‘A Common Word between Us and You’, an initiative of King Abdullah II of Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and Prince which has provided a common ground to the world for peace and shed light on interfaith harmony in light of Quran and Sunnah.

He said that first week of February every year is the time to spread harmony and tolerance among followers of the three monotheistic faiths and all the world’s religions.

The MISC president said that World Interfaith Harmony Week (February 1-7) came about as a result of a UN resolution for a worldwide week of interfaith harmony proposed in 2010 by King Abdullah II and Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal of Jordan. It seeks to spread the message of harmony and tolerance among the followers of the three monotheistic faiths and all the world’s religions. It also seeks to promote the common basis of “Love of God and Love of the Neighbour” among religions to safeguard world peace. Its message invites everyone, excludes no one, and is purely voluntary.

 

SOURCE

Gambia: Euclid Celebrates UN World Interfaith Harmony Week

Posted on February 10th, 2016

By Abdoulie Nyockeh

 

EUCLID head office in Banjul joined the rest of the world to celebrate the United Nations World Interfaith Harmony Week on the theme: “A common word.”

The United Nations World Interfaith Harmony Week is observed worldwide annually from 1 to 7 February.

EUCLID is an intergovernmental organisation with a University Charter and mandate established in 2008 under the United Nations Treaty series 49006/49007, and it has had its headquarters in Banjul since 2013.

EUCLID is currently serving 12 participating states across four continents with an understanding of the critical issues relevant to cultural, diplomacy, international relations and the peaceful co-existence of people of different religions, races, and so on.

To ensure the international usefulness of its programmes offered, EUCLID is chartered to confer diplomas, degrees and completion of certificates accredited by the ministries of education of the participating parties.

A member of the University Consortium, EUCLID receives the mandates to facilitate universal access to higher education and to foster the acquisition of knowledge and competencies under the supervision of the ministries of education and foreign affairs of the participating countries or parties.

Through direct participating and cooperative agreements, EUCLID currently serves 12 participating states and four intergovernmental organisations such as CAFRAD, ECOWAS, ICC, LLPI, as well as selects students from other governments and from the general public.

The mission of EUCLID is to deliver best of class distance education and consulting services to participating states’ officials, as well as to the general students.

According to its statutes, Section 111, EUCLID’s official mission is to develop and offer training programems for officials and employees of the participating parties, especially ministry and university senior staff, to develop and offer high-quality degree programmes for the general public, regardless of location and citizenship.

It was also to facilitate the creation of cooperative networks and programmes relevant to its educational initiatives, promote the international image of the participating parties, as well as corporate institutions, and offers support to the educational institutions located in the participating parties.

It also broadens the understanding of the field of distance education and promotes the implementation and dissemination of methods, norms, rules and guidelines that apply to this field.

It as well strengthens and supports the national capacity to engage in sustainable development through ad-hoc training and education, while taking into consideration the traditional social and cultural values of each nation.

During the celebration, there were various presenters who dilated on the overview of EUCLID University and the celebration; EUCLID’s participation at home and abroad and the importance of peaceful co-existence of religions, the Islamic perspective, current global insecurities and the Christian perspective.

SOURCE

“Religious leaders stress media’s importance in spreading tolerance”

Posted on February 9th, 2016

“Religious leaders stress media’s importance in spreading tolerance”

“Religious leaders stress media’s importance in spreading tolerance”

By Rula Samain

Christian and Muslim religious leaders on Saturday, February 6, stressed the role of the media in spreading a culture of tolerance, respecting the “other”, and human dignity.

At a panel discussion titled, “The Role of Media in Promoting Harmony and Enhancing Human Dignity”, held at St Ephrem Syriac Orthodox Society in Amman to celebrate the UN’s sixth annual World Interfaith Harmony Week, Awqaf Minister Hayel Dawood said the harmony found in Jordan’s diverse society is a model for the region.

The relationships between the followers of different religions should move beyond dialogue, Dawood added at the event, organised by the Arab Media Council in cooperation with the Catholic Centre for Studies and Media (CCSM).

“People should be aware of the aim of creation: to preserve nature, take care of each other and respect humanity, which all religions demand, and especially Islam, which calls for human dignity and respect to all regardless of people’s colour, religion or race,” he added.

Dawood highlighted that religious platforms are “tremendously” important in spreading harmony and coexistence, as well as guiding others.

“In the almost 6,000 mosques around the Kingdom, two million men and women attend to listen to the imams’ preaching. Imams, for their part, should be prepared to send a clear message, conveying Islamic ethics that do not divide or discriminate, and surely should not instigate
hatred,” he said.

The minister stressed that the killings, displacements and attacks taking place in the surrounding region do not represent any religion, but must be attributed to the individuals committing such acts.

Father Rifat Bader, director of CCSM, said media and social media should abide by ethics and values and aim to be an effective tool for spreading harmony among the people.

“Social media outlets have a huge effect on people and thus should aim at spreading the speech of moderation and tolerance against hate speech, terrorism and extremism,” he said.

Father Mohammad George Sharaiha, speaking on behalf of Archbishop Elie Haddad of the Melkite Greek Catholic Archeparchy of Sidon, agreed that the media is an effective tool and should enhance the culture of dialogue and coexistence, educating people as to the true meaning of harmony.

At the end of the event, a committee was formed to draft recommendations from the panel discussion to be submitted to decision makers at a later date.

In another event, celebrating World Interfaith Harmony Week, marked from February 1 to 7, on Saturday evening, Majeda Omar, director of the Royal Institute of Inter-Faith Studies, said harmony between the followers of religions is essential since humanity “brings us together”.

Religion plays a role in building peace, achieving unity and coexistence, she said at the event, organised by the Community Ecumenical Centre of the Lutheran Church.

“There is no joy or stability in our existence without spreading the spirit of brotherhood, solidarity and coexistence, regardless of religion and the diversity of cultures,” she added.

Samer Azer, pastor of the Lutheran Church in Jordan, said conflicts between moderation and extremism are constant and present in all religions; and therefore, it is the responsibility of the different segments of society to stand for humanity.

World Interfaith Harmony Week was first proposed at the UN General Assembly on September 23, 2010, by His Majesty King Abdullah.

Mon, 02/08/2016 – 10:50

 

 

SOURCE

Buddhist Reflection on Interfaith: In Observance of UN World Interfaith Harmony Week

Posted on February 9th, 2016

This entry was posted by Shirley Pinkerton on February 8, 2016 at 11:12 am

Buddhist Reflection on Interfaith: In Observance of UN World Interfaith Harmony Week

With today’s rapid pace of technological advancement, the world is getting more and more connected. Using the Internet, we can easily search what’s happening out there and who’s doing what. We are widely exposed to diversity. This is not limited to the cyber world. Especially living in a big city like New York, whether we like it or not, we encounter people from various cultural, social and religious backgrounds on a daily basis; in our work place, at a store, at a meeting, or on the street. Throughout human history, and today we see how mistrust and misunderstanding, especially among people of different faiths can destroy individual, society and country. So there is an urgent need for people of faith to work together to overcome mistrust and misunderstanding and build a peaceful co-existence. Therefore interfaith harmony is not an option but a necessity in a world of diversity.

The Buddhist approach to religious diversity is very clear: there are different paths to Truth. As such, other faiths are not wrong; they are simply different. But, as human beings, we tend to regard what is different as wrong.

Sotaesan, the founding master of Won Buddhism, has a unique story that shows why Won Buddhism takes an active role in interfaith dialogue and cooperation. After years of searching for truth, Sotaesan reached enlightenment in 1916. When I read his life story for the first time, I was a little skeptical about his enlightenment, because I am reluctant to believe those who claim to be enlightened. But the following story was convincing enough to catch my attention. After his enlightenment, Sotaesan got some of the basic scriptures of Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity, and some other teachings from eastern religions. After reading them he said: “ancient sages had known what I have come to know”, which means that his awakened mind allowed him to see what other enlightened masters had already experienced. It made perfect sense to me that Sotaesan confirmed his awakening by understanding other spiritual teachings. Though they used different words to express their awakening according to different times and places, the ultimate reality they experienced was one. From this point of view, Sotaesan guided his students to be respectful and open minded to other religious traditions.

People often ask me if they need to be a Buddhist to practice meditation and Buddha dharma. I tell them, “No, it’s not necessary.’ Actually, I’m not a big fan of using labels. Once we put a name on something, it is easily stereotyped and we start to draw a line between what is and what is not; between what is right and what is not right. We create a box and start to think that we have to be one way or the other.

I call myself a Buddhist for the sake of convenience. Indeed, I am a Buddhist, more specifically a Won Buddhist. But when I really reflect on this, I see labeling myself is not always helpful. It can become another egocentric idea that i cling to. I need to remind myself I don’t practice dharma to become a Buddhist, but that maybe it’s the other way around; I practice dharma not to become a Buddhist. More precisely speaking, a true Buddhist is not a Buddhist, meaning that we don’t cling to the idea of being a ‘Buddhist’. A true Buddhist has no fixed name as a Buddhist realizing that everything is conditioned, changing and momentary. We practice dharma to remove all the labels that we hold on to: the idea of who I am, what I can do, or how the world is supposed to be. When we really let go of such labels, we can live life to the fullest.

Dogen, a Japanese Zen master wrote:

To study the Buddha way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be actualized by myriad things. When actualized by myriad things, your body and mind as well as the bodies and minds of others drop away. No trace of realization remains, and this no-trace continues endlessly. 

From the Buddhist point of view, interfaith harmony can be realized by understanding who we really are, and how everything is interconnected with one another. With this understanding, we can see what’s beyond our different names and forms. Once we see this interconnectedness, then mutual understanding and respect will naturally arise, just as a shadow follows us.

—————-

Below is Pope Francis’ video on inter-religious dialogue;

—————-

World Interfaith Harmony Week came about as a result of a UN resolution proposed in 2010. This UN resolution urges all the member states to support the message of interfaith harmony and goodwill in the world’s churches, mosques, synagogues, temples and other places of worship during the first week of February every year. Since 2011, the first week of February has been observed and celebrated as the World Interfaith Harmony Week.

 

SOURCE

Austrian President Heinz Fischer says Austria must face challenge of integrating refugees with dialogue

Posted on February 5th, 2016

DSC3170Speaking at the International Dialogue Centre on Tuesday, the Federal President of the Republic of Austria, Dr. Heinz Fischer, stressed the importance of interreligious dialogue as Austria faces the challenges of integrating refugees fleeing turmoil and violence in the Middle East.

The President said that if the country does not face these challenges now, then there will be even greater problems in the future.

“The long-term integration of these individuals into our society is a major challenge. I would like to reiterate that Muslims who live in Austria can and should be a valuable part of our society. It is possible to be a good Muslim and a good Austrian simultaneously,” he said.

The President was speaking on the occasion of World Interfaith Harmony Week, which is celebrated every year in the first week of February. He was hosted at the event by the Secretary General of KAICIID, Faisal Bin Muaammar.

In his lecture, President Fischer emphasized that Austria’s longstanding record of promoting dialogue between religions and cultures has been a valuable asset in recent times, and that this sort of dialogue was now more important than ever.

The war in Syria has worsened the worst refugee crisis since World War II, and Austria has received one of the highest number of refugees per capita in Europe. As the refugee crisis makes it necessary for countries to quickly and effectively integrate large numbers of people from other religions into their own societies, the practical importance of interreligious dialogue becomes clear.

“The integration of refugees in Austria in the coming years will increasingly need to be part of the dialogue between religions. The inclusion of vulnerable people is a serious, societal responsibility that needs to be carefully and knowledgeably accomplished with a view to securing social cohesion and social peace in Austria. It cannot be denied that this will also entail problems,” he said.

“I consider dialogue, being open to discussion, and the ability to engage respectfully with other viewpoints (even when one does not share them), to be a basic requirement for peaceful coexistence between people, communities, cultures and religions,” he said.

The President traced the roots of several current international conflicts to the manipulation of nationalism, ideology, and power to marginalize individual rights, or the rights of the weaker sections of society. In order to bridge the mistrust, or oppression, of those of other religions and cultures or nationalities, he said, “voices of reason, signals of moderation and willingness to talk are needed.”

He emphasised that KAICIID exists to serve these goals. “As a platform for interreligious dialogue, as a bridge builder in interreligious and intercultural dialogue, it can seek to be a cosmopolitan, open, international dialogue partner. Its work and mandate, as laid out in the establishment agreement, strengthen cooperation and mutual respect at the international level, and promote a tolerant exchange of views between religious communities.”

“KAICIID is the only international organization to work together on an equal footing with leaders of the five major world religions. The center has the potential, through its work, to create a better understanding between religions and thereby make an important contribution to the development and advancement of human rights,” he said.

In his welcoming words, the KAICIID Secretary General, Faisal Bin Muaammar described how the International Dialogue Centre works to support the integration of refugees into Austria.

“If refugees are to return to peaceful homes, or to integrate into new circumstances, then we must find a way to help people accept and not fear differences. Dialogue helps us achieve this. In dialogue we recognize that we are all equals and share core values. Austrian religious communities have shown great commitment and resolve in supporting the integration of refugees here in Austria. We are trying to do our part to support these efforts, by providing religious communities the means to help more refugees, he said.”

About KAICIID
The International Dialogue Centre (KAICIID) is an intergovernmental organization that promotes dialogue to build peace in conflict areas. It does this by enhancing understanding and cooperation between people of different cultures and followers of different religions. The Centre was founded by Austria, Saudi Arabia and Spain. The Holy See is the Founding Observer. Its Board of Directors comprises prominent representatives from five major world religions (Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism). The Board designs and supervises the Centre’s programs.

###

Contact

KAICIID Dialogue Centre
press@kaiciid.org
+43 1 313 22 408

 

SOURCE

Locals celebrate World Interfaith Harmony Week

Posted on February 4th, 2016

Locals celebrate World Interfaith Harmony Week

THE CHRONICLE HERALD
Published February 3, 2016 – 4:16pm
<br />
The United Nations declared the first week of February as World Interfaith Harmony Week in 2010. (Anthony Power, @AMPwerx)<br />

The United Nations declared the first week of February as World Interfaith Harmony Week in 2010. (Anthony Power, @AMPwerx)

 

For anyone looking to learn a little more about other religions, the first week of February is the perfect time to do so.

World Interfaith Harmony Week runs from Feb. 1 to 7 and has a full slate of events throughout Halifax.

Churches and other places of worship across the city are opening their doors for anyone to come in and see how things operate in other religions.

“It’s an opportunity to visit sacred spaces in Halifax to observe, meet and engage with diverse faith communities,” said Kim MacAulay, a Buddhist and the coordinator of the Interfaith Peace and Friendship Centre at Mount Saint Vincent University.

Throughout the week, there will be prayer sessions at various places of worship culminating with a celebration of World Interfaith Harmony on the Feb. 7.

The United Nations declared the first week of February as World Interfaith Harmony Week in 2010.

“Each year we keep adding more and it keeps growing,” said MacAulay. “It’s pretty exciting actually.”

Despite the apparent differences between the faith groups, Anthony Power, participating faith group member in Interfaith Harmony Halifax and member of the Baha’i faith, chooses to focus on the commonalities between faiths.

He says the basic principles like “Love Thy Neighbour” are common across all faiths.

“Religion has always been with us, it’s been our guidepost to further advance civilization, so it’s great that people get to know other faith groups,” he says.

MacAulay says her group has invited people and organizations from across the globe to sign a “Declaration of Interfaith Peace and Friendship.”

To date, 10 organizations and four community leaders have signed the declaration, including MLAs Iain Rankin and Patricia Arab. MacAulay says she’s anticipating many more declarations in the coming days.

Given the tragedies from around the world that are both directly and indirectly related to religious intolerance, MacAuley says the importance of understanding different faiths is intensifying and growing.

“This week offers us all a chance to meet each other as human beings and get to know each other.”

She says given the amount of Syrian refugees coming into Canada and other parts of the world, Interfaith Harmony Week this year takes on a whole other meaning.

“Halifax needs and wants immigrants to come and stay,” she says. “If we want this to happen, we need to become even more welcoming, accepting and respectful of diverse faiths and cultures.”

For more information on World Interfaith Harmony Week in Halifax, visit ihhalifax.ca.

Source

World Interfaith Harmony Week : Steps Toward A Harmony Renaissance

Posted on February 4th, 2016

World Interfaith Harmony Week : Steps Toward A Harmony Renaissance

Rene Wadlow
on
Wednesday, February 3, 2016, 10:46am
World Interfaith Harmony Week : Steps Toward A Harmony Renaissance
The Association of World Citizens, a non-governmental organization in consultative status with the United Nations, cooperates fully with the World Interfaith Harmony Week, which takes place February 1-7. The UN General Assembly designates the first week of every February as a time for cooperation for a common purpose among all religions, faiths and beliefs.The General Assembly, building on its efforts for a culture of peace and non-violence in which World Citizens have played an active part, wishes to highlight the importance of mutual understanding and inter-religious dialogue in developing a creative culture of peace and non-violence. The General Assembly recognizes “the imperative need for dialogue among different faiths and religions in enhancing mutual understanding, harmony and cooperation among people.” The week has a potential to promote the healing of religion-based tensions in the world.

As Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon wrote,

At a time when the world is faced with many simultaneous  problems—security, environmental, humanitarian, and economic—enhanced tolerance and understanding are fundamental for a resilient and vibrant international society. There is an imperative need, therefore, to further reaffirm and develop harmonious cooperation between the world’s different faiths and religions.

Global citizens have stressed that peace comes from cooperation beyond the boundaries of ethnicity, religion and nationality, and have called for a cultural renaissance based on the concept of harmony. Rather than concentrating primarily on conflicts, struggles, and suffering, they have  suggested focusing on cooperation, coexistence, and visions of a better future. Harmony includes tolerance, acceptance, equality, and forgiveness of past pains and conflicts. Harmony leads to gentleness, patience, kindness, and thus to inner peace and outward relations based on respect.

World Citizens maintain that harmony is a universal common value. In harmony, we can find true values that transcend all cultures and religions. The meaning of life is to seek harmony within our inner self. Humans are born with a spiritual soul that develops to seek self-fulfillment. Our soul has a conscience that elevates us. As our soul grows to maturity, we achieve our own harmony.

However, harmony is not only a personal goal of inner peace, but a guideline for political, social and world affairs. Citizens of the World believe that our actions should enhance peace, reduce conflict, and activate a culture of harmony. The 21st century is the beginning of a Harmony Renaissance. Our world mission is to be ready for humanity’s next creative wave to lead us to a higher level of common accomplishment. The World Harmony Renaissance will bring the whole world into action for this new millennium of peace and prosperity with unfettered collective energy.

World Citizens have underlined the strong contribution that Chinese culture could play in the creation of this harmonious culture. In an earlier period of Chinese thought during the Song Dynasty, there was an important conscious effort to create a Harmony Renaissance.  This was a period of interest in science —“the extension of knowledge through the investigation of things.” It was a time when there was a conscious effort to bring together into a harmonious framework what often existed as separate and sometimes hostile schools of thought: Confucianism, Buddhism, philosophical Daoism and religious Daoism. These efforts were called Tao hsuch, the Study of the Tao, an effort Western scholars later termed “Neo-Confucianism.”

Zhou Dunyi, often better known as the Master of Lien-his, was a leading figure in this effort. He developed a philosophy based on the alternation of the Yin and Yang, each becoming the source of the other.

Today, after decades of conflict when the emphasis of nations both in policy and practice was upon competition, conflict, and individual enrichment, we need to emphasize harmony, cooperation, mutual respect, and working for the welfare of the community with a respect for nature.  When one aspect, either Yin or Yang, becomes too dominant, equilibrium needs to be restored.

Obviously it takes time to put into place a harmonious society at home and a harmonious world abroad. The cultivation of harmony must become the operational goal for many. As Mencius, a follower of Confucius said,

A trail through the mountains, if used, becomes a path in a short time, but, if unused, becomes blocked by grass in an equally short time.

The World Interfaith Harmony Week is an opportunity to open new paths. As global citizens, we must find a new guiding image for our culture, one that unifies the aspirations of humanity with the needs of the planet and the individual. We hold that peace can be achieved through opening our hearts and minds to a broader perspective. We are one human race, and we inhabit one world. Therefore we must see the world with global eyes, understand the world with a global mind, and love the world with a global heart.

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

 

Source

Dubai hosts World Interfaith Day on Feb. 3

Posted on February 3rd, 2016

Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, UAE’s Minister for Culture, Youth and Community Development, to inaugurate

Published 

Dubai will host the World Interfaith Harmony Day under the patronage of Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, UAE’s Minister for Culture, Youth and Community Development, on February 3 at the Hyatt Regency Dubai Creek Heights Hotel.

The meet takes place during the first week of February every year. The World Interfaith Harmony Week (February 1-7, 2016) provides a platform for all interfaith groups and other groups of goodwill to gather and express their solidarity and work together to promote harmony and goodwill in the world.

This year, the conference will focus on how peace at home builds peace in the world. It will bring together a combination of international leaders from faith groups, universities, businesses, NGOs and public institutions to discuss the contribution of various faith traditions in building peaceful homes and strong families which are essential components for building peace in the world. The objective is to facilitate peace and harmony between people of all religious and philosophical traditions while exploring ways to work together to strengthen homes and communities.

Frode Mauring, UNDP Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative Acting In-charge for UAE, Oman and Qatar, is among the key speakers from the faiths of Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Mormonism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism who will offer insights on how to nurture and build peace at home and how to connect it to peace in the world.

There will be presentations and discussions by political, religious, educational and business leaders. The main topic is ‘Peace At Home Builds Peace in the World.’ Sub-themes of the summit include:  What Holy Books Teach about Peace in the Home, The Role of Youth in Building Peaceful Homes and Communities, Scholarly Perspectives on Connecting Peace in the Home to Peace in the World and Developing Collaborative Interfaith Projects. Two hundred local and international delegates are expected at the conference.

About the week

‘”World Interfaith Harmony Week celebrates the principles of tolerance and respect for the other that are deeply rooted in the world’s major religions. The observance is also a summons to solidarity in the face of those who spread misunderstanding and mistrust,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The World Interfaith Harmony Week was first proposed by King Abdullah II of Jordan at the UN General Assembly in September 2010 and was unanimously adopted by the General Assembly on October 20. In the resolution, the General Assembly, points out that mutual understanding and inter-religious dialogue constitute important dimensions of a culture of peace and establishes the Week as a way to promote harmony between all people regardless of their faith.

The UN General Assembly encourages all states to support the week to the spread the message of interfaith harmony and goodwill in the world’s mosques, churches, synagogues, temples, and other places of worship, on a voluntary basis and according to their own religious traditions or convictions.

Organising committee of the Dubai event

This event is hosted by Gurudwara Guru Nanak Darbar, Dubai.

The organising committee comprises Prof. Nasr Arif, Director of Islamic Civilisation Academy in the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Community Development, UAE, Dr. Brian J. Adams, Director of Centre for Interfaith & Cultural Dialogue in the Griffith University, Australia, and Surender Singh Kandhari, Chairman of Guru Nanak Darbar Gurudwara, UAE.

Source

Social Cohesion Minister highlights Guyana’s religious diversity

Posted on February 1st, 2016

Social Cohesion Minister highlights Guyana’s religious diversity

February 1, 2016 By 

World Interfaith Harmony Week

By Devina Samaroo

 

Social Cohesion Minister Amna Ally, in her message to the nation in observance of World Interfaith Harmony Week 2016, charged all Guyanese to embrace their cultural and religious diversity in order to overcome the various hurdles in life with the aim of achieving the highest levels of social cohesion.

Social Cohesion Minister Amna Ally

Social Cohesion Minister Amna Ally

Interfaith Harmony Week provides the ideal opportunity for interfaith and other groups of goodwill throughout the world to demonstrate what a powerful movement they are in effecting change within their communities.

The Social Cohesion Minister, in her charge to the nation, commended those local organisations that have embarked on initiatives in observance of the World Interfaith Harmony Week 2016 and have contributed year-round to promoting unity.

Ally noted that Guyana has always been a country with a deep reverence for God and as the country continued to develop, there was an increasing role for religion and goodwill in fostering social cohesion.
“We know once social cohesion as an approach to development is advanced, there would be greater opportunities for citizens to be included in processes. Their participation would enable them to have a sense of belonging to their communities and by extension to Guyana,” she said.

On that note, the Minister underscored that the faith-based organisations and other interfaith partners in Guyana, therefore, had significant roles in advocating for and taking action to advance communities.

“I urge you to be active as agents of change at the local and national levels, for the benefit of your respective gathering, congregations, members, constituents…,” she said.

Moreover, Ally addressed the current discourse on prayers in schools and reiterated that Government respected the right of all persons to worship God as they please.

“It is a constitutional right. Our dynamics are particularly peculiar in Guyana, because of the myriad of cultures, religious persuasions, ethnicities and all those variables, which cause us to be diverse. There would be a conclusion to this discussion and I am sure, here again you have roles to play as Guyana’s interfaith community,” Ally stated.

World Interfaith Harmony Week was first proposed at the United Nations General Assembly on September 23, 2010, and was subsequently unanimously adopted by the United Nations.

It had its genesis in “The Common Word Initiative”, which in 2007, called for Muslim and Christian leaders to engage in dialogue based on two fundamental religious principles and by extension Commandments – Love of God and Love of the Neighbour. It was agreed on with the understanding that neither side would compromise any of its religious tenets.

The theme, “Love of the Good and Love of the Neighbour’ is commonly used and embraces fundamental theological principles, and, therefore, all mankind of goodwill can be included in the observances.
World Interfaith Harmony Week is celebrated from February 1-7 every year.

Source

Super Bowl or Souper Bowl? Celebrating World Interfaith Harmony Week

Posted on January 31st, 2016

Super Bowl or Souper Bowl? Celebrating World Interfaith Harmony Week

World Interfaith Harmony Week
World Interfaith Harmony Week
World Interfaith Harmony Week

While much of the Bay Area is focused on the lead-up to Super Bowl 50, several of their neighbors will be joining “Souper Bowl,” an effort to gather containers of soup for local food banks. This week is World Interfaith Harmony Week, declared by the United Nations in 2010 as a time for noting and celebrating the many ways that individuals, groups, and nations work to build religious harmony among those of diverse traditions. The original declaration highlighted “the imperative need for dialogue among different faiths and religions to enhance mutual understanding, harmony and cooperation among people,” and added that “the moral imperatives of all religions, convictions and beliefs call for peace, tolerance and mutual understanding.” The declaration reaffirmed that “mutual understanding and interreligious dialogue constitute important dimensions of a culture of peace,” and proclaimed “the first week of February every year the World Interfaith Harmony Week between all religions, faiths and beliefs.”

World Interfaith Harmony Week has its roots in the Common Word Initiative, an effort that brought Christians and Muslims around the world together to explore two fundamental principles: the love of God and the love of neighbor. These are core commandments among the three Abrahamic traditions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Over time, these principles have been expanded to include others outside those traditions, emphasizing a call to “love of the good, and love of the neighbor.” In this way, those of other faiths, and no particular faith, are invited to join in the effort of building peaceful relationships and cooperative efforts to benefit the whole community.

In Santa Clara County, SiVIC, the Silicon Valley Interreligious Council, will once again participate in the Compassion Games “Coopetition” during Harmony Week. The Coopetition is a seven-day global challenge to promote acts of peace, collaboration and tolerance between people of all faith, spiritual, and humanistic traditions. During this week, individuals and teams will use the spirit of coopetition (cooperative competition) to inspire shared acts of service, giving back to their communities and strengthening mutual respect, understanding, and harmony between people of all backgrounds. On the SiVIC website, you can find information about how to participate in the WIHW Compassion Games, along with a list of public events, including a Buddhist-Muslim dialogue, and Interreligious Leaders Forum, and a panel discussion on “Interfaith and Combating Phobia.”

In Fremont, community members are invited to “Meet a Muslim,” on Monday, February 1 at Mission Coffee, located at 151 Washington Blvd. Mona Shaiq and Azam Khan will be there to answer your questions about Islam and Muslims. Then, on Saturday, February 6, from 1:00 – 4:00 pm, the Tri-City Interfaith Council will hold a World Interfaith Harmony Day Celebration at the Veteran’s Memorial Buliding, 37154 2nd St. Participants from over 10 Faith Groups will share booths with information on each faith, and there will be a moderated panel of Faith Leaders, refreshments and stimulating conversation.

 

Source

Interfaith week on environment starts Sunday

Posted on January 29th, 2016

Interfaith week on environment starts Sunday

By Elaine Ayala

January 28, 2016

Father Ron Rolheiser shown in 2005, when he became president of Oblate School of Theology. A popular speaker and author on Catholic spirituality, he will be named San Antonio’s new peace laureate at the peaceCENTER’s annual Blessing of San Antonio Peacemakers on Sunday. Photo: ROBERT MCLEROY /SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS / 2005 SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS

Photo: ROBERT MCLEROY /SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS

Father Ron Rolheiser shown in 2005, when he became president of Oblate School of Theology. A popular speaker and author on Catholic spirituality, he will be named San Antonio’s new peace laureate at the peaceCENTER’s annual Blessing of San Antonio Peacemakers on Sunday.

In recognition of World Interfaith Harmony Week, the University of the Incarnate Word with various San Antonio faith groups will present an 11-day series of events on the topics of peace and climate change.

“Together Caring for Creation: An Interfaith Week of Learning, Reflection and Commitment to Action” will include talks, music, recreational activities and worship services. Ongoing until Feb. 8, many events are free.

A worship service at 11 a.m. Sunday will be hosted by Celebration Circle at SAY Si, 1518 S. Alamo St.

Here are some highlights:

3 p.m. Sunday, Oblate School of Theology’s Whitley Center, the peaceCENTER’s annual Blessing of San Antonio Peacemakers will feature the appointment of Father Ron Rolheiser, the Oblate School’s president, as San Antonio’s new peace laureate.

6:15 p.m. Monday, UIW Rosenberg Skyroom, scholar and author Zeki Saritoprak will speak on “Jesus in Islam.”

7 p.m. Monday and again Feb. 8, SoL Center, University Presbyterian Church, 300 Bushnell Ave., retired Trinity University professor Meredith McGuire will speak about water stewardship in the face of climate change. Cost is $35; register at (210) 732-9927, or www.upcsa.org.

11:30 a.m. Tuesday UIW Mabee Library Auditorium, screening of “Renewal, a Documentary Film” about Americans from wide-ranging faith traditions who have become environmental caretakers.

7:30 p.m. Wednesday, San Antonio Friends Meetinghouse, 7052 N. Vandiver Road, “Caring for Creation: An Evening of Guided and Silent Meditation.”

10:30 a.m., Thursday, UIW Mabee Library Auditorium, “Caring for Creation: An Exploration of Climate Change and Faith from a Biblical Perspective.”

11:30 a.m. Thursday, Episcopal Church of Reconciliation, 8900 Starcrest Drive, “Celebrating the Season of Creation in Worship,” a workshop for worship and community leaders of all faiths.

6:30 p.m. Thursday, UIW Mabee Library Special Collections Room, “The Islamic Declaration on Climate Change.”

7 p.m., Thursday, Lord of Life Lutheran Church, 5955 FM 78, music program, “Divine Harmony, Human Voices Call Out to God.”

1 p.m. Friday, Heritage Hall, Village of the Incarnate Word, “Laudato Si,” a discussion of the pope’s encyclical on the environment.

6:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday, Temple Beth-El, 211 Belknap Place, “Pursuit of Harmony,” a Shabbat service featuring Jewish singer-songwriter Michael Ochs and Palestinian songwriter and commentator Alan Alshaham.

9:30 p.m. Sunday, San Antonio Mennonite Church, 1443 S. St. Mary’s St., “Caring for Creation,” adult Sunday school on scriptural aspects of creation care.

6 p.m., Monday, library, Denman Estate, 7735 Mockingbird Lane, “Centering Prayer and Discussion on Ecology.”

For complete event listings, visit http://www.uiw.edu/ccl/together/

eayala@express-news.net

Twitter: @ElaineAyala

 

Source

Why Ugandans should embrace interfaith week

Posted on January 29th, 2016

In Uganda, this day is being commemorated in Muyenga on February 1, by the Nile Dialogue Platform, an organisation promoting interfaith and intercultural peaceful coexistence.

Muhsinnuwagabakaduyu 703x422

Muhsin Nuwagaba Kaduyu is a peace promoter at the Nile Dialogue Platform

 

 

By Muhsin Nuwagaba Kaduyu

February 1 – 7 is World ‘Interfaith Harmony Week’ that seeks to spread the message of harmony and tolerance among the followers of different faiths.

This day was launched to promote harmony among people of different faiths at a time when interreligious conflict is claiming lives and livelihoods all over the world. This week is timely for Uganda considering that February is also the month when the general elections will be held in the country and, therefore, messages of harmony and tolerance among all the political contestants and everybody should be promoted.

In Uganda, this day is being commemorated in Muyenga on February 1, by the Nile Dialogue Platform, an organisation promoting interfaith and intercultural peaceful coexistence.

This day is very relevant to Uganda because research shows nearly nine out of 10 Ugandans say religion plays a key role in their lives.

The survey, conducted by the US-based Pew Research Centre shows that Uganda is one of the most religious countries in the world, with nearly nine out of 10 people saying religion (Christianity or Islam) plays a key role in their lives. Titled ‘Tolerance and Tension: Islam and Christianity in Sub-Saharan Africa’, the report shows that Uganda ranks 15th in Africa and 20th worldwide in the ‘most religious’ tables. This precisely indicates that Ugandans live a God-centered life.  Such a life, a life of “For God and My Country” is absolutely opposed to violence.

A God-centred life, where God is paramount and where we all regard ourselves as faithful servants of the divine master should be an antidote to the culture of violence that is so prevalent in the world today.

A ‘culture of violence’, according to S. Bastanov, refers to a mentality that presupposes that human life is expendable In the name of some holy goal, or even without such a goal, and that any institution, group or individual, in a position to do so, can resort to coercion by force to deal with other institutions, groups or individuals that have different values of ways of life.

As a Muslim, I understand a God-centred life being one that is more than simply adhering to a dogmatic list of beliefs or performing ritual actions. It is a way of going beyond perfunctory religiosity to put God at the heart of one’s human consciousness and the centre of one’s hopes and motivations.

The vision of such kind of a life resonates so well with my limited understanding of Christianity and human existence. In the most basic Christian catechism we read that men and women were created to “know, to love, and serve God”. Thus an ideal of the God-centered life is a point of convergence that should unite all Ugandans, especially Muslims and Christians.

The preamble of the constitution of the UNESCO states: “Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that defenses of peace must be constructed”. Thus, as believers and true Ugandans, we should build a culture of peace flows from a commitment to respond faithfully the mission of all the Prophets, who were chosen by God to help build better social relations, regardless of who the “other” is.

A person’s actions proceed from the inclinations of his heart and emotions and from sensibilities and needs of his spirit.  If those basic drives are left unchecked, one’s emotions can easily lead him to either spontaneous or premeditated violence.  However, “For God and My Country” should place in our hearts and minds, a permanent ‘prohibitor.’ When sinful desires emerge from the soul, they are repulsed and declared forbidden. In this way, the violent impulses that arise from our emotions and sensitivities can be controlled and held in check by our religious convictions before they lead to aggressive and destructive behavior.

Religion teaches the sacred dignity of each person. A sincere believer in God, a true Ugandan for that matter, cannot consider another person’s life expendable for any reason. He cannot even violate the dignity of others by forcing them to accept his idea, beliefs, or behavior.

Finally and most importantly, I call upon the religious leaders to use this opportunity and model for our people a helpful and peaceful way to coexist with each other. The ability of the religions to thrive and foster development in Uganda will depend upon our ability to live with and cooperate with those from other faiths without abandoning our own identities.

The writer is a peace promoter at the Nile Dialogue Platform

 

Source

First official interfaith week to be hosted by Better Together, student secular community

Posted on January 29th, 2016

First official interfaith week to be hosted by Better Together, student secular community

BY  / IN FEATURED

In 2010, the United Nations General Assembly voted unanimously to make World Interfaith Harmony Week the first week of February. This year, Concordia will be observing the week with events and dialogue hosted by Better Together and the Student Secular Community.

Members of the Better Together Lead Team discuss plans for interfaith week at a meeting earlier this week. Photo by Maddie Malat.

Members of the Better Together Lead Team discuss plans for interfaith week at a meeting earlier this week. Photo by Maddie Malat.

Julia Brucklacher, community lead for Better Together took on the challenge of bringing Interfaith Week to Concordia this year. Brucklacher witnessed interfaith weeks on other campuses, namely at University of North Dakota, where her dad works as a campus pastor.

“We, Better Together, chose to do interfaith week at Concordia in conjunction with World Interfaith Harmony Week, [because] our aim is to educate the student body and the community while celebrating our faith and non-faith diversity,” Brucklacher said.

Brucklacher and Better Together aim to create an inclusive and safe community through the events of this week, by collaborating with the F-M community and Concordia’s SSC.

“We have four interfaith chapels, three evening events and we will be tabling during the week,” Brucklacher said.

According to Brucklacher, the evening events will include a presentation on Islamophobia in the media, a food sampling of some dietary restrictions of different religions and a secular student panel. All events are open to students, faculty, staff and the local community.

Rosina Halverson-Studer, co-president of Better Together, sees this week of events as a natural extension of the work Better Together does every week.

“In the past few years we’ve put on some wonderful events, but we haven’t yet capitalized on the fact that there is this national interfaith harmony week,” Halverson-Studer said. “In light of … ongoing xenophobia, Islamophobia and … fear-motivated rhetoric that has been surrounding the general elections, we have a responsibility … to offer students opportunities to grapple with those issues … and seek understanding of groups they might not have encountered prior to college.”

interfaithweekjpgHalverson-Studer said an interfaith week like this has not occurred in the past because there was not a student passionate enough to lead the charge in the organization process. Also, Better Together is busy throughout the year planning other interfaith events.

Brucklacher said that the desire to create an interfaith week has been among Better Together in the past.

“Honestly, I don’t think people have seen an example,” she said. “I was really motivated, and I knew it was possible because I have been to interfaith weeks before.”

With the experience from witnessing other interfaith weeks, Brucklacher felt confident using the organizational expertise of Better Together and bringing the event to Concordia.

“Concordia College practices interfaith cooperation because of its Lutheran dedication to prepare thoughtful and informed global citizens who foster wholeness and hope, build peace through understanding, and serve the world together,” she said.

Brucklacher believes that college is the time to form these interfaith bonds and strengthen our identities through these types of interactions.

“It is important for college students to get involved in interfaith work and interfaith dialogue because it is a time where we are finding our passions, and we continue to form who we are.”

Karen Besonen

Karen Besonen is a senior Multimedia Journalism major, originally from Apple Valley, Minnesota. She is an enthusiast of music, along with keeping a personal blog and following the action on Capital Hill. She has a passion for traveling and philanthropic work, and with her degree, she hopes to work for a Christian nonprofit that fights the trafficking and exploitation of children.

More Posts

 

Source

Zambo residents urged to join World Interfaith Harmony Week

Posted on January 28th, 2016

 

Zambo residents urged to join World Interfaith Harmony Week

 Wednesday, January 27, 2016

ZAMBOANGA City Mayor Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar has urged the residents to join and support the observance of the week-long World Interfaith Harmony Week in Mindanao.

Salazar has issued Executive Order No. BC 16-2016 that enjoins the active participation and support of all schools, government entities, private institutions, non-government organizations, parishes, church-based organizations, civil society groups, urban poor communities and other people’s organizations in the various activities lined up for the said week-long celebration.

The UN General Assembly during its 34th plenary meeting has proclaimed the first week of February of every year as the World Interfaith Harmony Week between all religions, faiths and beliefs.

The harmony week celebration in this city is spearheaded by UN Interfaith Harmony partners, the Silsilah Dialogue Movement and the National Ulama Conference.

The UN General Assembly issued the proclamation as it recognizes the imperative need for dialogue among different faiths and religions to enhance mutual understanding, harmony and cooperation among people.

The international organization further recognizes that the moral imperatives of all religions, convictions and beliefs call for peace, tolerance and mutual understanding.

This year’s celebration is anchored on the theme: “Celebrating Harmony: The Wellspring of Hope and Peace.” (Bong Garcia)

Source

King honours winners of World Interfaith Harmony Week 2015

Posted on April 21st, 2015

 

AMMAN — His Majesty King Abdullah on Monday acted as patron at the King Abdullah II World Interfaith Harmony Week (WIHW) award ceremony.

During the ceremony, which took place at Husseiniya Palace, His Majesty presented awards to the top three winners, according to a Royal Court statement.

Royal family members and senior officials attended the event.

The WIHW was first proposed at the UN General Assembly on September 23, 2010 by King Abdullah. Just under a month later, on October 20, 2010, it was unanimously adopted by the UN and henceforth the first week of February has been observed annually as World Interfaith Harmony Week.

The Royal Aal al Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought established the WIHW award to recognise three activities or publications that best contribute to the promotion of the occasion.

First prize was awarded to Pakistan’s Universal Interfaith Peace Mission, represented by Allama G R Chishti, for its various events in a range of locations including Islamia University of Bahawalpur, Roz TV Pakistan, Jame Masjid New Sohan and Divine Light Public School in Islamabad, according to the WIHW website.

The recipients of the second prize were Gisela Jahn and Beatrix Jakubicka of Germany for their “Friedenskette der Religionen” in Munich connecting 15,000 people in a human chain of light between five houses of worship.

The third prize was awarded to the World Interfaith Harmony Week Toronto Steering Committee of Canada for their eight events during the WIHW, including Launch Event, Interfaith Dialogue Circle, How We Talk To God, Race And Religion, Faith And Social Justice, Christian-Jewish Dialogue, An Evening Of Interfaith Performing Arts, Interfaith Ecology Hike, and Efforts To Obtain Government Of Canada Support, the website said.

Ninety-three applications were received for the prize from over 900 events held in total, WIHW said, adding that the judges focused primarily on those who had the courage to hold events in areas marked by recent interfaith tension or conflicts in addition to the excellence of efforts.

The interfaith week is an annual platform to raise awareness and understanding between followers of different faiths and promote dialogue and goodwill through conducting activities and events that spread this message, the Royal Court statement said.

The idea behind interfaith week comes from the work of the Common Word initiative, launched in 2007 to call on Muslim and Christian scholars to engage in constructive dialogue based on shared values: the love of God and love of neighbour without religious prejudice, to strengthen the shared ideological religious ground, as these two messages are at the heart of the three major religions.

In an address at the ceremony, HRH Princess Areej Ghazi, head of the award jury, said the world has seen around 900 events celebrating His Majesty’s initiative, representing approximately a 100 per cent increase compared to those held last year during the WIHW, the statement said.

She also highlighted the King’s efforts and his relentless defence of Islam and its true essence as a religion of tolerance and mercy.

HRH Prince Ghazi, the King’s personal envoy and adviser for religious and cultural affairs, HRH Princess Jennah Bint Ghazi, Royal Court Chief Fayez Tarawneh and King’s Office Director Jafar Hassan also attended the ceremony.

SOURCE

King honours winners of King Abdullah II Award for World Interfaith Harmony Week

Posted on May 9th, 2014

His Majesty King Abdullah poses for a group photo with participants in the King Abdullah II World Interfaith Harmony Week awards ceremony in Amman on Sunday (Photo courtesy of Royal Court)

 

AMMAN — His Majesty King Abdullah on Sunday acted as patron at the King Abdullah II World Interfaith Harmony Week award ceremony.

During the ceremony, which took place at Husseiniya Palace, His Majesty presented the awards to four winners.

Royal family members and senior officials attended the event.

The World Interfaith Harmony Week was initiated by the King, who put it forward to the 56th session of the UN General Assembly, which unanimously adopted it.

The Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought established this award in recognition of three activities or publications that best contribute to the promotion of World Interfaith Harmony Week, adopted by the UN (PV/65/a.34) resolution. The week is annually marked in the first week of February.

First prize was awarded to the UN Interfaith Harmony Partners in the Philippines, in recognition of the work they have done, for the third year running, in celebrating harmony week in the city of Zamboanga.

The recipients of second prize was the Centre for Peace and Human Rights in India, in recognition of the initiative they undertook called “An Ordinary Step for Ensuring Extraordinary Peace” in Uttar Pradesh, India.

Third prize was shared between the Gamal Farghaly Sultan Secondary School in Assiut, Egypt, in recognition of their event “Peace, without Prejudice” and Faiths Together, and Uganda for an event at their Goma Health Centre III, in Goma village.

The interfaith week, which began after the UN unanimously adopted the initiative of His Majesty in October 2010, is an annual platform to raise awareness and understanding between followers of the different faiths and promote dialogue and goodwill, through conducting activities and events that spread this message.

The idea behind interfaith week comes from the pioneering work of the Common Word initiative that was launched in 2007 which called for Muslim and Christian scholars to engage in constructive dialogue based on shared values: the love of God and love of neighbour without religious prejudice, to strengthen the shared ideological religious ground, as these two messages are at the heart of all three major religions.

Head of the award jury, HRH Princess Areej Ghazi, said during her speech: “I am honoured, on behalf of myself and my fellow esteemed award panel members, to congratulate the efforts made by the participants in this noble project, which we consider a call for a new Fadoul Alliance [between tribes before Islam].”

She added: “The Messenger of Allah, PBUH, commended Al Fadoul Alliance in the pre-Islamic era, saying that if he was invited after Islam to join it, he would do that.”

“Echoing a similar call, Your Majesty, you have called the entire world and followers of all religions and beliefs to celebrate a world week based on the love of God and love of righteousness, which is a divine quality, and love of neighbour. The world has responded to the call and adopted the idea unanimously.”

 

She stressed that “the week has been officiated by the UN since 2011, and this year, Your Majesty, you accepted that the award by the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought be named after you, so that the rest of the world be encouraged to take care of this week and the noble principles it was built on”.

She also said: “This is not new to you, Your Majesty, as your blessed reign is full of initiatives that serve Jordan, serve Muslims, serve people in general and serve peace, and that is in spite of the sparse resources in our country, which is nonetheless rich in its spirit, people and history.”

She added: “The King’s initiatives in this regard are numerous, with a notable example being the historic global consensus on the three points of the Amman Message, which included the first global Islamic scholarly consensus on the definition of a Muslim, and outlined who can declare someone kafir [apostate] and under what conditions, and who can issue fatwas and under what conditions.”

She pointed out that the King’s initiatives include the exegesis project, which is the biggest electronic [Koranic] interpretation site in the world, and whose website last year had 15 million visitors. It provides over a hundred Koranic interpretations for users all around the world.

She also drew attention to the “Common Word” initiative by His Majesty, which has been described by many top Western intellectuals as “the most successful initiative between Muslims and Christians in history”.

She said: “This award, God willing, will mark the celebration of World Interfaith Harmony Week, and thus will contribute to the easing of religious tensions around the world, God willing, and through God’s grace they can become like our beloved Jordan, the model of religious harmony in the world, through God’s grace and through our beloved King’s wisdom and the blessing of the wise and fair people of this nation.”

The general director of the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, Dr Minwer Al Mheid, said that four years after the launch of World Interfaith Harmony Week, it has become a reality where partners, from different religious beliefs and intellectual, cultural and political affiliations are attracted by its message of peace, harmony and goodwill.

He added that those who work towards the realisation of this initiative are joined by their common interest in realising noble humanitarian principles, consolidating harmony between all people, making world peace and promoting mutual respect among the followers of the different religious beliefs.

He stressed that countries, organisations and communities, as well as individuals, took the initiative to establish events and activities on World Interfaith Harmony Week on a voluntary basis, and held seminars, lectures and lessons in schools and educational institutes, with articles being written and research carried out to further this cause, this humanitarian message has reached people around the world, and “we hope that in the coming few years to double the number of participants and increase the events and reach our desired outcome, God willing, which is to spread harmony amongst all of mankind by removing hostility, hatred and resentment”.

The number of functions staged as part of the International Interfaith Harmony Week was 213 in 2011, 290 in 2012, 363 in 2013 and 406 this year.

His eminence, Sheikh Ali Gomaa, chief adviser at Aal al-Bayt Institute said in his remarks: “We start this meeting, which pleases God and pleases people with, peace and God’s mercy and blessings be upon you. As-salam is the word that represents peace is also one of God’s names and a name for heavens, too. It stands for harmony, security and faith. The interfaith week you have proposed, Your Majesty, is a reflection and implementation of the meaning of this blessed word.”

He added: “The peace we seek to translate in the World Interfaith Harmony Week is achieved through the concept of sharing, when man shares with brotherly human beings coexistence, work, principles and interests, so that we can build the world. God has ordered us to do so [in the Holy Koran] saying: “It is He Who hath produced you from the earth and settled you therein.”

He said that the harmony week gives humans back their humanity, goodness and willingness to build the world, through joint efforts, where all bets are placed on youth from all faiths, to take part in such efforts and help break the barriers of differences between people.

Addressing the King, he said: “Your Majesty, you are the descendant of the noble family of the Prophet. It is people’s religious duty to love you. All causes blood relations and connections will be void on the Judgement Day, except the blood line of Prophet Mohammad, to whom you belong.”

For his part, Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem said that each year, “commitment to the goals and ideals of this week has increased around the world and has contributed to the transformation of the life of local communities, especially communities under pressure”.

He said the 2010 UN resolution “crowned over a decade of commitment by the General Assembly to focus the attention of the world in the creation of a culture of peace-building, non-violence and mutual understanding among the faithful of different religious traditions, and it also highlighted the commitment of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to this crucial endeavour”.

The Orthodox patriarch said that such values are the great gift of both the Resolution of the General Assembly and of the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, which established the award programme, adding: “This annual prize-giving ceremony not only awards those who have done outstanding work in this arena, it also highlights the many ventures around the world — a growing number each year — which seek to promote those values and virtues that are vital to the common human future that we must build together.”

Theophilos III congratulated the winners, saying: “We congratulate this year’s prize winners, and we encourage all those others who have shared with us the work that you are doing around the world.   We bring to all of you the spiritual blessings of Jerusalem, the city that is holy and dear to us all.”

Bishop Munib A.Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land and president of the Lutheran World Federation, started his remarks with conveying greetings from the people of Jerusalem to His Majesty and their prayers for peace and justice, expressing their appreciation and gratitude for the Hashemite custodianship of the holy shrines and for everything the Monarch does for Jerusalem.

Younan said that thanks to the King’s efforts and consecutive initiatives, Jordan has become the centre of world interfaith harmony and the launching pad for spreading these values among peoples and countries.

He said: “In a time of globalised extremism, where the mass media are giving negative portrayals of religion and especially which is quite often informed by Islamophobia, we are pleased to find that there is a yeast fermenting in many societies, a yeast that is quietly transforming religious extremism into religious moderation.”

The bishop added that these dynamic forces would strengthen and empower those people who are promoting moderation, and courageously standing for the Common Word initiative, which came from Jordan, stressing that “true religion is a religion that not only loves God, but our neighbour as ourselves”.

Younan said the prize laureates “are the champions who will change our world for the better. These champions are essential to our social progress when we find ourselves in times of separation and prejudice against the other”.

He added the role of religious leaders to strengthen and empower every initiative that hopes to transform extremism to moderation and denial to acceptance of the other.

“Today, it is our role to pull down walls of separation, hatred, prejudice and fear. Now is the acceptable time for humanity to seek mutual acceptance. We as Christians in Jordan are committed for this peace work and education, because with your guidance, King Abdullah II, we have a role model par excellence…. We promise, Your Majesty, that Arab Christians will continue to be the voice of Arab Muslims that we know and are our good neighbours wherever we are. It is the call of God to everyone of us to be the voice of harmony.”

Jordan last year hosted a conference on the challenges facing Christian Arabs and ways to address them, with a view to preserve the role played by Arab Christians and protect their existence, especially in Jerusalem, and their contribution to Arab Islamic culture.

Speaking on behalf of the winners, Father Sebastiano D’Ambra said: “We are honoured to be here for this event not only to receive, but also to express our gratitude to Your Majesty and those who are helping you in the promotion of the World Interfaith Harmony Week.”

He added that the Silsilah Dialogue Movement he represented started with Muslims and Christians in the Philippines, following the outbreak of a conflict that had resulted in a lot of victims. The Silsilah Dialogue Movement, D’Ambra noted, was formed with the hope to build peace starting from a spiritual aspect of dialogue based on love.

He stressed that his movement welcomed the new initiative with great joy “because we believe in this approach and since the beginning we have emphasised a dialogue and peace approach based on love of God, love of neighbour”.

In 2012, the group engaged many people in the city of Zamboanga to celebrate this special week together.  “We encouraged the National Ulama Council of the Philippines to take the lead” and entrench the values of the interfaith week.

The interfaith activist added that the winners of the award are striving equally hard to promote peace in their respective countries, and it is a great encouragement to meet them, exchange ideas and experiences, and to participate in this global solidarity of love of God and love of the neighbour.

Member of the award jury Father Nabil Haddad told the Jordan News Agency, Petra, that in its second edition, the award is characterised by holding the name of King Abdullah, who took the initiative and presented it to the world. He noted that the idea of the award is to pick the most suitable activities that stand for the concept behind World Interfaith Harmony Week and help spread a culture of harmony among the followers of different faiths, based on the values of love of God and love of neighbour, and for non-monotheistic religions, love of good and love of neighbour.

He said the jury panel had received several nominations from the world, adding that focus is not only on interfaith, but also on humanisation of this dialogue and making sure it reaches youth and society.

World interfaith harmony, Father Haddad added, is an idea that sprang from Amman and was presented to the entire world. “Every day, we present from Amman a model for the entire world, reflecting the achievements our society witnesses based on the vision of the Hashemite leadership, based on love of God and love of neighbour. This is what we find in every Jordanian household and we are proud of it. We give that to the world and ask people to come and see what we have.”

The ceremony was attended by HRH Prince Ghazi, King’s chief adviser for religious and cultural affairs and personal envoy, Royal Court Chief Fayez Tarawneh, King’s Office Director Imad Fakhoury, Kingdom’s Grand Mufti Abdul Karim Khasawneh, senior officials and guests.

 

SOURCE

 

Interfaith harmony

Posted on February 18th, 2014

Read the rest of this entry »

College Of Saint Elizabeth Students Take Part In UN Program To Promote Peace, February 14, 2013

Posted on February 26th, 2013

Posted on February 25, 2013

College of Saint Elizabeth Students Take Part in UN Program to Promote Peace, February 14, 2013

Nine international students from the College of Saint Elizabeth stepped onto the world’s stage on February 14, 2013, when they participated in the program entitled United for a Culture of Peace Through Interfaith Harmony at the United Nations in New York. The event, which is part of the World Interfaith Harmony Week, brought together international leaders from the diplomatic and religious communities to focus on the integral role religion plays in facilitating world peace. Vuk Jeremić, president of the 67th United Nations General Assembly, opened the program by addressing the 1,500-member audience. The speakers who followed included ambassadors from Kazakhstan, Philippines, Iraq and from representatives of every major religion in the world.

“This was a wonderful opportunity for our students to see up front how a major governmental organization operates,” said Lenee Woodson, CSE director of international and multicultural affairs. “At CSE, we have a long history of inspiring our students to assume leadership positions, and there is no better place to witness leadership than at the United Nations. We are very fortunate to live so close to New York and to be able to take advantage of these opportunities.”

World Interfaith Harmony Week is based on the work of the “Common Word Initiative” that started in 2007. It called Christians and Muslims to engage in dialogue around the simple commandments of  ”Love of God, Love of Neighbor.” In 2010, His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan proposed that the UN observe a World Interfaith Harmony Week, centering around the same commitments with a slight change to include people of all faiths, beliefs, and those with no faiths or creeds, with the theme, “Love of the Good, Love of Neighbor.” The UN adopted the proposal on October 20, 2010, and declared the first World Interfaith Harmony Week, which took place in 2011. In countries throughout the world, events echoing this theme take place.

The CSE students took part in the World Peace Flag Ceremony, each carrying one of the flags of the 193 UN member states. It was an experience they won’t soon forget.

Says Annie Hu, ’13, a CSE theology major from Malaysia who was thrilled to carry her country’s flag in the procession, “I felt a lot of national pride being able to raise my flag in a foreign country.”

She continued, saying, “I wanted to come to this event because I wanted to learn what religions have to share in creating harmony and peace in this fractured world.”

Added Veronica Mupazviriwo, ’16, a CSE business administration major from Zimbabwe, “I have always wanted to come to the United Nations, so I was really excited when the opportunity came. I was really touched that everyone came together to proclaim peace. I felt I was a new citizen of the world.”

SOURCE

Bringing all faiths together Jewish, Christian, Muslim Center celebrates campus diversity Read more: Bringing all faiths together – North Andover, MA

Posted on February 25th, 2013

By Sally Applegate/northandover@wickedlocal.com

North Andover —

As church bells pealed the hour of 7 p.m. from the white steeple of Cascia Hall at Merrimack College on Feb. 6, people converged at the church from all directions across the campus for the 10th annual Interfaith Celebration presented for UN World Interfaith Harmony Week.

The Center for the Study of Jewish-Christian-Muslim Relations sponsored the uplifting ceremony. One by one, at the start of the service, students of all faiths walked to the center of a circle of representatives of these faiths and presented symbols of each of their traditions.

Joseph T. Kelley, Ph.D., D.Min., Director of the Center for the Study of Jewish-Christian-Muslim Relations, said the intent of the evening was the inclusion of many religions.

“The spirit of tonight was to offer abrahamic hospitality to the children of Abraham – Jews, Christians and Muslims, reaching out to all religions and inviting them into an interfaith prayer service as part of the college’s observance of UN Interfaith Harmony Week.,” he said.

The Center was founded at Merrimack College in 1995, originally as a center for the study of Jewish-Christian relations, but it soon expanded to include the Muslim faith, Kelley said.

Now, ten years since the celebration’s inception, believers from about a dozen faiths took part.

Rev. Raymond Dlugos, OSA, Merrimack College vice president for mission and student affairs, prayed that leaders be given the understanding to embrace diversity.

“We call you by different names. We approach you by different words,” he said. “Give us courage to treat one another and all of life with dignity and respect.”

Students representing the Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Baha’i, Buddhist, Confucian, Hindu, Jain, Native, Sikh, Taoist, Unitarian and Zoroastrian faiths took turns at a microphone reading their faiths’ individual version of the golden rule.

“What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. This is the whole Torah; all the rest is commentary. Go and learn it,” Nina Levison read from the Talmud.

“Not one of you truly believes until you wish for others what you wish for yourself,” Maria Haseeb read from a Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad.

“In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets,” Shun Kim read from the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew.

“We are as much alive as we keep the earth alive,” Will Griffin said, quoting the Native American Chief Dan George.

“I am a stranger to no one; and no one is a stranger to me. Indeed, I am a friend to all,” Marina Maylor read from Guru Granth Shaib of the Sikh tradition.

A large bowl of water at the center of the circle of students received the offering of a small bowl of water from representatives of each religion, symbolizing each religious tradition’s gift to humanity’s spiritual thirst.

Prayers of thanks for each religion represented at the gathering were said as each small bowl of water was added to the large one. Leader Becca Ryan led the audience in a group reading.

Rev. Dlugos led individual prayers from people in the assembly, as each petitioner lit a votive candle that had been placed in the bowl of water.

“Let the rain come and wash away the ancient grudges, the bitter hatreds held and nurtured over generations,” Dlugos said. “Let the rain wash away the memory of the hurt, the neglect.”

Music from the various religions was performed during the evening by Mackapella, the college’s student a capella choir.

 

SOURCE

Spain marks World Interfaith Harmony Week

Posted on February 24th, 2013

Saturday 23 February 2013 14:09
Spanish city of Tirasa hosts religious leaders from across the world in a bid to stress the themes of peace, friendship and coexistence among different religions.
Religious leaders from different countries get together to discuss the importance of mutual friendship and stress the culture of peace and friendship in Tirasa, Spain, Taqrib News Agency (TNA).

Joseph Splegos, former president of the Religions Committee in Tirasa said that the conference was held in the world Interfaith Harmony Week, recognized by the UN to be marked on 1-7 February.

He added,” In a bid to stress the high objectives of this conference, groups of Muslim, Christian and Jewish minorities are invited to this conference.

Mohammad Satati, representative of Muslim community in this conference noted mosques as divine houses that are open to the public and a heritage for all Spanish people.

World Interfaith Harmony Week was proclaimed by the General Assembly in a resolution adopted on 20 October 2010.

SOURCE

VIDEO: ICNY’s Dr. Sarah Sayeed speaks on the role of interfaith dialogue in the empowerment of women, at recent panel discussion

Posted on February 20th, 2013

sarah panellr

On Tuesday, Feb. 12, ICNY’s Dr. Sarah Sayeed (pictured, center)  took part in a panel discussion on the Occasion of World Interfaith Harmony Week entitled: “The Role of Interfaith Dialogue in Peace Building and Women Empowerment.”

The panel aimed to raise awareness on empowering women and discuss multiple perspectives, implications and misconceptions on girls’ education based on religions, traditions, and customs.  Speakers included Dr. Sayeed, ICNY Program and Communications Associate; Nobel Peace Prize recipient Tawwakul Karman; Dr. William F. Vendley, Secretary General of Religions for Peace; Joyce S. Dubensky, CEO of Tanenbaum; Dr. Alp Aslandogan, President of the Alliance for Shared Values; Rwandan genocide survivor Marie Claudine Mukamabano; and Beth Adamson, of the Working Group on Girls.

In the video below, Dr. Sayeed gives her prepared statement to the audience.

The panel was sponsored by Center for Global Affairs, Peace Islands Institute and partner organizations, including The Interfaith Center of NY is a partner organization.

A collection of photos of the day’s discussions is available here:https://www.dropbox.com/sh/yd0t3czvgk0y7dr/nM74p4Sd_W

Numerous videos of speakers at the event are available here: http://www.youtube.com/user/piivideos

SOURCE

Strengthening Interfaith Dialogues and Understanding in the Philippines

Posted on February 20th, 2013

MANILA —

In an Inquirer news article dated February 4, 2013, reporter Zoe Rodriguez stated that a bill recently passed in the Senate is seeking to foster “genuine understanding amongst people of different faiths and belief systems” by urging government agencies to hold interfaith activities during the first week of February every year.

Rodriguez went on to quote Senator Loren Legarda, author of the World Interfaith Harmony Week Bill that “this measure will greatly contribute to easing any conflict or tension caused by differing religious beliefs in the country. Gatherings and activities for World Interfaith Harmony Week have been held in various countries across the world with diverse backgrounds, including Pakistan, Indonesia, Italy, and Jordan.” More than 40 countries in the world are already celebrating the World Interfaith Harmony Week following a resolution by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly that was later adopted unanimously as a UN Observance Event.

Legarda noted that “even in our country, the National Ulama Conference of the Philippines (NUCP) staged a gathering in Zamboanga City in honor of inter-religious cooperation.” The bill also advocates dialogues among leaders of religious institutions. “The harmony we are pushing for is democratic, and built on effective communication and mutual respect,” Legarda concluded.

Following the UN Observance Event, several Interfaith Dialogues were held this week in which The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints participated. A forum at the University of the Philippines in Quezon City, “A Common Word Towards a Common Peace” under the leadership of Former Senator Santanina T. Rasul, involved presenters representing the Catholics, Sulong CARHRIHL, Muslims, Latter-day Saints (Mormons), Buddhists, the Noorus Salam, and Iglesia Ni Cristo.

download

1of2 Presenters at the Interfaith Dialogue in Quezon City (Mr. Douglas McAllister top row far left)© 2013 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Mr. Douglas E. McAllister, Area Legal Counsel for the Church in the Philippines, gave the following summary of his remarks: There were three parts to what I said after thanking the forum hosts for inviting us: (1) I gave a brief overview of the Church, explaining the significance of the Church’s name and its nickname (the central focus of the Church is on Christ, but also I explained the concepts of  ‘saints of the latter days’ and ‘Mormons’);

(2) I then presented an overview of our beliefs about religious liberty and interfaith dialogue and our beliefs in the two great commandments of loving God with all our souls and loving our neighbors as ourselves (referencing the verses in both Matthew and Mark);

(3) I retold my personal journey of how I came to attend this forum, which started with my first meeting Santanina Rasul and her daughter, Amina, at the 2010 Brigham Young University International Law and Religion Symposium.  Subsequently, I have built a friendship with them that has resulted in the Church participation in three Interfaith Dialogues (one in Zamboanga and two in Manila) and the placement of a Columbia University Law School legal intern at the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy (PCID), Lyndon Plothow, who did legal research helping to promote basic rights for Muslim women (the right to vote and the right to own property).

These Interfaith Dialogues will continue to be held with the hope of bringing interfaith harmony and peace as well as religious tolerance in the Philippines.

A respect for the diverse beliefs and unique contributions of all the world’s faiths is one of the hallmarks of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. From the earliest days of the Church, the principle of religious liberty and tolerance has always been upheld: “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may” (Articles of Faith 1:11).

In that same spirit, Church President Thomas S. Monson made a plea during general conference, a semiannual worldwide meeting, for more religious understanding: “I would encourage members of the Church wherever they may be to show kindness and respect for all people everywhere. The world in which we live is filled with diversity. We can and should demonstrate respect toward those whose beliefs differ from ours” (April 2008 General Conference address). Latter-day Saints accept all sincere believers as equals in the pursuit of faith and in the great work of serving humanity.

 SOURCE

Students seek to alter stereotypes about Islam in interfaith discussions

Posted on February 20th, 2013

by Muath Freij | Feb 19, 2013 | 22:09

 AMMAN — Students from over 10 schools across the country on Tuesday reflected on their experience in exchanging views with their counterparts from around the world to promote interfaith tolerance and change stereotypes of Islam.

Some 380 Muslim and Christian students from around Jordan met at the Islamic Scientific College at an event organised by the Tony Blair Faith Foundation as part of its “Face to Faith” global schools programme to mark World Interfaith Harmony Week.

“Face to Faith” seeks to build understanding between 12-17 year olds from across the world by inviting them to discuss their respective religions via international video-conferencing.

Ruwaida Jariri, an English teacher at the ISC whose students participated in video conferences with followers of different faiths from around the world, said the programme was especially important for challenging stereotypes about Islam.

“We wanted to change the foreign stereotype of Islam, because there is a misinterpretation that our religion is violent,” she told The Jordan Times on the sidelines of Tuesday’s event.

“It helped our students learn about what other students think about Islam, as well giving them the opportunity to learn about other religions,” she said.

This follows the programme’s ultimate aim, which is “to break down stereotypes and prejudice and avoid conflict and clashes between different religions rooted in fear and ignorance,” Carol Jadoun, Jordan’s “Face to Faith” coordinator, said.

Anas Al Chalabi, an ISC student, said the programme had succeeded in changing his outlook on other faiths.

“I am much more open minded thanks to the discussions I had with other students. When it comes to rights, I learned that there is no difference between Muslims and Christians,” the 17-year-old told The Jordan Times.

Chalabi added that he thinks the coexistence between Muslims and Christians in Jordan is much better than in other countries.

Hala Al Falih, another ISC student, noted that the programme taught her how to discuss religion in a diplomatic and culturally sensitive manner and she enjoyed giving a presentation on what she and her classmates had learnt from the initiative.

Also during Tuesday’s event, the students discussed what their faiths say about tolerance, peace and accepting people from different religions.

In addition, they examined ways to make Amman an international model for interfaith harmony.

Father Nabil Haddad, founder of the Jordanian Interfaith Coexistence Research Centre, and Sheikh Hamdi Mura, a member of the Jordanian Interfaith Coexistence Research Centre attended the event.

Face to Faith is currently active in 19 countries across the world: Australia, Canada, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Kosovo, Lebanon, Mexico, Pakistan, the Palestinian territories, Philippines, Singapore, Ukraine, the UAE, the UK and the US.

 

SOURCE

Interfaith Harmony Month Celebrated in Columbia

Posted on February 19th, 2013

A celebration of our state’s different faiths happened at the Convention Center in Columbia Sunday.

SOURCE

Interfaith Harmony Week 2013 Celebrated in Metro Manila

Posted on February 18th, 2013

Manila, Philippines – His Eminence Antonio Cardinal G. Tagle led the celebration of the World Interfaith Harmony Week held last February 1-7, 2013 with the theme “Celebrating Interfaith Harmony for Love and Service to God and One Another.” The breakfast dialogue meeting included multi-religious leaders, members of the diplomatic community, key government officials, peace advocates, and children organized by the Uni-Harmony Partners Manila convened by Religions for Peace Philippines.

The Interfaith Harmony Week celebration, according to Cardinal Tagle, seeks to promote mutual understanding and advance common action. He said that “friendship and sincere relationships are prerequisites to achieving these aims.”

“It is in this landscape that children will appreciate the beauty of our various faiths and grow in harmony with one another,” he added.

The week-long celebration included activities held in various places that will spread the message of interfaith harmony, dialogue and cooperation listed below:

Interfaith Women’s Festival – a gathering of women from various interfaith groups who celebrated and shared about “the gift of womanhood” based on their faith and how friendship among them can help bring unity and harmony through what is common, uplifting, and up-building.

Isang Bayan, Isang Bayanihan: An Interfaith-Led Nation Building Summit for Filipino Youth – a festive gathering of youth featuring stories of harmonious interaction of people from various religious traditions.

Fora on “Shared Values as a Foundation of Muslim-Christian Harmony,” “Harmony with Creation: An Interfaith Perspective” and “Discovery of Love of Neighbor and the Golden Rule” – held separately for audiences in different venues to raise public awareness on the challenges and aspirations of the World Interfaith Harmony Week.

The religious and the civic leaders together with the people, gathered at the Plaza Miranda, Quiapo, Manila as a culmination of the activities. It was an afternoon festival replete with music, inspirational speeches and interfaith prayers which marked the closing of the harmony week. It was during this occasion that the Harmony Message was presented to the public calling for all religious communities, interfaith organizations, peace advocates and the government to spread the message of harmony, dialogue and cooperation.

The Uni-Harmony Partners Manila is a collaborative activity of the following organizations: Aksyon para sa Kapayapaan at Katarungan-Center for Active Non-Violence, CBCP-Episcopal Commission on Interfaith Dialogue, Catholic Media Network, Department of Foreign Affairs, Dominican Justice, Peace and Care for Creation Commission, Peacemakers’ Circle Foundation, EDSA People Power Commission, Focolare Movement, Miriam College Center for Peace Education, Presidential Communications Operations Office, Parish of St. John the Baptist (Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene), Religions for Peace Philippines, Silsilah Dialogue Movement, Teodora, Quiapo Golden Mosque, Fo Guang Shan Mabuhay Temple, Imam Council of the Philippines, University of the Philippines Institute of Islamic Studies, and University of Santo Tomas Center for Peace Studies and Interfaith Dialogue.
Press Conference of Leaders/Representatives from Interfaith Groups

 

SOURCE

UN Brings Faiths Together to Unite for Peace

Posted on February 18th, 2013

Music, song and prayer illuminated the historic hall of the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday, as crowds of people filled the GA to celebrate opening ceremonies for World Interfaith Harmony Week.

SOURCE

Bali’s Speech Proves Highlight of U.N. Interfaith Event

Posted on February 18th, 2013

February 15, 2013, 1:39 PM

Bali’s Speech Proves Highlight of U.N. Interfaith Event

 

Dear Friends,

Greetings of love and peace from New York City, where I sit in my hotel room looking out on the United Nations, the East River and a firmament of lights as the city settles deeper and deeper into the night.

I journeyed here for a major event in the UN’s General Assembly Hall – United For A Culture of Peace Through Interfaith Harmony, composed of three parts: The Role of Interfaith Harmony in the Peaceful Settlement of Disputes; Symphony of Peace Prayers and the World Peace Flag Ceremony.

The event was presented by His Excellency Mr. Vuk Jermic, President of the 67th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, UNESCO, and the Committee of Religious NGOs at the UN. The event was co-sponsored or formally supported by the missions of ten different nations, and by the World Peace Prayer Society and the Goi Peace Foundation.

I attended at the request of dear friends colleagues Monica Willard, who is URI’s lead UN Representative and the President of the Committee of Religious NGOs, and Deborah Moldow, founding leader of URI and the UN Representative of the World Peace Prayer Society. Monica and Deborah were the lead organizers of this inspiring event.

I was also urged to attend by dear friends Masami and Hiroo Saionji, Chair and President respectively of the World Peace Prayer Society. And I came to support URI’s esteemed Global Council Chair, Kiran Bali, who was one of seven speakers in the first part of the day.

Before the formal opening of the day, I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Jermic, who is from Serbia, with the Saionjis. He spoke movingly about coming from an interfaith family – Muslim, Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christian — and explained how honored he felt to be hosting this event. I give many speeches, he said, but this one I wrote myself and it comes from my heart.

His remarks, which stressed the important role of interfaith dialogue in building a more peaceful and just world, set the tone for a heartful day. Here are some highlights.

Philippe Kridelka, of UNESCO, asserted that a strong web of relationships among faith traditions was an indispensable foundation for peace. Her Excellency Ambassador Byrganym Aitimova of Kazakhstan acknowledged the importance of high-level religious leaders but stressed that peace is created and kindled at the grassroots level. The Rev. Father Mark Arey of the Greek Orthodox Church noted that any serious discussion of dispute resolution must involve religions. His Excellency Ambassador Libran Cabactulan of the Philippines spoke of the hopes for an end to forty years of conflict in Mindanao, and stressed that critical to this effort was uniting the strengths of the Philippines’ diverse peoples.

Following these remarks, Kiran spoke, in what many declared afterwards to be the most compelling speech of the day. Acknowledging the challenge of religious extremism, she paid tribute to Irfan Ali, and then stressed that diversity does not have to divide us but that we can nurture the flame of unity. She used several examples from URI’s work, including a section of her speech that focused on the importance of the protection, participation and promotion of women. At the end of the program, Kiran was surrounded for quite a while by people who wanted to speak with her.

Kiran was followed by His Excellency Ambassador Hamid Al-Bayati. Though he represents Iraq, Mr. Al-Bayati was mistakenly introduced as representing Iran, which brought first a gasp from the audience, and then laughter as the mistake was corrected and the Ambassador used it as a source of humor. He spoke about his interfaith background – a Muslim who began attending a Christian school and church at age four and whose father spoke positively to him about the Jewish men he did business with. Mr. Al-Bayati said he has gone on to read the holy books of many traditions and believes we are all one family.

The final speaker was Dr. Patrick Ho from China. Speaking from a Confucianist perspective, he said that the pinnacle of this life is to be one with heaven, which means having an attitude of benevolence for all others. By the way, it’s worth noting that many of the speakers referred to the importance and centrality of the Golden Rule. I could see our esteemed colleague Mussie Hailu smiling each time that was said.

Following this section of the program, Masami Saionji spoke of the vision and importance of the Symphony of Peace Prayers, and of the historic nature of having this event in the General Assembly Hall. Prayer helps awaken the spark of divinity within each human being, she stressed. Following her introduction, prayers were offered from the following traditions by women and men, younger and older, from many different countries – Indigenous, Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Humanist, Jain, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh and Zoroastrian. The prayers were brief. Each one was moving. Together they offered a powerful experience of the luminous, numinous best of interfaith respect and sharing.

The final major section of the day saw the flags of 193 UN Member States and two Observer Missions carried into the General Assembly Hall and up onto the dais as all present prayed that the people of each country live in peace. I have experienced this ceremony many times over the years and have always been deeply moved by the power of people praying that everyone on Earth live in peace. There was something particularly moving about today’s ceremony, in part because it was in the General Assembly Hall – the scene of so much political debate and division seeking a common path forward; and in part because so many of the flags were carried by a people from that country, people beaming with joy and pride as they waved their flag and heard the hall resound with a prayer that all the people of their country live in peace.

These three sections of the day were woven together with beautiful music – a choir from the Sri Chinmoy community; an extraordinary Korean soprano; the Junior Four Chorus of the United Nations International School (These children from all over the world stole the show!); and the Unity Made Visible Interfaith Choir (a URI CC that brought the house down with “This Little Light of Mine” and “Let There Be Peace On Earth”).

After Monica’s closing remarks, I sat in my chair for a while soaking in the overflowing joy as people embraced, talked and laughed at the wonder at having spent three timeless hours together living not in the world we experience in the news every day, but in the world as we imagine it. The world we work so hard to create. For these hours, at least, this world was real and URI leaders played a central role in creating it.

Wherever you are in the world, I pray you too have the opportunity, for at least a few hours, to live in the world we imagine, pray and work for.

May peace prevail on Earth.

Blessings,

Charles

The Rev Canon Charles P. Gibbs

Executive Director, United Religions Initiative

 

SOURCE

Seminar on “Peace through Interfaith Harmony” to Celebrate the World Interfaith Harmony Week 2013

Posted on February 18th, 2013

February 15, 2013, 4:57 AM

As the UN General Assembly unanimously passed a resoulation to observe the World Interfaith Harmony Week annually during the first week of February. During the 1st week of February 2013 the world celebrated 3rd world interfaith harmony week throughout the world. With the strong motivation of Ms. Monica Willard URI Representative at UN and The Religious Committee of NGOs at UN, Pakistan Council for Social Welfare & Human Rights (PCSW&HR) also actively participated to celebrate the world interfaith harmony week. To celebrate this week PCSW&HR organized various awareness activities in which seminar at Sialkot on the topic “Peace through Interfaith Harmony & Dialogue” on 6thFebruary 2013 was main activity. In the seminar hundreds of believer (both male & female) of different faiths in which Muslims, Christians, Hindus etc participated.  

The main focus of seminar was to campaigning for the importance of harmonious life among believers of different faiths and seeks their commitment to promote and ensure the interfaith cooperation, understanding and dialogue at this crucial time when a wave of terrorism in Pakistan. Member Provincial Assembly & Chairman Standing Committee for Health Govt. of Punjab Mr. Tahir Mehmood Hundli Advocate was chief guest at Seminar, whereas Mr. Muhammad Ijaz Noori Chairman Pakistan Council for Social Welfare & Human Rights presided over the seminar. Hundreds of men and women belonging from different faiths participated in the seminar. In his welcoming address Mr. Mansoor Ahmed Executive Director PCSW&HR welcomed the all participants of seminar and highlighted the perspective of celebration of world interfaith harmony week throughout the world in detail. 

He said that in his point of view in the present scenario terrorism is burning issue of the world and we can only tackle terrorism with the promoting of inter-faith harmony, mutual understanding, religious tolerance and inter religious dialogue.  He further said that goal of the interfaith week is to recognize the crucial need for dialogue among different faiths and religions in enhancing mutual understanding harmony and cooperation among people. We should learn to live together in mutual trust and peace. While addressing during the seminar Mr. Noori said that he has been emphasizing at all forums we should promote the educational programmes on interfaith harmony & peace in schools, colleges, universities and among the general public as well as among the religious leaders. He said that programmes to enhance conflict resolution skills should be introduced in order to effectively resolve regional and national conflicts.  He added that it is good opportunity for us when we are observing the world interfaith harmony week with international community to aware the general public regarding the importance of inter religious & intercultural harmony and dialogues. Islam and all other religions give the message of peace, mutual respect, understanding, protection of fundamental human rights and as part of a globalization of culture, these truths of all religions should be highlighted and put into a wider and more existing social context. He further added that Islam and Christianity share several teachings which are enough for a harmonious co-existence and Peace can only 

prevail where people from different communities and cultures live together without harming each other. He also said that the recent wave of terrorism in Pakistan is part of well-planned conspiracy to destabilize Pakistan and in the present scenario promotion of interfaith harmony is the only tool that could end sectarian and ethnic strife in the country. Mr. Noori also said that All religions teach peace, brotherhood, protection of others’ rights and promote tolerance. There should be dialogue, understanding, cooperation, harmony to remove misunderstanding among different faiths.

He also briefed the participants about the PCSW&HR’s initiatives as cooperation circle of United Religion Initiative for the promotion of interfaith & intercultural harmony, conflict resolution mutual respect, peace and justice etc at grass root level.

While addressing during the seminar Chief Guest Mr. Tahir Mehmood Hundli Advocate Member Provincial Assembly and Chairman standing committee health Govt. of Punjab appreciated the efforts of PCSW&HR to celebrate the world interfaith harmony week since 2011 and organizing a wonderful seminar to aware the people regarding the importance of interfaith & intercultural harmony. He further said that it is also moral obligation of religious & political leaders and government officials to play their role to end prejudice and stop religious violence in their individual and collective capacity. Religious and intercultural harmony and dialogues is need of hour, no doubt dialogue can bring us mutual improvement and help us overcome prejudices passed on to us by previous generations.

He lauded the efforts and commitment of Pakistan Council for Social Welfare & Human Rights to produce a culture of harmony among peoples of various religious faiths, civilizations and cultural backgrounds as well as promotion of intercultural and inter-civilisational understanding and mutual respect for diversity in Pakistan. On behalf of Government she assured his full support and cooperation to Pakistan Council for Social Welfare & Human Rights to initiate the steps for inter-religious & intercultural harmony, dialogues, understanding etc. He said that Christian are living in a huge numbers and through the platform of Pakistan Council for Social Welfare & Human Rights we are jointly trying for the promotion of interfaith & intercultural harmony and protection of minorities rights since long time and due to sincere efforts of PCSW&HR there is no concept of majority or minorities in Sialkot area, religious & cultural relations between Muslims & Christian are growing deeper and deeper which is unique example of interfaith & intercultural harmony. We will also try our best to create such kind of religious & intercultural harmony in the other parts of Pakistan where Christian and others minorities are living.  Speakers from all religions also urged for inter-religious harmony & dialogues. All participants of seminar also pledged that they will play their role in their individual as well as collective capacity to create a inter- religious and intercultural harmony and peace and will support the PCSWHR’s efforts for peace. 

SOURCE

World Interfaith Harmony Week Celebrated in Pakistan

Posted on February 18th, 2013

February 07, 2013, 8:03 AM

World Interfaith Harmony Week Celebrated in Pakistan

 

BETHAK-Pakistan celebrated the World Interfaith Cultural Evening in Khanewal, Pakistan :          BETHAK-Pakistan celebrated the World Interfaith Cultural Evening in Khanewal in collaboration with AAP-Multan to promote communication and sharing of life, experience vision and reflections of believers’ searching together for a peaceful living. Keeping the existing situation of terrorism in Pakistan, Interfaith Dialogue has become a challenging apostolate. BETHAK-Pakistan has given a serious concern and consideration to meet this challenge. A large number of people from Christian, Muslim, Sikh, and Hindu communities participated in this cultural Festival. Program started with the recitation of Holy books of different religions. Representatives from all faiths were summoned on the stage and peace candles were lighted with prayer for peace and harmony in the society. Mr. Shahzad Francis of BETHAK explained the objectives of Interfaith Cultural Festival and different forms of Interfaith Dialogue taking place in Pakistan among people of different faiths. He further explained that interfaith dialogue is a meeting of heart and mind among followers of different religions. It is a walking together towards the truth and working together in harmony for a common cause of peaceful living as brothers and sisters of the same culture and same soil.

After this local singers and artists high lighted the cultural aspects of our daily living. Ustad Hafeez Naqash, Yaqoob Sahotra, Babar Lahori, Qayyum Khan, Faisal Lucky, and Shani, entertained the audience with peace songs, Gazals and folk songs. Local high school and college students also took part in the peace cultural dance.

In between the cultural songs, Mr. Shams ul Qamar Khan, Samuel Barkat, Francis Jacob, Amir Hussaini, Sarfraz Clement, and Mahinder Paul Singh spoke on different aspects of promotion of peace and harmony through interfaith dialogue, importance of diversity in religions, different cultures and ethnic groups and acceptance of each individual as a unique person.

In the end peace and harmony awards were distributed to the peace promoters for their dedicated services foe promotion of peace and harmony through interfaith dialogue in south Punjab.

Shahzad Francis

Coordinator – BETHAK –CC

Pakistan

Contact: bethakngo@yahoo.com

SOURCE

UNGA President calls on international community to foster interfaith harmony

Posted on February 18th, 2013

UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 14 (Xinhua) — The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) President Vuk Jeremic on Thursday honored World Interfaith Harmony Week by calling on the international community “to foster harmony amongst religions, as a foundation for establishing a global culture of peace.”

“Our world is still characterized by too much confrontation, intolerance, and recurring warfare,” Jeremic said as he addressed a special event, titled “United for a Culture of Peace through Interfaith Harmony” to mark the Week.

He noted that people of faith should genuinely focus on the core ethical tenets they hold in common, fostering interfaith harmony so as to establish a global culture of peace.

“Let us reach out to one another, on equal footing, and truly work on healing the wounds of centuries of conflict between peoples of different religions,” he added.

“The United Nations can greatly benefit from further engaging with religious leaders from around the world who advocate the path of peace,” the GA president said as he acknowledged the UN agencies that have embraced this idea.

He specifically highlighted United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the UN General Assembly as significant factors in “recognizing the importance of strengthening partnerships with faith-based groups” and “taking small step towards overcoming strife and hatred in the name of religion.”

These UN agencies and others are “advancing efforts for this august body to truly become an Assembly of Peace” by reaching out to one another and participating in the creation of “equal footing ” so true “work on healing the wounds of centuries of conflict between peoples of different religions” can begin, he said.

On October 2010 the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 65/5 which created the first week in February as the annual World Interfaith Harmony week.

This resolution “encourages all States to support, on a voluntary basis, the spread of the message of interfaith harmony and goodwill,” he said.

Moreover, the week of the 1st-7th of the month is “based on love of God and love of one’s neighbor [..], each according to their own religious traditions or convictions,” he said.

According to the interfaith Harmony Week website, this week was established by the pioneering work of “The Common Word initiative” established in 2007.

The six-year old agreement called for Muslim and Christian leaders to “engage in dialogue based on two common fundamental religious commandments,” the website said.

SOURCE

DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL: STATEMENTS

Posted on February 18th, 2013

New York, 14 February 2013 – Deputy Secretary-General’s remarks at event to mark World Interfaith Harmony Week : “The Role of Interfaith Harmony in the Peaceful Settlement of Disputes”

I am grateful for the opportunity to celebrate World Interfaith Harmony Week with you.  I thank the President of the General Assembly for bringing us all together.  I bring you greetings and best wishes from the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, now on travel outside New York.

At a time when too many communities and too many countries are being split apart by strife between religious groups, this initiative is an important chance to reach across divides.  We want to reclaim faith as an instrument of peace.  As the PGA eloquently just stated.  This is also a key goal of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, preparing for another important event next month.

All of the world’s great religions share the values of peace, human dignity and respect for others.  The United Nations is proud to uphold and represent these values.  We actively defend religious freedom and work to protect minorities.  We welcome opportunities to join forces with people of faith who are working for peace, development human rights and the rule of law.

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, who as we know just announced his decision to resign, visited the United Nations in 2008.  At the time, he called on the United Nations to encourage and support interfaith dialogue.  We were proud and pleased to respond to this call.  I join the Secretary-General in the hope that the Pope’s legacy will serve to build deeper dialogue and wider tolerance around the world.

Religious groups have traditionally been at the forefront of grass-roots efforts to help the poor, heal the sick and support the young.  We cannot let small numbers of extremists of any faith obscure the good work of the vast majority of believers in our world.

At the same time, we have to acknowledge that conflicts between, and even within, religious groups have caused and are causing lasting damage and widespread suffering.

There is reason to be especially concerned about young people who fall prey to extremists promising rewards or salvation – now or in another life.  Our youth need and deserve faith that offers them a path to help others.  They do not need destructive ideologies that conscript them in campaigns of hate and violence.

Young people naturally have much energy and idealism.  We should find ways to help them use these positive qualities to improve conditions of life.

In history, religion has at times been a source of conflict.  Today, many of the hot spots on the agenda of the United Nations are marked by religious disputes.  Sectarian divisions are causing terrible human suffering, not least in Syria right now.

During my earlier years of work in Sudan,  I experienced first-hand the tensions between the Muslims in the North and the Christians in the South.  But I also saw the potential of interfaith dialogue to reach out to communities and foster understanding.

This strengthened my conviction that religion can help resolve, as much as deepen, conflicts.

Sensitivity to the beliefs of all sides to a conflict is a basic requirement for any mediator.

I remember a situation when I served with Olof Palme, former Swedish Prime Minister and the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Iran and Iraq.  We carried out intensive shuttle diplomacy between Baghdad and Tehran in the early 80’s for many months.

One issue discussed with the parties was the withdrawal of military forces to the internationally recognized boundary.  Olof Palme asked a Muslim member of the UN delegation for help in finding a Sura in the Quran that would support this point.  Our colleague shared a Sura with us which said: if the enemy turns his back on you, you are not allowed to attack him.

This immediately resonated with our Muslim interlocutors.  They were genuinely moved that we had demonstrated respect for their religion.  Interfaith understanding turned out to be a key to progress in the negotiations.

All of you understand the serious and urgent challenges we face in today’s world.

The grinding poverty that afflicts a billion people.  The natural disasters that drain peoples’ energy and endanger their health.  The environmental disasters which destroy lives and communities.  Climate change that poses an existential threat to our planet.  Widespread violence against women and children.

All of these problems are interconnected – and they affect all of us.  That means all of us have to be a part of the solution.  No matter where we are, no matter what we work or struggle with, and no matter what religion we practice, we are bound together by human bonds and by interdependence in a globalized world.

In closing let me say.

We often, and rightly, use words like respect, tolerance and understanding during World Interfaith Harmony Week.  But for this celebration and commemoration to really succeed, we have to use these words all year long, not only during this one week.  We have to work every day to translate these words to practical action for peace, development and the right to life in dignity for all.

I count on all of you to be part of this effort.  With dialogue, we can combat hate.  With interfaith harmony, we can build bridges to a better future.

Thank you.

SOURCE

Fremont mosque hosts interfaith event

Posted on February 18th, 2013

Saturday, February 16, 2013
FREMONT, Calif. (KGO) – The East Bay Muslim community held an open house in Fremont Saturday to reach out to people of different faiths.

 The open house was hosted by the Islamic Society of East Bay to commemorate “World Interfaith Harmony Week.” The event promotes harmony between all people regardless of faith.

One mosque member admits there are still lots of questions about what Muslims believe.

 

Related Content

“We, we think that this is very, very important, especially after the unfortunate event of 9/11,” said Ahsan Baig, chair of the mosque’s outreach committee. “And I think Muslims have not done a lot of outreach to explain what Muslims are all about, what our faith is all about.” World Interfaith Harmony Week began through a proclamation issued by the United Nations General Assembly in 2010.

SOURCE

Spirit Matters by Shirley Barr – Common Ground –

Posted on February 18th, 2013

February 16, 2013.

CFN- A couple of Sundays ago (February 3), a magical meeting took place in Cornwall, organized by the Cornwall Interfaith Partnership (CIP). The meeting was a celebration of World Interfaith Harmony week with the theme of Common Word- Common Ground- Common Good. The CIP arranged an evening meal shared with diverse people of different religions, ages and interests. The central idea of the meeting which drew around 85 people like a magnet: finding some common ground in order to  increase compassion in the community.

The original idea came from a talk on the TED (Technology, Education and Design) channel where religious scholar and writer Karen Armstrong presented her idea of how to help make the world better. She outlined the Charter for Compassion which she describes in the following video:

http://www.ted.com/talks/karen_armstrong_makes_her_ted_prize_wish_the_charter_for_compassion.html

We watched the video and then organized into small groups to discuss the ideas that stood out for us during the talk. The fact that so many people would take the time to come together and share their passion for the betterment of their community was impressive. This is the heart of community development. At one point it was mentioned that our religious leaders should be the ones who take the role of championing compassion as a way forward out of the tensions between us. This was countered by the group realizing that, in fact, we are the leaders because we were the ones who had showed up with our hearts filled with the desire to make a change, to cause a shift in how we all work together! It was a joy-filled moment where we looked at each other with new eyes and immediately started to make plans to get together regularly to bring our own Charter for Compassion to reality in our region. You can see the pictures of the event at the following LINK

I am excited about this meeting because it was a coming together of a profound desire to manifest unity in the form of compassion. I was explaining the concept of compassion to a 15-year-old Inuk friend and describing how it is a quality that encompasses justice, equity, kindness and love; compassion brings them all together in  a unique configuration of spiritual muscular strength. My friend’s face became illumined as she realized that she had this capacity within herself; she could tap into this and gain a new sense of identity. We talked about the idea of compassion starting with ourselves – the concept of self-compassion as a starting point. My beautiful friend said these words:

“ We are taught to have self-esteem but I feel that is materialistic as compared to self-compassion which is spiritual. It’s a whole different experience”.

Shirley lives and works in Cornwall Ontario and is a member of the Baha’i Community.

SOURCE

Interfaith communities celebrate Harmony Week

Posted on February 18th, 2013

MANILA, Feb. 17, 2013—Various religious communities, interfaith organizations and peace advocates came together in spirit of unity and solidarity to culminate the celebration of World Interfaith Harmony Week at Plaza Miranda in Quiapo last February 7.

Quiapo Church rector Msgr. Jose Clemente Ignacio, in a message stressed that there is a need to engage everyone in a deeper understanding on the true nature of peace.

Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim releases a dove, symbol of peace, during a program culminating the week-long observance of Interfaith Harmony Week at Plaza Miranda in Quiapo, February 7.

Fr. Sebastiano D’Ambra, PIME, an Italian Missionary for Peace in Mindanao and founder of Silsilah Dialogue Movement in Zamboanga City, for his part, said it is important to look on the positive aspects that can help bring peace.

“It is time to discover positive points among Christians and Muslims, and together of living faiths move towards other religions and culture as partners in building a new world, a new humanity. This means, we people of the book are living in harmony with one another and being reminded that God is working in us and in the society in many ways,” D’Ambra added.

The week-long celebration kicked off last February 1 with a press conference of leaders and representatives from Interfaith Groups.

Various activities were organized in solidarity with the global celebration, to foster friendship and advance common action between and among the interfaith communities, and to promote awareness on the challenges and aspirations of the World Interfaith Harmony Week.

Organizers noted the significance of the interfaith harmony week celebration as it brought to the public’s attention the importance and the need for harmony between and among various faith groups.

It was also relevant that the venue of the celebration is in Manila, where the majority of the population belongs to two major religions which are Christianity and Islam.

The culminating program opened with a video presentation on harmony and peace, bringing awareness to people that harmony existed since 2010.

Members of the Quiapo Parish Youth Ministry performed an interpretative dance of harmony, while the Buddhist youth performed an intermission number based on the theme of the Interfaith Harmony Week.

Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim gave the message of commitment for peace emphasizing the need of love for all and the commitment to work for the interfaith week in the city yearly.

Guests and representatives from various religious groups also gave short messages followed by the signing of covenant and the releasing of white dove as a symbol of unity, harmony and peace.

Sr. Marion Chipeco, RGS read a solidarity message from all religious leaders, while the secretary-general of Religions of Peace- Philippines gave her closing remarks.

The annual event, held every first week of February, was organized by UNI Harmony Partners Manila.

Committed to celebrate annually the interfaith week to promote mutual understanding and interreligious dialogue to achieve a culture of peace, the group also called on all religious communities, interfaith organizations, peace advocates and the government to spread the message of harmony, dialogue and cooperation.

Organizers partnered with religious communities and interfaith organizations such as Aksyon para sa Kapayapaan at Katarungan-Center for Active Non-Violence, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines-Episcopal Commission on Interreligious Dialogue, Catholic Media Network, Dominican Justice, Peace and Care for Creation Commission, EDSA People Power Commission, Focolare Movement, and Miriam College Center for Peace Education.

Other partners also include the Peacemakers’ Circle Foundation, Presidential Communications Operations Office, Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene (Quiapo Church), Quiapo Church-Ministry for Interreligious Dialogue, Religions for Peace Philippines, Silsilah Dialogue Movement, Teodora, University of the Philippines-Institute of Islamic Studies, and the University of Santo Tomas-Center for Peace Studies and Interfaith Dialogue. (Jandel Posion with reports from Aldamir Abdulkahal)

SOURCE

Rev. Dirk Ficca Speaks at McCormick Worship

Posted on February 14th, 2013

For McCormick’s worship service during Interfaith Harmony Week, the Rev. Ficca was our preacher. The title of his sermon was “Who Will Go First?”.

McCormick Theological Seminary
Worship – Interfaith Harmony Week
Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Who Will Go First?

Scripture: Psalm 3
Gospel: Matthew 5:21-26, 38-42

As we gather together in observance of Interfaith Harmony Week, even a quick survey of the field is probably enough to be appropriately overwhelmed.

Just consider the major league versions: Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian, Confucian, Hindu, Jain, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Shinto, Taoist, and Zoroastrian.

Not to mention all of the variations within each: Sunni, Shia and Sufi within Islam; Theravadan and Mahajanan, Vajrayanan and Zen within Buddhism; Labavich, Hasidic, Orthodox, Traditional, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist and Humanistic within Judaism; and so on, and so on….

And then – remembering that every tradition has to start somewhere, at some point in time – there are all those smaller franchises, the ancient and the neo-ancient, the modern and the post-modern, the off-shoots and start-ups:  Wicca, Mormon, New Thought, Unity, Unitarian Universalist, Scientologist, Brahma Kumaris, Christ Scientist, Subud, and so on, and so on…

Of course, the longest standing traditions originated long before all of those mentioned so far, the traditions of indigenous peoples, rooted in the land, bonded in tribe and clan, with a reverence for their ancestors past and a respect for their elders present. Even after the scourge of conquest and colonialism, current estimates have 350 million indigenous people residing in 72 countries, and practicing over 5,000 distinct traditions.

Now we should also probably include all of those secular and humanistic ideologies that one might argue function like religions, only without all the religious stuff? The devotion to the human potential movement and self-help philosophies; the deification of libertarianism and equalitarianism; the cults of consumerism and civil religion; the worship of the market, of science, of technological advancement, of the nation state.

So that’s the world out there. What about locating oneself in the midst of all of that?

Even sticking for a moment with the explicitly religious and spiritual, what does it mean to be an adherent of one particular tradition? Say, a Christian? Is simply “Christian” enough of a designation?

How about all those variations within the Christian tradition: Anglican, Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Evangelical, Non-Denominational? And the variations within any one of those variations? Say, of Protestantism?

Are the distinctions between Baptist, Congregationalist, Quaker, Reformed, Lutheran, Mennonite, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Pentecostal actually definitive when it comes to matters of salvation? Or is being a particular Protestant simply a matter of upbringing, or ecclesiastical preference, or the availability of parking on Sunday morning? What does it mean to be a Presbyterian these days?

If you find yourself aware of this spectacular spectrum of humanity, how do you get your head around the seemingly endless diversity?

Should you take this diversity into account in choosing your own path?

If you were to you work in the midst of, and on behalf of, such a diversity of communities and traditions, how would you go about it, given the often significant, sometimes-drastic differences of belief and practice, values and aspirations?

How can any society respect all the differences and yet function in a cohesive way? How can a society make the tough decisions when not everyone’s conviction or preference can be honored or accommodated?

How much of this is an either-or proposition? Can it be a both-and proposition?

One place to start is to emphasize the commonalities. In first encounters with those of other traditions, people are often surprised to find that their view of another religion was incomplete or stereotypic, and find beliefs, values, hopes and dreams they hold in common. So a promising way forward is to find, and highlight, and work with those commonalities. Though, as effective as this can be, this approach still begs the question about what to do with the differences.

Another approach is to move beyond commonalities and to simply declare our unity. You hear these catchphrases in the interreligious movement: “We are finally all simply human beings.” “Religions teach essentially the same thing.” “If only we would all follow the golden rule, that would be enough.” And the number one, top of the charts: “I’m spiritual, not religious.” It is as if there are in fact no real differences. I suspect it’s because the differences are so overwhelming for some, that its easier to operate as if they don’t exist.

Proponents of these approaches are at least attempting to acknowledge, to understand, to work with, to live in harmony with, those who are different.

Many are not so willing, proclaiming that their way is the only way. If this is the case, there is no reason to examine or revise the incomplete and stereotypic views one may have of those who are different. It doesn’t matter who they are. Given the differences, dialogue is not only not possible, no dialogue is necessary, because no relationship is possible. That is, of course, unless you agree to become like me.

I find this “my way or the highway” approach is not the exclusive feature of one particular, or a few select, religions. I find it is a mindset brought to any and all traditions. You get a sense of this when, in the midst of dueling truth claims, certain adherents will play their trump card.

  • Ours is the first true prophet.
  • Ours is the last true prophet.
  • We are the chosen people of God.
  • We follow God incarnate.
  • You can date when your scriptures were written and by whom. We don’t know when our sacred texts were written or by whom. Therefore, your sacred texts are merely a human creation, ours are eternal.
  • We don’t even have scriptures. We experience the divine directly.

 

When I began working as a Protestant Presbyterian Christian in the interreligious movement, I had a bit of a crisis of faith. Is Christianity the one and only true religion? Or if I grant that other religions may have a piece of the truth, does Christianity have a corner on the full truth? Or is Christianity merely one religion among others, with nothing unique or definitive to add?

And what does it mean to work in the midst of, and on behalf of, other communities? Do I identify myself as a Christian? Or do I become a religiously neutral person in my professional life, while practicing my tradition in my private life?

After twenty years in the interreligious field, here’s what I know, and what I don’t know. And perhaps more importantly, here’s I use what I know to deal with what I don’t know.

I am convinced that, as human beings, we are as different as we are the same. Really different. From our respective ethnic, cultural, linguistic, religious and spiritual perspectives, in absolutely crucial and often irreconcilable ways, we are different. In fact, I have come to believe our differences rival our commonalities.

So our relations with each other – person to person, community to community, as a society, as a global community – cannot simply depend on our commonalities, but more critically, on how we navigate our differences. And we’re not finally going to work out these differences in terms of religious or spiritual belief and practice. Hell, we can’t even do this as Presbyterians. No, if we’re ever going to work things out relationally, it’s going to be in terms of how we decide to treat each other, regardless of our differences.

I’ve also learned not to be afraid of difference. In ways that seem at first counter-intuitive, I have found the more I engage in encounter and dialogue with those who are different from me, my own sense of identity is not threatened, but strengthened. I am now more self-consciously and intentionally a Presbyterian Christian than I was when I embarked on the interreligious journey. My horizons have been expanded, as my sense of identity has deepened. I have been changed by these “close encounters of the interreligious kind,” in often radically altering ways, but it is still a loving God that I serve, Jesus of Nazareth who I follow, and the Spirit present in both that guides me.

What does it mean to be a Presbyterian? I have come to understand myself as a Presbyterian Christian in terms of the charge the apostle Paul gave to the Philippians: “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for God’s good pleasure.” Being Presbyterian identifies the community and the tradition in which I am working out my own salvation – in following a Christian path, in a Presbyterian fellowship that worships and prays together, guided the scriptures and informed by the confessions, joining in the communion of saints past and present; and for me, called to be an interreligious practitioner to serve on behalf of those in other communities and traditions as an expression of service to God out of my own.

Yet, as I become more convinced of, and rooted in, my own tradition, the more I experience life as ambiguous, and the pursuit of competing truth claims in any ultimate sense, as problematic. Or maybe its more accurate to say that the more convinced and rooted I am, the better able I am to confront the ambiguities of life, and to seek to live out the truth claims particular to my tradition without claiming supremacy over those of other traditions.

For I believe there is finally no intellectual or metaphysical arbiter in deciding ultimately between these truth claims and ways of life. There is no “God’s eye view” for those of us who are not God. Life is ambiguous, and the more ultimate the questions we ask, the more ambiguous the claims we make about it are likely to be.

And still yet, even though life is ambiguous, I believe that we all inescapably live by some kind of truth claim – even if it is the claim there is no such thing as truth with a capital Truth. Despite the inherent ambiguity of life, I don’t believe its all for grabs. I do believe that we can, and must, test out our truth claims. We can come to a clearer view of what matters most in life, of what can make the world a better place. We can, and must, act out of a sense of deeply held conviction, yet do this with an accompanying sense of humility.

This means doing the ongoing self-defining work of theological reflection, and the soul-searching spiritual discipline, required when one follows a “reformed and always reforming” tradition. This means engaging in the intellectual inquiry and creative imagining demanded of those who seek to live responsibly in the painfully real and always changing world. But we do all of this knowing that it is always penultimate in nature; that we are seeking to serve a higher calling, imperfectly and incompletely, but nevertheless necessarily and crucially.

Perhaps this is the meaning of being a person of faith; living in the reality that the knowing is intimately and inextricably woven in with the not knowing. Any claim to ultimacy rests finally in to Whom we entrust our lives and how we live them out.

How do we do that? By living in the real world. By living with others. By asking the right question. A question like: Who will go first?

Last year, on a snowy Tuesday afternoon, I sat down with Presbyterian and Jewish colleagues to study Talmud – the central text of mainstream Judaism, a compendium of thousands of years of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history. The topic on this particular day was justice. Here’s what was written:

As it has been taught: Justice (tzedek), justice you shall pursue. The first [mention of justice] refers to a decision based on strict law; the second, to a compromise (pesharah). How so?

Where two boats sailing on a river meet, if both attempt to pass simultaneously, both will sink. However, if one makes way for the other, both can pass [without mishap].

Likewise, if two camels met each other while on the ascent to Beth-Horon [a high mountain with a narrow path]; if they both ascend [at the same time] both may tumble down [into the valley]; but if [they ascend] after each other, both can go up [safely].

How then should they act? If one is laden and the other unladen, the latter should give way to the former. If one is nearer [to its destination] than the other, the former should give way to the latter.

If both are [equally] near or far [from their destination,] make a compromise (pesharah) between them, with the one [which is to go forward] compensating the other [which has to give way].

(Talmud Sanhedrin 32b)

Two boats trying to pass on a river. Who will make way for the other? Who will go first?

Two camels trying to pass on a narrow path? Who will make way for the other? Who will go first?

As we seek to navigate of the matter of commonalities and differences – between Buddhists and Sikhs, Jews and Muslims, Christians and Hindus, and so on – when it comes to getting along with each other in a harmonious and peaceful way, who will go first?

Alongside the question of the claims of religious and spiritual communities about how to live, informed by the truth of their traditions, when it comes to addressing the challenges facing the world – violence and conflict, poverty and hunger, shrinking ice caps and rising seas, globalization and human rights – who will go first?

As I’ve gotten to know more about the other religions in the world, I can say this much.

When it comes to the rampant conflict and violence in the world, it will be the Jain tradition – of an ancient religious community originating in India, whose principle of ahimsainspired Mahatma Gandhi, and then Martin Luther King Jr, – that calls Jains to go first in responding to violence with non-violence.

When it comes to the ominous threat to our environment, it will be the place-based traditions of indigenous peoples, who have always lived closest to the earth, that calls the first nations and tribes to go first in lowering their carbon footprint, in living respectfully and in harmony with nature.

When it comes to the gnawing emptiness of a globalized and consumer oriented world, it will be the Buddhist tradition – with its teaching of non-attachment – that calls Buddhists to go first in living more simply, in seeking fulfillment by cultivating the inner life.

When it comes to welcoming the stranger, the downtrodden, the outcast, it will be the Sikh tradition – with its understanding that we are all equal in the sight of God  – that calls Sikhs to offer langar, their blessed sacred meal, and shelter, to anyone who arrives at the door of a gurdwara.

And as for Christians, as followers of Jesus of Nazareth, who, as was his habit, always went first, we can read our scriptures with that question in mind.

Jesus says: “So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.”

(Matthew 5:23 NRSV)

When in comes to human relations, to matters of forgiveness and reconciliation, more often than not, at some point, the rightful notions of right and wrong, of who did want to whom, have to give way to healing and moving on. And when it comes to that point, more often than not, the question becomes: who will go first?

Jesus says: “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let her have your cloak as well; and if any one force you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to her who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you.”

If it comes to it, only an eye for eye, no more. If you must retaliate, stop at a tooth for a tooth. But even then, retributive justice has its drawbacks. As Gandhi said, “An eye-for-an-eye-for-an-eye…ends up making everyone blind.”

Jesus takes it’s a step beyond merely limiting retaliation. When it comes to doing what’s necessary to stop the cycle of retaliation and violence – not only when there is every expectation of reciprocity, but especially when there is not – Christians are called to go first, even when it means going the extra mile.

Jesus says: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven…

The essential question for Christians in the interreligious movement is this: Do I treat you a certain way because of who you are, or because of who I am. Do I treat a certain way because you are a Christian, and others differently because they are a Buddhist, or Muslim, or humanist? Or do I treat everyone the same way because I am a Christian, regardless of who they are, or should I say, because of who they are.

“…for God makes the sun rise on the evil and good, and send the rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For it you love those who love, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as you heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 6:43-48 NRSV)

As always, when it comes to deciding about truth claims, the living expressions of those claims are always the most definitive, the more compelling.

Jesus says: “…every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit…Thus you will know them by their fruits.”

(Matthew 7:17 – 20)

Who will go first?

Elana Rozenman is an Israeli, a long-time resident of Jerusalem, and an observant Jew. I first met her at the 2004 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Barcelona, and on subsequent trips to the Middle East.

In 1997, her son was critically injured in a Palestinian suicide bombing in the city. He was 16 at the time, and was caught, walking down the street in Jerusalem in the middle of the day, between two Palestinian suicide bombers. One hit him first from behind, the second in front. He was hit by at least 100 pieces of shrapnel, which tore off his flesh, broke bones, and left burns all over his body. A little girl right beside him was killed instantly, and other children were killed and hundreds were injured. As Elana described it:

I spent months in the hospital sleeping on a mattress beside him, as he slowly recovered, in intensive care, the burn unit, then in rehabilitation programs. I had a lot of time to think about what was going on. I had been leading my life as a religious, Jewish woman, living in Jerusalem as God wanted me to live, raising my children as God wanted me to do. But that was not sufficient to keep horrific violence from striking my family.

What should she do? Be bitter. Be filled with hatred. Seek revenge. An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. But a seed of something different was planted on that fateful day.

Elana rushed to the hospital, and was immediate confronted with urgent questions from doctors.

One doctor grabbed her, asking, “Are you the mother? I’m Dr. Khoury. ” He said he must operate immediately.

She asked him, “Are you not an Arab?” He said, “Yes,” and she said, “One Arab just tried to kill my son and now you will save him!”

He said, “That’s our reality; please sign the papers so we can get to work to save your son.”

I felt truly blessed by God (she said) that I had been shown that there was no way to go to a place of anger or revenge or hatred. I had a Palestinian surgeon, who saved my son’s life.

And even while I was in the burn unit, there were some Jordanian men who had been burned in a work accident. Their wives and mothers came from Jordan to visit, and we were all sitting there together, as wives and mothers, trying to get our loved ones through the trauma. We were relating to each other as women, as sisters, at the heart level, all helping sons and husbands to recover.

Elana decided to work for peace. As her son’s body and psyche and spirit were slowly being repaired, she would seek to repair the world that had done this to him. Tikkun olam. The Jewish imperative to repair the world. (Elana goes on…)

To do nothing was to collude with that violence. 

After a couple of years when my son had finally recovered enough that I felt able to leave him, I decided to work with women. I had always worked with women, and knew that women are able to relate at the heart level far more easily than men.

I also wanted to work with religion, because I was a woman of faith. Religion is one area that can transcend, that can overcome divides. The truth that is inherent to religion is about living in peace in the Holy Land, so that we can sanctify it.

So I began to work with women, and found Muslim, Christian, and Jewish women longing, indeed thirsting, to work with other women in normal relationships. They felt an intense need to bridge the divides. So we began to work together. And that’s how I got started.

Elana chose to go first, and decided to start with women. As she said, when it comes to matters like this, women are often willing to go first. She became partners with Arab Christian and Palestinian Muslim women to build bridges of understanding and harmony. Today she leads a network of women of many faiths who are working for peace in the region.

What impact will efforts like hers have in that troubled place? I don’t know.

What impact will efforts such as this, by the people of faith everywhere, have for the world and the future of the global community? I don’t know.

But I do know this: none of it has a snowball’s chance in hell unless someone goes first.

(Quotes from Elana Rozenman come from a June 30, 2010 interview posted on the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs) 

Rev. Dirk Ficca serves as Executive Director of the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions. Dirk worked closely with the religious and spiritual communities of the Chicago metropolitan area to plan and organize the 1993 Parliament event in Chicago. Given the enthusiasm generated by the 1993 Parliament, Dirk continued to lead’s the Council’s efforts to build a vibrant interreligious movement in Chicago and around the world. Dirk is an ordained Presbyterian minister and prior to joining the Council served for eleven years as pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Benton Harbor, Michigan.  Dirk teaches at DePaul University, the Lutheran School of Theology and Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary.

SOURCE

Tapio Varis, CMPI Director bags award

Posted on February 14th, 2013

Dr. Tapio Varis - folds arms and listens to his citation

Tapio Varis, UNESCO Chair in global e-learning and member of the board of directors of New York-based Center for Media & Peace Initiatives has been bestowed with the prestigious Golden Rule Award.

Dr. Varis joins other prominent recipients of the Golden Rule Award including former Finnish President Tarja Halonen.

In a citation at the award ceremony in Helsinki, Professor Tapio Varis was honored for his contribution towards a culture of peace and promotion of dialogue and values of new humanism in the past twenty years. Tapio Varis has served as UNESCO Chair in global e-learning with applications to multiple domains.

Accepting the award, Prof. Varis called for profound reform in the structure of the current communication networks as well as the pattern of information flows across the world.

“Internationalism and acceptance of cultural diversity mean having citizens who are committed to what happens to the planet and who are aware of the global scope of its problems. Only a media-based public sphere that promotes and gives direction to people´s participation can foster this new type of citizenship.

Tapio Varis thinks that education programs must be the fruit of cooperation and communication between people. Present day technologies are starting to enable this and global media literacy can help us to achieve this.

The Award was given at the Syria, dialogue and media -event organized by The Faiths Without Borders (Uskot ilman rajoja ry.) and netmedia Baabeli in cooperation with Myllypuro media library in Helsinki, during the 2013 World Interfaith Harmony Week.

The Golden Rule Award was awarded by the Interfaith Dialogue Network, which consists of Helsinki Religious Forum of The United Religions Initiative (URI), Religions for Peace Women of Faith Network in Finland, Living together in Cities (Kaupunki yhteisönä ry.) and multiregional Faiths Without Borders (Uskot ilman rajoja ry.),Netmedia Baabeli has joined to this network.

The Network works in fellowship with Parliament of the World’s Religions, which has named Helsinki as one of its Cities of Peace.

“The Golden Rule Award is a stone given as a sign of gratitude to people who try to implement The Golden Rule in practice. The Golden Rule is the ground for dialogue but it is actually the process of dialogue that leads people to really walk on the path of Golden Rule”, says Heidi Rautionmaa, Finland’s Interfaith Dialogue Network Coordinator.

Among previous Golden Rule awardees were Professor Emeritus Reijo E. Heinonen, 2009, President of Finland Tarja Halonen, 2010, Fr. James Channan, OP and Grand Imam Maulana Abd-ul Khabir Azad, 2011.

The CMPI team rejoices with Dr. Varis on this important honor and hopes that it will strengthen his resolve to continue the work of global peace building.

SOURCE

Parliament’s Finnish Fellows Bestow Golden Rule Award for World Interfaith Harmony Week

Posted on February 14th, 2013

Tapio Varis, Chair of global e-learning for UNESCO-(United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) and member of the board of directors of New York-based Center for Media & Peace Initiativeshas been bestowed with the prestigious Golden Rule Award. Varis has greatly contributed four decades to create a culture of peace, in promoting dialogue and values of new humanism.

The Golden Rule Award is awarded by the Interfaith Dialogue Network of Finland, which works in fellowship with Parliament of the World’s Religions.

“The Golden Rule Award is a stone given as a sign of gratitude to people who try to implement The Golden Rule in practice. The Golden Rule is the ground for dialogue but it is actually the process of dialogue that leads people to really walk on the path of Golden Rule”, says Heidi Rautionmaa, Finland’s Interfaith Dialogue Network Coordinator and Ambassador to the 2009 Parliament of World’s Religions.

Tapio Varis says that education programs must be the fruit of cooperation and communication between people. Present day technologies are starting to enable this and global media literacy can help us to achieve this.

“Internationalism and acceptance of cultural diversity mean having citizens who are committed to what happens to the planet and who are aware of the global scope of its problems. Only a media-based public sphere that promotes and gives direction to people´s participation can foster this new type of citizenship. This requires profound reform in the organization of the current communication networks as well as in their flows,” says Tapio Varis.

The award was presented at a Syrian dialogue and media event organized by The Faiths Without Borders and netmedia Baabeli, in cooperation with Myllypuro media library in Helsinki, during the 2013 World Interfaith Harmony Week. The Parliament has named Helsinki as one of its Cities of Peace.

Dr. Varis joins other prominent recipients of the Golden Rule Award including former Finnish President Tarja Halonen.

Previous Golden Rule awardees:

  • Professor Emeritus Reijo E. Heinonen, 2009
  • President of Finland Tarja Halonen, 2010
  • Fr. James Channan, OP and Grand Imam Maulana Abd-ul Khabir Azad, 2011

Interfaith Dialogue Network :

  • Helsinki Religious Forum of The United Religions Initiative (URI),
  • Religions for Peace Women of Faith Network in Finland
  • Living together in Cities
  • Faiths Without Borders
  • Netmedia Baabeli

Minister Honours Interfaith Harmony Week

Posted on February 13th, 2013

Posted on February 12, 2013

By Lydia Nsubuga

Min. of state for Elderly & Disability affairs and also Bbaale county MP, Hon. Sulaiman Kyebakoze Madada has stressed the significance of strengthening  interfaith harmony in the country.

Madada revealed that world over, politics & the church are involved in the state formation thus one can not do without the other. He noted therefore, that there is need of an advocacy Uganda in particular that focuses on interfaith harmony dialogue if conflicts are to be avoided.

He said that its imperative to know that conflicts are not bad if they are managed appropriately under the principles of dialogue which is open minded, compassionate, tolerance among others.

This  was at a dinner in Katikomu Hotel Kayunga town to mark the Interfaith Harmony Week which started on Monday organised by Global Citizens International Kayunga.

Meanwhile, the guest speaker, Prof. Ndebesa Mwangusya also emphasized the issue noting that Africa should teach the world interfaith dialogue to avoid conflicts emerging out of religion that has consumed a lot of people’s live citing out the examples of Bokoharam in Nigeria among others.

The Director Global Citizens International & also host, Joseph Nahabwe said there will be no peace among the nations without peace among religions & also without dialogue among religions. He called upon Ugandans to unite for a common goal which is love and tolerance among the masses.

Participants also passed a resolution to have this week always celebrated country wide, appointing Hon. Madada a patron of the movement.

It attracted believers from different denominations and sects that make up the religions in the country.

SOURCE

Philippine Embassy in London highlights Philippine interfaith and human rights initiatives

Posted on February 13th, 2013

Tuesday 12th of February 2013

MANILA, Feb. 12 (PIA) — The Philippine Embassy in London cited before Philippine and British audiences the country’s initiatives and achievements in the fields of interfaith cooperation and human rights promotion.
A statement from the Department of Foreign Affairs said that on February 7, the Embassy hosted its first ever reception commemorating World Interfaith Harmony Week.

The gathering brought together leaders and representatives of different religions in the United Kingdom (UK), as well as UK government officials and members of the Filipino community with an interest in cooperation and understanding among faiths.

In his remarks, Philippine Ambassador to the UK Enrique A. Manalo traced the Philippines’ long history and leading role in the promotion of interfaith cooperation within the international community, and recalled the country’s own direct interests and experiences in religious dialogue.

“The Philippine Government views inter-religious dialogue as a vital component of the comprehensive effort to achieve a global culture of peace – peace that is essential for security, growth and development,” said Ambassador Manalo.

On January 31, Ambassador Manalo discussed a similarly vital subject through a Human Rights Forum held at the Embassy. The forum served as a follow-up to National Human Rights Week and as a means to update the public on recent developments in the Philippines concerning human rights.

Among the matters discussed were key provisions of the “Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012” and the “Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013” passed by the Philippine Congress. The new types of writs issued by the Supreme Court for the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights were likewise reviewed, as were the Government’s comprehensive programs promoting economic, social and cultural rights.

World Interfaith Harmony Week has been celebrated around the world on the first week of February since 2010, through a resolution unanimously adopted by the United Nations General Assembly.

National Human Rights Consciousness Week is commemorated in the Philippines in December each year pursuant to Republic Act 9201. (DFA)

SOURCE

UN chief spotlights role of inter-faith dialogue to empower women

Posted on February 13th, 2013

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. UN Photo/Mark Garten

12 February 2013 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today drew attention to the role of faith leaders in promoting female empowerment, noting that they can help address gender prejudices and support women’s participation in society at all levels.

“People place extraordinary trust in their faith leaders, who have a far-reaching ability to help achieve lasting peace and promote the status of women,” Mr. Ban said in his message to a symposium held in New York.

“As long as entrenched hatreds and gender bias remain, conflicts will simmer and women will suffer. Only when we achieve a fundamental change in mindsets can we realize true progress,” he added in the message, which was delivered by the Assistant Secretary-General for Intergovernmental Support and Strategic Partnerships of the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), Lakshmi Puri.

Mr. Ban stressed that women are often central to the life of faith-based organizations and possess enormous potential to promote peacebuilding and conflict resolution. However, men dominate faith-based organizations, which underscores the need to ensure women’s presence in positions of authority within these organizations.

“This will enable women to discuss and determine their religious and cultural values and to promote practices that respect human dignity,” he said.

Mr. Ban underlined that the UN is working with inter-faith groups to advance democracy, human rights and sustainable development through programmes on the ground, partnerships and initiatives such as the Alliance of Civilizations.

“Peace, dignity and respect for others are core values common to all of the world’s great religions,” he said. “We welcome all people of faith in this affirmation of our common humanity.”

The symposium was organized by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Peace Islands Institute to commemorate World Interfaith Harmony Week.

SOURCE

SECRETARY-GENERAL, IN SYMPOSIUM MESSAGE, URGES EFFORTS TO AMPLIFY WOMEN’S VOICES IN FAITH-BASED ORGANIZATIONS, PEACEBUILDING, INTERFAITH DIALOGUE

Posted on February 13th, 2013

Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message to the Symposium on “The Role of Interfaith Dialogue in Peacebuilding and Women Empowerment”, delivered by Lakshmi Puri, Assistant Secretary-General for Intergovernmental Support and Strategic Partnerships, UN-Women, in New York, today, 12 February:

Peace, dignity and respect for others are core values common to all of the world’s great religions.  The United Nations is proud to uphold these values, including through our work to build peace and empower women.  I commend the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Peace Islands Institute for organizing today’s symposium on these important goals.  It is a fitting way to commemorate World Interfaith Harmony Week.

 

People place extraordinary trust in their faith leaders, who have a far-reaching ability to help achieve lasting peace and promote the status of women.  As long as entrenched hatreds and gender bias remain, conflicts will simmer and women will suffer.  Only when we achieve a fundamental change in mind-sets can we realize true progress.

 

Faith-based organizations can challenge prejudices and support the full participation of women in political, economic and social life by refuting attitudes that perpetuate inequality.

 

Women are often central to the life of faith-based organizations, and they possess enormous potential to promote conflict resolution and peacebuilding.  There are numerous inspiring examples, including Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah Gbowee, who brought together Muslim and Christian women in an effective peace movement in Liberia.

 

Whether working with their own faith communities or engaging in interfaith dialogue, women are often among the first to engage in peacebuilding efforts.

 

At the same time, we must acknowledge that most faith-based organizations are dominated by men.  More needs to be done to increase the presence of women in positions of authority within faith-based organizations and to amplify their voices in peacebuilding and interfaith dialogue.  This will enable women to discuss and determine their religious and cultural values and to promote practices that respect human dignity.

 

The United Nations Peacebuilding Commission has recognized the value of interfaith groups in advancing democracy.  Through programmes on the ground, partnerships with faith-based organizations and initiatives such as the Alliance of Civilizations, the United Nations advances interfaith dialogue to achieve peace, human rights and sustainable development.  We welcome all people of faith in this affirmation of our common humanity.

 

In this spirit, I wish you great success in your discussions today.

 SOURCE

Symposium on “The role of interfaith dialogue in peacebuilding and women empowerment” (on the occasion of World Interfaith Harmony Week)

Posted on February 13th, 2013

Latest Audio

2013-02-12 18:23:23.0

Floor
184 minutes
Keywords: SPECIAL EVENT, SYMPOSIUM, ROLE, INTERFAITH DIALOGUE, PEACEBUILDING, WOMEN EMPOWERMENT, WORLD INTERFAITH HARMONY WEEK, OIC

Interfaith Harmony Week: more than just talk in Toronto

Posted on February 13th, 2013

by Habeeb Alli
12 February 2013

Toronto – Given the number of interfaith discussions that seem to generate only documents and hot air, when I heard about the World Interfaith Harmony Week event taking place in Toronto, I thought it may be just another talkfest. Online bloggers and cynics were no help either. “Why bother to drive all the way to this Japanese Cultural Centre when there is a snow storm coming? Your Interfaith dialogues will not stop the death storm hitting Muslims across the Atlantic!” opined one such local blogger.

However, as an imam, and a strong proponent of interfaith dialogue, I am always looking for opportunities to highlight the many examples of faith being used to build peaceful, constructive relationships across artificial dividing lines, such as religion. Suddenly, I wanted to prove to this blogger and his fellow naysayers that there was practical value in this event.

John Voorpostel, the Chair of the World Interfaith Harmony Week Toronto Steering Committee, also wanted the event to be more than talk: “hopefully this dialogue will produce opportunities for faith leaders to engage people of all faiths to come together to practice ‘vigorous hospitality.’”

The phrase “vigorous hospitality” was coined by Brian McLaren, in his 2011 book, Why Did Jesus, Moses, The Buddha and Mohammed Cross the Road? Vigorous hospitality goes beyond tolerance to deliberately reaching out to others in acts of kindness. But where is this vigorous hospitality in this particular cosy panel discussion and reception?

Participants at the World Interfaith Harmony Week panel discussion in Toronto were organised to showcase their interfaith work and they networked energetically, almost like speed dating; leaders, speakers and attendees deliberately partnered with one-another on a number of social justice issues.

As a result, Imam Shaikh Ali of the Canadian Council of Imams for example, said he plans to follow up with a Christian congregation that wants to visit the mosque to learn about Islam first hand; a funding agency that supports multi-faith youth projects; and a Jewish leader looking for information on Muslim-Jewish neighbourhood ventures.

These actions are the success of World Interfaith Harmony Week, everything else was icing on the cake.

I found another example of vigorous hospitality when Voorpostel announced that the proceeds of the dinner held earlier at a mosque would go towards Habitat for Humanity, a Christian-based organisation that builds affordable homes for anyone that is eligible. People of different faiths deliberately figured out a way for this event to be kind to others. Vigorous hospitality and viable networking achieved.

Rev Earl Smith of the Church of Scientology, a member of the Toronto Area Interfaith Committee and the Mosaic networks, commented after the event, “People are still living out their misconceptions of Muslim and Hindu traditions,” referring to recent hate crimes in New York City. Smith’s contribution to vigorous hospitality has been to engage with Hindu and Muslim communities in Toronto during his regular Mosaic Show on Rogers TV in Toronto. Smith added, “They have likewise supported us when asked to clear up misconceptions about the Church of Scientology.”

Sid Ikeda of the Japanese Cultural Centre, a diverse ethnic group of Buddhists, and a practical example of how vigorous hospitality in itself, said in his closing remarks at the gala on 7 February that the high point for many speakers had been addressing ways to practically restore trust for each of the religious groups by getting leaders tonight to partner with one another on different social justice issues.

The concept of World Interfaith Harmony Week was inspired by the Amman Declaration and the Common Word initiative, both coming out of Jordan and supported by Muslims around the world. King Abdullah II of Jordan proposed the idea of an Interfaith Harmony Week to the UN General Assembly in September 2010, which was unanimously adopted. This stands in stark contrast to negative press about Islam and Muslims and demonstrates clearly that there are Muslim leaders who are at the forefront of interfaith activism.

World Interfaith Harmony Week grew from 200 events in 40 countries in 2010 to over 300 plus events worldwide this year. The World Interfaith Harmony Week committee is already planning to host this event annually in the city of Toronto. And I am looking forward to talking loudly about the tangible examples of vigorous hospitality that come out of each one.

###

* Habeeb Alli is a freelance writer for The Ambition (theambition.ca), a scholar on www.allexperts.com, and the author of 15 books on Islam (www.muslimsincanada.ca). This article was written for the Common Ground News Service (CGNews).

Source: Common Ground News Service (CGNews), 12 February 2013, www.commongroundnews.org
Copyright permission is granted for publication.

SOURCE

 

HARMONY AND UNITY: Make friends with other races

Posted on February 12th, 2013

By Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, trustee, 1Malaysia Foundation, Kuala Lumpur | letters@nstp.com.my 

WHEN launching the World Interfaith Harmony Week celebrations at a secondary school in Bandar Kinrara, Puchong, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin spoke on the need to foster unity among students of all races in schools.
Indeed, the young generation must set the right example for preserving racial harmony and unity.

In this regard, schools and other educational institutions must develop a conducive social environment and encourage communication and interaction among students of different races, religions and cultures.

I have always advocated that to promote togetherness, students of different races must break down the racial divide and reach out to make friends with those from other ethnic groups by showing mutual respect and trust for one another.

Conscious and committed efforts must be made by the heads of schools and teachers to help the future generation of Malaysian leaders to achieve this all important objective of building unity in diversity in multiracial Malaysia.

In all events, ranging from sports to co-curricular activities, efforts must be made to bring our students together so that they can interact with one another.

Schools are the ideal places to promote racial integration. Teachers and parents must play their roles in helping out in this process.

Parents must encourage their children to mix with different races so that they can better understand one another’s religion, culture and way of life.

Sustained efforts must be made to break the racial divide, if there is any, among students of diverse races so as to overcome the problem of racial polarisation in schools.

Today’s students are our future leaders. Upon their shoulders lie the responsibility of building a united Malaysian nation with a common and shared destiny for all.

The inculcation of proper values and noble objectives to promote unity should begin in primary schools so that we can produce a future generation of Malaysians who are fully conscious of their responsibilities towards nation-building.

We have to go back to basics. In this regard, it is the Rukun Negara and its five principles — belief in God, loyalty to king and country, upholding the Constitution, rule of law, and good behaviour and morality. These should be the guiding light for building a united Malaysia.

Unity and harmony must be a part of our culture and there must be more opportunities for people of diverse races to meet and forge closer friendship and understanding for the sake of our nation’s future.

SOURCE

World Interfaith Harmony Week with Gift of the Givers Founder DrSooliman

Posted on February 12th, 2013

“The best religion is humanity”, was the powerful message delivered by Gift of the Givers founder Dr. Imtiaz Sooliman on 7 February in Cape Town. Following a proposal inspired by the Common Word Initiative and championed by King Abdullah II of Jordan, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted World Interfaith Harmony Week (WIHW) in 2010, which is observed every year during the first week of February. “What we are proposing is a special week”, said King Abdullah, “during which the world’s people…could express the teachings of their faith about tolerance, respect for the other and peace.”

 

 

Heeding the call to mark this important week of interfaith dialogue, the Cape SA Jewish Board of Deputies hosted a breakfast at Café Riteve for local faith-based leaders and diplomats. In a country that is often plagued with division and difference, the gathering included a Sunni Imam, a Shiite Maulana, Progressive and Orthodox Rabbis, Anglican and Catholic Priests, diplomats and politicians, creating a picture of possibility and hope. Chairman Li Boiskin opened the event with a brief history of WIHW, followed by an explanation of phylacteries by a tefillin-wearing Rabbi Osher Feldman. “Putting tefillin on the hand before the head symbolises Judaism’s emphasis on action”, said Rabbi Feldman.

 

Having just arrived back from flood relief work in Mozambique, Dr. Sooliman delivered a powerful address on the role faith-based communities can play in social development. In 1992, Dr. Sooliman founded the Gift of the Givers Foundation, which is closely associated with the Muslim community and is the world’s largest African disaster relief organisation. Since its establishment, it has delivered more than R750 million in life-saving aid to millions of people in 35 countries (including South Africa) in the form of search and rescue teams, medical personnel, medical equipment, medical supplies, medicines, vaccines, anti-malarial medication, high energy and protein supplements and food aid. More recently, it sent four rescue teams to Haiti following the devastating 2010 earthquake, and in 2011, it was the only international organisation providing food aid to Somalia.

21 years ago, Dr. Sooliman’s Afrikaner neighbour in Pietermaritzburg suggested that he travel to Istanbul to meet with the revered Sufi Sheikh Muhammed Saffer Effendi al Jerrahi. Little did he know that this trip would forever change his outlook on life. He recounted meeting Americans, Israelis, Russians and Hindus for the first time in Istanbul, whom he had been conditioned to believe were “enemies” of the Muslim people. “You cannot live in the past; you must learn from the past”, he reflected on the experience. During his meeting with the Sheikh al Jerrahi, he was told that “the God of mankind is one”, and was instructed to establish a humanitarian organisation, which became known as the Gift of the Givers. In 2010, Dr. Sooliman was awarded the Order of the Grand Counsellor of the Baobab (South Africa’s highest honour) by President Jacob Zuma for his contribution through Gift of the Givers to humanitarian aid nationally and internationally. He has also been named as one of the world’s 500 Most Influential Muslims by Professor John Esposito of Georgetown University.

When Gift of the Givers’ rescue teams faced logistical obstacles getting into Haiti following the earthquake, Dr. Sooliman was assisted by the Catholic Church to cross into the country via the Dominican Republic. “Humanity and compassion get you a lot further than politics”, he has learned over time, as “98% of religions share the same beliefs.” He invited other faith-based groups to partner with the Gift of the Givers to deliver critical relief to disaster areas. His organisation serves all people irrespective of race, religion, culture, colour, political affiliation or geographical location, unconditionally.

You can learn more about World Interfaith Harmony Week by visiting www.worldinterfaithharmonyweek.com and the Gift of the Givers at www.giftofthegivers.org.

Jewish medical personnel and trauma counsellors who are interested in volunteering their time and expertise to the Gift of the Giver’s emergency relief missions can contact the Cape Board’s Gina Flash atgina@ctjc.co.za.

 SOURCE

PHL Embassy in London Highlights Philippine Interfaith and Human Rights Initiatives

Posted on February 11th, 2013

London

11 February 2013 – The Philippine Embassy in London cited before Philippine and British audiences the country’s initiatives and achievements in the fields of interfaith cooperation and human rights promotion.

On February 7, the Embassy hosted its first ever reception commemorating World Interfaith Harmony Week. The gathering brought together leaders and representatives of different religions in the United Kingdom (UK), as well as UK government officials and members of the Filipino community with an interest in cooperation and understanding among faiths.

In his remarks, Philippine Ambassador to the UK Enrique A. Manalo traced the Philippines’ long history and leading role in the promotion of interfaith cooperation within the international community, and recalled the country’s own direct interests and experiences in religious dialogue.

“The Philippine Government views interreligious dialogue as a vital component of the comprehensive effort to achieve a global culture of peace – peace that is essential for security, growth and development,” said Ambassador Manalo.

The previous week, on January 31, Ambassador Manalo discussed a similarly vital subject through a Human Rights Forum held at the Embassy.   The forum served as a follow-up to National Human Rights Week and as a means to update the public on recent developments in the Philippines concerning human rights.

Among the matters discussed were key provisions of the “Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012” and the “Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013” passed by the Philippine Congress. The new types of writs issued by the Supreme Court for the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights were likewise reviewed, as were the Government’s comprehensive programs promoting economic, social and cultural rights.

World Interfaith Harmony Week has been celebrated around the world on the first week of February since 2010, through a resolution unanimously adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. National Human Rights Consciousness Week is commemorated in the Philippines in December each year pursuant to Republic Act 9201. END

SOURCE

UN Marks World Interfaith Harmony Week with Iraqi Youth

Posted on February 11th, 2013

 

 

Baghdad, 8 February 2013 – To mark the World Interfaith Harmony Week (1-7 February), United Nations envoy Mr. Martin Kobler and a UN delegation participated in a series of visits to several holy places, including the shrine of Imam Hanifa Al-Aadham, Imam Khadum Shrine, Sayyidat Al-Najat Church and the temple of the Sabean Mandeans.

The UN delegation was accompanied by some 30-40 Iraqi youth from different backgrounds, and worked closely with cultural and civil volunteer youth activist Ali Al-Makhzomy on changing perceptions about the role youth and religious leaders can play in promoting peace and harmony among the different communities in Iraq.

“The youth, the future of this country, have a unique role in building peace through dialogue and an immense responsibility in working all together so that people of different faiths and beliefs feel stronger together in times of difficulty,” Mr. Kobler said. He also emphasized the responsibility of religious and political leaders in promoting peace and tolerance among different religious groups.

Parish of Sayyidat Al-Najat Church, Father Aysar Elias Saeed, acknowledged that “clerics should serve as living examples of positive interfaith cooperation, through promoting a tolerant attitude towards other religions and faiths.”

The Secretary General of Imam Khadum Shrine encouraged youth to promote religious tolerance among all Iraqis, while Sheikh Ahmed Ishan at the Imam Hanifa Al-Aadham Shrine stressed the importance for youth and religious leaders to dialogue on matters of religion, encouraging them to continue spreading the message of peace and unity, and noting that all religious beliefs should be respected.

Praying together at the different holy places visited, Muslim, Christian and Sabaen youth all expressed their aspiration for unity, regardless of their faith, religion or belief.

“There is no difference between Sunni, Shiite, Christian and Yazidi or Sabean Mandean, both believers of every religion and non-believers must be able to live harmoniously,” emphasized Sheikh Alaa Aziz, the Deputy Head of the Mandeans in Iraq.

World Interfaith Harmony Week is an annual UN event promoting harmony between all people, regardless of their faith.

SOURCE

World Interfaith Harmony

Posted on February 11th, 2013

Happy New Year!  Happy year of the snake.  Here’s hoping it’s a king snake and not a cobra!

New Years, of course, are very Interfaithy.  Every culture has one.  Every spiritual path either has a New Year of its own, or has adopted one.  And we here get to celebrate them all.  Last year, we built a service around the Chinese New Year.  This year we have another theme.  But it is good to remember the lunar new year, and to recognize it.  As Interfaithers, we recognize that there’s no one “right” date to start the year, no one “right” way to celebrate the new year, just as there is no one “right” way to pray about the new year.

And I think it’s important to note, for posterity, that it’s not ambivalence.  It is notambivalence.  It is respect.  This is the foundation, this is the paradigm shift that is at the core of who we are: remembering our own traditions, while respecting the traditions of others.

Which brings us to what we will be recognizing and celebrating and pondering today: World Interfaith Harmony Week.

The idea for Interfaith Harmony Week originated with the King of Jordan.  And Jordan, being right in the middle of the Middle East – if you will, literally caught between the Arab rock and the Israeli hard place – certainly understands how profoundly important and helpful at least some harmony between our spiritual paths would be.  In 2010, the UN adopted the idea.

Interfaith harmony.  I love the concept.  And I love that there has been for the past few years a designated Interfaith Harmony Week.  One week out of fifty-two.  Hey, it’s a start!

But what do we want to be talking about here, today?

First, I very much want to share with you that I am supremely grateful that they didn’t call it Interfaith Tolerance Week.  If you’ve read my book, you know why.  But just in case you haven’t, or at least haven’t memorized it … yet , let chat about interfaith “tolerance” for a few minutes.

Ok.  We’re tolerant.  We know the truth.  You poor slobs don’t.  But we’re tolerant.  It’s a free country.  You’re wrong.  You’re misguided.  And you’re probably going to hell.  But that’s ok.  We will generously allow you to believe whatever hokum you need to.  And by now I’ve heard it from just about every angle.

“If you need to believe in God, then that’s ok.”   Or,

“If you need to believe that God doesn’t exist, then that’s ok.”

Both are said with the clear implication that you’re wrong.  But … it’s ok.

I won’t ask for hands, but I would ask us to consider.  What would we rather have our beliefs be, what would we rather have our beliefs be … tolerated, or respected.

Now I do have to say that tolerance is not to be sneered at.  Just this last week I was reading an article in the New York Times about a minister who, of all things, had participated in an interfaith service in Newtown, Connecticut for those murdered kids at Sandy Hook Elementary.  He was instructed by his superiors to apologize …to apologize for participating in an interfaith service – and he did.  You see, in his denomination one is not allowed to pray with nonbelievers.  And a nonbeliever is anyone who doesn’t believe precisely what “we” do.

This happened to be the Missouri Synod of the Lutheran Church.  But the Missouri Synod is not alone.  There are other Christian groups that feel that way, and Jewish groups, and Muslim, and so on.

So this is not an isolated incident.  We see it all over the U.S..  We see it all over the world.  So yes, we need to recognize that tolerance is important.  It’s an essential step, a positive step.  But I would submit that it is only a step.  It is not a good place to stop.  Yet many have.

It is, I would submit, a much too tempting place to stop.  It allows me both to be patronizing (“I’m right and you’re wrong, but if you need to believe that you just go right ahead.”) and at the same time feel good about myself (“Look at me!  I’m tolerant.”).

Again … seen from the flaming and destructive abyss of intolerance, tolerance is a fundamental and important step forward.  If you are unfamiliar with the history of edicts of toleration, and the grudging agreement of governments  to allow at least certain spiritual paths to exist, I’d invite you to check out Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edict_of_toleration).  One example.  The Maryland Edict of Toleration of 1649, mandated tolerance of … Catholics … in a Protestant colony.

But still, toleration is only a step.  If it becomes a goal, we are in trouble.

So I do truly appreciate the goal of Interfaith Harmony, rather than Interfaith Tolerance.

Among other things, I like the metaphor of Interfaith Harmony.  Most of you know that I’ve been a choir director most of my life.  A choir is made up of differing parts.  Each part not only has its own notes, but frequently its own rhythms, which make up its own line.  In rehearsal, we practice each individual part.  After all, a singer needs to know his or her own notes.  But harmony happens when we combine the parts, each part singing its own line with all the other parts singing theirs … together – listening to each other, to balance, so that the choir truly becomes one.  If all are singing the same line, it would be unison, not harmony.  In harmony, all the differing parts come together to make up the whole.  In all honesty, this is what drew me to choir.  All the differing parts becoming one.  Each individual singer depending on the other singers in his or her section, and each section depending upon the other sections to come together – to become one.

And, of course, it’s not just singers.  The same is true of an orchestra.  And of a single chord.  A C major chord is made up of CEG.  Question.  Do you imagine the C “tolerates” the E and the G?  My guess is that they all get along, just fine.  Not only that, but my hunch is that in its heart of hearts (or is that note of notes?), the C knows that without the E and G there is no harmony.  For harmony, we need each other.

John Donne wrote that no man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.

World Interfaith Harmony celebrates, or can celebrate if we will let it, the idea of the differing faithpaths, each singing its own line, each being a part of a single, great harmony of the human choir.  No faithpath is an island entire of itself; every spiritual path is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.

And what’s interesting is that faithpaths recognize and indeed urge this way of approaching and seeing our common humanity.

Hinduism tells us, “Like the bee, gathering honey from different flowers, the wise person accepts the essence of the different scriptures and sees only the good in all religions.”

I particularly like this quote from Jainism.  “Those who praise their own doctrines and disparage the doctrines of others solve nothing.”

Likewise from Buddhism, “To be attached to a certain view and look down on other points of view as inferior – this the wise call a fetter.”

You’ll find similar sentiments in Judaism, Islam and Christianity, and, I’m sure, others.

From the Baha’i faith comes an acknowledgement that the specifics of our beliefs depend on the culture they come from. “There can be no doubt that whatever the peoples of the world, of whatever race or religion, they derive their inspiration from one heavenly Source … The difference between the ordinances under which they abide should be attributed to the varying requirements and exigencies of the age in which they were revealed.”

So if every spiritual path preaches this … what happened?

It’s not a new question.  We’ve been here before.  We all agree that we should love one another – the Golden rule is everywhere.  And now we see that that there is universal acknowledgement that we should all respect each other’s spiritual paths.  As Peter says in the Acts of the Apostles, “ Truly I perceive that God shows no partiality, but in every nation any one who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.”  So why is World Interfaith Harmony Week even necessary?

It is necessary, and you know this already, it is necessary because also once again, what we proclaim, even from the mountain tops, and what we practice day to day are frequently from different corners of the galaxy.

Thus in a very real and important sense, World Interfaith Harmony Week is about us:  Living Interfaith.  This is our week.  In the coming years I hope we will build more and more around it.  Interfaith Harmony is who we are.  We are living what others around the world are hoping for, what others around the world are preaching, what others around the world pray for, are striving for.

There’s a question that comes up from time to time.  Either we ask it of ourselves or someone asks us.  Why are we here – this small church?  What do we hope to accomplish?  Well, obviously there are many reasons for being here.  But for me, one of the most important, and quite possibly the most important reason is to exemplify that we canindeed practice what we preach.  We can close the gaping chasm between practice and preaching.  This small church, and other churches as they begin to form, and they will, small as they may be, and they will be, are a crucial component of bringing about the world that we all seek, and yet has seemed to be beyond our grasp.  We hold this sacred space, this welcoming and open sacred space, so that others, as they begin to seek it, have a place to come.

My friends, you are the pioneers.  Your are the keepers of this sacred space.  NOT the defenders of the faith, but the keepers of the space.  We build a home for the world.  We build a shelter for humanity.

We do not evangelize.  But we do hold the space, the sacred space, for Living our Interfaith – a sanctuary, if you will, for all, all of humanity.

What we do here, I hope, is fun.  In the sharing that we do here, we grow and are spiritually nourished.  Yet more than that, what we do here is important.

Amen.

SOURCE

Dharma Shines At Toronto’s First UN World Interfaith Harmony Event

Posted on February 11th, 2013

Toronto, Ontario, Canada, February 9, 2013 (Washington Bangla Radio): Ontario’s first UN World Interfaith Harmony Week was celebrated with a special event at the esteemed Japanese Canadian Cultural Center involving some of the nation’s foremost religious leaders and in accordance with Resolution A/ RES/65/5 by the UN General Assembly calling for all nations to promote pluralism and  interfaith amity.

The highly distinguished speakers included the most reverend Bishop Wayne Kirkpatrick who was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI; Gerald Filson, former Chair of the Canadian Network on International Human Rights and Co-Chair of the Mosaic Management Group of Vision TV; Pundit Suraj Persad, Hindu Chaplain at the world famous Hospital for Sick Kids and University of Toronto; Dr. Raj Patil from the Jain Association of North America; Rabbi Teri Appleby who has won numerous awards from the Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles; Zoroastrian priest and author Dr. Jehan Bagli; Dr. Mir Baiz Khan (Ph.D. University of Toronto, MA, University of London) and Shanaaz Alidina who has worked with the Aga Khan Foundation.

The final keynote address was given by highly sought-after speaker Zenji Acharya who was described by the Indian Express as “the only expert from the world’s oldest and most venerated Buddhist Brahmin lineage”. Zenji Acharya eloquently represented the majority from China, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore – all dubbed the world’s most advanced nations by Time Magazine – and yet most of their inhabitants still practice the traditions of early Indian Buddhism founded by Zenji Acharya’s Lokattaravada-Mahasangika ancestors. Furthermore, Zenji Acharya gave a rousing ovation to the peerless influence of Buddhism in the history, art, literature and culture of Japan citing how Japan’s greatest  heroes were Buddhist and that even today over 86% of Japanese people ardently practice the religion and philosophy of Buddhism.

In addition, Zenji Acharya highlighted the need for Westerners to better understand Mahayana Buddhism as it is the dominant religion of China – increasingly considered the world’s most powerful nation. Experts believe that the overwhelming majority of Chinese citizens practice Pure Land Buddhism which reflects the faith of a staggering number of practitioners ranging from several hundred million to close to a billion; from CEOs to the common consumer. To give them an authentic voice, Zenji Acharya gave a stirring speech on devotion to  Amitabha Buddha and Kwan Yin and stressed the need to “put more passion into the call for compassion” issued by the Lion’s Roar of Dharmaraja Shakyamuni. Zenji Acharya also explained in a riveting manner the key sutras including the Pratyutpanna Samadhi Sutra and the Sukhavtivyuha sutras as well as the influential Lotus Sutra, Nikayas and Lalitavistara Sutra. After his unique and powerful presentation, Zenji Acharya received a special plaque from Reverend Dayi Shi who is one of the most influential Chinese Buddhist  abbots in the world and is building one of the world’s largest Buddhist temples across 7800 acres in Ontario, Canada with the support of the Chinese government.

The event was organized by the Steering Committee headed by Father Damian MacPherson, Director of the Archdiocese of Toronto and John Voorpostel. The diverse audience included scholars from the Hindu, Jain, Christian, Jewish, Parsi and Muslim communities as well as monks from various traditions including Pure Land Buddhism, Nichiren Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism and the oldest Buddhist Church of Canada. Also present were executives from the Trillium Foundation and Intercultural Dialogue Institute that recently hosted a black-tie Friendship Dinner at the Royal York Hotel with special invitations to Canada’s most influential thinkers – including leaders like Liutenant Governor of Ontario David Onley and MP Olivia Chow, wife of the late iconic leader Jack Layton; media personalities like Phillip Crawley, CEO of the Globe and Mail newspaper and CTV News Anchor Ken Shaw — and acclaimed faith leaders like John Joseph Mastandrea and Zenji Acharya among others.

Proceeds of the UN World Interfaith Harmony Event will be used towards Habitat for Humanity.

SOURCE

FC College celebrates UN interfaith harmony week

Posted on February 10th, 2013

FCC

LAHORE - The Centre for Public Policy and Governance at the Forman Christian College held a seminar in connection with the UN interfaith harmony week on “Designing a framework for Peace Education in a Pluralist Society”.
The purpose of the seminar was to hash out ideas on how to deconstruct stereotypes in a post 9/11 world, to create deeper understanding of all people and a society that celebrates unity in diversity. Dr Amineh Hoti, a member of the UK Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education, was the keynote speaker at the seminar, along with FC Department of Religious Studies Chairperson Dr Hafiz Abdul Ghani and Naulakha Presbyterian Church Senior Pastor Dr Majid Abel. Dr Hoti gave an anthropological perspective on the issue of creating the ‘other’ and the creation and bastardisation of stereotypes that become counter-productive to peaceful co-existence in society. “This creates a need to try and understand people who are different from us and observe their culture, traditions, values and beliefs with an open mind,” she said.
Dr Hoti shared her experience of trying to grapple with Muslim stereotypes in the west. She said it was unfortunate that Pakistan did not have non-government women’s universities or major interfaith organisations that had made a significant difference in the country. “People view higher education as a ticket abroad. They study with the intention to make money, and you have a society that values doctors and finance majors, but refuses to study social sciences, as a result we struggle with social myopia,” she said.
Dr Ghani discussed the need for creating ‘unity in diversity’ instead of the American ‘melting-pot’ model that had glossed over diversity instead of celebrating it. He said society must go through four phases in dealing with diversity: denial, defensive attitudes, tolerance and celebration of diversity. He said Pakistan’s education system needs to be revised completely to incorporate ideas and values that are necessary to survive in the 21st century. He said the importance of synergy, global citizenship, and celebration of differences, were key values that should cut across education levels and the urban-rural divide. He said all stakeholders must formulate courses for schools, colleges, madrassahs and universities that would help students view themselves in a broader setting, as citizens of the world. He said institutions should facilitate ethnic diversity and should be allowed to converse freely in their own languages, while English should be confined to the classroom.
Dr Abel shared his experiences as a Christian in a Muslim country, and said, “It is impossible to have an interfaith dialogue with the attitude that one’s faith is the absolute truth, it is important to respect what others have to say.”

SOURCE

Bridging cultural gap – Oman

Posted on February 10th, 2013

Bridging cultural gap

Wed, 06 February 2013

UN official hails Oman’s human rapprochement efforts -
By Hasan Kamoonpuri -
MUSCAT — The Sultanate is taking a leading role in alliance of civilisations and interfaith harmony, thanks to wise leadership of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos, said former Portuguese President, Dr Jorge Sampaio, who is now the United Nations Secretary-General’s High Representative for the Alliance of Civilisations.
Sampaio pointed out that the efforts of the Sultanate will promote the international plans that the United Nations seeks to implement through alliance of civilisations and rapprochement among peoples.
One of the aims of Oman’s annual Rapprochement and Human Harmony Week and United Nations’ Alliance of Civilisations is to bridge the cultural gap between the West and the Islamic world.
This was one of the key points at the ‘Symposium on the Rapprochement and Human Harmony Week’ (February 2-6) held here yesterday under the auspices of Dr Abdullah bin Mohammed al Saeedi, Minister of Legal Affairs.
In his welcome address, Dr Habib bin Mohammed al Riyami, Secretary-General, Sultan Qaboos Higher Centre for Culture and Science, said: “In response to the Royal Orders of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos, we are organising the second edition of the annual Human Harmony Week aimed at enhancing communication among cultures to build greater understanding for peace, and harmony”.
Dr Al Riyami stressed that at the very core of Islam and Islamic and Arab culture is to always promote dialogue among civilisations and to support peaceful coexistence and harmony.
In his keynote address, Sampaiosaid it is no coincidence that this symposium takes place at a time when “We are celebrating the World Interfaith Harmony Week, established by UN General Assembly.
The UN Resolution on World Interfaith Harmony Week reaffirms that mutual understanding and dialogue between all religions, and beliefs constitute important dimensions of a culture of peace, he added.
Sampaio, formerly the President of Portugal (1995-2006), said one of the aims of the UN Alliance of Civilisations is to “focus on improving relations within and among Western and Muslim societies and on addressing persistent tensions and divides”.
There is a growing recognition that the success of peace processes in many parts of the world depends on the effective engagement with religious communities, who have a great deal of influence over large constituencies, he said.
“Religion can act as a positive force for peace. The fact that religion is a factor in many contemporary crises does not necessarily mean that it is the trigger that initiated them,” said the UN High Representative for the Alliance of Civilisations.
The positive influence of religion can be felt through the core values and common ideals of the of the great faith traditions, which urge their believers to respect both the most fundamental human value — the right to life of all — and the right to dignity.
Sampaio lamented the fact that “the role of Muslim leaders in supporting peace efforts and condemning terrorism is often overlooked.
Again and again, in every corner of the world, Muslim leaders have come out strongly to denounce violence as antithetical to Islamic teachings”.
He underlined the need for political and religious leaders to join further their forces against extremism so that religion is not diverted from its humanistic path.
Meanwhile, the second Rapprochement and Human Harmony Week is set to conclude today.
The five-day event stems from His Majesty Sultan Qaboos’ vision, which aims at enhancing principles of the religious and cultural understanding and harmony.
It also aims to enhance the cultural and religious affinity and mutual understanding among human beings of different cultures and religions.
It also serves to facilitate communication among human cultures to achieve the affinity and emphasises the role of dialogue in supporting international peace and stability through raising public awareness about related issues.

 

SOURCE

Pilgrim and Celebration of World Interfaith Harmony Week – Cambodia

Posted on February 10th, 2013

On 6th and 7th February 2013 Our Catholic parish, Protestant, Buddhist, and Muslim celebrated the pilgrim to the beautiful park of Pjnom Pram Py, Phnom Prek District, Battambang province for the peace and environmental. This pilgrim was celebrated in the three main proposes: 

- First We join with the government and the world to  glorify and principle of peace in our society. To protect of our environment are the places that give us the harmony to our life and other animals.

- Second We congratulate to the United Nation that allowed all the countries for celebration of world interfaith harmony week.

- Third we also pray for Our hero king Nrodom Sihanouk Spirit. 

Picture

In this pilgrim there are 100 participates from Buddhist, and Muslim, Protestant, Catholic. In the first day we went the cave of the Phnom Pram Py to the know and to see about the beautiful environment, to make our heart to love the environment. In those pagada we also grown the trees and We also Share about the ways that we do for the environment according to the religious. In the Last we pray together for Our Hero King Norodom Sihanouk at the Phnom Pram Py.  
SOURCE

World Interfaith Harmony Week: Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng

Posted on February 10th, 2013

United Nations World Interfaith Harmony Week was adopted on a proposal of King Abdullah of Jordan and takes place for the third year. Chief Minister of Penang gave an address on the occasion.

The Chief Minister of Penang State in Malaysia, Lim Guan Eng, declared support to the effort of inter-faith harmony week, giving a speech on the occasion.

Penang’s “CM” said that when there is respect for differences between faiths and thus harmony, people can prosper, as is the case for the past 226 years in Penang.

Penang is one of the most prosperous regions of Malaysia and is a World Heritage City due to its history and preservation, and is a popular tourist destination.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said that the awarding of the World Heritage City status to Penang by the United Nations was due in part to the harmony between the various faiths all of which have large numbers of followers in Penang: Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Christians, Taoists and others.

He said Penang provides an example of how ordinary people can live together in respect of each others differences.

Chairman of the Penang Chapter of the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST), Bishop Anthony Selvanayagam, said that the State Government has recognized and now supports the work of the body with a yearly donation of 50,000 Malaysian dollars.

The UN World Interfaith Harmony Week takes place in the first week of February each year and thus began today February 4. It was adopted by the UN General Assembly after a speech by King Abdullah of Jordan calling for such an initiative, in 2010.

The World Interfaith Harmony Week is not a call to water down one’s faith, but rather it’s a call to respect our differences and personal beliefs and to unite around the basic principles that people of all beliefs agree upon and to understand that harmony can only come if we build upon a solid foundation of dialogue that has “Love of God and love of the neighbour or, love of Good and love of the neighbour” as its core principle for engagement, the official web site says.

SOURCE

Communal Love that can lead us to the attainment of “Global Harmony”

Posted on February 10th, 2013

By 
Published: February 10, 2013

Jamshed Khan, Advisor REAP, Dr. Rushdi al Ani, (Iraqi Ambassador-Chief Guest), Rubina Bhatti, Director YDA and Shamim Masih, President REAP

ISLAMABAD: Reformation for Empowerment and Alleviation of Poverty (REAP) and Youth Development Association (YDA) held a celebration to mark World Interfaith Harmony Week, observed annually during the first week of February.

A major goal of the Week is to make the ongoing work of interfaith groups to be made more visible to the world around. The thousands of events organized by these groups often go unnoticed not only by the general public, but also by other interfaith groups themselves.

In September 2010, His Majesty King Abdullah proposed the launch of the World Interfaith Harmony Week at the UN General Assembly, which adopted the initiative.

Re-affirming that “mutual understanding and inter-religious dialogue constitute important dimensions of a culture of peace”, the UN General Assembly proclaimed “the first week of February of every year World Interfaith Harmony Week between all religions, faiths and beliefs”.

The week serves as a voluntary occasion for people to express their own religious teachings about tolerance, respect for others and peace, in hopes of bringing people together across the globe.

During the ceremony, held at Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry Hall, attended by Dr. Rushadi al Ani- Iraqi Ambassador and eminent speakers, said the King had offered a gift to humanity through this proposal which was made clear during a speech to the UN General Assembly in October 2010 by His Royal Highness Prince Ghazi Bin Mohammad.

Pakistan, the largest Muslim populated (96%) country in world, has long suffered from internal conflicts due to sectarianism.

Jamshed Khan giving vote of thanks

Jamshed Khan giving vote of thanks

Eminent speakers like Ashok Chand, Prof. Saqib Akber, Jennifer Javin and Romana Bashir addressed in the program and stressed on interfaith dialogue and need to promote social justice. They said that all religions teach to respect the basic rights of the human. Different faiths do not bind in limits but allow caring others cultural and mutual respect, so that every citizen of every country can live peaceful life.

Group photos of the participants with chief guest

Group photos of the participants with chief guest

Romana Bashir, consultant for Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue in Pakistan said that the harmony we are pushing for is democratic, and built on effective communication and mutual respect.

Gatherings and activities for World Interfaith Harmony Week have been held in various countries across the world with diverse backgrounds, including Pakistan, Indonesia, Italy, and Jordan, she added.

Ashok Chand proposed the idea with the aim of achieving a “faith-driven world harmony by extending its call beyond the Muslim and Christian community to include people of all beliefs and those with no set religious beliefs as well”.
SOURCE

Universal Peace Foundation (Thailand)

Posted on February 10th, 2013

UN World Interfaith Harmony Week held on first week of February

 Written By Kula Saen on Saturday, 9 February 2013 | 05:54
Published on February 9, 2013 by TFP   ·   No Comments
BANGKOK, 8 February 2013 (NNT) — The Universal Peace Foundation (Thailand) has held a seminar on the occasion of UN World Interfaith Harmony Week, which falls on the first week of February.

This year, the interfaith campaign is held under the theme of inter-religious principles for strengthening families. A seminar has been held to discuss ways to strengthen family institution in a sustainable manner.

The United Nations (UN) has declared every first week of February as UN World Interfaith Harmony Week since 2010, to promote the unity and cooperation among people of different religion beliefs.

Academics and religious experts gathered to exchange views on different religious principles, focusing on how they could help strengthen family bond. It is believed that religious teachings are important foundations for strong family bonding.

(NNT: Nuttaporn Chanchokpong)

SOURCE

World Interfaith Harmony Week 2013 – São Paulo

Posted on February 10th, 2013

 World Interfaith Harmony Week was celebrated on Thursday 7 of February at the City Chamber of São Paulo thanks to the support of city Councilor Gilberto Natalini and the partnership of the interfaith leaders.

Reverend Christian Lepelletier, UPF Vice-President was the MC and invited the following religious representatives at the main table from left:
Disciple Robson Dias from the Makadesh Evangelical Community,
Professor Sandra Santos, President of the São Paulo State Umbandist Association,
Sheikh Mohamed Al Bukai, Director of the Islamic Affairs of the National Union of the Islamic Organizations in Brazil,
Simão Ferabolli, President of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU), representing the Universal Peace Federation (UPF),
Professor Samuel, President of the Brazilian Association of Religious Freedom and Citizenship representing the Adventist Church,
Rabi Gilberto Venturas representing the Paulista IsraelitaAssociation,
Bishop Marcelo Resende from the Liberal Catholic Church and the Theosophical Society,
Reverend Mahesvara, representing the Hinduism and the Hare Krishna Movement,
Ifa Boala representing the Yoluba African Traditional Culture,
Pastor Nello Pulcinelli, from the Institute Thomas Helwys representing the Baptist Faith and
Father Kyrilos Carlos from the Byelorussian Slav Orthodox Church who arrived after the picture was taken.
Among the dignitaries present were: City councilor Gilberto Natalini who said: “Religions can play an important role in reducing violence, a major problem in our megalopolis. In a city like São Paulo, a culture of peace, it is a necessity. And all religions are fundamental to promote a culture of peace. “
City Councilor Laercio Benko said: “It is very important to promote Interfaith Harmony, even though in Brazil, most religious followers are free to practice their faith, I personally met intolerance because I belong to the Umbanda Afro Brazilian tradition that receive persecutions from fundamentalist Evangelicals. I will offer the full support of my office for the sake of Interreligious harmony.”
About sixty people came, among them several leaders from the Civil Society including the Paulistanos Movement  for Peace that started to meet at the city Chamber following recent  waves of violence and twenty members of the FFWPU youth group.
Professor Samuel coordinated the table and asked each leader to answer the following questions: As a religious leader or follower of a religious movement (religion) how can you support the city Councilors to build a Culture of Peace? Would you be willing to cooperate with other religious leaders and join an interreligious Council to support the city Councilors of São Paulo to build a Culture of Peace?
The general response was positive thanks to the good partnership already existing between some councilors and the interfaith leaders. Everyone understands that the Culture of Peace is rooted in spiritual and moral development and that is the main responsibility of the religious leaders to provide education to their members.
Selma Tristão from the Hebrews Evangelical community presented a beautiful song for a brief interval. Then a UPF video was presented on the screen to introduce the worldwide scope of the activities.
Finally, Simão Ferabolli presented the Interreligious Councils proposal that originated from the UPF founder reverend Sun Myung Moon when he spoke at the UN in 2000. That vision should be extended in order to provide religious leaders for the UN Council, each nation should establish an Interreligious Council and to elect religious leaders for the national Council, each states and even each city should establish an Interreligious Council.
With the Paulistanos Peace Movement which includes several interfaith activists meeting every first Thursday of the month at the City Chamber already we are building a foundation for the future São Paulo Interreligious Council.

Indonesian Youth Celebrates UN World Interfaith Harmony Week

Posted on February 8th, 2013

Jakarta – Under the auspices of UNDPI-Affiliate Anand Ashram Foundation Indonesia, youth from different sections and elements of society got together on the 1st of February to begin a week long celebration of the World Interfaith Harmony Week, initiated by the Jordan Prince Ghazi and unanimously adopted by all UN member states.

“Our theme this year,” explained Dr Wayan Sayoga, the foundation chairman, “is ‘Indonesian Youth Striving for Global Harmony’. This is well received by our NGO Colleagues, among others Indonesian Women’s Association for Global Peace (IWAG-P), Islamic Movement for Non-Violence (IMN), Centre for Vedic & Dharmic Studies, National Integration Movement (NIM), One Earth Integral Education Foundation, and One Earth School (OES).”

Joehanes Budiman representing the National Integration Movement (NIM) pointed out, “For centuries we have lived on the archipelago in complete peace and harmony. We are determined to keep it that way.”

Maya Safira Muchtar, Inspirer of IWAG-Peace added, “With their dynamism, youth are the natural agents of change. With their participation in events like this, we are sure that there will be no more religious conflicts and violations of human rights in Indonesia and elsewhere on the planet.”

Ni Luh Sukmawati representing the Center for Vedic and Dharmic Studies, and Muslihah Razak of Indonesian Movement for Non-Violence (IMN) both referred to the findings of prestigious Setara Institute, “There have been 371 violations of religious freedom during 2012. The figures are disheartening, but the participation of youth in events like this brings us some hope.”

“The celebrations this year,” said Dr Sayoga, “actually began on September 21st last year, when Anand Ashram unveiled the Global Harmony Monument in Ubud Bali, attended by government officials and representatives of several religions, like Dr Musdah Mulia, Father Franz Magnis, Ida Pedanda Sebali, the Gianyar Regent, the Prince of Ubud, and many others. (http://www.charterforglobalharmony.org/) “The monument is now an Ubud Landmark, visited daily by many. We are committed to promoting World or Global Interfaith Harmony, this is also Anand Ashram’s mission, from Inner Peace to Global Harmony by promoting Communal Love. This is the only way to realize our vision of One Earth One Sky and One Humankind. This year, we are celebrating the event in several major cities like Jakarta, Ciawi, Yogyakarta, and on the isle of Bali.”

Chairman of Indonesian Tourist Guide Association Sang Putu Subaya; Head of Gianyar Department of Tourism Ari Brahmanta; Founder of Gandhi Puri Ashram Indra Udayana; and Acharya Premananda of the State Hindu University; attending the event in Ubud, Bali, appreciated Anand Ashram’s initiative and fully supported the cause.

“The Yogyakarta Chapter of Anand Ashram,” said Dr Suriastini in a meet with the press, “is extending the World Interfaith Harmony Event to another dimension, that is the empowerment of youth and women. Also in conjunction with the 1 Billion Rising Appeal for Women Empowerment on Feb 14th, we have organized empowerment workshops in the Wirogunan Prison and elsewhere.”

In Ciawi West Java, the One Earth Retreat Center where the event was held, Zeembry the Anand Ashram Jakarta’s coordinator explained, “We have organized a movie show on the theme of interfaith harmony, and several other activities during the week.”

“We would also celebrate the event in Monas and Marunda – Jakarta Sunday Morning (Feb 3)” he added.

Dr Wayan Sayoga mentioned, “Something like 700 people getting together to celebrate Interfaith Harmony on the 1st day, and several hundreds more to join in the ensuing days until the end of the week, this is very promising!”

For Inquiries, Contact:
Timothy Cruize
16264098496
Source - Photo By Anand Ashram Foundation

 

Young must appreciate and respect diversity in culture and religion

Posted on February 8th, 2013

08 FEB 2013 04:06PM

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 8 (Bernama) — The spirit of appreciating and respecting the diversity in culture and religion must always be fostered among the young generation, specifically those who are still schooling.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said, such spirit was crucial to ensure stability and harmony towards achieving better and sustainable progress and development.

“Appreciating and respecting the diversity in culture and religion is actually an important asset or advantage which we should be proud of, and continue to defend.

“So, it is apt that the young generation be continuously imbued with the spirit of appreciating and respecting the principles of the Federal Constitution, understanding Rukunegara, understanding existing difference in
culture, and appreciating and practising census and goodwill among them,” he said.

He said this in his speech at a ceremony to launch the education ministry’s school-level World Interfaith Harmony Week (WIHW) at Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Seksyen 3, Bandar Kinrara near here today.

Muhyiddin, who is also education minister, said the initiative taken in efforts to foster understanding and unity among the young generation had also proven to be fruitful.

This, he said, had made Malaysia an example of inter-racial and religious relationship, which other countries would find it difficult to equal.

The deputy prime minister said, school administrators and institutions of education should continue to develop a conducive social environment and encourage communication and interaction among students of various communities, religions and cultures, to realise a Malaysian identity.

As such, he said, leaders of educational institutions, especially teachers, must strategise to foster and maintain the spirit of unity and patriotism through curriculum, co-curriculum and sporting activities.

Muhyiddin said, the development of a dignified and sovereign race was the duty of every member of society, to place the race and country on par with developed nations of the world.

In the meantime, he said, today’s programme could close the gap of harmony and goodwill among the people, especially school students.

He said, if the young, who were regarded as the back-up generation, were not united and did not have a common vision and mission, the stability currently enjoyed would be threatened.

“The gap between communities and religions among the young generation will become wider, if the tendency towards unity is not fostered from an early stage, especially at school level.

“If allowed to continue, they will go their separate ways and it will become more severe when the value of existing harmony is unravelled and destroyed,” he said.

The WIHW celebration was attended by about 1,000 students who performed numerous integration games and cultures of the country’s multi-racial society.

WIHW is the brainchild of the King of Jordan, King Abdullah II.

It became a resolution adopted by the United Nations (UN) to be celebrated in the first week of February every year, by member nations.

Malaysia celebrated WIHW for the first time in February 2011, as organised by the UN.- BERNAMA

SOURCE

STABILITY AND HARMONY : RESPECT DIVERSITY IN CULTURE AND RELIGION – MUHYIDDIN

Posted on February 8th, 2013

The spirit of appreciating and respecting the diversity in culture and religion must always be fostered among the younger generation, specifically those who are still in school.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said, this is crucial towards ensuring stability and harmony in the country, and is an important asset which we should be proud of, and continue to defend.

Tan Sri Muhyiddin, who is also Education Minister, said this at a ceremony to launch the education ministry’s school-level World Interfaith Harmony Week WIHW at Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan, Seksyen 3, Bandar Kinrara today.

Also present were Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon and Deputy Education Minister, Datuk Wee Ka Siong.

SOURCE

O’Connell To Host 2013 World Interfaith Harmony Film Festival In Conjunction With The United Nations

Posted on February 8th, 2013

Thu, 07 February 2013 18:07:20

The World Interfaith Harmony Film Festival, http://www.worldinterfaithharmonyfilmfestival.com/, has chosen philanthroper, designer, and entertainment entrepreneur Aerin O’Connell to host this years ceremonies scheduled from February 6th – 10th. The World Interfaith Harmony Film Festival is an annual event to be observed during the first week of February in conjunction with the United Nations World Interfaith Harmony Week. Organizer Renee DePalma has chosen Aerin for her esteemed entertainment background, as well as her philanthropy work across the world.

Aerin recently traveled to Liberia, West Africa, and will be returning late this month along with the More Than Me Organization, www.morethanme.org.

As their primary initiative, the More Than Me Organization and Aerin aim to remove little girls from the streets and place them into schools; Liberia being one of the world’s most dangerous slums in the world. Overrun by crime in this poverished region, one out of every four young girls are forced into a life of prostitution.

Aerin and the More Than Me Organization are working with community leaders to identify these girls who are at the highest risk of sexual exploitation to ensure that education and opportunity, not servitude and poverty, define their lives. They pay tuition, provide school lunch and work with the school and community to make it impossible for them to fail.

During her week working abroad, Aerin was quoted as to her experience, “Liberia really has their work cut out for them; but after meeting these fierce spirits, that will not be wavered by unforeseen stumbling blocks that might otherwise be intimidating or hopeless. I’m confident that after meeting so many amazing individuals with great commitment to their cause, all goals and initiative will ultimately be met. Getting an inside look allowed everything to resonate with me, reality is tough. I am very thankful and appreciative to everyone who took the time to talk with me, allow interviews, open up about their lives, former lives, and aspirations for the future.”

In the spirit of achieving a culture of peace, The World Interfaith Harmony Film Festival has been created to promote and celebrate harmony between all people regardless of their faith tradition or country of origin. Recognizing the imperative need for dialogue amongst different faiths and religions to enhance mutual understanding and cooperation, this film festival encourages a gathering of people from all across the United States and from nations around the World.

The Festival Program will showcase and celebrate the works of independent filmmakers who strive to make a difference in our world by creating films on themes of peace, non-violence, social justice, and environmental balance as these themes pertain to interfaith harmony.

To find out more about Aerin O’Connell and The World Interfaith Harmony Film Festival, please visit:

http://www.facebook.com/Aerin.OConnell

http://aerinoconnell.com/

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2961836/

http://www.worldinterfaithharmonyfilmfestival.com/

 

Link to Source:
http://www.datsyn.com/article/1794/2013/02/07/OConnell-To-Host-2013-World-Interfaith-Harmony-Film-Festival-In-Conjunction-With-The-United-Nations

 

SOURCE

Universal Peace Foundation (Thailand)

Posted on February 8th, 2013

UN World Interfaith Harmony Week held on first week of February

BANGKOK, 8 February 2013 (NNT) – The Universal Peace Foundation (Thailand) has held a seminar on the occasion of UN World Interfaith Harmony Week, which falls on the first week of February.

This year, the interfaith campaign is held under the theme of inter-religious principles for strengthening families. A seminar has been held to discuss ways to strengthen family institution in a sustainable manner.

The United Nations (UN) has declared every first week of February as UN World Interfaith Harmony Week since 2010, to promote the unity and cooperation among people of different religion beliefs.

Academics and religious experts gathered to exchange views on different religious principles, focusing on how they could help strengthen family bond. It is believed that religious teachings are important foundations for strong family bonding.


– NNT 2013-02-08

 

SOURCE

World Interfaith Harmony Week – Pakistan

Posted on February 8th, 2013

Feb-08-2013 04:05

Shamim Masih Salem-News.com

Communal Love that can lead us to the attainment of “Global Harmony”

 Jamshed Khan, Advisor REAP, Dr. Rushdi al Ani, (Iraqi Ambassador-Chief Guest), Rubina Bhatti, Director YDA and Shamim Masih, President REAP
Group photos of the participants with chief guest

(ISLAMABAD) – Reformation for Empowerment and Alleviation of Poverty (REAP) and Youth Development Association (YDA) on Wednesday, February 06, 2013 held a celebration to mark World Interfaith Harmony Week, observed annually during the first week of February.

Jamshed Khan giving vote of thanks

A major goal of the Week is to make the ongoing work of interfaith groups to be made more visible to the world around. The thousands of events organized by these groups often go unnoticed not only by the general public, but also by other interfaith groups themselves.

In September 2010, His Majesty King Abdullah proposed the launch of the World Interfaith Harmony Week at the UN General Assembly, which adopted the initiative.

Re-affirming that “mutual understanding and inter-religious dialogue constitute important dimensions of a culture of peace”, the UN General Assembly proclaimed “the first week of February of every year World Interfaith Harmony Week between all religions, faiths and beliefs”.

Jamshed Khan, Advisor REAP, Dr. Rushdi al Ani,
(Iraqi Ambassador-Chief Guest), Rubina Bhatti, Director
YDA and Shamim Masih, President REAP

The week serves as a voluntary occasion for people to express their own religious teachings about tolerance, respect for others and peace, in hopes of bringing people together across the globe.

During the ceremony, held at Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry Hall, attended by Dr. Rushadi al Ani- Iraqi Ambassador and eminent speakers, said the King had offered a gift to humanity through this proposal which was made clear during a speech to the UN General Assembly in October 2010 by His Royal Highness Prince Ghazi Bin Mohammad.

 

    Pakistan, the largest Muslim populated (96%) country in world, has long suffered from internal conflicts due to sectarianism.

 

 

    Eminent speakers like Ashok Chand, Prof. Saqib Akber, Jennifer Javin and Romana Bashir addressed in the program and stressed on interfaith dialogue and need to promote social justice. They said that all religions teach to respect the basic rights of the human. Different faiths do not bind in limits but allow caring others cultural and mutual respect, so that every citizen of every country can live peaceful life.

 

 

Participants attending the event
    Romana Bashir, consultant for Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue in Pakistan said that the harmony we are pushing for is democratic, and built on effective communication and mutual respect.

 

 

    Gatherings and activities for World Interfaith Harmony Week have been held in various countries across the world with diverse backgrounds, including Pakistan, Indonesia, Italy, and Jordan, she added.

 

Ashok Chand proposed the idea with the aim of achieving a “faith-driven world harmony by extending its call beyond the Muslim and Christian community to include people of all beliefs and those with no set religious beliefs as well”.

 

About Shamim Masih

“I am Christian rights activist and freelancer Pakistani journalist specializing in writing about Christians rights for the different papers in the world. My aim is to create a peaceful environment in the society and to help eliminate Christian persecution through my writing as I bring the plight of these brave people under the spotlight of the whole world.”

Shamim Masih was born in Sheikhopura’s village and raised in Gujranwala, a city in Pakistan’s Punjab province. He earned his Bachelors Degree from the University of the Punjab, Lahore majoring in English, Economics and Statistics; he also received a Masters Degree in Business Administration.

As a freelance writer and author, Shamim has written for different papers in the world; his expertise is in writing articles highlighting different social issues. He has served as freelance chief reporter and column writer in “Minority Times” in Islamabad, and a number of Shamim’s articles have been published in local papers as well.

You can write to Shamim at this address: shamimpakistan@gmail.com

SOURCE

World Interfaith Harmony Film Festival Runs This Week

Posted on February 7th, 2013


Inspired by a resolution from United Nations from October of 2010 calling for the celebration of World Interfaith Harmony Week, the Culver City-based World Interfaith Harmony Film Festival offers screenings from February 6 to February 10 of films on themes of peace, non-violence, social justice, and environmental balance. Screenings are held at the Magnin Theatre at the Skirball Cultural Center at 2701 N. Sepulveda, at Sony Pictures Studios, and at the Imam Cultural Center at 3376 Motor Ave.

Check the organization’s WEB SITE for more information about ticket price and venue. Here are some of the films being screened:

 

 

Wednesday February 6th (OPENING NIGHT)

SHIFT OF THE AGES

6:00 PM

Directed By Stephen Copeland

82 minutes

Shift of the Ages reveals the story of the Mayan culture and its sophisticated prophecies of time, as told for the first time by the Grand Elder of the Mayan people, Alejandro Cirilo Perez Oxlaj. The film, shot over the course of seven years, shares indigenous wisdom passed down to Wandering Wolf in a way that expresses the role human consciousness plays in connecting to the universe.

 

SAMSARA

7:30 PM

Directed By Ron Fricke

Documentary Feature (USA), 102 minutes

Filmed over nearly five years in twenty-five countries on five continents, Samsara is a visually breathtaking cinematic adventure shot entirely on 70 millimetre film. A triumph of the moving image, Samsara transports us to the varied worlds of sacred grounds, disaster zones, industrial complexes, and natural wonders in one unforgettable journey.

 

Thursday February 7th

 

SAINT KATHARINE DREXEL

6:00 PM

Directed By Mary Ann Sullivan

Short Film — Digital Poetry (USA)

3 minutes

Saint Katharine Drexel was an American heiress who spent  her family fortune helping the poor. This film represents a new genre of poetry, called digital video poetry. Inspired by filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein, digital video poems explore shots as moving hieroglyphs and ideograms. Digital poets often combine animated hieroglyphs with words to craft their poems, returning to an ancient form of writing: the pictograph. But unlike early Chinese, Egyptian, and Greek hieroglyphs, these poetic symbols utilize cinematic motion.

GOD AND ALLAH NEED TO TALK

6:05 PM

Directed By Ruth Broyde Sharone

Documentary Short (USA)

25 minutes

Following the devastating events of 9/11, filmmaker Ruth Broyde-Sharone saw an urgent need to document the efforts of courageous Muslims, Jews, and Christians in Los Angeles who are determined to bring healing to a fragmented nation. The film illustrates how interfaith dialogue, community outreach, and even dinner conversation can be harnessed to dissolve fear and suspicion and, ultimately, to create a path towards true reconciliation. God/Allah is always talking to us, but are we talking to one another?

 

MONTGOMERY

7:45 PM

Dramatic Short Film (USA)

2:55 minutes

WHAT ON EARTH?

7:48 PM

Directed By Suzanne Taylor

Documentary Feature (USA)

81 minutes

What On Earth deals intelligently, scientifically, and with a sweet sense of grandeur one of the globe’s most persistent and beautiful mysteries, the phenomenon known as crop circles. It easily dispenses with the notion that the vast majority of these beautiful formations in the world’s fields are human-made, and it explores with depth and cunning just how and why they might be here. If you have an inkling of adventure and a curiosity to other potentialities, you will savor this lovely and pleasant voyage, guided by filmmaker Suzanne Taylor, into the realms of the magnificent and our human relationship with it. The film offers a sensible cultural investigation, a thoughtful analysis, and a visionary exploration “outside the box” of conventional and superficial wisdom to suggest other worlds of possibility.

 

Friday February 8th

HOW TO BOIL A FROG

11:00 AM

Written and Directed By Jon Cooksey

Documentary Feature (Canada)

53 minutes

How to Boil a Frog is an eco-comedy that gives an overview of the Big Mess We’re In – environment, energy, economic – and lays out a set of personal solutions that will make your life better and save civilization as a by-product. This clever and good humored film journey chronicles Jon Cooksey’s personal, three-year adventure as a filmmaker, activist and, above all, a father driven to make sure his daughter would have a future beyond living on a raft with the last polar bear. The film mixes humor, facts and a sprinkling of experts to show how climate change is just one symptom of an even messier problem: overshoot. “Overshoot means too many people using up too little planet,” says Cooksey, “so in the end, we either need fewer people, more planets, or we’re going to have use less stuff. Or all three. I dib Mars.” With its Everyman approach in the style of “Supersize Me”, interviews with scientists, journalists and energy experts across North America, How To Boil A Frog suggests five ways that people can save habitability on the earth while improving their own lives at the same time.

 

THE TIME IS…NOW

TIME: 3:15 PM

Directed By Vishal Hiraskar

Documentary Feature (India)

91 minutes

“The TIME Is…NOW” explores ordinary people who have survived extreme crises when the only thing they had to draw upon was their inner power and faith. Did these people know that they had some unique power before they were forced to face those situations? Was it the human spirit inside of them that endured? Or was it that in the most extreme situations their soul reached out to a higher power? These questions and others are addressed by World Leaders, Politicians, War Psychologists and Spiritual Leaders, intermixed with deeply personal stories and superb animation sequences to offer a view that human beings are actually instrumental in creating peace in the world. The Time Is Now…takes a stand that there is still HOPE for Peace.

 

AMERICAN EMPIRE

Time: 5:30 PM

Directed By Patrea Patrick

Documentary Feature (USA)

106 minutes

Called a “revolution in film” by The Huffington Post and a “provocative” production that “makes you think” by film Director Oliver Stone, American Empire received instant accolades after its premiere at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival as “the most controversial movie of the year…and quite possibly the decade.” The film has been described as “a gripping, provocative analysis of the current state of the U.S,” through its tale of corporate shenanigans, bank manipulation, and environmental damage. From the gigantic bailouts of the country’s largest banks to the destruction of the economy through corporate and government ties to genetically modified foods and global ecosystems, American Empire claims that the world as we know it is screaming for help, and makes a point that there, quite simply, are not enough resources remaining for the country to continue down its current path.

 

THE BLUE JEWEL

Time: 8:00 PM

Directed By Oliver Hauck

Documentary Feature (Germany)

100 minutes

“The Blue Jewel” is a film by people for people. The film underlines in a unique manner how important it is for human beings to understand that they are One with the Earth. The film asks questions like: “How might our world look if human beings were to realize that they are one with the Earth?” “Or if we realized that humans are made of the same materials as a volcano or a raincloud?” “Or that the pulse of the Earth is One with the heartbeats of human beings?” “Or that human beings are intelligent, conscious creatures with free will, able to take responsibility for their actions at any time in respect to our planet.” Filmed in a myriad of locations around the globe, the film is a stunning visual masterpiece mixed with narration recorded from the point of view of Mother Earth, voicing in a unique manner how important it is to protect “The Blue Jewel” which is Our Home, Our Mother, Our Earth.

 

Saturday February 9th (Children’s, Family and Community Harmony Day)=

RISE AND SHINE BREAKFAST

9:00 AM

Celebrity Chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger’s Famous

Border Grill Food Truck will be on-site cooking up a special Breakfast Menu for purchase to kick off the morning. Come early and enjoy some great food at reasonable prices before the Family Shorts Program begins!

FAMILY SHORTS PROGRAM ONE (FREE)

10:00 AM

AN INTERFAITH CAROL (FREE)

10:35 AM

Directed By First Drops Interfaith Youth Group

Young Voices For Harmony — Youth Film (USA)

9 minutes

 

WHAT YOU SAY CAN HURT US (FREE)

10:45 AM

Directed By First Drops Interfaith Youth Group

Young Voices For Harmony — Youth Film (USA)

5 minutes

 

THE LITTLE FROG (FREE)

10:50 AM

Animated Short Film (USA)

2:25 minutes

THE CRACKED POT (FREE)

10:55 AM

Animated Short Film (USA)

3:50 minutes

FAMILY SHORTS PROGRAM TWO (FREE)

11:00 AM

 

GOLDEN RULE

11:30 AM

Documentary Short Film (USA)

3 minutes

ANIMATING THE GOLDEN RULE (ADMISSION BY DONATION)

11:33 AM

Directed By Tina Petrova

Documentary Short Film (Canada)

23 minutes

Historians tell us that between the ninth and second centuries B.C.E. a new concept for living came into the consciousness of humans. Inexplicably it filtered throughout the world and began to appear in the sacred records of all civilizations. The concept was that of Compassion. And the focal point of this was the Ethic of Reciprocity; commonly know as the Golden Rule. Animating the Golden Rule is a captivating journey through the world’s variety of faith traditions examining and exploring one of the fundamental tenets underlying many of the world’s religions: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Through music, rap and drama as animated by grade 10 and 11 youth, the film explores how ideals of multiculturalism, diversity, ethics, youth and global citizenship tie directly into this Golden Rule philosophy.

 

INTERFAITH HARMONY MEET AND GREET DIALOGUE LUNCHEON

1:00 PM

Celebrity Chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger’s Famous

Border Grill Food Truck will be on-site to offer a special Lunch Menu for purchase during our Childrens, Family, and Community World Interfaith Harmony Luncheon. Come inside after you purchase your meal to chat, meet, and greet friends from the USA and around the World. Special Guests from the local Interfaith Community will be facilitating stimulating dialogue.

YANGSI: REINCARNATION IS JUST THE BEGINNING (Suitable For All Ages)

2:15 PM

Directed By Mark Elliot

Documentary Feature (USA)

82 minutes

An intimate portrait of a young Tibetan boy who is recognized as the reincarnation of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, one of the most revered Tibetan Buddhist masters of the twentieth century. He is known as The Yangsi, “the one who has come again into existence”. Providing a unique window into the world of Tibetan Buddhism, this film is a coming of age story with universal themes, made over a fourteen year period by Mark Elliott, an acclaimed film maker and longtime student of Tibetan Buddhism. Beginning with his enthronement at age four before a crowd of fifteen thousand people in Kathmandu, Nepal, the young teacher gives a first person account of his experience of growing up in, and coming to terms with, his unique inheritance. With unprecedented access, the film chronicles the Yangsi’s life during his training in Tibetan philosophy and various rituals, filmed intimately and beautifully in Nepal and the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan.

 

DIVIDED WE FALL

4:00 PM

Directed By Sharat Raju

Documentary Feature (USA)

92 minutes

More than 1,000 hate crimes were reported within one week of September 11, 2001, and at least nineteen people were murdered in hate violence in the twelve months following September 11th. The wave of hate crimes and hate violence affected Muslim Americans and anyone perceived to be Muslim: Sikh, Arab, South Asian, Latino, and other brown-skinned Americans. Incidents occurred in every part of the public sphere: houses, workplaces, airports, school grounds, and street corners, in nearly every major city in the United States. In targeted communities, temples were burned, homes vandalized, families threatened, jobs denied, children bullied, women harassed, men and boys beaten and murdered. In fall of 2001, a young woman took off around the country following these hate crimes against the Sikh American community–her community–with a video camera and a streak of bravery. What began as a solitary journey to document untold stories became an award-winning documentary film that inspired a movement for brave new dialogue about race and religion in America.

 

HEART OF A MURDERER

6:30 PM

Directed By Catherine McGilvray

Documentary Feature (Italy)

58 minutes

How is it humanly possible to receive your daughter’s killer into your home?  The Heart of a Murderer, set in India, tells the true story of Samunder Singh, a twenty-two-year-old fanatic Hindu, who in 1995 murdered Sister Rani Maria, a Franciscan missionary nun from Kerala. The powerful mystery of forgiveness is at the center of the film, illustrating how unconditional forgiveness can truly transform hatred into love.

 

FINDING JOE

8:15 PM

Directed By Patrick Solomon

Documentary Feature (USA)

80 minutes

In the early 20th century, while studying world mythology, Joseph Campbell discovered a pattern hidden in every story ever told and he called it “the heroes journey”. A truly inspirational film, FINDING JOE takes us on the ultimate heroes journey: the journey of self discovery. As you slay dragons and uncover treasures, you just may find that the holy grail you seek is closer than you think. Rooted in deeply personal accounts and timeless stories, Finding Joe shows how Campbell’s work is relevant and essential in today’s world and how it provides a narrative for how to live a fully realized life – or as Campbell would simply state, how to “follow your bliss”.

 

Sunday February 10th

BODHISATTVA

9:00 AM

Directed By Mark Elliot

Documentary Feature (USA)

60 minutes

‘Bodhisattva’ portrays the Seventeenth Gyalwa Karmapa, one of the most important Lamas in the world of Tibetan Buddhism. Many view him as the natural successor to the Dalai Lama as the face of Tibetan Buddhism to the world for the next generation. The film interweaves footage shot on tour with superb background footage of the Karmapa’s childhood in Tibet, sequences in Dharamsala, India, and film of the previous Sixteenth Karmapa, capturing a portrait of this young man of extraordinary warmth, humanity and charisma.

 

SAINT DAMIEN OF MOLOKAI

12:10 PM

Directed By Mary Ann Sullivan

Digital Poetry (USA)

5 minutes

Saint Damien Of Molokai volunteered to serve lepers on the island of Molokai, which resulted in the Saint becoming a leper himself. This selfless act of kindness inspired the world to assist the ailing leper colony. This film represents a new genre of poetry, called digital video poetry. Inspired by filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein, digital video poems explore shots as moving hieroglyphs and ideograms. Digital poets often combine animated hieroglyphs with words to craft their poems, returning to an ancient form of writing: the pictograph. But unlike early Chinese, Egyptian, and Greek hieroglyphs, these poetic symbols utilize cinematic motion.

           

ICUJP: A CLEAR VISION

12:15 PM

Directed By Robert Corsini

Documentary Short (USA)

12 minutes

For over a decade, Interfaith Communities United For Justice and Peace (ICUJP) has followed a clear mission — to organize communities of faith and conscience to stop blessing war and violence in the face of armed conflict, injustice and intolerance; and to advocate for Justice, Peace, and Human Dignity, by speaking truth to power – to whomever is in power. This 12 minute video, narrated by actor, peace activist and anti-death penalty advocate, Mike Farrell, tells the inspiring story of how ICUJP, under the visionary leadership of Dr. Rev. George Regas, Dr. Rev. James Lawson, and others from a wide spectrum of faith traditions, was formed in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy.  This compelling documentary describes how ICUJP has organized communities of faith and conscience to pursue justice and peace through direct non-violent action, and demonstrates the viability of Interfaith organizing as an effective tool for Justice and Peace both with the United State and in countries around the World.

 

DIALOGUE IN NIGERIA:

MUSLIMS AND CHRISTIANS CREATING THEIR FUTURE

1:00 PM

Directed By Libby and Len Traubman

Documentary Feature (USA and Nigeria)

65 minutes

200 courageous Muslims and Christians — young women and men unite successfully in Jos, central Nigeria. Refusing to be enemies, they are together during days and evenings of the 2010 International Conference on Youth and Interfaith Communication. Crossing lines of religion, economics, tribe, and gender they transcend the status quo and discover empathy for each other.

Listening-to-learn, they dignify themselves and the “other” realizing that “an enemy is one whose story we have not heard.” Face to face in small circles they begin with ice-breakers and continue in depth, discovering one another’s equal humanity – fear, grief, needs, hopes, and concrete plans for a shared future.

SOURCE

Kaduna Muslims, Christians demand legislation against hate speech

Posted on February 7th, 2013

Written by Alex Abutu,Abuja, Hope Abah, Makurdi, Chris Eze, Yenagoa, Eyo Charles, Calabar, Aliyu AbdulLateef, Ilorin, Johnkennedy Uzoma, Owerri, Aliyu M. Hamagam, Minna & Christiana T. Alabi, Kaduna
Muslims and Christians in Kaduna State have demanded for legislation against hate speech that is capable of creating ethno-religious crises in the state.
The two religions in their hundreds yesterday marched to the Kaduna State House of Assembly under the aegis of Interfaith Mediation Centre in commemoration of the World Inter-faith Harmony Week demanding for a ban on hate speech as well as other factors responsible of fuelling ethno-religious crises in the state.
The group, comprising members of catholic cadets, boys’ brigade, and aid group of Christian and Islamic faiths among others in company of some religious leaders in a peaceful procession, marched from Leventis roundabout along Ahmadu Bello Way to Lugard Hall premises.
Speaking before the legislators at the house of assembly, leader of the group Imam Mohammed N. Ashafa said problems are bound to arise while trying to maintain peace in a society where there are differences in characteristics, religions, ethnicity and attributes of the people.
Responding, deputy speaker Dogara Mato assured the group that the house will work on the proposed bills and urged the group to write formally to the house intimating it of all the details of the initiative.
SOURCE

A Friendship Some Wouldn’t Think Could Happen

Posted on February 7th, 2013

A Friendship Some Wouldn’t Think Could Happen

Two students find a deep connection, and then put it to the test in a cookoff on Feb. 8.

 

Julia_Noran2
Friedman (top) is a sociology major and Elzarka is studying political science. Photo by Bill Cardoni.

 

Drew senior Julia Friedman, the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor from Hungary, is president of Hillel, the Jewish student group. Sophomore Noran Elzarka, a Muslim whose family hails from Egypt, is president of the Middle Eastern Student Association. No matter. These days the two student activists are practically BFFs.

“I think the basis of our friendship is we’re both passionate people who care about our community, our roots, our people,” Friedman says. “And we want to share that with others.”

Elzarka has traveled many times to Egypt to visit family. Friedman spent three weeks in Israel in 2011 on a Drew International Seminar, then spent the Spring 2012 semester studying in Tel Aviv. And while they do talk about more than just the enduring conflict in the Middle East, the topic is never far away. When Israel and Hamas exchanged rocket fire last November, Friedman and Elzarka spoke about it daily. Partners in the Junior Fellows program in Drew’s Center for Religion, Culture and Conflict, they also take part in events sponsored by each other’s campus cultural groups. “We’re able to use our friendship and learn from different student activities we’re involved in,” Elzarka says.

You might say they became friends in prison. Last fall Friedman and Elzarka enrolled in a sociology course that associate professor Caitlin Killian taught at New Jersey’s only state prison for women. Once a week they’d share a ride to the Edna Mahan Correctional Center in Hunterdon County—40 minutes each way—and they’d often use the time to discuss the legal, racial and cultural issues that the course inspired.

“No one else had this emotional reaction we had,” Friedman says. “We both kind of bonded in that we both were very struck by this profound experience. Both of us were kind of sad that when [the course] was over, it was over.”

Their friendship, happily, was just beginning.—By Christopher Hann

Interfaith Cookoff

Julia Friedman and Noran Elzarka will join Drew students from a variety of campus organizations on Friday, Feb. 8, for the fifth annual Interfaith Chef.

Taking their culinary cues from the Food Network’s Chopped contest, the students will prepare dishes from around the globe, though in a far more friendly cooking competition. (There will be no $50,000 grand prize at stake.) A panel of judges, including Sameer Sarmast, the proprietor of a popular website and online video show, Sameer’s Eats, dedicated to the finest in Halal food, will then evaluate the gastronomic offerings.

Interfaith Chef is held in conjunction with the United Nations’ World Interfaith Harmony Week. “I think it’ll be fun,” Friedman says, “and goofy.”

Organized by the Muslim Student Association, Hillel, the South Asian Students Association and the Religious Life Council, the cookoff is scheduled for 5 to 7 p.m. in the Ehinger Center. For more information, visit the Interfaith Chef site or call 973.408.3511.

SOURCE

RFYN YOUTH INTERFAITH PEACE RALLY HELD AT MARINA BEACH, CHENNAI

Posted on February 7th, 2013

RFYN Youth Interfaith Peace Rally held at Marina Beach, ChennaiFebruary 6, 2013RFYN Youth Interfaith Peace Rally organized by the IARF-SACC-RFYN held on23rd  January 2013 at Marina Beach (The 2nd Longest Beach in the world after Miami Beach), Chennai Metro City, Tamil Nadu, India. The Rally was organized byMr. K. Ramachandran, Vice-President, IARF-India Chapter and assisted by Ms. Anbumani Arumugam, President, RFYN-International and Ms. Nithya, Young Adult Leader.

The Rally was organized in view of expressing solidarity to World Interfaith Harmony Week, an annual event to be observed during the first week of February starting in 2011 proclaimed by United Nations. The UN General Assembly resolution A/RES/65/5, adopted on 20 October 2010, “Proclaims the first week of February every year the World Interfaith Harmony Week between all religions, faiths and beliefs.”

The rally was flagged off by the guests representing all major faiths of India.  The Rally started from the Labour Statue in the Marina Beach (the 2nd Longest Beach in the world after Miami Beach). The 893 students and their coordinators from the 35 city and outstation colleges marched along the Beach Road and culminated near the Gandhi Statue between 3pm-4pm on 23rd Jan 2013. The reason for choosing the venue more specifically the start point of the rally is significant with a bit of Chennai’s own history woven into it by young generation.

 

View more photos…

Download Report

SOURCE

World Interfaith Cultural Week celebrated

Posted on February 7th, 2013

By: Our Staff Reporter | February 07, 2013 0
World Interfaith Cultural Week celebrated

 

KHANEWAL – The Bethak-Pakistan in collaboration with AAP-Multan celebrated the World Interfaith Cultural Week to promote communication and trust among the believers of different religious for peace.

A large number of people from Christian, Muslim, Sikh, and Hindu communities participated in the cultural festival here the other day. Programme started with the recitation of holy books of different religions and representatives from all the faiths were called on stage and a candlelight vigil was also held for peace and harmony in the society.

On the occasion, Samuel Barkat, Francis Jacob, Amir Hussaini, Sarfraz Clement, and Mahinder Paul Singh spoke on different aspects of promotion of peace and harmony through interfaith dialogue, importance of diversity in religions, different cultures and ethnic groups and acceptance of each individual as a unique person.

Shahzad Francis of Bethak explained the objectives of Interfaith Cultural Festival and different forms of interfaith dialogue taking place in the country among people of different faiths.

He further explained that the interfaith dialogue was a meeting of heart and mind among followers of different religion and working together in harmony for a common cause of peaceful coexistence.

Meanwhile, local singers and artists including Ustad Hafeez Naqash, Yaqoob Sahotra, Babar Lahori, Qayyum Khan, Faisal Lucky and Shani entertained the audience with peace songs, Gazals and folk songs.

Later, school and college students also presented cultural dance and awards were also distributed to the peace promoters for their dedicated services at the end of the ceremony.

SOURCE

NH poet produces films on American saints

Posted on February 7th, 2013

Two video poems produced by New Hampshire poet Mary Ann Sullivan about American Saints, “Saint Katharine Drexel” and “Saint Damien of Molokai,” have been chosen to compete in the Shorts Category for the 2013 World Interfaith Harmony Film Festival in Los Angeles.

The annual event is observed during the first week of February in conjunction with the United Nations World Interfaith Harmony Week.

The two films represent a new genre of poetry.

Inspired by filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein, the digital video poems explore shots as moving hieroglyphs and ideograms.

Digital poets often combine animated hieroglyphs with words to craft their poems, returning to an ancient form of writing: pictographs. But, unlike early Chinese, Egyptian and Greek hieroglyphs, these poetic symbols move.

Sullivan has been crafting animated digital and video poems for more than a decade.

Her first animated poems, “Shaking the Spiders Out,” was published by the British Broadcast Corporation online.

Her video poem collaboration with Russell Goings and The Manhattan Country School, “The Children of Children Keep Coming,” premiered in 2011 at the West Chester Poetry Conference, the largest poetry conference in the United States.

Sullivan, a long-standing member of the Catholic Press Association and member of the American Academy of Poets, is associate professor at Hesser College in Manchester.

Her first novel, “Child of War,” set in Belfast, Northern Ireland, was named a Notable Book in Social Studies by the National Council of Social Studies and Children’s Book Council.

She is the editor of The Tower Journal, an international literary journal.

SOURCE

A message of inclusion: Harvard Gazette

Posted on February 7th, 2013

Film screening opens campus Interfaith Awareness Week

By Aaron Lester

Harvard Correspondent

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Transcendent songs of struggle and freedom filled the vast sanctuary at Harvard’s Memorial Church Monday night as part of a celebration of the life and message of Martin Luther King Jr. The event marked the start of the University’s third annual Interfaith Awareness Week.

The event brought a screening of the documentary film “Soundtrack for a Revolution” to a generation of students who were born long after King’s assassination in 1968.

The film contains a condensed history of the Civil Rights Movement with modern musical interludes by John Legend, Wyclef Jean, The Roots, and others.

“With the added musical dimension, it was an opportunity to teach the younger community about the Civil Rights Movement, and what whites, blacks, and Latinos accomplished together,” said S. Allen Counter, director of the Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations, one of the event planners.

This was the first year that commemorations of King’s life have coincided with Interfaith Week.

“It’s fitting that we celebrate tonight in the Memorial Church, on the first night of Interfaith Awareness Week,” said the Rev. Jonathan L. Walton, Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church. “He was always committed to interfaith dialogue, toward the cause of building coalitions toward truth and justice for all of God’s people.”

500

As part of Interfaith Awareness Week events at Harvard, the documentary “Soundtrack for a Revolution” was shown at the Memorial Church.

Inspired by World Interfaith Harmony Week, a United Nations resolution that designated early February as a time to reaffirm that “mutual understanding and interreligious dialogue constitute important dimensions of a culture of peace,” members of the Harvard community each year host events aimed at nurturing and celebrating a climate of religious pluralism on campus.

Interfaith Week “brings people together and shows each other our commonalities, but at the same time doesn’t suppress the rich differences between us,” said Harvard Zoroastrian Chaplain Daryush Mehta, “because no one belief system has all the answers.”

Faith is one of the most important aspects of our lives, Mehta added, and perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in the nonviolent struggle for civil rights, a movement rich in belief and faith-based music.

As the film follows King from Montgomery to Selma to Birmingham, touching on the critical moments in the struggle for civil rights, it becomes clear that the musical tradition that came out of the black church held the movement together through some of its bleakest hours.

African-American spirituals such as “Eyes on the Prize,” “We Shall Not be Moved,” and “We Shall Overcome” became freedom songs that now symbolize justice through nonviolent action.

“It was the music that gave us the courage, the will, the drive to go on, despite it all,” U.S. Representative John Lewis said in the film. A prominent student movement leader at the time, Lewis faced violence and arrest many times. “Even after we were thrown in jail, someone would sing a song,” he remembered.

Some students might ask themselves, “Why do we sing these songs; where do they come from?” said Counter. “Because it’s part of the larger struggle for human rights,” he answered. “And this film shows that.”

Part of the mission of Interfaith Week is to keep inclusive dialogue relevant on campus and throughout the larger community. On campuses, Mehta said, students are often challenged to answer questions about their faith.

“We want to cultivate that conversation in an open-faith space,” said Mehta. “We want to transcend bickering to understand what each other thinks, and understand that we might not always agree, but we can still listen to each other’s stories.”

The Kuumba Singers, under the direction of Sheldon K.X. Reid ’96 performed the traditional spiritual “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me ’Round.”

Co-sponsors of this year’s events include the Harvard College Interfaith Council, the Harvard Chaplains, the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard Divinity School, and the Pluralism Project.

SOURCE

Celebrating Interfaith Harmony Week

Posted on February 7th, 2013

February 5th, 2013 by    

World Interfaith Harmony Week promotes a global initiative that transcends tradition, religion, culture, and faith. Typically occurring during the first week of February each year, the event was developed as a resolution by the United Nations to promote peace between all people regardless of their faith.

diversity_tree

The United Nations General Assembly adopted the resolution in October 2010, a month after a proposal by H.M. King Abdullah II of Jordan encouraged states to support messages of interfaith harmony, goodwill, and love regardless of where and how one worships. Those familiar with World Interfaith Harmony Week attribute much of its growth and success to King Abdullah II. His initial plan to unite two faiths soon extended his call beyond Muslim and Christian communities to include people of all beliefs, as well as those with no set religious persuasion.

The event is recognized and celebrated the first week in February, but many activities begin in mid-January with some continuing through the end of February and beyond. Although the week had its official start in 2010, the mindset of the event began to surface in the late 1990s. In 1998, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan spoke at an event called the “United Nations Year of Dialogue Among Civilizations”:

“I see…dialogue as a chance for people of different cultures and traditions to get to know each other better, whether they live on opposite sides of the world or on the same street.”

Just about every year since, the UN has declared new resolutions that each emphasizes a global agenda to incite meaningful conversations about peace, non-violence, and elimination of discrimination. A resolution in 2010 finally confirmed definitive dates to recognize and celebrate the mission.

Pioneering efforts combined with an aggressive push for multi-faith discussions created the Common Word Initiative in 2007, which called for Muslims and Christians to engage in a dialogue rooted in the Ten Commandments. The Common Word Initiative formed the backbone of World Interfaith Harmony Week.

Today, World Interfaith Harmony Week provides a regular and permanent vehicle for churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, and other places of worship and community to meet and openly share thoughts according to their own traditions or religious convictions. The planned activities are as diverse as the locations themselves. From Brazil to Bosnia and Arlington to Atlanta, groups all over the world and across the country will establish and host events to recognize World Interfaith Harmony Week.

A group in Omaha, Nebraska will hold a Speed Dialogue with fast-paced conversations about beliefs and identities. In Columbia, South Carolina, a group has set up a colorful temporary village made up of many faiths and traditions for people to interact and connect peacefully. In Bosnia’s capital Sarajevo, two full days of music, dialogue, and exhibitions are scheduled.

As more institutions and organizations host events like these, World Interfaith Harmony Week will soon become a familiar event for everyone around the world to recognize and celebrate.

Read further to see Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message regarding World Interfaith Harmony Week 2013.

SOURCE

Conference explores understanding religion in a global society

Posted on February 7th, 2013

by Beth Stefanik, Reves Center for International Studies |  February 6, 2013

The United Nations’ recent World Interfaith Harmony Week provided an ideal opportunity for William & Mary’s I-Faith organization to get back to its roots by hosting a one-day conference entitled “The Importance of Multi-Faith Understanding and the Dangers of Religious Ignorance.”
The Feb. 3 event was co-sponsored by Catholic Campus Ministries and the Wesley Foundation.

Col. Lawrence Wilkerson addresses the interfaith conference at William & Mary on Feb. 3.
“Multi-faith understanding and dialogue is the reason that I-Faith exists,” said Christian Science campus minister Leslie Revilock. “We usually hold an interfaith dialogue each year and this year it came to us to do something a little different and more academic in conjunction with UN World Interfaith Harmony Week.”

Recognizing the first week of February as World Interfaith Harmony Week was officially and unanimously adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on Oct. 20, 2010. Building on the UN Alliance of Civilizations, the week provides a platform for promoting peace and non-violence, and eliminating intolerance and discrimination based on religion or belief.

Meanwhile, W&M’s I-Faith is dedicated to enriching religious understanding and building a world more tolerant and celebratory of the diverse belief systems within it. Student members worked for months to put together a day, inviting the W&M community and the general public to come together to discuss and explore the benefits of multi-faith understanding, and the drawbacks of religious ignorance and intolerance.

“I’ve been a part of I-Faith since my freshman year,” said Jess Yon ‘13. “We felt like there was a need to explore and examine why interfaith understanding is relevant and necessary, so we decided to put together a conference . . . where students and community members could start to examine these issues more critically and from an interdisciplinary lens.”

W&M President Taylor Reveley addressed conference attendeesW&M President Taylor Reveley addressed conference attendees

The conference, officially opened by William & Mary PresidentTaylor Reveley, was also the core of William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Humanities Tamara Sonn’s one-credit interdisciplinary course, “Celebrating World Interfaith Harmony Week.”

“Our goal was to promote awareness of the importance of understanding diverse religion in order to navigate our increasingly global society,” said Sonn.  “We invited speakers who addressed that issue from a variety of perspectives, including the importance of distinguishing between political and religious conflicts, and learning how to promote interfaith understanding.”

Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, distinguished adjunct professor of government and public policy at William & Mary and former Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell (2002-2005), addressed the need to understand religion as a tool of diplomacy and statecraft in his lecture, “Consequence of NOT Studying Religion’s Role in Global Affairs.”

Shireen Hunter, visiting professor and lecturer in political science at Georgetown University, then spoke on “International Savvy: The Importance of Studying Religions in Understanding Global Affairs” and warned the audience not to exaggerate the role of religion in a nation or to base all assumptions on religion.

She reminded participants that the complexities of a society and a political entity are based on two components: the value and ideals of the society, and the interests, means or economic well-being of the society.

After lunch, Rabbi Lawrence Forman of Ohef Sholom Temple and the founder of the Institute for Jewish Studies and Interfaith Understanding at Old Dominion University delivered a lecture on “Interfaith Dialogue… A Way toward Healing and Reconciliation.”

He highlighted the great debts that religions owe each other, and stressed that the knowledge of any religion should lead to compassion rather than hatred. He reminded audience members that thinking, speaking and differing peacefully should inspire our ethical actions.

For participant Rebecca Schectman ’16, the conference brought to mind both global and personal connections.

“Intolerance in general is an important topic to address in a world that is increasingly connected but also increasingly polarized,” she said. “As a kid growing up in an interfaith family, I know religious intolerance is a thing that can be worked through when people give each other a chance.”

Abdullah Noor ’13 was one of I-Faith’s five founding members, along with Sarah Mellman ’12, Tom Flahertry ’12, Jess Yon ’13, and Yon’s classmate, the late Whitney Mayer. Noor was particularly proud of the success of the conference.

In his three years of doing interfaith work on campus, Noor noticed that W&M had many Christian organizations but few minority religious organizations.

“On top of that, the organizations usually have strong commitments to, and spend a lot of time with, their own communities,” said Noor. “Rarely, and with only a few exceptions, do they interact with the ‘other.’ I found it incredibly important to spread why interfaith work is important and why people should engage in understanding religions.

“I think the conference did a great job in achieving its goal.”

The conference was supported by the W&M Center for Student Diversity, the Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity, the Roy R. Charles Center, the Reves Center for International Studies, the William & Mary Class of 2013, and W&M Balfour-Hillel. Lunch was catered by local restaurant Nawab.

SOURCE

Sarawak model of tolerance and harmony, says interfaith committee chief

Posted on February 6th, 2013

Posted on February 6, 2013, Wednesday

GOODWILL VISIT: Azman (second right) being briefed on the KBS village during the visit.

KUCHING: Religious tolerance and harmony in Sarawak is indisputably the best model for the country, Interfaith Harmony Promotion Committee (JKMPKA) chairman Datuk Azman Amin Hassan says.

Thus, it would not be a surprise if the state could score a perfect four in the one to four rating
for its racial and religious harmony.

Azman, who is also Unity and National Integration Department director general, disclosed this to reporters during his goodwill visit to the Kuching Buddhist Village at Jalan Batu Kitang near here yesterday.

The event, which also involved representatives from the various religions and beliefs, was held in conjunction with the World Interfaith Harmony Week.

He said although so far no official survey had been carried out in the state, through their observation the people in Sarawak had been able to live peacefully and harmoniously despite having the most number of ethnic groups and religions in the country.

“We hope to conduct an official study on interfaith and racial harmony in Sarawak soon and expect to get the result latest by end of this year,” he said, adding that similar research was carried out in Peninsular Malaysia by a team from UKM (University Kebangsaan Malaysia) where the score was 3.2 for a rating of one to four.

He said based on that it was almost definite that Sarawak would score a full mark since all the while the state had been able to display the highest standard of religious tolerance and harmony.

He asserted that in Sarawak everyone could get along with one another despite their different backgrounds, saying this was the beauty about Sarawakians.

“So far we have not received even a single case of racial or religious misunderstanding in Sarawak unlike in Peninsular Malaysia,” he said.

The situation over there, he explained, could be as good as here if not because of certain people who like to use religious issues for their political mileage.

He cited the recent Allah issue which was raised unnecessarily by some political leaders for their personal gain.

“In this regard, we hope that our political masters will refrain from using religious and racial issues to gain popularity,” he noted.

Among those present to pay goodwill visit to the Buddhist Village yesterday were representatives from Hindu Association, Sikh Association, All-Saints Church Association and Islamic Information Centre (ICC).

Also with them was Kuching Chinese community leader Temenggong Lu Kim Yong.

They were received by Kuching Buddhist Society (KBS) community members.
SOURCE

Toronto Muslims Mark Faith Harmony Week

Posted on February 6th, 2013

Published: 03/02/2013 01:18:08 PM GMT

TORONTO – The Muslim community in Canada’s largest city of Toronto will be observing World Interfaith Harmony this week to help promote understanding between people of all faiths.“Toronto is one of the world’s most diverse (more)

TORONTO – The Muslim community in Canada’s largest city of Toronto will be observing World Interfaith Harmony this week to help promote understanding between people of all faiths.

“Toronto is one of the world’s most diverse cities in the world, and it is a perfect place to put these principles to work,” John Voorpostel, Chair of the Toronto Steering Committee organizing the week’s activity, told OnIslam.net.

“This is why the theme of our first year’s celebration of this week is ‘Looking for Ways to Work Together’.”

Toronto Muslims Preserve Environment

Toronto Muslims Tackle School Drop-out

The World Interfaith Harmony Week was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in October, 2010 as a way to promote harmony between all people regardless of their faith.

The idea for the week was brought to the United Nations by H.M. King Abdullah II of Jordan in September 2010 and, in less than a month, it was unanimously adopted by the General Assembly.

In the 2010 resolution, the UN General Assembly pointed out that mutual understanding and inter-religious dialogue constitute important dimensions of a culture of peace.

“It grew out of the Common Word initiative that, in the first instance, extended this philosophy of learning and understanding and reconciliation outwards to all faiths,” said Voorpostel.

The Week provides a platform—one week in a year—when all interfaith groups and other groups of goodwill organize common events to showcase what a powerful movement they are.

“The World Interfaith Harmony Week seeks to spread the message of harmony and tolerance among the followers of all the world’s religions, faiths and beliefs,” says the official website of the Week.

“It seeks to do this by promoting their common basis of “Love of God and Love of the Neighbor, or Love of the Good and Love of the Neighbor”. Its message invites everyone, excludes no one, and is purely voluntary.”

In its first year in 2010, there were 200 registered interfaith events held in over 40 countries, all organized in little over three months.

Last year, the World Interfaith Harmony Week grew to over 300 events worldwide.

The Common Word initiative, which started in 2007, called for Muslim and Christian leaders to engage in a dialogue based on two common fundamental religious Commandments: Love of God, and Love of the Neighbour.

Understanding

This year’s events marking the week started with an event to celebrate inter-faith culture at the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada.

“On February 1, 2013, the Toronto branch of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada is hosting ‘Celebrating Interfaith Culture’, an evening that will bring people of various faiths together to dine and experience an evening of music, chant and poetry,” Voorpostel told OnIslam.net.

“The week will culminate on February 7 at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Center when 10 faith leaders will speak about their faith, their interfaith experience, and what they would like to accomplish or offer up to the interfaith community in 2013.”

Voorpostel is encouraged by the response from religious groups and interfaith communities.

“Those we have reached react favorably, and the interfaith community is excited,” he said.

“It is a first in Toronto, and everyone we speak to understand the importance of getting to know one another better.

“It is our hope to reach more and more faith communities in the coming years,” he said.

Muslims make around 2.8 percent of Canada’s 32.8 million population, and Islam is the number one non-Christian faith in the Roman Catholic country.A recent survey showed that the overwhelming majority of Muslims are proud to be Canadian, and that they are more educated than the general population.

SOURCE

Taib: Govt holds true to Constitution allowing freedom of religion

Posted on February 6th, 2013

Wednesday February 6, 2013

By NIGEL EDGAR  nigeledgar@thestar.com.my

KUCHING: The people are reminded that while Islam is the official religion of the country, Malaysians of other faiths can practise their religions freely.
Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud said this was only possible through the Barisan Nasional government and its policies that ensured all Malaysians, regardless of their race and religion, can live together in peace and harmony.

He said for people of various religions living together in peace and harmony in the country was not a compromise but a necessity to ensure the smoothness of progress and development of the state and country.

“Without harmony we cannot be prosperous. God created us with freedom but put up rules for us to follow for greater peace,” he said during the World Inter-Faith Harmony Week 2013 Goodwill dinner at the Kuching North City Commission near Petra Jaya here on Monday.

According to the chief minister there is always a struggle among us human beings to choose between good and evil.

“(But) There must be some guidelines that we must look at in the basic teachings of our religions like practising the good that our religion teaches us and be good to others. That’s how I understand the religious teachings,” he said.

Taib also lashed out at the Oppo- sition, saying the religious differences between their components had not come to a common understanding, unlike BN and its components.

Meanwhile, National Unity and Integration Department director-general Datuk Azman Hassan lauded Taib’s leadership for being able to sustain peace and harmony between the diverse religions and races of Sarawakians.

He said Sarawak had always been the role model of the 1Malaysia concept and should be an example to the peninsula.

“I hope we leaders of the various religious bodies would continue to help each other. Any sensitive issues concerning religious matters ought to be discussed through the Malaysian Inter-Religious Harmony and Understanding Amongst Adherent Promoting Committee (JKMPKA) in a peaceful manner,” he said.

JKMPKA, through the state National Unity and Integration Department and the Islamic Information Centre, was into its fourth day tour in Kuching yesterday in conjunction with the World Inter-Faith Harmony Week 2013.

The World Inter-Faith Harmony Week was an outcome of a United Nations (UN) resolution proposed in 2010 by Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Prince Ghazi Muhammad that all UN member states observe a worldwide week to promote accord between all peoples of various faiths.

At the state level, a series of programme have been organised with the purpose of strengthening the spirit of unity and multi-religious understanding among the people of various religions.

There will also be visits to some charitable bodies here throughout the day before the committee departs for Kuala Lumpur today to continue its tour.

Here, the final event will be a multi-religious forum entitled Faith and Good Governance to held at the Islamic Information Centre on Feb 23.

Five speakers from various religious backgrounds will share their thoughts and provide some insights on what constitutes good governance, with some 300 participants expected to attend.

SOURCE

Living in harmony

Posted on February 6th, 2013

Editorial

Feb 05, 2013 | 22:04

In 2010, His Majesty King Abdullah proposed that the international community mark the first week of February every year as the World Interfaith Harmony Week.

The UN General Assembly endorsed the initiative and adopted a resolution to that effect.

On Monday, the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs celebrated this occasion in the presence of Muslim and Christian religious leaders.

In a world torn apart by religious rivalries and conflicts, such events become a necessity; they draw attention to the need to live in harmony, away from artificially created differences among believers in different faiths.

Jordan, where Muslims and Christians have been living side by side in perfect agreement, is proof of religious tolerance and interfaith cooperation.

As one participant in the ministry’s event said, Muslims and Christian in Jordan live side by side in peace and harmony, partners in the building of the country. They are living proof that religious harmony and peaceful coexistence are not only possible but also practical and mutually beneficial.

Interfaith harmony and understanding should be emulated everywhere where individuals belonging to different religious denominations live side by side.

In our region, Lebanon, Iraq and Syria come to mind, as there, sectarian rivalries have often degenerated into devastating armed conflicts.

History has shown religious wars to be among the bloodiest and most savage armed conflicts, despite the fact that all religions preach peace and coexistence.

But for religious harmony to prevail, much more has to be done than observing it for a few days a year. Words need to be translated into actions. A good place to start is school. Children do not have prejudices and can be easily taught that people of different faiths hold the same values and beliefs.

Once the foundation is solid, interfaith coexistence becomes a smooth, natural state in any society.

SOURCE

CM advocates inter-faith understanding

Posted on February 6th, 2013

by Jonathan Chia, reporters@theborneopost.com. Posted on February 6, 2013, Wednesday

FOSTERING GOOD RELATIONS: Taib (fourth right) receiving a memento from Azman (second left). Also seen are Misnu (second right), Daud (third right) and Anglican Diocese of Kuching Assistant Bishop Rt Revd Aeries Sumping Jingan (right). — Photo by Chimon Upon

KUCHING: Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud says good inter-faith understanding is the key to creating mutual respect and harmony in our multi-religious society.

“We must understand the teachings of other religions. A good understanding of the teachings of other religions will be able to help avoid sensitive religious issues being raised that may cause disharmony among the people,” he said during a dinner with leaders of various faith-based organisations here at Kuching North City Commission (DBKU) Pentarama Banquet Hall on Monday.

Taib said the government did not prohibit its citizens from practising their religion, adding that the people were free to choose any religion that they believe in and would benefit them.

“Everyone is free to practise their own religion but what is important here is that they must engage the community. It is only through engagement that we will be able to create a harmonious society,” he added.

Taib said it was only through harmony that the community would prosper and therefore he would continue to foster the spirit of unity among various communities in the state to ensure they continue to live in peace and harmony.

Meanwhile, National Unity and Integration Department (NUID) director-general Datuk Azman Amin Hassan complimented the state government for playing an important role in maintaining the harmony of the people in the state.

“The people of Sarawak are lucky because you do not face sensitive religious issues like those the people in west Malaysia are facing,” he said.

Azman stated that Sarawak could be a role model to states in Peninsular Malaysia in promoting unity among diverse faith groups.

A series of programmes have been designed for the state-level World Inter-Faith Harmony Week 2013 to strengthen the spirit of unity and multi-religious understanding among people of various faiths in the state.

Among them will be visits to Kuching Buddhist Society, Paediatric Ward and Cancer Ward in Sarawak General Hospital and the Cure and Care Rehabilitation Centre in Kuching by youth and women members of various faith-based organisations.

The final event to mark this celebration is a multi-religious forum on faith and good governance organised by the Islamic Information Centre on Saturday, Feb 23.

Five speakers from various religious backgrounds will be sharing their thoughts and provide insights on what constitute good governance.

Among those at the dinner were Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Office (Islamic Affairs) Datuk Daud Abdul Rahman, Deputy State Secretary Datu Misnu Taha and leaders of various faith-based organisations.
SOURCE

Celso issues EO on interfaith harmony week

Posted on February 6th, 2013

by Sheila Covarrubias

 Mayor Celso Lobregat has issued an executive order enjoining all schools, agencies and all people in the city to join and support activities for the World Interfaith Harmony Week set February 1-7.

Issued on January 9, 2013, EO 488-2013 emphasizes the importance of dialogue among different faiths and religions to enhance mutual understanding, harmony and cooperation among people.

Citing the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, Lobregat in his executive order said that the moral imperatives of all religions, convictions and beliefs call for peace, tolerance and mutual understanding and that mutual understanding and interreligious dialogue constitute important dimensions of a culture of peace.

The UN General Assembly during its 34th plenary meeting proclaimed the first week of February of every year as World Interfaith Harmony Wee between all religions, faiths and beliefs, according to Lobregat.

The Assembly, he said also encourages all “States to support, on a voluntary basis, the spread of the message of interfaith harmony and goodwill in the world’s churches, mosques, synagogues, temples and other places of worship during that week, based on love of God and love of one’s neighbour or on love of the good and love of one’s neighbour, each according to their own religious traditions or convictions”.

The World Interfaith Harmony Week activities in the city, slated from Feb. 1-7 are organized by the Silsillah Dialogue Movement under Fr. Sebastiano D’Ambra, who also requested the issuance of the order to enjoin the active participation of all schools, government entities, private institutions, NGOs, parishes, church-based organizations, civil society groups, urban poor communities and other people’s organizations in this year’s lined-up activities. 

SOURCE

Interfaith Harmony week promotes understanding

Posted on February 6th, 2013

Students will come together to celebrate religious understanding and harmony

FEBRUARY 5, 2013 by CAROLYN NEFF

Events celebrating the second annual World Interfaith Harmony week will be held throughout this week on campus, lasting Feb. 1-7, which is headed by the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life.

Heading the events is University Chaplain Gary R. Brower.

“My role as the University Chaplain is to provide opportunities for students, faculty and staff to encounter different points of view and appreciate religious differences,” said Brower. “Interfaith Harmony Week is an example of this, of mutual understanding and dialogue.”

According to Brower, World Interfaith Harmony week was proclaimed by the United Nation’s General Assembly in a resolution adopted in late 2010.

“It is now a nationally observed event during the first week of February that came out of Jordan and was first observed in 2011,” said Brower.

According to University Chaplain Rev. Gary R. Brower, last year’s first-observed World Interfaith Harmony Week was very well-received on campus.

According to Brower, it is hard to estimate how many students and faculty participated in spreading the message of harmony and goodwill, as there are many different groups on campus.

“Last year we had posters around campus, but there was not one single event where everyone gathered,” said Brower.

Brower also said that this year the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life will be working with the Wellness Living and Learning Community to provide a platform in which all interfaith and goodwill groups on campus can become aware of each other and strengthen their relationships. What are some examples of goodwill and interfaith on campus?

“The week will culminate in an Interfaith Fiesta, which the Wellness Living and Learning Community has helped organize,” said Brower.

According to Brower, the Interfaith Fiesta is sponsored by DU Interfaith Advocates and will be held Thursday from 5 to 6:30 p.m. in the JMAC Lounge.

Brower said that the event will feature speed faith-learning, which is like speed-dating but in the spirit of interfaith harmony.

“It is all about dialogue and engaging the students, making them aware of differences,” said Brower.

According to Brower, religious differences should not be a matter of conflict.

“It should not be a ‘we’re different and you’ve got to be like us’ situation,” said Brower.

Brower said that he hopes that this initiative provides a way for students and faculty to recognize common values and strive for understanding in the community.

“Interfaith Harmony Week advocates a coming together,” said Brower. “While I do not know about any particular events related to the week in the Denver area, the week is being observed worldwide.”

In addition to this week’s national observance of World Interfaith Harmony, Brower said that the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life are on the Driscoll Bridge every month to promote religious dialogue.

For students and faculty who are interested in participating in World Interfaith Harmony Week or any other events related to religious and spiritual life can visit the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life in the Driscoll Student Center, Suite 29.

5 Ways to Celebrate World Interfaith Harmony Week

Posted on February 6th, 2013

By Rachel Atwood - February 5, 2013 - News and EventsTips and Advice
This week is World Interfaith Harmony Week, which takes place the first week of February every year. During this week we take the time to promote mutual understanding between people of all religious and non-religious backgrounds in order to help create a more peaceful world. This year, people and communities will host 200 interfaith events throughout the world!  The week was proposed in 2010 by King Abdullah II of Jordan at the UN General Assembly, where it was unanimously approved for adoption. Read the United Nations resolution here.

 

Want to know what you can do to celebrate Interfaith Harmony Week and promote interfaith understanding? Here are some ideas:

1. Attend an Interfaith Harmony Week event.

2. Learn about other religions.  There are many ways to learn about different religions. You can read books or online resources, ask your friends about their families’ religious traditions, or join an interfaith group in your community. If you are in college, you can take a course in your religion department. Even within the same religion, individuals and communities have many different beliefs and practices, so there is much to learn. Here are some blog posts on holidays throughout the world to get you started.

3. Volunteer Abroad. Volunteering abroad is a great way immerse yourself in another culture and learn about local religious beliefs and practices. Many volunteers enjoy learning about the religious traditions of their host community. At United Planet we believe the best way to promote religious and cultural awareness is to develop relationships between individuals. Check out our volunteer destinations in over 40 countries.

Peace

4.  Run a program  in your community to promote interfaith harmony. You can organize an interfaith volunteer project or an event for people to share  their religious practices and beliefs.

Soon after 9/11, United Planet brought Muslim and Arab Americans into classrooms to talk about their culture in order to address the discrimination and prejudice that they experienced after the attacks. Hear more about this event in our CNN video.

5. As you learn about the world’s many religious traditions, take the time to appreciate the common bonds between people of all faiths, as well as what makes each of us unique. The organizers of World Interfaith Harmony week believe that all people can unite behind the ideal, “Love of God and Love of the Neighbor, or Love of the Good and Love of the Neighbor.”  The songs, prayers, and sayings on peace from all faiths exemplify this common value among different traditions.  We leave with you with a few examples of these texts to enjoy both our common and unique approaches to understanding and creating peace.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace. —Buddha

_______________________________________________________________________________________

O God, O our Master!
You Have eternal life and Everlasting peace by your essence and attributes.
The everlasting peace is from you And it returns to you, O our Sustainer!
Grant us the life of True peace and usher us into The abode of peace.
O Glorious and Bounteous One!
You are blessed and sublime.
Muslim Prayer

_______________________________________________________________________________________

They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. —Isaiah 2:4, New International Version

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Lead me from death to Life, from falsehood to Truth.
Lead me from despair to Hope, from fear to Trust.
Lead me from hate to Love, from war to Peace.
Let Peace fill our heart, our world and our universe.

Satish Kumar, Indian Jain monk

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy

—Excerpt, The Prayer of St. Francis

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Again peace will come upon us (x3)
and on everyone.

Salaam (peace in Arabic)
Among us and on all the world
Salaam, Salaam

Od yavo’ shalom aleinu (x3)
Ve’al kulam (x2)

Salaam
Aleinu ve’al kol ha olam
Salaam, Salaam

 Moshe Ash, Peace Be Upon Us, Israeli Folk Song

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Good Weapons are instruments of fear; all creatures hate them.
Therefore followers of Tao never use them.
The wise man prefers the left.
The man of war the right.

Weapons are instruments of fear; they are not wise man’s tools.
He uses them only when he has no choice,
Peace and quiet are dear to his heart,
And victory not cause for rejoicing.
If you rejoice in victory, then you delight in killing;
If you delight in killing, you cannot filfull yourself.

On happy occasions precedence is given to the left.
On sad occasions to the right.
In the army the general stands on the left.
The commander-in-chief on the right.
This means that war is conducted like a funeral.
When many people are killed,
They should be mourned in heartfelt sorrow.
That is why a victory must be observed like a funeral.

Lao-Tsu, The Tao Te Ching,Translated by Gia-fu Feng and Jane English

 

SOURCE

Conference Speakers Emphasize Importance Of Religious Tolerance

Posted on February 5th, 2013

Written By: 

|February 4, 2013
|

Speakers Lawrence Forman, Lawrence Wilkerson and Tamara Sonn answer questions in a panel discussion at a conference held Sunday in honor of World Interfaith Harmony week. PHOTO BY ANITA JIANG / THE FLAT HAT

As schools all around the world celebrated World Interfaith Harmony Week, the College of William and Mary honored the week with a conference to further enhance the student body’s knowledge and acceptance of all religious beliefs.

Sunday’s conference kicked off with opening remarks by I-Faith co-presidents Jess Yon ’13 and Audrey Makemson ’13 and a speech by College President Taylor Reveley. He highlighted how religion was as crucial as the drive for power and how ignorance in faiths could lead to dangerous paths.

“This university takes the role of religion on human affairs very seriously,” Reveley said.

World Interfaith Harmony Week was established in 2010 by the United Nations General Assembly, which unanimously designated it the first week of February, as proposed by King Abdullah II and Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan. The initiative was the result of efforts by the UN Alliance of Civilizations to provide a platform for promoting peace and eliminating religious intolerance through open-minded discussion. The conference at the College was also part of President Barack Obama’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge, a White House initiative established in 2011. The College is one of more than 250 institutions participating.

The conference, hosted and sponsored by I-Faith, showcased three distinguished speakers: Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Government and Public Policy Lawrence Wilkerson, Visiting Professor and Lecturer in Political Science from Georgetown University Shireen Hunter and founder of Old Dominion University’s Institute for Jewish Studies and Interfaith Understanding Lawrence Forman. Each brought a unique take on the importance of multi-faith understanding and the dangers of ignorance in today’s world. Wilkerson, Forman and William R. Kenan, Jr. and Distinguished Professor of Humanities Tamara Sonn stayed to answer questions in the form of a panel discussion after the presentations.

The event is a major part of a one credit course held by Sonn.

“This is the first time we’re doing something like this, and I would like to see this continue and am hopeful of the discussions coming from this class,” Yon, one of the organizers of the conference and a student in Sonn’s class, said.

Wilkerson spoke first. His seminar, “Consequences of NOT Studying Religions’ Role in Global Affairs,” described his experiences and observations while working for the government, namely while working with Colin Powell. He remarked on the role of religion as a crucial influence on America’s foreign policy and our lack of understanding that it is. He highlighted the ways in which officials’ ignorance of other religions hinders effective diplomacy with Middle Eastern countries, namely Iraq and Afghanistan. He warned against exacerbating diplomatic tensions and emphasized the need for a better understanding of other religions.

Hunter, the second speaker, analyzed religion and its relationship with society at large, emphasizing philosophical and abstract dialogue about religious beliefs as crucial to analyzing global affairs in her seminar, “International Savvy: The Importance of Studying Religions in Understanding Global Affairs.” After noting the general lack of literature discussing religion as a crucial stakeholder in today’s global community, she shared her views on ideals and values. She warned against religion mixing with politics, identified religious significance within institutions of power and ultimately defined religion as a value system and ideology. She tied together concepts of legitimacy, power and leadership personalities to reinforce her primary points.

“The power of self-delusion is very potent,” she said.

The last speaker, Forman, balanced the realist perspectives of the previous two speakers with a bold, idealistic vision on interfaith dialogue in his lecture, “Interfaith Dialogue … A Way toward Healing and Reconciliation.” He combined three religious beliefs — Christianity, Judaism and Turkish Islam — in the interfaith dialogue and expanded on their compatibility. He vouched for nations to accept Jeffersonian democratic principles to tolerate and to accept religious differences. The solution, he concluded, was to have more open-minded forums beyond the World Interfaith Harmony Week. Ever since 9/11, he said, no discussion of our nation’s survival can be complete without also promoting interfaith dialogue.

The conference showed the different ways that recognizing diverse faiths can inform better foreign policy and how to better personal relationships. It also drew a lot of surprises.

“It wasn’t quite what I expected,” Rebecca Schectman ’16 said. “But it highlights the complexity of the issue. It got a lot of thoughts on my mind, and it merits further discussion among students, professors and faith leaders.”

SOURCE

Indonesian Youth Celebrates UN World Interfaith Harmony Week

Posted on February 5th, 2013

Tue, 05/02/2013 – 17:37 WIB

RIMANEWS – Under the auspices of UNDPI-Affiliate Anand Ashram Foundation Indonesia, youth from different sections and elements of society got together on the 1st of February to begin a week long celebration of the World Interfaith Harmony Week, initiated by the Jordan Prince Ghazi and unanimously adopted by all UN member states.

“Our theme this year,” explained Dr Wayan Sayoga, the foundation chairman, “is ‘Indonesian Youth Striving for Global Harmony’. This is well received by our NGO Colleagues, among others Indonesian Women’s Association for Global Peace (IWAG-P), Islamic Movement for Non-Violence (IMN), Centre for Vedic & Dharmic Studies, National Integration Movement (NIM), One Earth Integral Education Foundation, and One Earth School (OES).”

Joehanes Budiman representing the National Integration Movement (NIM) pointed out, “For centuries we have lived on the archipelago in complete peace and harmony. We are determined to keep it that way.”

Maya Safira Muchtar, Inspirer of IWAG-Peace added, “With their dynamism, youth are the natural agents of change. With their participation in events like this, we are sure that there will be no more religious conflicts and violations of human rights in Indonesia and elsewhere on the planet.”

Ni Luh Sukmawati representing the Center for Vedic and Dharmic Studies, and Muslihah Razak of Indonesian Movement for Non-Violence (IMN) both referred to the findings of prestigious Setara Institute, “There have been 371 violations of religious freedom during 2012. The figures are disheartening, but the participation of youth in events like this brings us some hope.”

“The celebrations this year,” said Dr Sayoga, “actually began on September 21st last year, when Anand Ashram unveiled the Global Harmony Monument in Ubud Bali, attended by government officials and representatives of several religions, like Dr Musdah Mulia, Father Franz Magnis, Ida Pedanda Sebali, the Gianyar Regent, the Prince of Ubud, and many others. (http://www.charterforglobalharmony.org/) “The monument is now an Ubud Landmark, visited daily by many. We are committed to promoting World or Global Interfaith Harmony, this is also Anand Ashram’s mission, from Inner Peace to Global Harmony by promoting Communal Love. This is the only way to realize our vision of One Earth One Sky and One Humankind. This year, we are celebrating the event in several major cities like Jakarta, Ciawi, Yogyakarta, and on the isle of Bali.”

Chairman of Indonesian Tourist Guide Association Sang Putu Subaya; Head of Gianyar Department of Tourism Ari Brahmanta; Founder of Gandhi Puri Ashram Indra Udayana; and Acharya Premananda of the State Hindu University; attending the event in Ubud, Bali, appreciated Anand Ashram’s initiative and fully supported the cause.

“The Yogyakarta Chapter of Anand Ashram,” said Dr Suriastini in a meet with the press, “is extending the World Interfaith Harmony Event to another dimension, that is the empowerment of youth and women. Also in conjunction with the 1 Billion Rising Appeal for Women Empowerment on Feb 14th, we have organized empowerment workshops in the Wirogunan Prison and elsewhere.”

In Ciawi West Java, the One Earth Retreat Center where the event was held, Zeembry the Anand Ashram Jakarta’s coordinator explained, “We have organized a movie show on the theme of interfaith harmony, and several other activities during the week.”

“We would also celebrate the event in Monas and Marunda – Jakarta Sunday Morning (Feb 3)” he added.

Dr Wayan Sayoga mentioned, “Something like 700 people getting together to celebrate Interfaith Harmony on the 1st day, and several hundreds more to join in the ensuing days until the end of the week, this is very promising!”

SOURCE

PM attends interfaith harmony week ceremony

Posted on February 5th, 2013

AMMAN — Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour on Monday attended a ceremony marking the World Interfaith Harmony Week.

The occasion is observed during the first week of February to share religious teachings about tolerance to correct misconceptions among followers of different faiths.

At the ceremony, organised by the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs, speakers highlighted the importance of the occasion and the need to spread a culture of religious harmony.

In October 2010, the UN General Assembly adopted the World Interfaith Harmony Week initiative, proposed by His Majesty King Abdullah.

SOURCE

JICRC Commences World Interfaith Harmony Week with Evening Banquet

Posted on February 5th, 2013

February 2013
JICRC Commences World Interfaith Harmony Week with Evening Banquet

Saturday, February 2nd-Guests from Jordan and the Middle East gathered at the King Hussein Club Saturday evening to celebrate the second annual occurrence of World Interfaith Harmony Week. Among them were distinguished members of Jordanian politics, including various ministers. Of note was the attendance of ministers of the Judicial Branch, the Minister of Islamic Affairs, the Minister of Political Development and Parliamentary Affairs and the Minister of Tourism and Antiquities. Other guests included Dr. Saleem Shareef, Dean of Middle East University and international invitees.

Welcoming the guests were Father Nabil Haddad, Executive Director of the Jordanian Interfaith Coexistence Research Center and JICRC Board Member His Excellency Sheikh Dr. Hamdi Murad. Over a dinner of local cuisine, Father Haddad and Dr. Murad introduced the scheduled events of this year’s World Interfaith Harmony Week, explaining the focus on youth involvement. Guests were also treated to a movie detailing Jordan’s history of interfaith harmony and its status as a model of coexistence through the efforts of domestic and global initiatives. Footage included commentary from His Majesty King Abdullah II addressing the United Nations and Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Jordan, during which he praised the tranquil coexistence between Christian and Muslim communities.

The event was covered by national media and marks the commencement of JICRC’s involvement with World Interfaith Harmony Week 2013, which will continue throughout February with events throughout Jordan in partnership with governmental, religious and international institutions.

 

SOURCE

PM opens World Interfaith Harmony Week

Posted on February 5th, 2013

PM opens World Interfaith Harmony Week
Image
Amman, Feb. 4 (Petra)– The Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs on Monday held a celebration to mark World Interfaith Harmony Week, observed annually during the first week of February.

In September 2010, His Majesty King Abdullah proposed the launch of the World Interfaith Harmony Week at the UN General Assembly, which adopted the initiative.

Reaffirming that “mutual understanding and inter-religious dialogue constitute important dimensions of a culture of peace”, the UN General Assembly proclaimed “the first week of February of every year World Interfaith Harmony Week between all religions, faiths and beliefs”.

The week serves as a voluntary occasion for people to express their own religious teachings about tolerance, respect for others and peace, in hopes of bringing people together across the globe.

During the ceremony, held at the King Abdullah I Mosque and attended by Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour and other officials , Minister of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Abdul Salam Abbadi said the King had offered a gift to humanity through this proposal which was made clear during a speech to the UN General Assembly in October 2010 by His Royal Highness Prince Ghazi Bin Mohammad.

//Petra// ON 4/2/2013 – 02:38:56 PM

 

SOURCE

Variety of events during World Inter-Faith Harmony Week

Posted on February 4th, 2013

 

KUCHING: There will be a variety of events held around the city in conjunction with the World Inter-Faith Harmony Week 2013.

It will be held by the Committee for Promoting Inter-Religious Harmony and Understanding Amongst Adherents Malaysia through the Department of National Unity and Integration Sarawak and the Islamic Information Centre (IIC).

For the state level celebration in Sarawak, a series of programmes are designed with the main purpose of strengthening the spirit of unity and multi-religious understanding among people of various faiths.

The programme will kick off with a dinner for leaders of various faith-based organisations here at the Pentarama, DBKU today.

The guest of honour is Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud and about 100 leaders from various faith-based organisations, cultural associations and government agencies are expected to attend.

There will be a series of visits to a few organisations by youth and women members of various faith-based organisations. These include Kuching Buddhist Society Village, the Paediatric and Cancer Wards at Sarawak General Hospital and the Cure and Care Rehabilitation Centre Kuching.

The final event to mark the celebration is a multi-faith forum on ‘Faith and Good Governance’ organised by the IIC on Feb 23.

Five speakers from different backgrounds will share their thoughts and provide insights on what constitute good governance.

Some 300 are expected to turn up for the forum.

World Inter-Faith Harmony Week is an outcome of a UN resolution, proposed in 2010 by King Abdulah II and Prince Ghazi Muhammad of Jordan, calling on all UN member states to observe a week worldwide to promote accord among people.

SOURCE

Senate bill urges gov’t to hold interfaith activities

Posted on February 4th, 2013

5:37 pm | Monday, February 4th, 2013

Sen. Loren Legarda INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

 

MANILA, Philippines – A bill recently passed in the Senate is seeking to foster “genuine understanding amongst people of different faiths and belief systems” by urging government agencies to hold interfaith activities during the first week of February every year.

Senator Loren Legarda, author of World Interfaith Harmony Week Bill, said in a statement Monday that “this measure will greatly contribute to easing any conflict or tension caused by differing religious beliefs in the country.”

The Philippines, the largest Catholic country in Asia, has long suffered from internal conflicts due to rebel secessionist groups. One group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), has recently signed a peace framework agreement with the government.

“Gatherings and activities for World Interfaith Harmony Week have been held in various countries across the world with diverse backgrounds, including Pakistan, Indonesia, Italy, and Jordan,” Legarda said.

More than 40 countries in the world are already celebrating the World Interfaith Harmony Week following a resolution by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly.

According to the website of the World Interfaith Harmony Week, the event was originally proposed to the UN by HM King Abdullah II of Jordan back in 2010.

He proposed the idea with the aim of achieving a “faith-driven world harmony by extending his call beyond the Muslim and Christian community to include people of all beliefs [and] those with no set religious beliefs as well”

The idea was later adopted unanimously as a UN Observance Event.

Legarda noted that “even in our country, the National Ulama Conference of the Philippines (NUCP) staged a gathering in Zamboanga City in honor of inter-religious cooperation.”

The bill also advocates dialogues among leaders of religious institutions. “The harmony we are pushing for is democratic, and built on effective communication and mutual respect,” Legarda said.

The bill has been passed on third and final reading in the Senate and is awaiting approval in the lower house, she said.  Zoe Rodriguez

 

SOURCE

Moving from Interfaith Dialogue to Multifaith Action

Posted on February 4th, 2013

Next week, the international community will be marking World Interfaith Harmony Week   designated by the United Nations to occur annually in the first full week of February where there will be a chance for the global community to promote harmony between all people and to establish a dialogue amongst the different faiths and religions in an attempt to enhance mutual understanding, harmony and cooperation.  This week comes on the back of a conference held at the UN in November 2008 organized by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. Appropriately called ‘Culture of Peace’, it looked at the concept of creating a new environment by the promotion of Inter-Religious and Inter-Cultural Dialogue, Understanding and Cooperation for Peace. The Saudi sponsored conference examined the need to build tolerant societies and durable peace by restoring values of compassion and solidarity and encouraging the promotion of dialogue amongst the different forums available in all cultures. The conference noted that achieving a culture of peace required effort from ‘‘the forces that hold our societies together’’, which also included religious beliefs, among other worldviews and focusing on the shared values of these religions and not on the differences. The final declaration of the Saudi conference emphasized the ‘importance of promoting dialogue, understanding and tolerance as well as respect for all religions, cultures, beliefs’, whilst expressing concern over ‘serious instances of intolerance, discrimination, expressions of hatred and harassment of minority religious communities of all faiths’.

Much can be said about the motives for the conference and the week  (and it is not without its critics) but I think that the spirit that the  two UN initiatives are  trying to achieve cannot be criticized because it provides a space for conversations to take place that transcends beyond the local to the global, realizing that this is not only just a faith perspective but has political implications. This culture of peace requires real work from all stakeholders.

However it needs to be real and fruitful conversations that involve talking to people and understanding how to address the misconceptions that exist about the ‘other’ within all of us that is the starting point for any initiative.  Too often, mention the word ‘Interfaith’ and people roll their eyes.  The common perception (in itself a misconception) is that ‘interfaith’ conjures up a bunch of mature / retired ladies and gentlemen sitting around having tea (no disrespect intended!!).  Pastor Bob Roberts in his latest book Bold as Love  sees “interfaith as loosey-goosey, let’s all just hug one another and ignore core truth” (2012, 19).  I could not agree with him more!!.  We have to move away from just polite conversation about each other’s faiths to really seeking to understand our differences yet finding commonality to move on.  Hence I subscribe to Bob Roberts’ term of ‘multifaith’ which says “we have fundamental differences, but the best of our faiths teach us we should get along.” (2012, 19).

So the interfaith harmony week is just a first step on this journey.  We have to realize that not only dialogue is needed but in fact multifaith action has to follow if we want to see results. Whilst dialogues are a beginning it is important that engagement goes beyond this, engaging practically with faith leaders and communities, to help resolve and avoid conflict and achieve gains that make a difference to people’s lives. Unless interfaith dialogue can produce something tangible for communities in the front line then peace, tolerance and harmony will not come from the grassroots.   A statement that I have come across time and again whilst working in places like Sri Lanka has been “if you can’t feed your hungry children or afford to buy medicines for them, statements that we should all live together mean nothing.  I will be looking for someone to blame”

We are now living at a time where increasingly across the world, political violence flavored by faith, culture and identity is being used to justify the preservation of the ‘values of freedom’.  Whether it is in the Israel / Palestine issue or the Rohingya problem in Myanmar, it is obvious that faith becomes the arena for the conflict to be played out.  As a consequence, faith is seen as the problem.  We as people of faith and spirituality have to retake the reins and change the paradigm and perceptions of faith and spirituality.  To decry the role of faith or to define it as the root cause of the world’s problems is to do so at one’s peril. The role of faith and spirituality in particular in the search for new solutions is very important as it offers a simple and easy access to communities (strong in their spiritual and faith teachings) and a simple language to express the commonalities of existence and create the prerequisites for forgiveness, respect, understanding and acceptance.

Faith provides a narrative and a space in which one can start to explore some of these discussions of ethics and morals.  In many of the smaller communities, faith and faith organizations play a pivotal role in responding to the demands and pressures of the local community, where they operate with local knowledge to address specific community problems.  They are highly active in many fields of social service, healthcare, education, human rights, youth development etc. They are self reliant, capable of harnessing the communities’ manpower, skills and resources. They serve very often as role models; variously taking a stand against corruption, developing infrastructure, delivering “sharp end” programs and offering relief, healthcare and educational resources- where they would not otherwise be found. They are invariably unswerving in their zeal and commitment and many organizations work entirely voluntarily in a spirit of service.

Though there is a character to the religious playing field, that complicates matters with an undeniably, as strong a history of internecine strife and struggle, discrimination as they do of cooperation and collaboration and a problem of religiosity, we cannot ignore their voices and their role.  Thus it is against this framework of potential disagreement and division, which efforts are required at all levels within society to develop a new workable and principled political paradigm which can bridge the gaps of mistrust and suspicion between  and of faiths, beliefs, cultures and communities.

Firstly, we will need to confront our own relativism by rethinking concepts of human nature (especially as regards the age-old search for spiritual values and religious truths) and competing, confusing, or ill-defined concepts of tolerance, diversity, and freedom.

Secondly we need to re-look at the concept of harmonious pluralism which will include the interaction of religious actors with one another, with society and the state around concrete cultural, social, economic and political agendas.  It denotes a politics that encourages diverse communities with overlapping but distinctive ethics and interests.  Whilst such interaction can involve sharp conflict, the politics should provide a space for people to struggle openly with religious and cultural differences.  Provision of this space should consider

  • Common Values - Major faith traditions are united in the values which espouse the notion of a shared humanity. These fundamentals help to define a framework for dialogue, constructive debate and joint action, first to confront that which is an affront to civilization, such as poverty, and the malaise of bigotry, intolerance and inequity, whether based on religion, nationality, race, culture or gender.
  • Social Responsibility - Diversity, like creation itself, is purposeful. The reality of its prevalence is reason enough for people, whatever their origin or background, to come together in an effort to know one another. This coming together develops a dialogue,  which can only be sustained if merit or virtue is associated with the quality of one’s conduct, irrespective of one’s creed, race, colour, gender or material status in society. Abstractions of good, just as protestations of righteousness, are of no avail unless translated into practical, good deeds. Without active social responsibility, religiosity is a show of conceit. Helping the weak and marginalized, being just, even at the expense of one’s own or one’s family’s apparent welfare, repelling evil and inequity with that which is good and equitable, become the true marks of piety.
  • Articulating Social Justice, Ethics and Values - Justice, compassion, and ethics generally, endure only when they are part of a lived spirituality, mirroring a soul at peace. Injustice, corruption, pride, tyranny, un-trustworthiness, immoral conduct generally, by contrast, are an outward reflection of a spiritual malaise. Justice, thus defined, is the bonding principle of a common or universal ethic that is the only way to ensure a human dimension to policies and strategies pertaining to globalization.

In essence, we will have to rediscover a spirituality of commonality which will allow us to recognize the common space and substance amongst all doctrines that will provide the fuel for social change and trigger action for the unity of humanity. This shared language will enable us to develop a set of ideals that continue to stir our collective conscience; a common set of values that bind us together despite our differences; a running thread of hope that makes this improbable experiment of reconciling and rehabilitation of vulnerable communities possible. These values and ideals will have to be living, which cannot find expression on paper or monuments or in the annals of history books, but which remain alive in the hearts and minds of people inspiring us to pride, duty and sacrifice. These living values will have to help us to build on shared understandings and should be the glue that binds every healthy society.

The concept of spirituality of commonality that we need to develop as a global society has to be an awareness of the interconnection of all things to provide the fuel for social change.  It has to recognize that diverse doctrines have a common space and substance as we all belong to this world and we need to live in peace with everything and everyone and protect it for those who come after us. It has to be about a sense of duty and sacrifice on behalf of those who are voiceless.  It has to allow us to value behavior that express mutual regard for one another, honesty, fairness, humility, kindness courtesy and compassion.

People might scoff at the naivety of this statement but the point is that we have no choice.  We have got to a position where something new needs to happen. For too long, narrow interests have vied for advantage with ideological minorities seeking to impose their own versions of absolute truth. It is time we reassembled the pieces of the broken mirror.

In order for this to happen, as many people have already been talking about, we need to engage: with each other, at different levels and ultimately with the authorities. The Bishop of London talked about nourishing relationships  in order to develop an understanding of right and wrong. I would go even further to say that an extension of nourishing relationships and engagement is the concept of linking and partnership for mutual learning to harness more cross-community collaboration, in the interests of peace, tolerance and well-being.

Linking, partnerships, engagement all mean the same thing: a sense of cooperation that leads to better understanding which should be encouraged and supported.  The notion of partnership though is that in reality no organization can operate in isolation in today’s complex world.  The partnerships are about encouraging institutions to work across traditional boundaries to enhance their core competencies. This is a powerful tool for the promotion of dialogue, tolerance and harmonious living.  Existing initiatives need to be strengthened and new ones started that have sustainable footprints in the community whilst providing a space for all stakeholders of society to play a role.   There should be linking and partnerships, between and within faith communities-and certainly faith hub, to faith hub,  that relies on action not just dialogue, rather than focusing on inter-faith networks, who to some degree are already converted.

Genuine cross cultural, multifaith partnerships, give back to both donors and recipients, who realize that cultural contacts alter fundamentally the way in which they interact, giving them the power and strength to work cooperatively and helping them to realize the practical implications of their cooperation on the ground.

Tan Sen, the master musician at the court of the Moghul Emperor, Akbar, had some fifteen musical instruments in the Emperor’s chamber, which he had tuned to one frequency. Upon playing just one instrument’s musical note, the other fourteen started to resonate, to the astonishment and delight of the audience.  Ideally this story can serve well as a metaphor for how communities can work in harmony to achieve an enlightened result. Not everyone sees it that way. Certainly not every faith community is tuned to the same frequency, indeed, not every faith community has achieved harmony within itself but an opportunity exists through the promotion of linking to faith communities, to harness more cross-community collaboration, in the interests of peace, tolerance and well being.

Faith identities will continue to be part of the picture, and faith-based organizations will continue to thrive as part of civil society. Virtually all faiths, however different they may be theologically have a common purpose which is to serve humanity and aid the disadvantaged. Thus faith represents a significant pillar of grassroots relief and development.

Addressing these challenges offers an antidote to sectarianism and the polarization of different faiths in multi-cultural societies. This will never be easy, but remains vitally important.

(Photo, “Arizona Interfaith Movement,” by The Pluralism Project ; attribution via Flickr Commons.)

SOURCE

PM drops in on 5 religious houses in World Interfaith Harmony Week walkabout

Posted on February 3rd, 2013

By Ida Lim
February 02, 2013

 

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is seen at the Buddhist Maha Vihara during the World Interfaith Harmony Week. – Photo by Saw Siow Feng

BRICKFIELDS, Feb 2 – Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak covered the places of worship of the nation’s five main religions centred in Brickfields today, in conjunction with the World Interfaith Harmony Week. Najib visited the Sri Sakhti Karpaga Vinayagar temple and the Buddhist Maha Vihara temple, where he spoke about the need to hold on to the three principles of moderation, respecting those of other faiths, and fairness and being considerate.

He had started off at the Tamil Methodist Church this afternoon, before moving on to the Taoist Sam Kow Tong temple and the Madrasathul Gouthiyyah Surau – stepping foot in the compound of each place but only entering the house of worship of the last one.

Najib handed over donations of RM30,000 to each house of worship.

Malaysia is known to be a country where citizens of different faith and races co-exist peacefully.

But there appears to be some religious tension simmering between Muslims and non-Muslims ahead of Election 2013, in particular the recent public furore over the use of the word “Allah” by the latter group.

SOURCE

It’s World Interfaith Harmony Week

Posted on February 3rd, 2013

The first week of February is observed worldwide as World Interfaith Harmony Week. The impetus for creating this special time for celebrating interfaith relationships arose out of the work of the Common Word initiative five years ago.

A Common Word Between Us and You ” was a document developed by over 100 Muslimscholars, religious leaders and thinkers that sought to recognize the common ground on which Islam and Christianity are built. A number of noted Christian theologians responded, and a profound dialogue between the two traditions has continued. You candownload a pdf file which includes “A Common Word,” selected responses from Christian leaders, and a history of the statement’s impact over the past five years at the Common Word website.

Following a proposal by King Abdullah II of Jordan, the United Nations unanimously adopted the resolution to declare the first week of February will be observed as a World Interfaith Harmony Week.

Groups and individuals are encouraged to sponsor events during this week and to share the information on the World Interfaith Harmony Week website. Resources and information from past observances can also be found there.

This year, the Royal Aal Al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought in Jordan announced the establishment of three WIHW Prizes. A prize will be given to each of the three best events or texts organized during the UN WIHW which best promote the goals of the WIHW. The prizes include $25,000 first prize, $15,000 second prize, and $5,000 third prize. Winners will receive an expenses-paid trip to Jordan for the awards ceremony.

A major goal of the Week is to make the ongoing work of interfaith groups to be made more visible to the world around. The thousands of events organized by these groups often go unnoticed not only by the general public, but also by other interfaith groups themselves. This week allows for these groups to become aware of each other and strengthen the movement by building ties and avoiding duplicating each others’ efforts. You can find a listing of events, background materials, photos and videos at the World Interfaith Harmony Week website.

SOURCE

Events to promote World Inter-Faith Harmony Week

Posted on February 3rd, 2013

KUCHING: The Promoting Inter-Religious Harmony and Understanding Amongst Adherents Malaysia committee through the Department of National Unity and Integration and the Islamic Information Centre (IIC) will host a variety of events here in conjunction with World Inter-Faith Harmony Week 2013.

World Inter-Faith Harmony Week 2013 is an outcome of a United Nations (UN) resolution, proposed in 2010 by King Abdullah II and Prince Ghazi Mohammad of Jordan, calling on all UN member states to observe a worldwide week aimed to promote accord between all people.

For the state-level celebration, a series of programmes have been designed to strengthen the spirit of unity and multi-religious understanding among the people of various faiths.

The programme will begin with a dinner with the leaders of various faith-based organisations in Kuching at Pentarama, DBKU tomorrow (Feb 4).

Around 100 leaders from various faith-based organisations, cultural associations and government agencies will attend the dinner, where Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud will be guest of honour.

The youth and women from some of the organisations will visit the Kuching Buddhist Society Village, the Paediatric Ward and Cancer Ward of Sarawak General Hospital, and also the Cure and Care Rehabilitation Centre (CCRU) Kuching.

The final event will be multi-religious forum on ‘Faith and Good Governance’ organised by the Islamic Information Centre on Feb 23.

Speakers from five different backgrounds will share their thoughts and provide insights on what constitutes good governance.

About 300 participants are expected.

SOURCE

Ban stresses inter-faith harmony

Posted on February 2nd, 2013

By: Special Correspondent | February 02, 2013 0

UNITED NATIONS – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on the followers of all faiths to work together to achieve common goals for peace, prosperity and physical and spiritual well-being.

“We live in times of turmoil and transformation – economic, environmental, demographic and political. These transitions bring both hope and uncertainty. Our job is to ensure that hope wins, and our task will be made easier if the followers of all faiths collaborate in common cause,” Ban said, while kicking off an annual event known as World Interfaith Harmony Week. “Let us never forget that what divides us is minuscule compared with what unites us. Working together, we can achieve all our goals for peace, prosperity and physical and spiritual well-being,” he said in a message to mark the event.

World Interfaith Harmony Week is observed during the first week of February, as decided by the General Assembly, which established the event in 2010 as a way to promote harmony between all people regardless of their faith.

The assembly encouraged all states, during the week, to support the spread of the message of interfaith harmony and goodwill in the world’s churches, mosques, synagogues, temples and other places of worship, among other steps.

“For billions of people around the world, faith is an essential foundation of life,” the secretary-general noted. “It provides strength in times of difficulty and an important sense of community. The vast majority of people of faith live in harmony with their neighbours, whatever their creed, but each religion also harbours a strident minority prepared to assert fundamentalist doctrines through bigotry and extreme violence.

“These acts are an affront to the heritage and teachings of all major religions,” he stated, adding that they also contravene the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which affirms the right of all to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. “It is imperative that the moderate majority is empowered to stand firm against the forces of extremism. But, this can only be achieved through strong leadership,” he added.

The Secretary-General also cited the need to reach out to young people with a message of hope. “Too often marginalised, jobless and facing a future of uncertainty, youth can be easy prey for fanatics offering a sense of cause and community. We need to expose the invalidity of this lure and offer a compelling alternative.”

 SOURCE

PM joins religious bodies at World Interfaith Harmony Week observance

Posted on February 2nd, 2013

FEBRUARY 2, 2013 BY 

PM joins religious bodies at World Interfaith Harmony Week observance

Georgetown, GINA, February 1, 2013

Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, performing the duties of president today joined representatives of various religious bodies to launch World Interfaith Harmony week at the National Cultural Centre (NCC).

Present at the event also were Presidential Advisor on Governance, Gail Teixeira, Minister of Amerindian Affairs Pauline Sukhai and Minister within the Ministry of Finance, Juan Edghill, and members of the Diplomatic Corps.

Prime Minister, Samuel Hinds, United Nations Development Programme Representative, Khadija Musa and members of various religious bodies at the Inter Faith Harmony Week observance at the National Cultural Centre

Prime Minister, Samuel Hinds, United Nations Development Programme Representative, Khadija Musa and members of various religious bodies at the Inter Faith Harmony Week observance at the National Cultural Centre

The United Nations (UN) declared the first week in February every year as World Interfaith Harmony week for all religions faiths and beliefs. It is aimed at promoting peace, love and harmony among all regardless of their faith, and brings a mutual understanding of religious dialogue that constitutes an important dimension of culture.

Prime Minister Hinds during his keynote address stated that this event was of much importance as Guyana joined the rest of the world to commit to interfaith harmony.

Prime Minister, Samuel Hinds browsing one of the religious displays.

Prime Minister, Samuel Hinds browsing one of the religious displays.

“Unless we be like seeds that fall on stony grounds, seeds which sprang up at once but when the sun rose they were scorched and withered because they had no soil……we must face up to the differences and the areas of contradiction  in rituals and beliefs.”

PM Hinds said that religious and cultural leaders have a responsibility to speak the language of tolerance in their respective communities, and urged religious leaders to reach out to young people with the message of hope. “Too often, young people are jobless and facing a future of uncertainty,” he said.

One of the religious leaders explaining his religion to some of the attendees

One of the religious leaders explaining his religion to some of the attendees

The history of mankind is full of conflicts among nations of different faiths, and this event brought together leaders to interact, and at the same time learn from each other’s moral teachings.

Mr. Hinds said that the world needs interfaith harmony now more than ever before, not only to minimise the potentials for conflicts at various levels or to defuse any clash of civilisation, but to establish accord and create a better environment.

Guyana’s constitution endorses the freedom of religion and the PM said he is proud of such liberty which allows Guyanese to be a part of what they believe in.

UNDP representative, Khadija Musa, who spoke on behalf of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said for billions of people around the world “faith”, is an essential foundation of life. It also provides strength in times of difficulty and an important.

Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, United Nations Development Programme Representative, Khadija Musa and religious leaders at the World Inter Faith Harmony Week observance

Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, United Nations Development Programme Representative, Khadija Musa and religious leaders at the World Inter Faith Harmony Week observance

Musa said the UN is engaged in defining a post – 2015 sustainable development agenda intended to eradicate extreme poverty and promote a critical opportunity for all, while protecting the environment. She said that all the leaders have a role to play in this initiative.

There were prayers and reflections by the Hindu, Christian Muslim and Rastafarian faiths at today’s event.

On Sunday there will also be an Interfaith Harmony walk, followed by a cultural activity at the Promenade Gardens.

 

SOURCE

Malaysia Can Win World Harmony Contest – Koh

Posted on February 1st, 2013

PETALING JAYA, Feb 1 (Bernama) — Malaysia has a strong chance of winning the ‘World Interfaith Harmony Week 2013′ (WIHM) which is celebrated today until Feb 7, based on the uniqueness and prosperity of the country.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon said, the competition, organised by Jordan, has to date received participation from more than 40 countries who are members of the United Nations.

“Malaysia may has a chance to wrest the first prize which offers US$25,000 (RM77,100) cash because of the characteristics of harmony practiced in the country for so long.

“We are confident Malaysia will perform well, exemplary and supreme in line with its harmony and unity and this reflected a tolerant and open attitude in celebrating the diversity of race and religion,” he told reporters after launching a Goodwill Adventure in conjunction with WIHM, here, Friday.

In the meantime, he said, the Goodwill Adventure was joined by 80 young participants of various races and religions who would travel by bus to four states, namely Perak, Penang, Melaka and Johor.

SOURCE

Religious groups call for harmony as UN launches Interfaith Week

Posted on February 1st, 2013

interfaith week launch

 

The United Nations World Inter-Faith Harmony week was launched here today. The harmony week will see several religious leaders embarking on an Interfaith Transformation project, around Guyana.

The one week inter-faith harmony observance is aimed at sensitizing Guyanese on the importance of peace and harmony, neighbourly love and unity, amongst all religions.

Acting President, Samuel Hinds, said based on Guyana’s cultural and ethnic fabric, the harmony week is one of national importance and should be treated as such by all Guyanese

“Our hope for interfaith harmony is well founded on how much mankind faiths have in common, in their moral teachings, about how life should be lived, how many should relate to God and to man.”

He urged Guyanese to continue to live in neighborly love despite of their religious belief. I Rass Ian, representative of the Guyana Rastafari Council says harmony is essential especially in a country as diverse as Guyana.

“We know where there is diversity there is competition, in many areas. So there must be some platform where people as diverse as Guyanese can come together and create a vent, in the advent of any situation occurring. “

 “We all know Guyana is a peaceful and, loving country, and we always try to spread peace and motivate people with love and harmony.”

The Indigenous (Amerindian), Hindu, Rastafarian, the United Apostolic Mystical Council, Christian and Muslim communities were   represented at the event.

The mission of the week is to bring Guyanese, from all faiths, all religious backgrounds, to work together   to achieve world peace and harmony.

 

SOURCE

New York, 1 February 2013 – Secretary-General’s message for Interfaith Harmony Week

Posted on February 1st, 2013

For billions of people around the world, faith is an essential foundation of life.
It provides strength in times of difficulty and an important sense of community.  The vast majority of people of faith live in harmony with their neighbours, whatever their creed, but each religion also harbours a strident minority prepared to assert fundamentalist doctrines through bigotry and extreme violence.

These acts are an affront to the heritage and teachings of all major religions.  They also contravene the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which affirms the right of all to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.  It is imperative that the moderate majority is empowered to stand firm against the forces of extremism.  But, this can only be achieved through strong leadership.

Next month at its forum in Vienna, the Alliance of Civilizations will continue its efforts to unite faiths and cultures.  Whether on the world stage or in their communities, religious and cultural leaders have a responsibility to speak the language of tolerance and respect.  This is a central message of World Interfaith Harmony Week.

We must also reach out to young people with a message of hope.  Too often marginalized, jobless and facing a future of uncertainty, youth can be easy prey for fanatics offering a sense of cause and community.  We need to expose the invalidity of this lure and offer a compelling alternative.

This cannot be achieved by words alone.  Young people need jobs and a meaningful stake in a future that they can believe in.  The United Nations is currently engaged in defining a post-2015 sustainable development agenda.  Our goal is to eradicate extreme poverty in our lifetime and promote equitable economic opportunity for all while protecting the environment.  To do that, we need the engagement of all actors – including young people and communities of faith.

We live in times of turmoil and transformation – economic, environmental, demographic and political.  These transitions bring both hope and uncertainty.  Our job is to ensure that hope wins, and our task will be made easier if the followers of all faiths collaborate in common cause.  Let us never forget that what divides us is minuscule compared with what unites us.  Working together, we can achieve all our goals for peace, prosperity and physical and spiritual well-being.

Secretary-General
Ban Ki-moon

SOURCE

Salam Namaste

Posted on January 31st, 2013

 

 

It is said that there’s enough religion in the world to make men hate one another, but not enough to make them love. But what if religion were to become a common ground where shared religious and ethical values are celebrated? Perhaps, too far-fetched a dream for the world that we live in. Especially for Pakistan. For we do not unite in the name of God. We dissent, for God’s sake. Quite literally so.

But this might be a good time to take a closer look at the possibilities of an inter-faith understanding, if nothing else. Tomorrow, we embark on the World Interfaith Harmony Week, celebrated in the first week of February each year. What does this even mean? And what does it mean for Pakistan in particular, a county ravaged by polarisations. We are divided in the name of faith — we are Muslims and Christians and Hindus; we are majorities and minorities; we are the green and the white; we are the crescent and the star. Tier two of being poles apart: division in the name of denominations within the framework of the same faith — need I even say Shia and Sunni? It stares us in the face, way too close for comfort.

Hence, there is a need for not just interfaith dialogue, which ensures empathy, tolerance and understanding between followers of different faiths, but also inter-religious (bainal masaalik) dialogue.

Yet, this seems an under-celebrated and under-emphasised concept today in the post 9/11 world, and in present-day Pakistan in particular. Often, in interfaith fora, experts sit proselytising others to their own, in desperate attempts to convert and convince the others to ‘our’ way of thinking. And if not that, at least establish the supremacy of our faith over the others. An attempt at hegemony.

One reason we see resistance against sincere interfaith dialogue is that it is seen as a conniving, insidious attempt at syncretism — something that will take away my religious identity from me and make society a melting pot where all ideologies are conflated into one, basically leaving us with none at the end. Something like what John Lennon was trying to say in his song ‘Imagine’.

In reality, however, the interfaith dialogue process actually helps us understand and strengthen our own faith better, and also learn to respect other ideologies. If it involves all stakeholders, it helps get rid of stereotypes. It helps a nation get over the ‘us vs them’ phenomenon.

If these efforts were made with the genuine intention of understanding one another, the benefits for Pakistan, a religio-centred nation, would be immense. Consensus-building does not do away with agreeing to disagree. What if followers of different faiths and different religious denominations come together on things all religions believe in — peace, justice and sustainability. Practical implications can include things that give a huge push to Pakistan’s developmental issues. To cite one example, we are 180 million strong, and the world’s fifth most populous nation has no hope of population control unless this is discussed by faith-based representatives and a consensus is built. Indonesia has achieved it by bringing all Muslim denominations, as well as Catholics and major religious leaders on board.

Interfaith dialogue is linked closely to human rights. Which brings us to the third tier at which this discourse needs to be fostered — dialogue between the seculars and the religious. In a society which cannot realistically do away with either element, it would be a good idea to create spaces where commonalities can be celebrated for civic and national stability.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 31st, 2013.

SOURCE

INTERFAITH CALL -IN DAY ON GUN VIOLENCE: URI

Posted on January 31st, 2013

URI North America is joining with
Cooperation Circles and
interfaith partners across the US for an
Interfaith Call-in Day to Prevent Gun Violence
Monday, February 4
As we celebrate World Interfaith Harmony Week this week from February 1-7 what better opportunity is there to demonstrate national interfaith solidarity than to support this interfaith initiative designed to empower each of us to help cultivate a Culture of Peace in the United States.  Carol Hovis, Executive Director of the Marin Interfaith Council, a URI Cooperation Circle, clearly articulates the important timing of this effort and opportunities for involvement below. Please consider spreading the word through your organizations and networks and make the call yourself on February 4, 2013.
The call-in number, which will be activated on February 4, is 1-877-897-0174. Check for additional resources at http://faithscalling.org.
You can also contact your representatives directly or contact all legislaturesusing mail or email.

I plan to call my members of Congress and ask them to support measures that will reduce gun violence in our country. I hope you will consider not only joining me in this widespread inter-faith effort but promoting it with your friends and colleagues.
Congress needs to hear the moral voices on this issue. To have an impact, our reach must be far. Please help spread the word in your church community.Click here for sample pulpit, bulletin, website, and social media announcements.

 

To directly encourage friends to join in, ask them tsign up to receive a reminder email on February 4 or to join the Facebook event.
The call-in number, which will be activated on February 4, is 1-877-897-0174. Check for additional resources at: http://faithscalling.org
In addition, the organization Groundswell has created an online pledge to participate in gun violence sabbath.
Working for peace,

 

Rev. Carol Hovis, Executive Director
Marin Interfaith Council

SOURCE

 

WSIU Radio’s Jennifer Fuller talks about WIHW

Posted on January 30th, 2013

http://news.wsiu.org/post/interfaith-harmony-week

By 

WSIU Radio’s Jennifer Fuller talks with Father Bob Flannery of Saint Francis Xavier Catholic Church, and Luke Tolley of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Tolley is the President of the Carbondale Interfaith Council, Flannery a past-president. They both preview the upcoming Interfaith Harmony Week and its significance.

Different Drummers: Interfaith Harmony Week

Posted on January 30th, 2013

 

Senate of the Philippines – 15th Congress

Posted on January 29th, 2013

Press Release
January 28, 2013

Meanwhile, the Senate also approved on third and final reading Senate Bill No. 3276, an Act declaring the first week of February every year as “World Interfaith Harmony Week”, seeks to promote mutual understanding and inter-religious dialogue among leaders and representatives of religious and secular organizations.

The United Nations General Assembly (UN GA) proclaimed in October 20, 2010 the first week of February of every year as the “World Interfaith Harmony Week between all religions, faiths and beliefs,” through resolution A/RES/65/5.

“The rationale of the UN resolution is a need to find genuine understanding among people of different faiths and belief systems. This finds resonance in the Philippines, a country that will certainly benefit from dialogues among leaders and representatives of religious institutions. The harmony we are pushing for is democratic, and built on effective communication and mutual respect,” Sen. Loren Legarda said.

Senate Bill No. 3276 seeks to promote cooperation and genuine understanding among all Filipinos, in order to establish a country of empathy and a culture of peace.

“It is in the best interests of the Filipino people to promote civil and non-violent inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogues. These dialogues will empower our democratic ideals and engender an environment conducive to the prosperity of all,” Legarda said.

“Since time immemorial, lives and civilizations have been the pawns of wars and conflicts fought in the name of religion. Right here in the Philippines, we have our own share of armed conflict and violence between Christians and Muslims. Our challenge and our goal is to build a sense of community that goes beyond the traditional boundaries of clan, tribe, class, region, and religion. I believe that mutual understanding and cooperation will help us achieve a united nation,” Angara said in his sponsorship speech.

 

SOURCE

World Interfaith Harmony Week

Posted on January 29th, 2013

World Interfaith Harmony Week (& National Freedom Day)

“The fact is, humanity everywhere is bound together, not only by mutual interests, but by shared commandments to love God and neighbor; to love good and neighbor.”

King Abdullah II of Jordan on World Interfaith Harmony Week

World Interfaith Harmony Week was established by the UN just three years ago—in 2010—and has already inspired hundreds of events worldwideFRIDAY, FEBRUARY 1: A collective effort pushes interfaith peace into world headlines this week with the third annual World Interfaith Harmony Week.

Established to highlight promising work by grassroots groups and projects around the world, the United Nations established World Interfaith Harmony Week as proposed by King Abdullah II of Jordan. That first Week—set just three months after its adoption—connected with 200 registered events in more than 40 countries. The next year, 100 more events were added to the list.

This year, entire cities are embracing World Interfaith Harmony Week for the first time, including Toronto, Canada, and Davao City, Mindanao, Philippines.

LEGACY OF ‘A COMMON WORD’

World Interfaith Harmony Week stems from the landmark 2007 statement by many of the world’s top Muslim leaders, called A Common Word. (Wikipedia has a short history of the Week itself, as well as an overview of A Common Word.) ReadTheSpirit has encouraged ongoing interfaith responses to A Common Word,including this 2011 interview with Miroslav Volf—the Yale University theologian who organized a diverse Christian response to the original Muslim letter.

Although the process has moved slowly and some religious leaders in the U.S. and abroad declined to participate, the original group of Muslim leaders and interfaith activists like Volf are pleased to see the continued flowering of their work. Now, World Interfaith Harmony Week has expanded beyond a specific religious focus to a general goal of promoting “Love of the Good and Love of the Neighbor.” This opens participation to people of any world religion—or of no particular religion.

In December, ReadTheSpirit reported a number of stories about the importance of including unaffiliated men and women in future coalitions. One story was headlined, Global Religions: Rise of the Unaffiliated, Including Nones. Another was headlined, Welcoming Churches: Greeting Nones and Jedi knights.

NATIONAL FREEDOM DAY: CELEBRATING LINCOLN & 13TH AMENDMENT

In addition to the start of World Interfaith Harmony Week, today marks National Freedom Day in the United States—a commemoration of President Lincoln’s signing of the resolution that would become the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. (Wikipedia has details.) On Feb. 1, 1865, President Lincoln signed to outlaw slavery, and Americans have celebrated the freedom and equal opportunities of all citizens since President Truman’s proclamation, in 1948. National Freedom Day is not a federal holiday, although many communities hold ceremonies and festivals.

 

SOURCE

Let’s enjoy living in harmony

Posted on January 29th, 2013

Tuesday January 29, 2013

Let’s enjoy living in harmony

IKIM VIEWS
ENIZAHIRA ABDUL AZIZ , SENIOR RESEARCH OFFICER CENTRE FOR SYARIAH, LAW AND POLITICS

It’s not easy upholding peace and harmony in a pluralistic nation like Malaysia. Efforts have been taken by various parties, including the Government, NGOs and civil society entities, to minimise friction due to social differences, be it cultural or religious.

MALAYSIA is a nation that is indeed unique and blessed.

The uniqueness of this beautiful nation, among others, lies not just in its multiracial and multi-ethnicity background but also in its religious diversity.

For Malaysians, their religions do not just shape who they are spiritually, but acts also as a major influence on their culture and social identities.

Belief in God, as the first pillar of the Rukun Negara is an important principle that binds Malaysians together.

From this, it can be understood that religion plays a crucial role in shaping the positive characters of individuals and contributes towards nation building.

It is also a well-known fact that religions shape the world view of individuals. These world views will then be manifested in one’s action towards God, other beings and even towards himself.

Associate Professor Dr Kamar Oniah Kamaruzaman, in her bookReligion and Pluralistic Co-Existence, talks very aptly about the connection between religion and the inter-personal dimension.

She explains that: “True persons of religion understand well their social obligations and responsibilities to one and all, and take these responsibilities seriously. This is because their social responsibilities are part of their religious responsibilities and they are thus as much accountable to what goes in society as what goes within their own selves. Thus the social teachings of their religions make them disciplined, responsible and productive members of society.”

As religion becomes the focal point for most individuals, it is therefore essential to look at the sources of our own religion when dealing with differences.

In Islam for example, there is a clear source of guideline on the matter. One of the verses in the Holy Quran that outlines this is in Surah Mumtahanah, verse 8: “Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for (your) religion nor expel you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly towards them. Indeed Allah loves those who act justly” (Chapter 60: 8).

Another important verse in the Quran that calls for mankind to learn to know one another and accept diversity is discussed in Surah al-Hujurat, verse 13, which states: “O mankind, indeed we have created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).” (Chapter 49: 13)

For a pluralistic nation like Malaysia where the social fabric is made up of various races, ethnicity, cultures and most importantly religions, to be able to uphold peace and harmony is not an easy task.

Today, as can be seen, many countries are still finding the right formulae to address the issues of religious diversities and justice.

Instead of looking at the values in each religion that are able to provide the answer, they prefer to concentrate on differences that exist among religions.

Consequently, this will widen the existing gap among people of different faiths and beliefs instead of actually building a bridge of understanding towards living harmoniously with one another.

In Malaysia, efforts have been made by various parties, including the Government, NGOs and other civil society entities, to narrow the social gaps and minimise friction in society due to social differences, be it cultural or religious.

No doubt much must still be done but the policies, efforts and actions that have been taken towards preserving harmony and instilling the spirit of muhibah among the people must also be given due recognition and applauded.

One good example of such collaborative effort is the Jawatankuasa Mempromosikan Keharmonian dan Persefahaman Antara Penganut Agama (JKMPKA) or the Committee for the Promotion of Mutual Understanding and Harmony Among Religious Adherents, set up by the Cabinet in 2010.

Currently, the committee is gearing up by organising activities and embarking on efforts inviting Malaysians to join the celebration of the World Interfaith Harmony Week 2013.

This annual celebration during the first week of February was proposed at the United Nations General Assembly on Sept 23, 2010, by King Abdullah II of Jordan.

It was unanimously adopted by UN on Oct 20, 2010, with the belief that there is a need for dialogue among different faiths and religions with the aim of enhancing mutual understanding, harmony and cooperation among people.

As for Malaysia, many activities have been planned in conjunction with the World Interfaith Harmony Week 2013.

However, for such an event and celebration, the success and joy come in the form of seeing fellow Malaysians appreciating each other and respecting the religious values and beliefs of others.

Therefore, let us celebrate the diversities that exist in our unique society with the spirit of togetherness and mutual understanding. With the aim of learning to know each other better, the spirit of muhibah and respect should be the underlying principles of our endeavour towards living in harmony in such a blessed nation like Malay­­­sia.

 

SOURCE

January proclaimed Interfaith Harmony Month in S.C.

Posted on January 28th, 2013

January proclaimed Interfaith Harmony Month in S.C.

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley signed a proclamation on January 3, 2013 naming January Interfaith Harmony Month in South Carolina.

 

 

SOURCE

Interfaith Month: Activities to promote understanding of ‘many faiths, one family’ kick off Feb. 1

Posted on January 28th, 2013

By , Deseret News

Published: Friday, Jan. 25 2013 5:00 a.m. MST

 

  • Lacee Harris of First Nations, shown here during last year’s Musical Tribute at the Salt Lake Mormon Tabernacle, will present a special “blessing ceremony” at the Utah State Capitol on the first day of Interfaith Month.

 

 

 

A Quaker, an Episcopalian, a Mormon and a “none” (spiritually motivated but not religiously affiliated) were sitting around a table.

No, really. They were.

It wasn’t a joke awaiting a punch line, but a gathering of some of the hard-working believers who have key assignments in association with the Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable’s annual Interfaith Month, which will fill the February calendar — and part of March — with events that celebrate the theme “Many Faiths — One Family.”

“As a culture, we’re very good at misconceptions,” said Elaine Emmi, the Quaker at the table. “Interfaith Month is an opportunity to correct misconceptions and learn the truth about different religions from the people who live them.

“This goes beyond tolerance. We’re not gritting our teeth and putting up with something,” Emmi continued. “We’re learning to love what someone else loves about their faith. We’re looking at faith through their eyes and learning to appreciate it in a different way.”

And all of the different faith groups involved in Interfaith Month activities are anxious to provide this opportunity for public scrutiny and exposure, according to Episcopalian Josie Stone, Interfaith Month chair.

“They want people to know and understand them better, and they want to understand other faith groups better,” Stone said. “That’s really the essence of what we’re trying to do with Interfaith Month. We’re not just trying to inform. We’re trying to increase respect and understanding through real, meaningful experience.”

Judy Wright, who is LDS, recalls seeing a BYU professor bring his rather large family to the Interfaith Month event at the Sri Ganesha Hindu Temple in South Jordan last year.

“It was so fun to see the faces of the kids as they were introduced to a culture that is completely different from what they are used to. They were eating it up,” Wright said. “We would love it if people would look at this as a way to introduce their children to new things. This is a great place for understanding and acceptance to start.”

What Interfaith Month is not, says Alan Bachman, chairman of the Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable — who would have added a Jewish element to the table had he been able to attend the gathering — is an attempt at ecumenism.

“We’re not trying to create a religious melting pot here,” he said during an earlier interview. “We acknowledge our differences even while we celebrate our similarities. And the end result, I believe, is you come away edified and strengthened in your own beliefs and culture even while you gain greater appreciation for others.”

This year’s Interfaith Month calendar of events officially begins on Friday, Feb. 1, with a special “Blessing Ceremony” at the Utah State Capitol Rotunda at 9 a.m. Gov. Gary R. Herbert will be in attendance to launch Interfaith Month with an opening statement, and Salt Lake Interfaith Rountable board member Lacee Harris of First Nations will conduct the blessing ceremony with a peace pipe and sage.

“The blessing ceremony will be a first for us,” Stone said. “Lacee does such a wonderful job representing his Native American beliefs. This should be a remarkable experience for everyone who comes.”

Another first among Interfaith Month activities will be a Feb. 6 guided bus tour of four places of worship in downtown Salt Lake City, with stops at the Salt Lake Buddhist Temple, the Holy Trinity Cathedral of the Greek Orthodox Church, the Catholic Church’s Cathedral of the Madeleine and one of the historic downtown LDS meetinghouses.

“We are especially encouraging people who are new to the city to come and get a sense of the different faith groups that make up the downtown community,” Wright said.

The 2013 Interfaith Month will also feature a first-ever event in Park City: a Feb. 26 presentation at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church from Utah Interfaith Power and Light about climate change.

And if that doesn’t capture your religious fancy, perhaps you’ll be more inclined toward another first-time event: the “Utah Yoga Rave” on March 9, with an emphasis on “spirituality through movement and meditation.”

“Interfaith Month has evolved,” Wright observed. “It used to be mostly a spectator sport, with lots of lectures and speeches, and people would sit and watch. Now we’re trying to do more interactive things to get those who make the effort to come more involved in experiencing the different faith groups. So its less of a sit-down, formal thing.”

Other Interfaith Month events will feature tours and presentations by area Muslims, Hindus, Episcopalians, Christian Scientists, Catholics, Lutherans, Mormons, Baptists and Greek Orthodox observers. For a complete listing of titles, times and locations of Interfaith Month activities please go tohttp://interfaithroundtable.org/2013events.htm.

As always, the crowning event of Interfaith Month will be the Musical Tribute in the Salt Lake LDS Tabernacle on Temple Square on Sunday, March 10, at 6 p.m. The concert is free and open to the public, featuring music, dance and devotionals from a wide variety of Utah faith groups and cultures. In the past, the Musical Tribute has been held the fourth Sunday of February, but this year it was moved into March so it would not interfere with the Jewish Purim observance.

“The concert is sort of a microcosm of what we’re trying to create during the month, with all of these religious groups coming together to share their culture and traditions,” said David Sharp, the aforementioned “none,” who is in charge of putting together this year’s show.

“We always put out fliers for the show, and we usually get a number of guests who come because it’s in the Tabernacle and they happen to be in town,” Emmi said. “Inevitably, they are amazed that in a state known for being so Mormon, we have this amazing event where we’re celebrating this wonderful diverse religious population that people don’t realize is here, and we’re doing it right there in the Mormon Tabernacle.”

This year, Sharp is especially excited about a group of students from BYU who have put together a gamelan orchestra, which he said is a traditional Indonesian musical ensemble consisting of metallophones, xylophones, bamboo flutes and drums.

“This will be a unique musical experience,” said Sharp, who is also a musician and plays dulcimer in the ethnic/folk musical group Idlewild.

There will also be a children’s dance group from the Salt Lake Buddhist Temple Dharma School and three children’s choral groups: the Salt Lake Children’s Choir, the Juan Diego Choir and the Hindu children’s choir. “And the Turkish Muslim group promises a ‘whirling dervish,’” said Sharp, referring to the whirling dance traditionally performed by Sufi Muslim holy men.

“Come curious,” Emmi said of the concert and all of the other Interfaith Month events. “Invest a little time here and you’ll learn something, you’ll feel something and you’ll understand your neighbors a whole lot more.”

 

SOURCE

World Interfaith Harmony Week welcomed to Toronto this year

Posted on January 28th, 2013

Friday, 25 January 2013 08:09

Fr. Damian MacPherson, the archdiocese of Toronto’s interfaith director, is on the steering committee for Toronto’s World Interfaith Harmony Week.
Fr. Damian MacPherson, the archdiocese of Toronto’s interfaith director, is on the steering committee for Toronto’s World Interfaith Harmony Week.- Photo by Sarah Florez

Week promotes tolerance and peace among religions

TORONTO – World Interfaith Harmony Week is coming to Toronto for the first time.

The United Nations Initiative, which originated in 2010 and is meant to promote peace, love, tolerance and understanding among followers of all religions, will run Feb. 1-7 at various Toronto locations. The theme for Toronto will be looking for ways to work together.

“It’s an important thing, not only for Catholics, but for all Christians to be exposed to and to become more aware of the importance of other religions in the world,” said Fr. Damian MacPherson, director of the Office of Ecumenical and Interfaith Affairs for the archdiocese of Toronto. “In the absence of not knowing, generally suspicion arises.”

MacPherson is on the steering committee for World Interfaith Harmony Week in the city. The committee chair is John Voorpostel, a member of the Lutheran community.

Voorpostel wanted to organize the event last year, but he was too late in getting things together.

“Nothing was being done in Toronto to recognize it, but when I started calling people together I found so much work had already been done in the interfaith community in Toronto,” he said. “Looking at World Interfaith Harmony Week is new, but the work in the interfaith community has been going on for a long time.”

The City of Toronto will be making an official proclamation for the week of interfaith harmony, said Voorpostel. He has approached the provincial and federal governments to officially and permanently recognize the week as well, though that will be a longer process.

“Toronto’s an especially significant place because here, being the most ethnically diverse city in the world, we have all the major world religions in place and, in some cases, in good numbers,” MacPherson said.

He said it is important to know and understand who our neighbours are and what they believe.

“You don’t have to believe what they believe, but you certainly should respect what they believe and build up that common community of humankind,” said MacPherson. “And that’s really the call of the Gospel, certainly the teaching and expectation that frequently comes from Pope Benedict and also his predecessor and predecessors to open the minds of Christians and Catholics beyond their own belief. Not that their belief is not full and true, but also to be able to understand and respect the faith of others.”

Voorpostel has found that “people are extremely receptive to this (interfaith harmony week) at the grassroots level and very quick to embrace its principles, which is to find out what it is about one another that we have in common and then learn also about what our differences are and respect them.”

In five years, Voorpostel hopes that harmony week will be an important interfaith event in Toronto.

“On a personal note, this has done a tremendous amount to strengthen my own faith because I realize we as Christians are really not alone in our journey to God and others have found God in their own way and we all share this journey,” said Voorpostel. “We’re all simply on different roads together. And so that’s been a very powerful realization for me.”

The week’s festivities are still being planned, but so far sponsors include the Toronto Area Interfaith Council, which represents numerous religions. The kickoff event on Feb. 1, sponsored by the Toronto chapter of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada, will be about celebrating interfaith culture and will be held at Subhani Hall at the Jamia Riyadhul Jannah, a mosque in Mississauga.

“Any profit that this dinner makes will be used to send an interfaith work team to build a house for Habitat for Humanity,” said Voorpostel.

The closing event on Feb. 7 will be an evening at the Canadian Japanese Cultural Centre in Toronto. Hosted by the interfaith council, speakers representing various faiths will discuss the “underlying ideals of interfaith harmony” and the theme for 2013, said Voorpostel.

For more information on the opening activities call (647) 404-3050.

 

SOURCE

World Interfaith Week declared in Davao City

Posted on January 15th, 2013

By Arianne Caryl N. Casas

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

THE Davao City Council passed a resolution on Tuesday declaring the first week of February each year as World Interfaith Week in the city.

In her privilege speech during the regular session, Councilor Pilar C. Braga said she received a letter dated January 2 from the Interfaith Harmony by Fr. Hermes Larry B. Sabus, SM, Ustadz Isa D. Tahas and Archbishop Emeritus Fernando Capalla.

The letter stated that some organizations met on December 27, 2012 to respond to the United Nations Resolution declaring 2013 as “Interfaith Harmony Links.”

She said the groups decided to participate in the celebration of the World Interfaith Harmony Week on February 1-7, 2012 with the theme “Celebrating Interfaith Harmony for Love and Service to God and One Another.”

The participating groups are The Bishop-Ulama Conference, Al-Qalam Institute and Theology Division of the Ateneo de Davao University, Ma’had Piapi Al-Islamie, Archdiocesan Center for Ecunumical and Interreligious Dialogue, Mindanao Sulu Pastoral Conference-Youth Secretariat, 10th Infantry Division-Philippine Army, Mindanao Pranic healing Foundation, Brahma Kumaris, Philippine National Police, and Silsilah Forum Davao.

“The Interfaith Harmony Link aims to promote the World Interfaith Harmony Week; facilitate dynamic activities and create a space for exchange of thought/reflections/insights/dialogue on the theme; encourage representatives of different sectors to initiate voluntarily programs and activities promoting peace and harmony; and to strengthen partnership and mutual support in promoting Interfaith Harmony,” Braga said.

 

SOURCE

MILF signs peace agreement with Philippine government, World Interfaith Harmony Week to be held in February

Posted on October 17th, 2012

10/15/2012 17:54
PHILIPPINES
MILF signs peace agreement with Philippine government, World Interfaith Harmony Week to be held in February
Accession to the World Interfaith Harmony Week was voted October 8th. Confirmation coincides with today’s ceremony for the signing of the peace agreement between the Philippine government and Moro rebels. The initiative was sponsored by the National Ulema Conference of the Philippines (NUCP), the Catholic Church and Silsilah group for interreligious dialogue. It will be held on the sidelines of the construction of the new autonomous region of Mindanao.

Zamboanga (AsiaNews) – The World Interfaith Harmony Week, (Wihw) will be held in the Philippines in February 2013. The confirmation appeared today on the website of the Philippine Senate. The Senate vote comes after the historic peace agreement between Islamist rebels and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front signed this morning in Manila. The document is a first step for the realization of the new autonomous region of Bangsamoro (Mindanao) and sets the stage for the disarmament of the Islamic militias and the beginning of official dialogue between the authorities and Muslim leaders of the island.

According to Senator Loren Legarda the promoter of the bill, the World Interfaith Harmony Week will help to facilitate an end to the conflicts and tensions based on religious diversity and will help the implementation of the agreements between the government and MILF. Thanks to this initiative, the population will have the opportunity to learn about the various faiths in the country, with a great benefit to dialogue between the leaders and representatives of religious institutions. ”

By joining the World Interfaith Harmony Week, the government will provide tools to organize activities and events themed on interreligious dialogue in parallel with political efforts to create a new reality in the autonomous Muslim Mindanao also respectful of Christian and tribal minorities.

World Interfaith Harmony Week has been held for several years in various countries around the world, including Pakistan, Indonesia, Italy and Jordan. In the Philippines, the first event was organized in 2011 in Zamboanga. It is promoted by the National Ulema Conference of the Philippines (NUCP), the Catholic Church and the Silsilah movement for interreligious dialogue founded by Fr. Sebastiano D’Ambra, a missionary of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions. “Adhesion to the World Interfaith Harmony Week at a national level – Fr. D’Ambra told AsiaNews- is a response to our request made to Filipino leaders during the first edition which took place in Zamboanga in February.” He stresses that the merit of having brought a moment of reflection and dialogue between religions at the national level belongs to Senator Ben Zalazhar Climaco, a member of Silsilah. He brought the proposal to the Congress and convinced Senator Legarda to share the importance of this gesture in a country like the Philippines, torn by the conflict between Muslims and Christians in Mindanao for forty years.

Fr. D’Ambra was among the guests at the ceremony held this morning at the presidential palace where Teresita Deles, the government negotiator and Al Haj Murad, founder of the MILF (see photo), signed a framework agreement for construction of the new autonomous entity of Bangsamoro. The priest said that “By a strange coincidence the Senate vote in favour of the World Interfaith Harmony Week and the development of positive dialogue with the rebels took place on the same day that Marilou Diaz Abaya’s death.  The director was well-known in the Philippines for his commitment to dialogue between Muslims and Christians”.  She was a member of the Silsilah Media Center for Dialogue and Peace for many years and was famous throughout the country for “New Moon” a movie that brought the drama of the forty-year conflict in Mindanao to the big screen, helping to open the first negotiations between Moro rebels and the government. Her funeral was celebrated on February 13 in Manila a few days before the signing of the agreements, to which she had contributed indirectly by recounting the birth ofSilsilah and the first informal meetings between Muslim leaders and members of the Catholic community in Mindanao. “From heaven, she no doubt follone this journey of peace that has culminated with the signing of agreements between Islamist rebels and government – said the priest – I invite ordinary people and political leaders to follow the example of Marilou Diaz Abaya so we may soon have a lasting peace on the island of Mindanao. ” (S.C.)

 

SOURCE

Religious tolerance, dialogue among Jordan’s most basic values — Judeh

Posted on September 30th, 2012

Religious tolerance, dialogue among Jordan’s most basic values — Judeh

by JT | Sep 29, 2012 | 22:35

AMMAN — Religious tolerance and interfaith dialogue have always been two of the fundamental pillars of Jordan, Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said on Thursday.

At a discussion on civil society and human rights education as tools for promoting religious tolerance, which he co-chaired with Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi on the sidelines of the 67th UN General Assembly in New York, Judeh outlined Jordan’s efforts to preserve human dignity and renounce violence, extremism and hatred, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

He cited the Amman Message and the Common Word initiative, which aim to clarify the true image of Islam and its teachings as a faith promoting moderation, tolerance and acceptance.

Judeh also referred to World Interfaith Harmony Week, observed each February, which was first proposed by His Majesty King Abdullah at the UN General Assembly in September 2010.

The foreign minister highlighted the need for concerted efforts to confront racial discrimination.

At a joint press conference with Terzi, Judeh stressed the importance of respecting all religions, noting that any kind of insult against any religion is completely unacceptable, Petra reported.

Terzi announced that his country will host a conference on religious tolerance and dialogue early next year.

Also on Thursday, Judeh participated in the fourth meeting for the Friends of Yemen Group, which was held with the participation of several countries, and regional and international organisations.

In remarks during the session, he stressed Jordan’s support for Yemen in resisting any attempts to destabilise the country and disrupt its political transition.

Judeh highlighted Jordan’s readiness to continue helping build the capacities of Yemeni civil, military and judicial institutions.

In addition, the foreign minister met with his Danish and Swiss counterparts on Thursday and discussed bilateral ties, regional developments and the peace process, according to Petra.

On Saturday, Petra reported, Judeh attended the Deauville Partnership meeting on the sidelines of the General Assembly session, during which he touted the steps Jordan has taken towards reform since even before the start of the Arab Spring.

The Deauville Partnership was launched by the G-8 last year to assist countries in the Middle East and North Africa that are going through democratic transitions.

Also on Saturday, Judeh attended the Friends of Syria meeting, where he underlined that the tragic situation in Syria necessitates an immediate halt to violence.

SOURCE

House passes bill declaring 1st Week of February as World Interfaith Harmony Week

Posted on June 11th, 2012

House passes bill declaring 1st Week of February as World Interfaith Harmony Week

Philippine Congress – House of Representatives
By Lorelei V. Castillo

The House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading a bill declaring every first week of February of each year as World Interfaith Harmony Week.

House Bill 6148 authored by Reps. Maria Isabelle Climaco (1st District, Zamboanga City) and Marlyn Primicias-Agabas (6th District, Pangasinan) seeks to carry out the message of interfaith harmony and goodwill in all places of worship worldwide based upon the foundational teachings of love of God and neighbor in accordance with religious traditions and practices.

Deputy Speaker Climaco said the measure aims to promote peace via civil and non-violent dialogue among diverse faiths and religions.

Climaco said for more than thirty years, peace in Mindanao has remained illusive owing to many factors, not only economic in nature but culturally as well.

Climaco said the government exerts considerable effort to seek and promote peace throughout the region primarily via renewed peace negotiations.

The lady solon said the United Nations Organization recognizes the imperative for dialogue among differing faiths and religions to enhance mutual understanding, harmony and cooperation among peoples.

“The measure mandates the observance of said event by the different government agencies,” Climaco said.

All government agencies and instrumentalities, including government-owned and controlled corporations as well as local government units are directed to carry out the observance of activities in relation to the event.

SOURCE

Denying the Individuality of Minority Members

Posted on March 15th, 2012

Claudia Mende © Qantara.de 2012
Translated from the German by Michael Lawton
Editors: Arian Fariborz, Lewis Gropp/Qantara.de

At a recent conference in Germany looking at radical critics of Islam, there was consensus that it was about time that politicians and society looked more seriously at the growing defamation of Muslims. By Claudia Mende

For a long time, nobody took hate propaganda against Muslims very seriously as a serious threat to democracy. That has changed, following the massacre in Norway by Anders Behring Breivik and the series of murders by the Zwickau NSU terrorist cell in Germany.

Breivik’s shooting spree, which he justified on the basis of Islamophobic fantasies, and the far-right killings of immigrants in Germany both show the explosive potential of racism and anti-Islamic feeling in destroying social cohesion. Parties such as “Die Freiheit” (“Freedom”), the “Pro-” movement, or the citizens’ initiative “Pax Europa” work to paint a frightening picture of the alleged “Islamisation” of Europe: they refuse to see Islam as a religion and insist that it is a totalitarian and violent ideology.

Websites in Germany like “Politically Incorrect” or “Nürnberg 2.0″ offer a home for unfiltered and generally anonymous defamation. Among the range of activities undertaken by those in the anti-Islamic movement is the deliberate disruption of events giving information about Islam, integration or the dialogue between religions.

Between scepticism and open hatred

Anti-Muslim defamation varies between scepticism and open, racist hatred. In practice, it is often difficult to tell them apart. Prejudice against immigrants and Islam reaches well into the middle classes. According to a 2010 study on right-wing extremist views by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, well over half of all Germans (58.4 percent) were in favour of restricting the religious freedom of Muslims.

According to the UN’s special rapporteur on religious freedom, Heiner Bielefeldt, anti-Islamic blogs ascribe to Muslims “a negative collective mentality under which the individual counts for nothing”
Anti-Islamic feeling is not to be confused with serious criticism. In an open society, everyone has to live with criticism, even when it is harsh. As Heiner Bielefeldt, special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief for the UN Human Rights Council, puts it, “No-one has the right not to be criticised.”

Speaking at a conference of the Eugen Biser Foundation at the Evangelische Akademie in Tutzing, Germany, Bielefeldt said that the principle of freedom of religion may not be used to protect the honour of religion as a group phenomenon; freedom of religion is a right of the individual, provided for in the constitution. But he noted that anti-Islamic blogs ascribed to Muslims “a negative collective mentality under which the individual counts for nothing”. By depriving members of a minority of their individuality, such blogs poisoned the social climate.

Stigmatisation and stereotypes

Anti-Semitism expert Wolfgang Benz sees stereotypes at work when Muslims are criticised which are similar to those used towards Jews in anti-Semitism: for example, that Islam seeks world domination. The typical building blocks for such stereotypes are generalisation, a concentration on negative aspects and reliance on rumour and gossip.

In such stereotyping, the majority society constructs an image of a group of people as “different,” by giving them specific negative characteristics. In that way, stereotypes in fact tell us more about the state of the majority society.

Wolfgang Benz says, “Opposition to Islam, which calls itself Islam criticism, is always an option when the arguments run out and hate is all that’s left”
But the problem can also be described less academically: “What’s wrong with our society?” asked Manfred Schmidt, president of the Federal Office for Migration in Nuremburg. He sees forms of racism such as anti-Semitism and Islamophobia as an outlet for a dissatisfaction and insecurity in Germany which is evidently widespread.

But why aren’t websites and internet forums with defamatory content closed down by the law? According to the lawyer Antje von Ungern-Sternberg of Munich University, some of what can be found on anti-Islamic blogs and websites is certainly “appropriate for criminal investigation”. She argues that “freedom of opinion has no claim to extra rights on the internet”.

All the same, charges are rarely brought. The Munich prosecutors are currently looking into charges of incitement against Michael Stürzenberger, a former member of the ruling CSU party in Bavaria and now press spokesperson for the Bavarian branch of the “Die Freiheit” (Freedom) party.

Similarities between Islam critics and the far right

There are ideological overlaps between anti-Islamic groups and the extreme right. Miriam Heigl of the City of Munich’s special unit on the extreme right notes that “Right-wing extremists increasingly use anti-Islamic language.” She sees anti-Islamic opinions as having a clear link to far right propaganda. That’s why the domestic intelligence services are now observing the anti-Islamic scene rather more closely.

The federal domestic intelligence agency, the Bundesverfassungsschutz, says that, since the massacre in Norway carried out by Anders Behring Breivik in spring last year, “the intelligence agencies at state and federal level have been looking much more closely at whether and how far anti-Islamic agitation on the internet can be defined as extremist.” But official observation, including the use of informers and spying techniques, will only be possible when this examination has been completed and the intelligence agencies have found “real indications of extremist intentions.”

The agencies in the individual states have in some cases moved further. In North Rhine-Westphalia, the “Pro-Köln” and “Pro-NRW” movements are already under observation, and the agency in Hamburg is looking closely at the website “Nürnberg 2.0,” which is a kind of digital pillory, threatening those who criticise the anti-Islamic movement with future punishment.

Anti-Islamic opinions in Germany have established clear links to far right propaganda. Domestic intelligence services are now observing the anti-Islamic scene more closely. Pictured: Anti-Islam demonstration of the Pro-Köln movement
But criminal prosecution and observation by the agencies are not effective instruments in dealing with the issues of racism and Islamophobia in society. Those have to be handled primarily on the political level. But the political level seems to avoid clear language on the issues; on the contrary, during the publicity in 2010 surrounding a book by Thilo Sarrazin, which many saw as taking positions which were unacceptably close to those of the anti-Islamic movement, many politicians were keen to ride the populist wave.

“Politics has a tough time with the topic,” says the Social Democrat Lale Akgün, “because the transition from Islam criticism to anti-Islamic positions is part of a spectrum which reaches right into the centre of society.” Akgün describes herself as a “reformed Muslim” who considers that too much political correctness can be “counterproductive.”

“Criticism isn’t necessarily racism”

The integration commissioner in the Bavarian state government, Martin Neumeyer, distances himself from any Islamophobic positions, but he insists that we should not “put criticism under suspicion of being racist.” What is for him “unacceptable” is the assumption of a “collective guilt” which one can find in the relevant internet forums.

A feeling of cultural superiority, the accusation that “Taqiya” (Arabic for “deception”) is inherent in Islam, the defamation of Islam as a totalitarian ideology, and the refusal to recognise its character as a religion: all these generalisations could lead to what Neumeyer calls, “dangerous fantasies, similar to those found in anti-Semitism.” He warns against permitting areas on the internet where the law does not reach, and called for incitement to be firmly condemned, “whichever side it comes from”.

The media have played an ambivalent role, and have also contributed to the prevalence of anti-Islamic feeling. Reporting is not always done in such a way as to deliver objective information and avoid stereotypes.

The sociologist and theologian Karl Gabriel of the University of Münster has examined the attitudes of leading figures in the media to religion. His 2011 study “Religion among Opinion-Formers” comes to the conclusion that there have been a “strengthening of cultural Christianity” and an attitude of “cultural defence” towards Islam which have had a considerable influence on the mainstream media of the country.

That leads the media to use Christianity as “an element in the defence of the culture,” which Gabriel sees as “a source of conflict with Islam.” Religion becomes “a crutch for a contested identity” – at a time when globalisation is encouraging fears of a loss of one’s own identity.

It was such fears which the “Pro-” movement in North Rhine-Westphalia exploited when it used the campaign slogan “Keep the West in Christian hands” during the state election in 2010. But groups like the “Pro-” movement and “Die Freiheit” are still of marginal importance in the politics of the country. “Pro-Deutschland” won just 1.2 percent of the vote in December’s Berlin state elections.

It’s true that in Cologne, there are five members of “Pro-Köln” in the city council, but they have been met with considerable protest. Altogether, though, the political and social debate over the issues is only now beginning. “It doesn’t help to make appeals,” says Lale Akgün. Even if it’s an arduous task, “we have to win over the majority in society so that it is prepared to distance itself clearly from the radical enemies of Islam.”

More on this topic

Aftermath of the Attacks in Norway: Isolate the Intellectual Incendiaries!
Interview with Gudrun Krämer: Fighting Islamophobia with Rational Arguments
Anti-Islamic Movements in Germany: ”Islamophobic – and Proud of It”
Thorsten Gerald Schneiders on Hostility towards Islam: “An Outlet for Suppressed Intolerance”

SOURCE

Gulf Tycoon Wins World Interfaith Award

Posted on March 6th, 2012

Kuala Lumpur: UAE-based business magnate M A Yusuf Ali, who belongs to a village in Kerala, was Thursday presented with the prestigious Interfaith Harmony Award at a function in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur.

The award was handed over by Datur Azman bin Hassan, director general of Malaysia’s department of national unity and integration.

The international Interfaith Harmony Award is the prime attraction of the International Seminar on Interfaith Harmony and Tolerance jointly organised by the International Islamic University, Malaysia, and the Kerala-based Madin Islamic Academy.

In a release issued here, Ali said he wouldn’t be a true Muslim if he turned a blind eye to his neighbours who go to bed without food.
“I employ 27,000 people of different nationalities in the nearly 100 shopping malls across the Gulf region without any discrimination,” said Ali, the lone non-Arab member of Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Of his 27,000 employees, 4,000 come from his village in Nattika and they belong to all religions, Ali added.

The World Interfaith Harmony Week was first proposed at the UN General Assembly on Sep 23, 2010 by King Abdullah II of Jordan. On Oct 20, 2010, it was unanimously adopted by the UN.

Short URL: http://www.weeklyvoice.com/?p=13166

SOURCE

Yusuff Ali honoured

Posted on March 4th, 2012

T K Devasia

2 March 2012 KUALA LUMPUR — UAE-based businessman M A Yusuff Ali was conferred with the prestigious Interfaith Harmony Award endowed with the United Nation’s Interfaith Harmony Week initiatives here on Thursday.
Dato’ Azman Amin B Hassan, Director-General of Department of National Unity and Integration, Government of Malaysia, presented the award to him on the occasion of an international seminar on interfaith harmony organised jointly by the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) and Kerala-based Madin Islamiyya Academy (MSA).

Speaking on the occasion, Yusuff Ali said those who were creating communal strife were not true Muslims. He said that he would have ceased to be a Muslim if he had recruited only members of the community in his business establishments.

“I have employed 27,000 persons from different communities from as many as 29 countries. I believe a true Muslim cannot go to sleep without feeding his hungry neighbour,” said Yusuff Ali, who is the only non-Arab member of the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce.

Presenting the award Dato’ Azman said interfaith harmony and tolerance was the need of the hour at a time when the Muslim community was being misunderstood in many parts of the world. He said that the Malaysian government had set up a special committee to promote communal harmony and tolerance. Dr Ahmed Ibrahim Abushouk, Director, International Institute for Muslim Unity at the IIU said that the award to Yusuff Ali was also a recognition to the hetrogenous society living harmoniously in the Gulf countries. Yusuff Ali has been working with them and promoting interfaith harmony, he added.

The seminar stressed the need for opening avenues for dialogues between different communities and efforts to strengthen the message of interfaith harmony and tolerance.

SOURCE

Kerala-origin tycoon gets global harmony award

Posted on March 4th, 2012

IANS Mar 1, 2012, 07.58PM IST

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: UAE-based business magnate M A Yusuf Ali, who belongs to a village in Kerala, was Thursday presented with the prestigious Interfaith Harmony Award at a function in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur.

The award was handed over by Datur Azman bin Hassan, director general of Malaysia’s department of national unity and integration.

The international Interfaith Harmony Award is the prime attraction of the International Seminar on Interfaith Harmony and Tolerance jointly organised by the International Islamic University, Malaysia, and the Kerala-based Madin Islamic Academy.

In a release issued here, Ali said he wouldn’t be a true Muslim if he turned a blind eye to his neighbours who go to bed without food.

“I employ 27,000 people of different nationalities in the nearly 100 shopping malls across the Gulf region without any discrimination,” said Ali, the lone non-Arab member of Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Of his 27,000 employees, 4,000 come from his village in Nattika and they belong to all religions, Ali added.

The World Interfaith Harmony Week was first proposed at the UN General Assembly on Sep 23, 2010 by King Abdullah II of Jordan. On Oct 20, 2010, it was unanimously adopted by the UN.

SOURCE

Interfaith Harmony Seminar organised by The Madin Islamic Academy at Melmuri and the International Islamic University of Malaysia

Posted on February 29th, 2012

STAFF REPORTER

The Madin Islamic Academy at Melmuri here and the International Islamic University of Malaysia will jointly organise an “interfaith harmony seminar” in Malaysia on March 1. The seminar will be part of a UN initiative for Interfaith Harmony and Tolerance.

Scholars from across the world will attend the seminar. Calicut University Vice Chancellor M. Abdul Salam; historian and former Vice Chancellor K.K.N. Kurup; and Madin Islamic Academy chairman Sayed Ibrahim Khaleel Bukhari will represent India at the seminar.

“The World Interfaith Harmony Week is not a call to water down one’s faith but to respect our differences and personal beliefs and to unite around the basic principles that people of all beliefs agree upon, and to understand that harmony can come only if we build upon a foundation of dialogues,” said Mr. Bukhari here on Wednesday.

SOURCE

The World Interfaith Harmony Week 2012 at Washington Times Foundation

Posted on February 26th, 2012

Introduction to Speech at the World Interfaith Harmony Week 2012

Good Evening Extinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen

My name is Pramaha Thanat Inthisan. I am a Thai Buddhist monk residing at the temple Wat Thai Washington, D.C., in Silver Spring, Maryland. I am the representative from the Theravada tradition. Welcome to the World Interfaith Harmony week tonight. I’m glad that you are able to cerebrate the religions and cultures the we share as we create a path towards peace.

Today the followers of the most compassionate religious leader have a special duty to work for the establishment of peace in the world and to show an example to other by following their Master’s advices.
The Buddha said that “All tremble at punishment, all fear death; comparing others with oneself, one should neither kill or cause to kill. (Dhammapada 129)

Peace is always obtainable. But the way to peace is not only through prayers and rituals. Peace is the result of man’s harmony with his fellow beings and with his environment. The peace that we try to introduce by force is not a lasting peace. It is an interval in between the conflict of selfish desire and worldly conditions.

Peace can not exist on this earth without the practice of tolerance. To be tolerant, we must not allow anger and jealousy to prevail in our mind. The Buddha says, “No enemy can harm one so much as one’s own thoughts of craving, hate and jealousy. (Dhammapada 42)

The world is like a mirror and if you look at the mirror with a smile face, you can see your own,
beautiful smiling face. On the other hand, if you look at it with a long face, you will invariably see ugliness. Similarly, if you treat the world kindly the world will also certainly treat you kindly. Learn to be peaceful with yourself and the world will also be peaceful with you.

If we are to have peace in our world, each of us has to start by developing inner peace. Otherwise there will be no true peace in the world. And the thing that ensures we have inner peace, peace in our hearts, is an unselfish concern about the welfare of other people. In fact, we need to have loving-kindness—what we Buddhists call mettā—for all living things.

It can rightly be said that loving-kindness and compassion are the foundation upon which the whole building of Buddhism stands. Destruction or injury to life is strictly forbidden. Harming or destroying any being from the highest to the lowest, from a human to the tiniest insect, must be avoided regardless of the cost. The Blessed One said, “Do not harm others. Just as you feel love on seeing a dearly beloved person, so should you extend loving-kindness to all living things.”

Usually, when I describe the essence of Buddhism, I say that at best we should try to help others, and if we cannot help them at least we should do them no harm. This teaching grows from the soil of love and compassion.

The aim of Buddhism is to guide everyone to lead a noble life without harming anyone, to cultivate humane qualities in order to maintain human dignity, to radiate all-embracing loving-kindness without any discrimination, to train the mind to avoid evil, and to purify the mind to gain peace and happiness.
Buddhism is a religious that teaches people to “live and let live.” In the history of the world, there is no evidence to show that Buddhists have interfered or done any damage to any other religion in any part of the world for the purpose of introducing their religion. Buddhists do not regard the existence of other religions as a hindrance to worldly progress and peace. Instead of converting the followers of other religions to their religion, Buddhists can encourage others to practice their own religions, provided that they promote the well-being of all living beings.

The Buddha’s message was an invitation to all to join a universal brotherhood and sisterhood to work in strength and harmony for the welfare and happiness of mankind. He had no chosen people, and he did not regard himself as a chosen person either.

The Buddha was concerned only about showing the path to ultimate happiness. He was not concerned with founding a religion in his name.

The Buddha wanted to show people the difference between good and evil; he wanted to teach humans how to lead a happy, peaceful, and righteous way of life. He never advised his disciples to convert people from one religion to another. His idea of conversion was to introduce a righteous, noble, and religious way of life. In fact, he said that the greatest miracle one could perform was to convert a bad person into a good one. Thank you very much !

SOURCE

Community Service Club organizes ‘GJU World Interfaith Harmony Day’

Posted on February 26th, 2012

Amman, 20 Feb 2012

The Community Service club organized GJU World Interfaith Harmony Day on 14 February 2012 as part of the World Interfaith Harmony Week, which was first proposed at the UN General Assembly on 23 September 2010 by H.M. King Abdullah II of Jordan.

The President of the Community Service Club, Mr. Ra’ad Haroun, said that this event is aimed at showing the importance of Interfaith Harmony and respect between people from different religions as well as introducing Amman Message and reflecting its vision in clarifying the bright image of Islam and the message of tolerance that the Islamic religion advocates.

The event included a session about religious coexistence in Jordan which was presented by Dr. Amjad Qoursha, who discussed the tolerance of Islam with other religions in addition to the religious harmony and freedom that Jordan promotes.

The session was followed by a visit to the King Hussein Bin Talal Mosque, where the manager of the mosque Mr. Husam Halalmeh explained the importance of the building and its style. The participants also met with to the Imam of the mosque Sheikh Ghaleb Horani, who discussed issues related to youth and religion. At the end of the day, the participants visited the Mosaic Church of Madaba and took a tour in Nebo Mountain.

The participants thanked the Community Service club for organizing this day and ensured that they are looking forward to participate in future events. Noteworthy mentioning that the Community Service club hosted orphans to participate in GJU World Interfaith Harmony Day.

SOURCE

Church representative attends World Interfaith Harmony week at UN

Posted on February 26th, 2012

Church of the Brethren Newsline
February 22, 2012

The Church of the Brethren’s United Nations representative Doris Abdullah attended the 2012 World Interfaith Harmony Week at the General Assembly in New York.
Church of the Brethren representative to the United Nations, Doris Abdullah, recently attended the World Interfaith Harmony Week 2012 at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Following is her report from the event:

“The Committee of Religious NGOs (non-governmental organizations) at the United Nations did a wonderful job bringing together representations from the world’s five mainstream religious communities (Jewish, Christian, Islamic, plus Hindu and Buddhist) in addition to many of the smaller religious bodies (Shinto, Baha’i, Sikh, Native, and Traditional) around the theme ‘Common Ground for the Common Good.’

“The program highlighted the common ground spoken of by Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, president of the General Assembly, in the keynote address, and by William F Vendley, Secretary General of Religions for Peace. The world religions share common ground, with four shared values elaborated on by the speakers: their desires for mediation and peaceful settlements of disputes, United Nations reforms, improvements in disaster prevention and response, and sustainable development.

“While many of the things that were said could be quoted, one stood out for me above all the others: ‘To be religious is to be interreligious.’ I cannot be religious by myself or just in my tradition alone. We share this planet with all its people and life forms. We are not alone, nor loners with our God. There is one religious quote that is found in most world religions, traditions, and beliefs: the Golden Rule that we in our Christian tradition find in Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31, ‘Do to others as you would have them do to you.’

“Yuka Saionji from the Byakko Shinko Kai and the Goi Peace Foundation spoke of many prayers that came to Japan from around the globe after the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami, and her own personal belief in the power of prayer. Prayer is our hope for a better tomorrow, and we must continue in faith to pray for compassion and love so that we may overcome the evils of our world with good. Together we can do this.”

– In addition to serving as the UN representative for the Church of the Brethren, Doris Abdullah also is chair of the Human Rights Sub-Committee for the Elimination of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance.

Go to www.brethren.org/Newsline to subscribe to the Church of the Brethren Newsline free e-mail news service and receive church news every other week.

SOURCE

World Interfaith Harmony Week In Pakistan

Posted on February 26th, 2012

Religious youth from across Pakistan have committed to use the “peaceful” elements in Pakistan to counter violence in 2012. Representatives from different faiths gathered on February 20 in Lahore, Pakistan to celebrate the World Interfaith Harmony Week 2012.

At the end of the symposium the 28 participants from six cities expressed their commitment to uproot “all kinds of religious violation by upholding moral legitimacy”. “All religions preach love, sharing, and service”, said Muhammad Khurram to the Interfaith Youth in Action (IYA) group.

The symposium met on the call of the United Nations about the World Interfaith Harmony Week during the first week of February 2012 in order to build peace, love and respect for all faiths. Referring to the different faiths and cultures in Pakistan, Karamat Jameel (Organization for Community Development Faisalabad) said that unity in diversity has not only to be maintained but to be strengthened as respect for other faiths is of global importance. “Youth is the strongest power in the world. Young people should promote respect and the sense of friendship among faiths and present is the requisites for building peace in Pakistan”, said Fr. Bernard Emmanual (Diocesan Director for Interfaith Dialogues & Ecumenism). During the symposium the IYA also framed its priorities for the year 2012: building friendship and develop fellowship through social gathering and community service activities. “Due to the tense situation in Pakistan, the network will be a great aspiration for young people to contribute as an individual or in a group to interfaith work said Fr. Herman S.J. At the end of the symposium a peace cake and sweets were shared to celebrate the World Interfaith Harmony Week 2012

SOURCE

World Interfaith Harmony Week: Ambassadors For Peace connect in Milan

Posted on February 23rd, 2012

FEB 22
Posted by youthpeacecouncil

Milan. On the 11th of February 2012 UPF of Milan and Youth Federation For World Peace Milan hosted the first event of the year 2012 for Peace Ambassadors in recognition of the Week of Interreligious Harmony, instated by the United Nations.

The purpose was that of bringing together Peace Ambassadors from Milan and the surrounding area in order meet, share experiences and network – To feel ones identity as a UPF Ambassador For Peace, to inspire each other and to propose new ideas and programs for the upcoming year on this special occasion.

The presence of 30 Ambassadors For Peace and a few new guests in the local UPF meeting point, created a great familiar atmosphere that permitted each participant to feel free to speak with others, share experiences and share contacts for future cooperation. There were representatives of many different religions, social workers and NGO representatives that all came together in this UPF event, sharing their own unique qualities.

The novelty of this event was also the co-organization between UPF and YFWP Milan. This is the second cooperation and first major event organized together by these two organizations.
After a good amount of socializing time with the comfort of tea and coffee, the main event started with the welcoming of the MC, Enza Cammi, Secretary of UPF Milan. Followed by welcoming remarks of the UPF Milan President, Stefania Maffei who explained the purpose of the meeting and her desire for each Ambassador to feel not that they are simply guests but an active part and owners of UPF and of its future activities. The names of each participant were read out loud and each had the chance to say a word or two to those gathered. Everyone got to see who was there and got an idea of who they could be interested in socializing with and exchanging contact information.

Following a presentation of UPF and its goals, the Secretary of the YFWP Milan, Davide Mascoli, then gave a short presentation of what the Youth Federation is. He talked about its goals, and how it fits into the work of UPF and the local community. The response was very positive from all those listening, glad to see also a new generation of Peace Makers stepping forward.
The main point of the evening was to hear the voices of the Peace Ambassadors and guests. Different questions were asked then by Mauro Sarasso, who had the role of discussion mediator. Following these questions many enthusiastically came to the microphone and said some words of inspiration and/or shared values that they felt are most important (Family, dialogue, education). An important point that was mentioned was the request to have moments for formation – giving education and concrete tools to more successfully represent their role as Ambassadors For Peace.
Two Ambassadors For Peace were appointed: Dounia Ettaib, representative of Arab women in Italy, and Joseph Sossou, President of Africa, NGO for adoptions in Togo.

The official program ended with an overview of the UPF Milan Calendar of 2012, warmly inviting each Ambassador for Peace to contribute in their own unique ways.
The evening was not yet over. Many simply wanted to stay and to share and meet the people that had inspired them earlier with just a few words. There was a snack buffet offered, and the mingling lasted quite some time, with a good feeling of sharing and hope.

This is hoped to be the first of many more meetings of this kind, in order to create a strong awareness of having the identity of Ambassadors For Peace.

SOURCE

Schools can nurture unity, says Muhyiddin

Posted on February 22nd, 2012

By TAN EE LOO
educate@thestar.com.my

PETALING JAYA: Schools are the nurturing ground for national unity.

There are plans to also use sports to foster ties among the young ones.

“I hope schools will heed the call to promote harmony. Avoid touching on sensitive issues. Respect our differences and accept it as a heritage to be cherished,” Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said when launching the World Interfaith Week celebrations at SMK (P) Sri Aman here yesterday.

Also present was Education director-general Datuk Seri Abdul Ghafar Mahmud.

He urged teachers, parents and schoolchildren to appreciate the country’s diversity, with people of different backgrounds and religions.

“We are a family under 1Malaysia,” Muhyiddin, who is also Education Minister, said while reminding the people that the Malaysian society was unique.

“There are not many nations like ours. There are countries where there is only one religion but with many cliques at war with each ot-her.

“There are also countries with people of different religions but there is tension among them that sometimes leads to bloodshed,” he added. “Malaysia has long embraced diversity and there is no fight, war or crisis sparked by religion.”.

Abdul Ghafar said programmes such as forums and talks would be held from time to time to foster unity and understanding among schoolchildren.

“We need to organise activities that keep students informed and interested in the topic of unity and harmony. Some students may find forums dull, so our plans will have to include sports and other co-curricular activities,” he said.

Student Saifullah Qamar, 19, believes such programmes will be a good start towards promoting racial harmony.

“Such programmes could be run at inter-schools level, with national and vernacular schools taking part to build better rapport,” said the SMK (L) Bukit Bintang student.

His 16-year-old German friend, exchange student Hendrik Soeren Vogt, said he was amazed at the diversity of the culture in Malaysia and how the people were so closely bonded by the love for their country.

SOURCE

DPM says no racial clashes in Malaysia

Posted on February 22nd, 2012

UPDATED @ 05:58:12 PM 21-02-2012 By Clara Chooi
February 21, 2012

PETALING JAYA, Feb 21 — Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin claimed today that Malaysians have never fought one another over their racial or religious differences, insisting the country has long embraced racial harmony.
The deputy prime minister, in his speech when opening the World Interfaith Week at SMK Sri Aman this afternoon, described this as a “special privilege” enjoyed by every Malaysian.

“We have accepted this reality as our special privilege… that’s why in Malaysia, we have had this a long time… there are no fights, no war among us, no crises arising due to our diverse faiths… because we respect one another,” he told a crowd of hundreds of students gathered before him.

Muhyiddin’s remarks today comes despite persistent reports of racial and religious conflicts in the country that increased significantly after the landmark Election 2008 — the stiffest contest in Malaysian history.

With the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) losing its customary two-thirds hold on Parliament and five state governments, many political leaders appeared to have retreated into racial silos to drum up support.

This has been attributed to the rise in ethnic tensions here, leading to numerous cases of racially motivated incidents that have hit media headlines over the past few years, including the 2010 bombings at several houses of worship, the Shah Alam cowhead protest, the controversial raid at the Damansara Utama Methodist Church (DUMC) here, claims of Christians proselytising to Muslims and the government’s confiscation of Malay language bibles.

In the most recent incident, even Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak found himself in the centre of a religiously-motivated controversy when Muslim clerics expressed their disagreement over his decision to attend Thaipusam celebrations at Batu Caves.

Despite this, however, Muhyiddin said today that Malaysians should feel thankful for the racial harmony enjoyed here, saying many countries do not share similar privileges.

He attributed Malaysia economic successes to racial harmony and cooperation between the races, adding that every citizen here stand united under the government’s 1 Malaysia platform.

“We want this practice continued. With this, we can focus on other matters of importance like developing our economy, education, politics and so on,” he said.

Muhyiddin added that the best place to inculcate a deeper sense of tolerance, acceptance and understanding between the races was in schools.

He urged educators, parents and students to make this their priority and advised them against touching on the sensitivities of other religions to avoid future conflicts.

A Merdeka Center poll in June last year found that only 66 per cent of respondents said ethnic relations were “good” — a 15 per cent decline from the 78 per cent who said so five years ago.

The opinion researchers also found that just over a third believed that there was “sincere and friendly ethnic unity,” down from 54 per cent five years ago.

SOURCE

DPM: No squabbles in ‘unique’ M’sia

Posted on February 22nd, 2012

Syed Jaymal Zahiid | February 21, 2012

PETALING JAYA: Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin today insisted that Malaysia enjoys interfaith harmony amid a backdrop of escalating tension sparked off by recent incidents.
Muhyiddin, who is also education minister, told students at an event celebrating the World Interfaith Week in SMK Sri Aman here that multi-racial Malaysia is “unique”.
“We have accepted this (uniqueness) and there are no fights, no war among us. No crisis despite our multi-religious practices,” he said.
Muhyiddin emphasised that it is this religious understanding between the various faiths that contributed to the country’s economic development and urged Malaysians to preserve “this hard-earned unity”.
He said this is further strengthened by the 1Malaysia idea introduced by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak.
The supposedly all-inclusive 1Malaysia concept, however, has come under fire over what is described as Putrajaya’s lack of political will to tackle religious disputes, particularly between the majority Muslims and the Christian minority.
Islamic hardliners, often linked to the ruling Malay-Muslim party Umno, claimed there is a concerted effort by Christians to undermine Islam and have used this to attack the opposition.
Allah and Christians
The tension ignited with the confiscation of Malay-language bibles and the dispute to use the Arab term “Allah” to describe the Christian God which subsequently resulted in several church bombings.
Christians in Sabah and Sarawak, most with poor English proficiency, claimed they have been using the term for masses for more than a century but conservative Islamic leaders alleged it was an insult to Islam and part of an attempt to convert Muslims which is illegal in Malaysia.
The tension continued with a raid on a church holding a charity event here last year by the Selangor Islamic Authorities (JAIS) that triggered a nationwide outrage among the country’s Christians.
Church leaders called the raid outrageous and claimed it was illegal although JAIS claimed it had evidence that the event was an attempt to proselytise Muslims. The Church denied this.
The country’s leadership was criticised for its whimsical and feeble response to the matter.
Observers said Putrajaya’s lopsided treatment with regard to non-Muslims was part of a systematic effort to strengthen Malay support which is key to securing a victory for the ruling coalition in the upcoming national polls.
But Najib went on to establish ties with the Vatican City in a move to contain the possible voter backlash although Islamic hardliners quietly frowned over this.
In the clearest signal that Malaysia is yet to get over its religious differences, Najib himself was the subject of attacks by conservative clerics when he attended the Hindu Thaipusam festival recently.
He was presumed to have been “un-Islamic” for that, prompting the national Islamic authority Jakim to panic and explain that Najib’s visit was done according to its guidelines.
Muhyiddin today appeared to have ignored the altercations and said Malaysia was doing well in preserving religious harmony.
He said the schools are the best place to “sow the seeds of understanding” between the various faiths.

SOURCE

View Point: Indonesia’s pie-in-the-sky religious harmony

Posted on February 22nd, 2012

Julia Suryakusuma, Jakarta

At the beginning of this month, I received a circular about the second World Interfaith Harmony Week (WIHW) announcing it had officially wrapped up, and had been a great success.

The organizers reported over 260 events in over 40 countries but “it’s likely the total number of events will continue to go up … as we continue to find many events that were not posted to our site, indicating a large growth from last year”.

The circular announced the highlights of the WIWH 2012. I read that it was celebrated for the first time at the UN. In the UK, the Interfaith Relations Committee (IFRC) held an event at the House of Lords that included many distinguished guests. In the Australian Parliament, over 100 religious, spiritual and community leaders were invited to a morning reception.

In addition, they invited people to send in pictures from the events they attended to contribute to a photo gallery and to provide feedback. As a token of the WIHW’s appreciation for all this, a respondent will be selected to receive a set of handmade harmony beads.

I’m not a cynical person (no, really), but my immediate reaction to the circular was, get real. How can events in the UK, the House of Lords or morning tea in the Australian Parliament seriously contribute to reducing religious conflict in Indonesia or the Middle East, pray (sic!) tell? What will they do next? Try to fix religious conflict by giving out 7 billion harmony beads to everyone on Earth? Isn’t it all just pie in the sky?

I’m not saying there’s anything inherently wrong with interfaith events. It’s just that they are not a solution to interreligious conflict in themselves. In fact, many are just an exercise in preaching to the converted, gathering together people who already believe in religious harmony. Can you imagine al-Qaeda or the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) attending an interfaith dialogue?

The level of interaction at these events is also often superficial anyway. It has to be, because if participants go deeper into religious doctrine they’ll start arguing.

This means that some dialogue is little more than a feel-good exercise in mutual self-congratulation. Indonesia, for example, recently formalized an Inter-Religious Council (bringing together leaders from major faiths in the country to tackle interreligious conflicts in the country) but it hasn’t exactly stopped religious conflict, has it?

I accept that not all inter-faith meetings are a waste of time, however. They can be useful when they take place at the grass-roots level – as opposed to the UN or the House of Lords! — and deal directly with real, local issues.

I have often been critical of the late Abdurrahman Wahid (Gus Dur) but he did help build better relations between the Christians, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah (the two biggest Muslim organizations in Indonesia) a decade or more ago, bringing members together to do the hard work of talking through differences and finding commonalities. This was one reason why Pope Benedict XVI’s controversial Regensburg lecture in 2006 — which more than implied that Islam is a violent religion — did not lead to a crisis here in Indonesia.

Franz Magnis Suseno, a leading Indonesian Catholic scholar and priest has also been at the forefront of inter-religious conflict resolution for decades — again at the grassroots. According to him, many Catholic parishes have established contacts with local Muslims and this has repeatedly eased resistance to plans to build churches.

Unfortunately, the beleaguered Indonesian Christian Church (GKI) Taman Yasmin hasn’t benefited from this approach. Why? Because the state isn’t playing the role it should, as reflected in the typical it’s-not-my–problem stance adopted yet again by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY). According to him, the Taman Yasmin dispute should be handled by the local administration.

OK, Mr. President, we know we have regional autonomy laws but that doesn’t mean you can just dismiss organized mob attacks by saying “such an incident has also happened in other places across the country. This issue has gone on for years.” (see The Jakarta Post, Feb. 15).

As if that makes communal violence OK. What a statesman! What a leader! What an upholder of the law!

What a bad example. And that is part of the reason why intolerance is increasing. Hard-line groups like the FPI can continue their belligerent ways with impunity because of state impotence.

Din Syamsuddin, chairman of our Inter-Religious Council, for example, has said religious groups have the right to exist, so long as they don’t resort to violence. Has he been living under a rock all these years? The FPI and other hard-line groups make threats, intimidate, cause destruction and violence and even kill routinely but the state does next to nothing, while peaceful groups like Christians, Hindus, animists and Ahmadis, etc. are persecuted.

And what about Alexander Aan, the Indonesian atheist who posted “God doesn’t exist” on his Facebook wall and found himself facing blasphemy charges? He’ll be locked up, while hard-line thugs continue to walk our streets, threatening anyone who dares disagree with them.

It’s ironic that SBY — who has been so weak in dealing with hard-liners — now faces an FPI rally against him personally when he visits Surakarta.

I’m sure it won’t be quite the sort of interfaith event WIHW had in mind, but maybe it will convince our President that we are well past the point when beads, morning tea and platitudes are enough to fix rising religious violence.

The writer (juliasuryakusuma.com) is the author of Julia’s Jihad.

SOURCE

Muhyiddin: Respect for one another should begin in school

Posted on February 22nd, 2012

Posted on February 22, 2012, Wednesday

LAUNCHING: Muhyiddin launching the school-level World Interfaith Harmony Week at SMK (P) Sri Aman in Petaling Jaya. — Bernama photo

PETALING JAYA: Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the move to instill a deeper understanding on the importance of respect for one another, although from different religions, should begin from school.

He said the country would be stronger when the people no longer see the differences among them.
Muhyiddin, who is also Education Minister, said the move would enable educationists, teachers, parents and students, to place greater importance on avoiding the sensitivities of the other communities.
“On the other hand, we respect our diversity and accept it as a valuable heritage which cannot be found in other countries,” he said when launching the school-level World Interfaith Harmony Week at SMK (P) Sri Aman, here yesterday.

Also present were Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, and Education director-general Datuk Seri Abdul Ghafar Mahmud.

Muhyiddin said various programmes and activities aimed at inculcating the spirit of cooperation, as well as tolerance and acceptance for the diversity in religion, culture and race, could be implemented at the school level.

He said the rapid progress achieved by the country today was a result of cooperation among the people of various races, religions and culture who accepted these differences as something special.
As citizens of Malaysia under the 1Malaysia concept, he said, they should be grateful for the understanding and respect for one another that existed among them. — Bernama

SOURCE

World Interfaith Harmony Week 2012

Posted on February 22nd, 2012

The World Interfaith Harmony Week was first proposed at the UN General Assembly on September 23, 2010 by H.M. King Abdullah II of Jordan. Just under a month later, on October 20, 2010, it was unanimously adopted by the UN and henceforth the first week of February will be observed as a World Interfaith Harmony Week.
The World Interfaith Harmony Week is based on the pioneering work of The Common Word initiative. This initiative, which started in 2007, called for Muslim and Christian leaders to engage in a dialogue based on two common fundamental religious Commandments; Love of God, and Love of the Neighbour, without nevertheless compromising any of their own religious tenets. The Two commandments are at the heart of the three Monotheistic religions and therefore provide the most solid theological ground possible.
The World Interfaith Harmony Week extends the Two Commandments by adding ‘Love of the Good, and Love of the Neighbour’. This formula includes all people of goodwill. It includes those of other faiths, and those with no faith.
The World Interfaith Harmony Week provides a platform—one week in a year—when all interfaith groups and other groups of goodwill can show the world what a powerful movement they are. The thousands of events organized by these groups often go unnoticed not only by the general public, but also by other groups themselves. This week will allow for these groups to become aware of each other and strengthen the movement by building ties and avoiding duplicating each others’ efforts.
With over 300 Letters of Support, and 200 registered events in over 40 countries, all organized in little over 3 months, the first World Interfaith Harmony Week was a success.
It is hoped that this initiative will provide a focal point from which all people of goodwill can recognize that the common values they hold far outweigh the differences they have, and thus provide a strong dosage of peace and harmony to their communities.
The General Assembly, Recalling its resolutions 53/243 of 13 September 1999 on the declaration and programme of action relating to a culture of peace, 57/6 of 4 November 2002 concerning the promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, 58/128 of 19 December 2003 on the promotion of religious and cultural understanding, harmony and cooperation, 60/4 of 20 October 2005 on a global agenda for dialogue among civilizations, 64/14 of 10 November 2009 on the Alliance of Civilizations, 64/81 of 7 December 2009 on the promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace and 64/164 of 18 December 2009 on the elimination of all forms of intolerance and discrimination based on religion or belief,
Recognizing the imperative need for dialogue among different faiths and religions in enhancing mutual understanding, harmony and cooperation among people,
Recalling with appreciation various global, regional and subregional initiatives on mutual understanding and interfaith harmony including the Tripartite Forum on Interfaith Cooperation for Peace, and the initiative “A Common Word”,
Recognizing that the moral imperatives of all religions, convictions and beliefs call for peace, tolerance and mutual understanding,
Reaffirms that mutual understanding and interreligious dialogue constitute important dimensions of a culture of peace;
Proclaims the first week of February of every year the World Interfaith Harmony Week between all religions, faiths and beliefs;
Encourages all States to support, on a voluntary basis, the spread of the message of interfaith harmony and goodwill in the world’s churches, mosques, synagogues, temples and other places of worship during that week, based on love of
God and love of one’s neighbour or on love of the good and love of one’s neighbour, each according to their own religious traditions or convictions;
Requests the Secretary-General to keep the General Assembly informed of the implementation of the present resolution.

The UN Resolution
The UN General Assembly unanimously passed the resolution to recognize the World Interfaith Harmony Week annually during the first week of February.
Read the official document:
العربية
中文
English
Español
Français
Русский

SOURCE

Anand Ashram and STFK Ledalero Celebrates United Nations` Interfaith Harmony Week 2012

Posted on February 21st, 2012

Maumere – To commemorate and celebrate the United Nations’ Interfaith Harmony Week 2012, the Catholic School of Philosophy (STFK) Ledalero held a national seminar entitled “The Role of Religions in Building a Multicultural Indonesia” on Saturday, February 11th, 2012. Attending as the speakers are Anand Krishna and Dr. Philip Tule, SVD, and Dr. Paul Budi Kleden, SVD, as the moderator.

In his introduction comments, the moderator Dr. Paul Budi Kleden, SVD, was linking February the 11th as the Day of the Catholic Church to Pray for the Sick Person in the World with the theme of the seminar today. He said that the nation’s of Indonesia and the world is in a state of pain that one reason caused by the disharmony relationship between some religions. That religion is often used as a tool of legitimacy of doing criminal acts that cause suffering of others.

The first speaker, Dr. Philipus Tule, SVD, with a paper entitled “Religions in Indonesia Dealing with the Challenge of Radicalism and Globalization”. He said that radicalism exists in every religious group such as Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, and it is a challenge for inter-religious harmony, an inhibitor of progress, peace and prosperity in Indonesia and also worldwide.

In his presentation, Pater Lipus percentage composition of the present data of the number of faiths in this country where 85% of Indonesian is Islam. While Potestan 5%, Catholic 3%, Hindu 2%, Buddhist 1% and others 1%. However, although the largest amount is Muslim’s population but Indonesia is not an Islamic state.

This Islam logy doctor who graduate from Cairo underscored the importance of building diversity in the light of Pancasila Awareness. So even though we are composed of various religious and ethnic groups, we can live in harmony. But he acknowledged that nowadays this harmony harmed by many acts of the religious radicalism.

Furthermore, he explained that radicalism comes from the root word: radix, that means back to the roots, which implies that all religions should return to their roots in the scriptures as a revelation. Instead, we should not obligate the religious theology that is only a commentary on the text of scripture. Because if we obligate theology and liken it as the scriptures or revelation it shall give birth of radicalism with the destructive impact caused.

STFK party, he said, has tried to build relationships with other religious groups. It is characterized by the delivery of seminarians (future priests) to some Muslim boarding schools (Pesantren) in Indonesia. He also recounted the experience in his own village where his relatives are Muslim weave priest’s ceremonial dress, and it has been lasted a long time until today.

Anand Krishna, the Indonesian interfaith spiritualist and activist, began his talk by saying that before come to the seminar he visited the residence of Bishop Maumere, and asked for blessings and prayers to Mr. Bishop so the seminar can be done well. That he did not admire the magnificent of the church building, but bow down to the large hearts and stately souls of Catholics in Flores who are very appreciative toward the differences.
As a note, Anand Krishna in a brief meeting with the Bishop Gerulfus Kherubim Pareira, SVD, had given his own writing book titled Sabda Pencerahan.

Furthermore, this columnist and author of more than 150 books explained that Indonesia is a country with the largest island in the world and unite the local wisdom in the motto: Unity in Diversity. According to Anand Bhinneka Tunggal Ika should be translated into Appearing As Many, Essentially One. For an example, although our religions are different but basically we have one and the same aim, namely God.
Therefore, according to Anand, the relationship between religions should begin and disseminate terms of appreciation rather than tolerance. Because it still implied arrogance, in a sense that my religion is the best and better than yours, but I still tolerate other religions. Instead, appreciation means an award, a respect and recognition to other religions as different paths toward a goal: The One and Same.
Anand emphasized that education is the key solution. He explicitly advocated secular education as the early lessons for character building at schools, where children are taught to appreciate the values and history of every religion that exist in Indonesia. Recently, in schools, the children were separated into their own during religion lesson catechism. Religion, faith and theology are affairs that should be taught in the mosque, church, temple or taught by parents, religious teachers and priests.
Anand closed the presentation of religions diversity in Indonesia with an interesting analogy. Diversity, he said, should be like gado-gado, rather than being forced mixture into juice. Therefore, gado-gado is mixed of some vegetables, but its original form is still visible although each has been mixed. Moreover, it’s taste better together with some peanut sauce as a seasoning of love. Whereas in juice, the form and its original taste of fruits has already disappeared when put together in a blender machine.
Anand Krishna’s analogy of the relation of religions such as gado-gado inspired Pater Budi Kleden, the moderator in his conclusion. According to him, religion and the stomach are the two things that caused the conflict and victims. In the name of religion because of the stomachs’ needs committing several criminal acts. In closing, he asked a reflective question, “Are the religions in Indonesia able to create a situation so that the stomach problems can be overcome?”

National Seminar which is jointly held by STFK Ledalero and Anand Ashram was attended by about 800 people. Some participants were students of philosophy (S1) and theology (S2) STFK Ledalero. The youth activists from PMKRI and BEM University Nusa Nipa Maumere, Muslim leaders, Hindu, Protestant, Catholic Women of Indonesian Republic (WKRI) branch Sikka, Sikka district legislators and the civil public. Rector of the University STFK Ledalero and Nusa Nipa also presented.
On this occasion, Anand Ashram held a book shop of Anand Krishna’s writing. Similarly, Ledalero publisher also sold many good books written by the lecturers at the only Catholic School of Philosophy in NTT. Anand Krishna’s books were sold out and many participants were disappointed because the books and T-shirts’ number were limited. For examples: Sabda Pencerahan, Soul Quest, Life, Christ of Kashmiris, A New Christ, Sandi Sutasoma, Sehat dalam Sekejap, Be Happy, Semedi 1 – 2 books were sold out. The enthusiasm of participants was increased because Anand Krishna patiently sign all books and the T-shirts.
Photographer: Nando Watu / Reporter: Dominggus Koro / Translator: Nugroho Angkasa
Source: http://blog.anandashram.asia/?p=630

SOURCE

Malaysia awards Din for his contribution to interfaith harmony

Posted on February 21st, 2012

Tuesday, 21 February 2012 11:57 WIB

REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, JAKARTA – The Muhammadiyah General Chairman, Din Syamsuddin, achieves Muslim Figure Award 1433 H from Penang, Malaysia. The award is an honor and admission of his effort to present Islam through Muhammadiyah.

The report from Muhammadiyah official website also says the award is granted to him related to his effort building the interfaith harmony. The award is signed by the Head of Penang Ihwal Islam, Dato H Abdul Malik bin Qasim. The award ceremony was witnessed by Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim, the Malaysian prominent figure.
In his speech, Anwar praises Muhammadiyah activity that has given a big contribution in Islamic world. He also mentions Din as international Muslim figure who has enlightening thought. “Muhamaddiyah enlightening ‘dawah’ brings resonance for Islamic development. It is also supported by Din’s consistency behavior on Islamic principles yet friendly to other faiths,” Anwar said.
Valuable support

The award is a form of appreciation for Din’s effort in spreading peace in the world. He said, the award was a valuable support to build peace. The award for Din is also a real admission to maintain interfaith dialogue. “Alhamdulillah… It becomes a support to build peace,” Din said in his speech after receiving the award.
Recently, Din was invited to speak in World Interfaith Harmony Week 2012 in UN Headquarter, New York, US. He was invited in his capacity as the President of Religions for Peace (ACRP) and the Vice President of World Conference of Religions for Peace (WCRP). In the event, Din delivered a speech entitled ‘Mediation of Conflict through Interfaith Dialogue’.

Editing: Yeyen Rostiyani
Reporting: Muhammad Akbar/Satya Festiani

SOURCE

WIHW Events in Kazakhstan

Posted on February 20th, 2012

To His Excellency, Director of the Office of his Royal Highness Prince Ghazi

With reference to this year’s celebration of the World Interfaith Harmony Week, we would like to bring to your attention the following:

The Agency of Religious Affairs in Kazakhstan organized a group of events in Mosques, Churches and in the only existing synagogue in Astana, with the following time sequence:

 Friday, 3/Feb/2012. The Assistant Mufti of the republic of Kazakhstan and Friday sermon preacher gave a speech in one of the biggest mosques in Astana, with the capacity of including more than 2000 worshipers. His speech was about the World Interfaith Harmony Week, where he explained to the worshipers about the Royal initiative adopted by the United Nations General Assembly.

 A speech was given before the worshipers in the same mosque prior to the Friday sermon, shedding light on the initiative of His Majesty King Abdullah and the importance of tolerance amongst all religions, reinforcing dialogue, distancing oneself from extremism, exaggeration and showing intolerance towards all religions.

 Copies of the “Amman Message” and “World Interfaith Harmony Week” booklets were distributed in the mosque, some churches as well as the synagogue.

 Sunday, 5/Feb/2012. During prayers, The Catholic Church of Astana enlightened the people about the World Interfaith Harmony Week initiative of His Majesty King Abdullah.

 Saturday, 4/Feb/2012. The Catholic Church gave an explanation about the World Interfaith Harmony Week and called for coexistence amongst religions and distancing oneself from Religious extremism.

 Sunday, 5/Feb/2012. The Lutheran Church praised his Majesty King Abdullah’s World Interfaith Harmony Week initiative among people of different religions, and the importance of spreading the spirit of tolerance and love among followers of different religions.

 Saturday, 11/Feb/2012. The Rabbi of Kazakhstan gave a speech during Jewish prayers in the Synagogue of Astana. He emphasized on coexistence and tolerance amongst different religions, referring to His Majesty King Abdullah’s World Interfaith Harmony Week initiative. Noting that last year’s World Interfaith Harmony Week celebrations, did not include any Rabbi’s and was merely celebrated by Muslim and Christian religious leaders at the headquarters of the International Centre of World Religious Leaders in Astana.

Hoping for your kind attention,

Yours sincerely,

ORIGINAL ARABIC

World Interfaith Harmony Week 2012 Gathering

Posted on February 20th, 2012

The Matheson Trust and The Woolf Institute |

Last Tuesday 7 February The Matheson Trust and The Woolf Institute celebrated together the UN World Interfaith Harmony Week 2012. On the grounds of St Edmund’s College, Cambridge, representatives of five major religious traditions joined us to share with the audience live performances of some of their most significant prayers and sacred songs.

After a brief welcome and introduction by Josef Meri and Juan Acevedo, the different presenters gave voice to the Vedas, the Buddhist scriptures, the Torah, Christian hymns and the Qur’an for a truly exceptional and inspiring afternoon.

This is an excerpt from the opening words:

“The pitfalls of expression are always lurking in interfaith exchanges, and those engaged feel as if treading on thin ice lest they are misinterpreted and then misquoted and misjudged… how could it be otherwise, if what is involved is trying to express what is beyond words and even beyond language?

“…music easily presents itself as a sufficient vehicle, or in any case as a subtler vehicle… reaching inwards, or upwards, or at least, through its rhythm, closer in language to our beating hearts, and even closer when use is made of the human voice as an instrument. True and timeless bridges between the corporeal and the subtle realms, we don’t seem to be able to determine exactly where is it that our intonations and invocations spring from, and how far they reach in their subtle repercussions.”

Please follow this link to our Library for full details and to listen to the audio recordings.

Source

Silsilah announces Formation Program for Muslim and Christian Leaders 2012

Posted on February 19th, 2012

Posted by David D’Angelo | Thursday, February 16, 2012 | Category: Philippines, Trainings, War and Peace, Youth Issues |

Silsilah is starting a new program for Muslim and Christian leaders of Mindanao to respond the request of formation as a concrete answer to the World Interfaith Harmony Week which was proposed by the United Nations and also implemented in Zamboanga City by the National Ulama Council of the Philippines(NUCP) in partnership with Silsilah Dialogue Movement and many other institutions and groups.

This program envisions the possibility to conduct seminar-workshops for leaders, giving priority to professionals and teachers of different schools and universities. It will be done in a creative way to help them understand the importance of seeing the connection between each own faith and the interfaith challenge of today. They will be invited to understand that dialogue and peace are not only needed for progress, but also a challenge coming from a proper understanding of the message of Love in Islam and Christianity. It requires a process of personal and social transformation.

Silsilah encourages Christians to rediscover the Beatitudes of Jesus and the Muslims to rediscover the Great Jihad to understand and appreciate more the Culture of Dialogue and bring it in society starting from the Government agencies, schools, universities, churches, mosques, institutions or groups where each one of them is involved. Silsilah believes that there is no shortcut to peace. It has to have a foundation in a deeper and better understanding on the human and spiritual aspiration of life guided by the center believe of our two religions that is the Love of God and the Love of neighbor. In this formation program the Muslim and Christian participants will deepen and share, in a dynamic and creative way, their leanings and share them in their own families and their working place as a new challenge to build up a new leadership in the country and prepare youth to live and promote the Culture of Dialogue, path to peace. The program aims to rediscover the center part of the Christian and Islamic religion, encouraging leaders and professionals to overcome prejudices and biases through a sincere sharing where one can realize that a “narrow” presentation of our own religions in the past and in the presence are among the reason of conflict that some use still now for vested interest and to “re- educate” the participants to rediscover the importance of “Harmony in society” and share to all, especially to the youth, the importance to live and promote the Culture of Dialogue, Path to peace.

There is hope that the participants will internalize the Formation Program and share the realizations to others with a clear presentation of the message of Love to be deepened by Muslims and Christians to a point that they can be able to answer to the questions presented in the Primer prepared for the Interfaith Harmony Week in Zamboanga by the NUCP and other groups. One of the most crucial question and answer of that primer is

Christian “mission” and Islamic “Da’wah” are source of conflict or are they challenges for HARMONY, SOLIDARITY and PEACE?

Often in the past and also in recent history Christian mission and Islamic Da’wah have been a source of conflict due to a narrow interpretation of the two faiths or due to vested interest of leaders who used religion for their ambition and power . We are now celebrating interfaith harmony because we believe that we can live our faith as an arena of harmony, solidarity and peace. Thus, Christians have to continue to live their faith and share their “mission”, and Muslims too have to continue to live and share their faith in the spirit of “da’wah” while we are all guided by the “common word” of love of God and love of neighbor.

May this new program be a beginning of a new style of life in society to live and promote the Culture of Dialogue, Path to Peace.

For more information on this program please visit www.silsilahdialogue.com.

Source

PCSW&HR Celebrates the World Interfaith Harmony Week 2012

Posted on February 19th, 2012

As the UN General Assembly unanimously passed a resolution to recognize the World Interfaith Harmony Week annually during the first week of February. During the 1st week of February 2012 the world celebrated 2nd world interfaith harmony week through out the world. With the strong motivation of Ms. Monica Willard URI Representative at UN, Pakistan Council for Social Welfare & Human Rights (PCSW&HR) also actively participated to celebrate the world interfaith harmony week. To celebrate this week PCSW&HR organized various awareness activities in which seminar at Social Welfare Services Complex Sialkot on the topic “Interfaith & Intercultural Harmony is Essential to Secure Peace” on 6th February 2012 and Orientation workshop at Govt. School Ajowali on 7th February 2012 for the community based groups formed by PCSW&HR at village level were main activities.

In the seminar and orientation workshop hundreds of believer (both male & female) of different faiths in which Muslims, Christians, Hindus etc participated. The main focus of seminar was to campaigning for the importance of harmonious life among believers of different faiths and orientation workshop was to orientate the youth members of community based groups and teachers from education department on the importance of interfaith harmony and role of youth to sensitize the local community for the promotion of interfaith & intercultural harmony as well distribute the appreciate certificate among the those members did the marvelous work at grass root level for interfaith & intercultural harmony, peace and justice.

Bishop of Sialkot Rt. Rev. Samuel Pervaz Dioceses of Sialkot Church of Pakistan presided over the seminar at Sialkot. Mr. Muhammad Ijaz Noori Chairman PCSW&HR and Member Provincial Assembly & Chairman Standing Committee for Health Govt. of Punjab Mr. Tahir Mehmood Hundli Advocate were chief guests at Seminar. Hundred of men and women belonging from different faiths participated in the seminar. In his welcoming address Mr. Mansoor Ahmed Executive Director PCSW&HR welcomed the all participants of seminar and highlighted the perspective of celebration of world interfaith harmony week through out the world in detail. He said that in his point of view in the present scenario terrorism is burning issue of the world and we can only tackle terrorism with the promoting of inter-faith harmony, mutual understanding, religious tolerance and inter religious dialogue

He further said that goal of the interfaith week is to recognize the crucial need for dialogue among different faiths and religions in enhancing mutual understanding, harmony and cooperation among people. We should learn to live together in mutual trust and peace. While addressing during the seminar Mr. Noori highlighted the importance of promoting of educational programmes on interfaith harmony & peace in schools, colleges, universities and among the general public as well as among the religious leaders. He said that programmes to enhance conflict resolution skills should be introduced in order to effectively resolve regional and national conflicts. He added that it is good opportunity for us when we are observing the world interfaith harmony week with international community to aware the general public regarding the importance of inter religious & intercultural harmony and dialogues. Islam and all other religions give the message of peace, mutual respect, understanding, protection of fundamental human rights and as part of a globalization of culture, these truths of all religions should be highlighted and put into a wider and more existing social context. He also briefed the participants about the PCSW&HR’s initiatives as cooperation circle of United Religion Initiative for the promotion of interfaith & intercultural harmony, conflict resolution mutual respect, peace and justice etc at grass root level.

While addressing during the seminar Chief Guest Mr. Tahir Mehmood Hundli Advocate Member Provincial Assembly and Chairman standing committee health Govt. of Punjab appreciated the efforts of PCSW&HR to celebrate the world interfaith harmony week and organizing a wonderful seminar to aware the people regarding the importance of interfaith & intercultural harmony. He further said that it is also moral obligation of religious & political leaders and government officials to play their role to end prejudice and stop religious violence in their individual and collective capacity. Religious and intercultural harmony and dialogues is need of hour, no doubt dialogue can bring us mutual improvement and help us overcome prejudices passed on to us by previous generations.

He lauded the efforts and commitment of Pakistan Council for Social Welfare & Human Rights to produce a culture of harmony among peoples of various religious faiths, civilizations and cultural backgrounds as well as promotion of intercultural and inter-civilisational understanding and mutual respect for diversity in Pakistan. On behalf of Government she assured his full support and cooperation to Pakistan Council for Social Welfare & Human Rights to initiate the steps for inter-religious & intercultural harmony, dialogues, understanding etc. While speaking during the seminar Bishop of Sialkot Rt. Rev. Samuel Pervaz Dioceses of Sialkot Church of Pakistan said that Christian are living in a huge numbers and through the platform of Pakistan Council for Social Welfare & Human Rights we are jointly trying for the promotion of interfaith & intercultural harmony and protection of minorities rights since long time and due to sincere efforts of PCSW&HR there is no concept of majority or minorities in Sialkot area, religious & cultural relations between Muslims & Christian are growing deeper and deeper which is unique example of interfaith & intercultural harmony. We will also try our best to create such kind of religious & intercultural harmony in the other parts of Pakistan where Christian and others minorities are living. Speakers from all religions also urged for inter-religious harmony & dialogues. All participants of seminar also pledged that they will play their role in their individual as well as collective capacity to create a inter- religious and intercultural harmony and peace and will support the PCSWHR’s efforts for peace. During the seminar Questions answers session was also arranged, participants of seminar raised different questions regarding interfaith harmony.

During the seminar at Sialkot children also presented the tableau with the spotlight that first we all are human beings and then follower of any religion we should respect and tolerate each other.
Pakistan Council for Social Welfare & Human Rights also organized an orientation workshop at village Ajowali Sialkot for those village level community based groups established by PCSW&HR at various villages on 7th February 2012. The purpose of that orientation workshop was to orientate the members of community based groups on the importance of interfaith & intercultural harmony, peace, justice and religious tolerance. Members of these community-based groups (male & female) and teachers from education department participated in the orientation workshop. PCSW&HR Chairman Muhammad Ijaz Noori and executive members of PCSW&HR also attend that orientation workshop as Resource persons and highlighted the importance of interfaith and intercultural harmony especially in the present scenario when Pakistani nation is fighting against terrorists and extremists.

Participants of orientation workshop urged that they should play their role to sensitize the local community to create the culture of inter-religious, intercultural harmony, tolerance, peace, & justice and mutual respect. During the seminar all speakers highlighted the importance of inter-religious harmony, mutual respect and religious tolerance to secure the peace and to tackle the terrorism & extremism. While during the harmony week from 1 – 7 February on the request of Pakistan Council for Social Welfare & Human Rights special prayers were also offered to prevail peace on earth in the mosques and churches of Sialkot area and religious leaders also highlighted the importance of inter-religious & intercultural harmony in the their religious speeches. In various schools of Sialkot area awareness walks by the children were also organized and children lightning the candles during the walks for peace on earth. National Newspapers also highlighted the activities organized by Pakistan Council for Social Welfare & Human Rights to celebrate the world interfaith harmony week 2012.

Source

Interfaith Harmony Week Commemorated in Jerusalem

Posted on February 19th, 2012

By UPF – Israel

Jerusalem, Israel – Celebrating the UN Interfaith Harmony Week, a group of key Ambassadors for Peace gathered in Jerusalem on February 12. Several prominent academics joined the religious leaders in expressing their concern for the current state of affairs in the Middle East and the Korean peninsula. “Peace and stability can be attained when democratic freedom loving countries will demonstrate strength on one hand while showing benevolence towards their adversaries on the other,” said Mr. Jeremy Jordan, Secretary General of UPF-Israel.

4/7
He went on to give a report about UPF’s recent International Leadership Conference in Korea and the inspiration he had received from the speech given by the International President Dr. Hyung Jin Moon. Mr. Jordan also reiterated the vision of an interreligious council at the UN.
Sheikh Samih Natur representing the Druze faith expressed his people’s readiness to join and support any interfaith initiative that can advance the cause of peace.
Dr. Nurit Supinski Hirshfeld proposed the establishment of a peace academy fostering peacebuilding education.
Dr. Shelley Elkayam, who together with Prof. Eldad Pardo graciously hosted the meeting at their magnificent home, called for getting official recognition of the intended peace academy.
During the active discussion that followed, Prof. Eliezer Glaubach and his wife Mrs. Rachel Glaubach presented a special declaration for Interfaith Harmony Week called the Jerusalem Statement, pointing out the values of interfaith cooperation deriving from God’s call to all his children to take mutual responsibility for building world peace. The statement was then signed by all people present.
~ ~ ~
Jerusalem, February 12, 2012
The Jerusalem Statement
We Ambassadors for Peace in the Holy Land, declare today the following:
The 2012 World Interfaith Harmony Week as initiated by the United Nations General Assembly, and celebrated by the UPF, means for us the recognition and celebration of universal values as expressed in the holy scriptures by the prophets of all monotheistic faith religions – Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Druze, etc.
We refer to peace, freedom, human rights, dignity, and the oneness of humanity as “One Family Under God.”
We feel in our deepest heart that we are coming to know a new sense of freedom and happiness. No matter how far we have gone in our lives, with God’s will we will realize that what God is doing for us is what we could not do for ourselves.
The Prophets saw God’s future actions as truly decisive for the life or death of Israel and all nations of faith, and the promises of peace were designed to lead them to faith, steadfastness, and faithfulness.
Therefore, we believe that these promises are closer to the heart of God’s reality than any threats, and thus we pray for the strengthening of all the common ground and harmony among the nations and peoples on earth.
For more information about World Interfaith Harmony Week, click here.

Source

World Interfaith Harmony Week Uplifts UN General Assembly

Posted on February 19th, 2012

A TIO Report – Rev. Deborah Moldow Posted on Tuesday, February 14, 2012 at 02:54PM

A rare event took place in the UN General Assembly on February 7, 2012: religious and secular leaders from around the world gathered to affirm “Common Ground for the Common Good,” marking the close of the second annual World Interfaith Harmony Week (February 1-7).

The program was hosted by the President of the General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser. In his opening remarks, which followed the blowing of a conch shell and a flute by Taino indigenous Roberto Mukaro Borrero, he said, “We recognize and celebrate the values that are shared across religious traditions. These common principles form a common ground that unites us in our rich diversity.”

Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro then noted that, “Only by finding common cause in mutual respect for shared spiritual and moral values can we hope for harmony among nations and peoples.”

The diverse religious voices began with H.E. Archbishop Francis Assisi Chullikatt, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, who said that the Pope and Church leaders had repeatedly called on all believers to reject religiously-motivated violence. Other religious voices were Acharya Shri Shrivatsa Goswami of India, Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh of the U.K., Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf of New York, Ven. Dr. Chung Ohun Lee of the Republic of Korea, Rev. Michael Bernard Beckwith of California, and Rabbi David Rosen, who spoke movingly of the need to engage religious groups in making peace in the Holy Land.

Monica Willard, President of the Committee of Religious NGOs at the United Nations, stated that the purpose of the event, which honored GA Resolution A/RES/65/5 establishing World Interfaith Harmony Week, was to fill the General Assembly with love. Statements were offered by Philippe Kridelka of UNESCO and Marc Scheuer of the UN Alliance of Civilizations. Dr. William F. Vendley, Secretary General of Religions for Peace, spoke to the theme of the day, explaining that “multi-religious partnerships can yield real fruit in conflict resolution, the fight against disease and poverty and concern for our earth.”

Distinguished speakers highlighted the role of faith communities in conflict mediation, disaster prevention and response, revitalization of the United Nations, and sustaibnable development.

The program was also rich with cultural presentations. Music by the New York City Symphony Chamber Ensemble included the lovely strains of a harp. The Children’s Theater Company delighted the 1200 gathered with a performance of peace quotes by exuberant young actors, followed by the song, “One World.”

The event culminated in ceremony where representatives of eleven of the world’s religions were each invited to water the same tree, to the haunting soprano saxophone of Paul Winter. The speakers came to the stage for the closing of the ceremony and the concluding remarks of the President of the General Assembly, who stated that, “the fruits of religious dialogue and understanding offer the hope of a new era of peace for all humanity.”

As a grand finale, 20 brass players of the Salvation Army New York Staff Band came down the aisles to play “Joyful, Joyful.” Indeed.

Source

Austria: World Interfaith Harmony Week

Posted on February 19th, 2012

On Thursday, Febr. 9th, 2012 UPF-Austria held a Round Table discussion on the occasion of the „World Interfaith Harmony Week”.

After the welcoming remarks from the President of UPF-Austria, Mr.Peter Haider, Dr. Ismail Nawaishe, a Vienna-based Medical Doctor from Jordan explained shortly about the religious situation in his counrty. It was His Majesty, King Abdulla II. bin-Al Hussein from Jordan, who introduced the idea of a „World Interfaith harmony Week“ for the first time. It was then accepted and supported by the United Nations.

Dr. Nawaishe emphasized that in Jordan Muslims and Christians used to live together without conflict, visiting each other on religious holy days.

Two Buddhist nuns, Ven. Mrao Yi and her collegue, from the Fo-Guang-Shan temple which had opened recently in Vienna, led a meditation for the audience. The beautiful recitations which they sung in 2-part harmony, were for peace in the world, as they explained.

The first speaker was Mr. Ruwan Jeewantha Fernando, President of “The Sri Lanka-Austria Friendship Association”, who became a catholic monk in his youth. Back in Sri Lanka, he had married – his wife is a Buddhist. They had a Christian and a Buddhist wedding celebration. “I never felt I did anything against my beliefs, for: deus est caritas – God is love!” Mr. Jeewantha said, and ”Once you feel God’s love, you can’t fight against other religions!”

The second speaker was Ms. Ana Govedarica a religious instructor of the Serbian-orthodx Church. She is a 2nd Generation Bosnian, that means she was born and raised in Vienna, but she feels she still has two identities: Bosnian and Austrian.

For the Serbians and Bosnians who lived in Vienna the Orthodox Church was more than a religion, but a place like home, connecting them with their nation and fellow compatriots here in Austria.

The next speaker was Mr. Akio Friesacher, an 18 year old high school graduate, who had spent 6 month in South Africa as part of an exchange program of his school. He himself grew up in two cultures by having a Japanese mother and an Austrian father.

In South Africa he experienced a great variety of cultures and religions which he enjoyed very much. “The first month I lived with a Muslim family, the rest of the time with a Christian family. At school Muslim children sat beside Christians, but there were no conflicts.” Religion played an important role at school: Every morning would start with a prayer in one of the religious traditions of the children present. Also, moral education was emphasized a lot, even by the mathematics teacher. They even had a subject on “Life Orientation”, where teachers taught how to live a good and meaningful life.

Mr. Minas Sweha, from the Coptic Church of Vienna, explained some important facts about the Coptic people.

The Coptic Church is known for its monks. There are four Coptic churches in Vienna and one monastery. The young generation is well integrated in the church communities, because for them as well going to church means coming home to their own culture. When there were the riots in Egypt and many Coptic people were killed, the Coptic youth organized a protest march with Cardinal Schönborn attending. They learned that it meant a lot of work to organize such a public event.

Ms. Marlies Haider, a Tourism Management Student, has spent two years in Oceania, organizing interreligious and intercultural programs as a UPF youth program. She was part of an international team of young people who did service work on the Solomon Islands, the Fiji Islands, Australia and New Zealand. She recently has been anointed the Youth UPF representative in Austria.

Marlies explained some of their activities, such as renovating or rebuilding kindergardens and schools, building bridges in rural areas and introduced lectures on character development at schools. Part of their strategy was to involve the local community, which meant to cooperate with different Christian groups. Through their common service work they could create beautiful harmony between the different Christian churches. The youth delegation was especially impressed by the level of church attendance on those islands.

After these presentations Ewald Schenkermayr, who had introduced the speakers, asked each of them to shortly summarise what the „World Interfaith Week“ meant to them.

Ana Govedarica: “Most important is that love is above all. I’d like to quote the Serbian-Orthodox Patriarch, who used to say: “Most important is the human being, the religion comes second!”.”

Akio Friesacher: “Religious harmony should not be restricted to this one week. It should be brought into our daily lives.”

Minas Sweha: “In Egypt there is no religious harmony at the moment. For us this is a dream which hopefully comes true in the future.”

Marlies Haider: every religion has a core teaching, which coincides largely with other religions. We should concentrate on these core teachings.

Mr. Jeewantha: answered one question from the audience: how do they educate their daughter? They baptised her, his Buddhist wife doing most of the preparations for the ceremony, as she knew this meant a lot for her husband and would do good for their little daughter.

As the evening was concluded with a buffet and inspirational talks among all the participants of the event. The fact that more than 70 guests attended showed the importance of the topic “World Interfaith harmony Week” and encouraged us to continue with interreligious programs. Also the fact that most of the speakers were young people helped to gain the attention of the audience.

… an audience mixed of young and older generations, different faiths and ethnicities

Source

Muslim Council of Britain Celebrates World Interfaith Harmony Week 2012

Posted on February 19th, 2012

Muslim Council of Britain celebrates
World Interfaith Harmony Week

Dr. Mozammel Haque

The Interfaith Relations Committee of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) organised an event under the heading “Building Trust, Peace & Harmony through Interfaith Relations”, on Monday, the 6th of February, 2012 at the House of Lords, hosted by Lord Sheikh of Cornhill. Lord Sheikh who chaired the event, welcomed the audiences including the Guest of Honour Princess Badiya El-Hassan of Jordan who presented a message on behalf of her father, HRH Prince Hassan bin Talal of Jordan. Guest Speakers at the event were HE Mazen Homoud, Ambassador of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in London and Professor Mohamed El-Gomati, OBE, President, Foundation for Science, Technology & Civilization. Mr. Abdul Rahman Shaibani, Deputy Head of the Saudi Embassy in London, also attended the event.

Lord Sheikh
Lord Sheikh said, “It gives me great pleasure to host and speak at an event which seeks to break barriers and build bridges between our communities. Events like this gathering play an important role in affirming and celebrating Britain’s status as a diverse and multicultural society.”

Lord Sheikh said, “I believe that there are more similarities than differences between people and we should highlight the similarities in order to establish closer links between communities.”

Lord Sheikh quoted from the Holy Qur’an (Sura 49, Ayah 13) which says: ‘O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Verily the most honourable among you in the sight of Allah is he who has piety and righteousness”

Lord Sheikh also said, “Despite the image portrayed in some of today’s media, Islam has a long and proud history of tolerance and respect for people of other faiths. The Holy Koran is emphatically clear on this point, stating ‘let there be no compulsion in religion’, and this has been manifest in Muslim civilization throughout history.”

Lord Sheikh also mentioned, “Islam is one of the Abrahamic religions and we believe in the Prophets who are mentioned in the Bible including the following Prophets (peace be upon them) –Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jacob and Jesus. God’s guidance to mankind started with Prophet Adam (pbuh) and ended with Prophet Mohammed (pbuh).”

With regard to relations with other faith communities, Lord Sheikh said, “Islam in fact regards Christians and Jews as people of the book and Muslims believe that the books of Allah are the Quran, the Torah, the Gospel and the Psalms of David. The Koran also mentions scrolls of Abraham. I may add that the Holy Koran has an entire chapter which is titled Maryam (Mary mother of Jesus).”

With regard to similarities between Sikhism and Islam, Lord Sheikh mentioned, “I would like to state that the foundation of the Golden Temple in Amritsar was laid by Mian Mir, a Muslim holy person. One of the constant companions of Guru Nanak Sahib was Mardana who was a Muslim. He accompanied Guru Nanak Sahib on his journey to Mecca and Medina. In the Guru Granth Sahib there are writings of a Muslim, Sheikh Farid.”

Lord Sheikh has just come back from India where he came to know that “There is now an organisation that has been set up in India to promote interfaith dialogue between the Hindus and Muslims and I have been asked to be its patron,” said Lord Sheikh and added, “Islam and Hinduism are similar in the fact that they believe in the moral responsibility of each individual towards others and in the practice of such virtues as charity, righteousness, forgiveness, tolerance, mercy, compassion, brotherhood, patience and gratitude.

Finally, Lord Sheikh said, “Islam is indeed a religion of peace and everyone one of us should therefore be an Ambassador to convey this message and help promote peace and harmony between various racial and religious groups.”

HRH Prince Hassan bin Talal of Jordan
HRH Prince Hassan bin Talal of Jordan in his message emphasized that The developing the rule of law is an absolutely essential to recognise the traditional background of the congenial communities which you hope to direct in promoting the common goal.

Prince Hassan also maintained, “I had the experience of developing an understanding which is basically loosely defined as one emphasizing the association between theology and practicality, that is to say, we accept the belief of all; at the same time we work together on beginning with commonality and in that sense let us take into account the wisdom of the illumination tradition of Asia and the enlightenment tradition of the Europe.”

Prince Hassan divided the world into the land of the Sun and the Twilight zone and said, “Asia possesses the land of vitality, the land of pioneering culture and civilization in our world, temporal zone, birth place of culture and civilization and the Twilight zone which combined the twilight between meditation, consideration and evolution of course to serve mankind.”

While speaking about education, Prince Hassan said, “we tend to be focused on parochial form of education, wherever we are and this is something which I think we need in term of best practice to recognise that Europe has pioneer programme which has culminated today” and indeed in terms of human understanding based on comprehension.

Prince Hassan also mentioned about youth. He said “how rich our shared humanity is particularly our youth.”

Speaking about Arab Spring, Prince Hassan said, “The Arab spring is not spring against anybody; it is a spring that called for its inception for reform based on values and human dignity. That is my understanding, of course things went badly wrong in different parts of our region; but that does not mean that we should not continue to accept our responsibility for our works and for our deeds.”

“It is time to recognise the economic and political dimensions of dialogue,” said Prince Hassan and concluded, “Let us try to meet as human beings in building harmony for the future of generations to come.”

Princess Badiya El-Hassan
Princess Badiya El-Hassan of Jordan said, “We should take care of each other; if we do it together, we can build trust, peace and better life for all.”

Dr. Harriet Crabtree, OBE
Dr. Harriet Crabtree, OBE, Director, Interfaith network for the UK, spoke about the importance of religion. She said religion can be a contributor. She said we have to work together to bring about harmony. Secondly, Dr. Harriet praised the interfaith work of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) mentioning about its membership of the interfaith network. Dr. Harriet also mentioned about trust and participation. This interfaith week, said Dr. Harriet, is a remarkable week and please participates in the week.

In this connection, it may be pointed out that many Muslim countries sponsored the resolution to create United Nations World Interfaith Harmony Week as the first week of February each year. “The World Interfaith Harmony Week pioneered by His Majesty King Abdullah II seeks to spread the message of harmony and tolerance among the followers of all the world’s religions, faiths and beliefs. It seeks to do this by promoting the common basis of “Love of God and Love of the Neighbour

“The objectives behind the World Interfaith Harmony Week, in the words of the author of the resolution, Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad, are: To Harness and utilise the collective might of the world’s second-largest infrastructure “places of worship” specifically for peace and harmony in the world

The Islamic Cultural Centre, London and Exhibition Islam jointly organised the VIP Event – Islamic Cultural Exhibition which was arranged as part of the United Nations World Interfaith Harmony Week 2012, on Tuesday, 7th of February, 2012, at the Islamic Cultural Centre & The London Central Mosque. The VIP event was attended by members of Parliament, including Lord Ahmed of Rotherham, Lord Sheikh of Cornhill, Lord Adam Patel of Blackburn, Ambassadors of the Muslim Countries, representatives of embassies, and members of different interfaith organisations.

The message read out at the VIP Event at the ICC says, “The purpose of the exhibition is to educate the wider community on the Islamic culture and how the core of all mutual prophetic teachings are based on mutual respect, harmony and peace “.
POSTED BY DR. MOZAMMEL HAQUE AT 14:01
LABELS: ABDUL RAHMAN SHAIBANI, DR. HARRIET CRABTREE OBE, HRH PRINCE HASSAN BIN TALAL OF JORDAN, LORD SHEIKH OF CORNHILL, MCB, PRINCESS BADIYA EL-HASSAN OF JORDAN,

Source

PM: Don’t confuse culture with religion

Posted on February 16th, 2012

Najib meets with religious leaders at a fellowship in conjunction with ‘World Interfaith Harmony Week’ at Seri Perdana today. BERNAMA

PUTRAJAYA (Feb 15, 2012): Efforts to promote understanding and awareness through discussion, dialogue and also education are important so that the public understands clearly the differences and similarities between the various races in the country, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak.

He said the people should not be confused with what constituted cultural and religious beliefs.

He cited as an example his attendance at the Thaipusam celebration in Batu Caves recently, which according to him had been questioned by some quarters because he wore the ‘kurta’, a traditional Indian attire for men.

“But they are not aware that in India, millions of Indians who are Muslims wear the kurta daily. Are they then not Muslims,” he said.

He said this when addressing a gathering of religious leaders in conjunction with “World Interfaith Harmony Week 2012″ at at his official residence Seri Perdana here today.

Najib then gave the example of the attire usually worn by Malaysian Chinese Muslims Association (MACMA) president Datuk Mustapha Ma, which according to him, had Chinese cultural elements and should not be linked to the question of faith.

“He is a seventh-generation Muslim. This is a question of culture and not faith, thus in issues like this if we don’t understand, it could lead to suspicion and hatred among the races.

“As such, it is incumbent upon the committee tasked with interfaith understanding to clarify such matters,” he said.

Najib also said that with the rapid advancements in information technology, whatever was said by anyone could spread like wildfire, causing the world we are in today to face a more challenging environment and requiring more efforts to promote understanding and awareneness on a continuous basis.

He said Malaysia appreciated the harmony and prosperity enjoyed all this while, which was possible because of its moderate policies that were very much in line with Islamic teachings.

“Although before this, we have not used the word ‘Wasatiyyah’ (moderation in Arabic), actually our policies have been based on the wasatiyah concept as called for by Islam. It (wasatiyyah) also touches on the aspect of respecting those of other faiths,” he added.

According to him, the teachings of other faiths in principle also promoted moderation, through conduct and words said.

Najib said “World Interfaith Harmony Week” sought to raise awareness and understanding between religions, for universal peace and drive the world to be more progressive and prosperous.

He said coincidentally, the first week of February was rather unique with three events taking place that were very meaningful to Malaysia, which were Prophet Muhammad’s birthday celebration and the Chap Goh Mei and Thaipusam celebrations.

“As such, if there is a country which wants to showcase itself as a model of multiracial unity, I don’t think there is a country better than Malaysia,” he said.

The “World Interfaith Harmony Week” is the brainchild of King Abdullah II of Jordan and his son Ghazi Muhammad who was the personal representative and advisor to King Abdullah II at the 65th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York in 2010.

The idea was adopted as a resolution by UNGA and is celebrated the first week of February by the member nations. – Bernama

Source

Najib Offers Message of Tolerance to World Interfaith Harmony Meeting

Posted on February 16th, 2012

Newsdesk

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak met with religious leaders at the World Interfaith Harmony Week on Wednesday, with a straightforward message for Malaysians of all races, religions, and practises: Tolerance and understanding are the keys to a better future.

In the wake of the furore over his attendance at the Thaipusam celebration in Batu Caves recently, Najib was clearly extolling his 1Malaysia message, using the opportunity of numerous faiths gathered together for peaceful dialogue as his backdrop.

It was a clever move, as it gave him the opportunity to remind both his audience and the nation that merely dressing in culturally traditional garb is not taking on another faith (wearing the ‘kurta’, a traditional Indian attire for men, is not a sign of Hinduism; as Najib said, “millions of Indians who are Muslims wear the kurta daily. Are they then not Muslims?”), and that the key to advancing as a people is to understand each other and our traditions.

Noting that Prophet Muhammad’s birthday celebration and the Chap Goh Mei and Thaipusam celebrations all occur during this week, Najib made the broader point that almost all of the country’s faiths teach harmony and moderation. It is incumbent on us, he suggested, to grow with each other, by honouring our religious traditions.

Najib’s message will doubtless have a greater effect as Perak mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria recently clarified that Najib did nothing wrong in wearing the kurta, echoing the Prime Minister’s words about cultural and religious differences.

Ultimately, Najin’s message remains the same: In a world of rapid-fire information sharing, miscommunication can blossom into conflict all too easily. As a nation, our best chance of growing with the world — and eventually reaching a leadership role — is in moderation, tolerance, and harmony. In turn, these things will foster economic growth and national integration, paying for themselves.

A mark of the extent to which the Prime Minister has successfully put this matter to bed is the speed with which Opposition web portals have quietly dropped the topic.

While it might be tempting to take a victory lap here, the better approach is Najib’s: To quietly rejoice in the disappearance of another obstacle to racial and religious harmony, as we move forward as a country.

Source

Understand differences and similarities among races: Najib

Posted on February 15th, 2012

PUTRAJAYA, Feb 15 (Bernama) — Efforts to promote understanding and awareness through discussion, dialogue and also education are important so that the public understands clearly the differences and similarities between the various races in the country, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

He said the people should not be confused with what constituted cultural and religious beliefs.

He cited as an example his attendance at the Thaipusam celebration in Batu Caves recently, which according to him had been questioned by some quarters because he wore the ‘kurta’, a traditional Indian attire for men.

“But they are not aware that in India, millions of Indians who are Muslims wear the kurta daily. Are they then not Muslims,” he said.

He said this when addressing a gathering of religious leaders in conjunction with “World Interfaith Harmony Week 2012″ at at his official residence Seri Perdana here today.

Najib then gave the example of the attire usually worn by Malaysian Chinese Muslims Association (MACMA) president Datuk Mustapha Ma, which according to him, had Chinese cultural elements and should not be linked to the question of faith.

“He is a seventh-generation Muslim. This is a question of culture and not faith, thus if issues like this if we don’t understand, it could lead to suspicion and hatred among the races.

“As such, it is incumbent upon the committee tasked with interfaith understanding to clarify such matters,” he said.

Najib also said with the rapid advancements in information technology, whatever was said by anyone could spread like wildfire, causing the world we are in today to face a more challenging environment and requiring more efforts to promote understanding and awareness on a continuous basis.

He said Malaysia appreciated the harmony and prosperity enjoyed all this while, which was possible because of its moderate policies that were very much in line with Islamic teachings.

“Although before this, we have not used the word ‘Wasatiyyah’ (moderation in Arabic), actually our policies have been based on the wasatiyah concept as called for by Islam. It (wasatiyyah) also touches on the aspect of respecting those of other faiths,” he added.

According to him, the teachings of other faiths in principle also promoted moderation, through conduct and words said.

Najib said “World Interfaith Harmony Week” sought to raise awareness and understanding between religions, for universal peace and drive the world to be more progressive and prosperous.

He said coincidentally, the first week of February was rather unique with three events taking place that were very meaningful to Malaysia, which were Prophet Muhammad’s birthday celebration and the Chap Goh Mei and Thaipusam celebrations.

“As such, if there is a country which wants to showcase itself as a model of multiracial unity, I don’t think there is a country better than Malaysia,” he said.

The “World Interfaith Harmony Week” is the brainchild of King Abdullah II of Jodan and his son Ghazi Muhammad who was the personal representative and advisor to King Abdullah II at the 65th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York in 2010.

The idea was adopted as a resolution by UNGA and is celebrated the first week of February by the member nations.

PHOTOS

Source

PM meets religious leaders

Posted on February 15th, 2012

BERNAMA

PUTRAJAYA: Efforts to promote understanding and awareness through discussion, dialogue and also education are important so that the public understands clearly the differences and similarities between the various races in the country, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak meets religious leaders in conjuction with “World Interfaith Harmony Week” at Seri Perdana, in Putrajaya today. — Bernama picture
1 / 1
He said the people should not be confused with what constituted cultural and religious beliefs.
He cited as an example his attendance at the Thaipusam celebration in Batu Caves recently, which according to him had been questioned by some quarters because he wore the ‘kurta’, a traditional Indian attire for men.

“But they are not aware that in India, millions of Indians who are Muslims wear the kurta daily. Are they then not Muslims,” he said.

He said this when addressing a gathering of religious leaders in conjunction with “World Interfaith Harmony Week 2012″ at at his official residence Seri Perdana here today.

Najib then gave the example of the attire usually worn by Malaysian Chinese Muslims Association (MACMA) president Datuk Mustapha Ma, which according to him, had Chinese cultural elements and should not be linked to the question of faith.

“He is a seventh-generation Muslim. This is a question of culture and not faith, thus if issues like this if we don’t understand, it could lead to suspicion and hatred among the races.

“As such, it is incumbent upon the committee tasked with interfaith understanding to clarify such matters,” he said.

Najib also said with the rapid advancements in information technology, whatever was said by anyone could spread like wildfire, causing the world we are in today to face a more challenging environment and requiring more efforts to promote understanding and awareneness on a continuous basis.

He said Malaysia appreciated the harmony and prosperity enjoyed all this while, which was possible because of its moderate policies that were very much in line with Islamic teachings.

“Although before this, we have not used the word ‘Wasatiyyah’ (moderation in Arabic), actually our policies have been based on the wasatiyah concept as called for by Islam. It (wasatiyyah) also touches on the aspect of respecting those of other faiths,” he added.

According to him, the teachings of other faiths in principle also promoted moderation, through conduct and words said.

Najib said “World Interfaith Harmony Week” sought to raise awareness and understanding between religions, for universal peace and drive the world to be more progressive and prosperous.

He said coincidentally, the first week of February was rather unique with three events taking place that were very meaningful to Malaysia, which were Prophet Muhammad’s birthday celebration and the Chap Goh Mei and Thaipusam celebrations.

“As such, if there is a country which wants to showcase itself as a model of multiracial unity, I don’t think there is a country better than Malaysia,” he said.

The “World Interfaith Harmony Week” is the brainchild of King Abdullah II of Jodan and his son Ghazi Muhammad who was the personal representative and advisor to King Abdullah II at the 65th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York in 2010. The idea was adopted as a resolution by UNGA and is celebrated the first week of February by the member nations. —

Source

NRI businessman wins Malaysian award

Posted on February 15th, 2012

BY ASHRAF PADANNA February 15, 2012

TRIVANDRUM: Eminent Indian businessman and the lone non-Arab member of Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Yusuffali MA, has been selected for the maiden Indo-Malaysian International Interfaith Harmony Award.

Yusuffali will receive the award, instituted jointly by International Islamic University, Malaysia, and Kerala-based Ma’din Islamic Academy, at the international interfaith harmony seminar to be held on the Malaysin university’s Gombak campus on March 1.

A statement issued here on Tuesday said the Yusuffali was selected for the honor for his initiative to promote interfaith harmony to help ‘fortify unity in diversity’ in secular societies.

The jury comprises Dr Robert Dixon Crane, former ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, Prof Abdelaziz Berghout, deputy rector, International Islamic University, Malaysia, Richard Owen, editor, International Reportage, Hong Kong, and Syed Ibrahim Khaleelul Bukhari, chairman, Ma’din Islamic Academy, Kerala.

“Yusuffali is the fittest for this award when we consider his great endeavors and social commitment. He’s a unique person even in the business world where 27,000 people are employed without any discrimination of caste, religion, creed or nationality,” the jury commented on his selection.

International Interfaith Harmony Award is the prime attraction of the International Seminar to be attended by prominent speakers from India and Malaysia. The International Interfaith Harmony Week, a United Nations initiative, seeks to spread the message of harmony and tolerance among the followers of religions, faiths and beliefs.

It promotes the common basis of “Love of God and Love of the Neighbour, or Love of the Good and Love of the Neighbour”. There are number of programmes, organised by various organisations around the world.

“This award aims to strengthen the message of harmony and tolerance, which is the necessity to reduce anxiety, stress and personal pressure among the societies. This, especially in a secular society, is the time demanding initiative,” the statement said.

World Interfaith Harmony Week was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly on 20 October 2010 pointing out that mutual understanding and interreligious dialogue.

Source

World Interfaith Harmony Week at the UN

Posted on February 15th, 2012

by Andrew David Turner

MARK KOENIG

On February 7, the 66th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations celebrated the second annual World Interfaith Harmony Week (WIHW) with a full program of speakers and performances that underscored the significance of this year’s theme: “Common Ground for the Common Good.”

The President of the General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, began the proceedings with a keynote address that highlighted the “social and moral significance” of religion in the global society and reminded the Assembly that the United Nations itself was founded on “the quest for the common values of peace, freedom, and the oneness of humanity.” U.N. Deputy Secretary-General H.E. Dr. Asha-Rose Migiro also expressed support and encouraged the Assembly to continue cooperating in a spirit of unity.

Various members of the U.N. community addressed the Assembly to highlight the work of religious communities in five specific areas: finding common ground, the mediation of conflict, disaster prevention/response, the revitalization of the U.N., and sustainable development. Representatives of several world religions including Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism were also given the floor in order to expand on the importance of interfaith dialogue and understanding within their respective traditions.

“The World Interfaith Harmony Week was first proposed at the UN General Assembly on September 23, 2010 by H.M. King Abdullah II of Jordan. Just under a month later, on October 20, 2010, it was unanimously adopted by the UN and henceforth the first week of February will be observed as a World Interfaith Harmony Week.”

Of course interfaith harmony should not be restricted to a week, but can be practiced throughout the year. Ideas practice interfaith harmony could include (but not be limited to) praying with people of all faiths for peace in the Middle East and around the world, dialogues, work to “green sacred spaces,” shared breakfasts or other meals, or joint community projects. Explore the Interfaith Toolkit of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) for additional ideas and resources.

As the 209th General Assembly (1997) states, “At the same time, our expectation is that respectful presence with people of other faiths can lead Christians into a fuller understanding and experience of their own faith.”

Source

International Interfaith Harmony award for Yusuf Ali

Posted on February 15th, 2012

Submitted by admin4 on 14 February 2012 – 10:10pm
Indian Muslim
By IANS,

Thiruvananthapuram : NRI business magnate M.A. Yusuf Ali has been selected for the prestigious Interfaith Harmony Award specially endowed with United Nations’ Interfaith Harmony Week initiatives and observations.

Ali is one of Kerala’s most popular ambassador in the Middle-East on account of his hugely successful business empire and he has been credited with swinging the much-hyped Rs.1,500 crore mega Smart City Kochi IT project being built by Smart City Dubai, in favour of Kerala, when it appeared lost due to differences between the previous Left government and the Dubai promoter.

The International Interfaith Harmony Week, United Nations initiative, seeks to spread the message of harmony and tolerance among the followers of religions, faiths and beliefs.

The award will be presented to Ali March 1 at the International Seminar on Interfaith Harmony and Tolerance held in the International Islamic University Malaysia, Gombak campus at Kuala Lumpur.

This award is the prime attraction of the International Seminar on Interfaith Harmony and Tolerance which is jointly organised by International Islamic University, Malaysia and the Kerala-based Madin Islamic Academy.

In a press release issued here Tuesday, the Madin Islamic Academy said the jury commended Ali as the fittest for this award after considering his social commitments.

“He is the unique one even in the business world, where 27,000 people work together without any discrimination of religion, caste, creed and nationality,” noted the jury.

The World Interfaith Harmony Week was first proposed at the UN General Assembly Sep 23, 2010 by King Abdullah II of Jordan.

On Oct 20, 2010, it was unanimously adopted by the UN and the first week of February will be observed as a World Interfaith Harmony Week.

Source

Din: Islam respects to differences

Posted on February 14th, 2012


Thursday, 09 February 2012 17:47 WIB
REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, NEW YORK

– A number of aggressions still occur around the world, the Muhammadiyah General Chairman, Professor Din Syamsuddin, admits. The differences of ethnics, religion, and culture become the reason to trigger the conflicts. However, differences are inevitable in our life.
“The differences in religions, ethnics, and cultures will always happen. It is a fact of life. However, the difference is not a reason to live inharmoniously and not peacefully,” the Muhammadiyah General Chairman, Professor Din Syamsuddin, spoke in the World Interfaith Harmony Week 2012 in United Nations Headquarter, New York, US.

Syamsuddin is invited by the head of general assembly to represent Islam world in delivering the message and perspective of religion. The presented topic is ‘Mediating the Conflict through Interfaith Dialogue’.
He said when differences trigger the conflict, the solution to find peace becomes importunate. In this case, the importance of mediation to ease the difference and find the similarity is inevitable.
Moreover, in reality, aggression keeps continuing and causing human disaster. History speaks for itself that war is a nightmare. Combined with poverty, disease, and unfairness, it becomes the threat that people face.

“Through war, people get nothing except misery. Power cannot solve the problem. Violence will only lead to other violence,” he added. According to Syamsuddin, Islam tells about respecting to differences. In Islam, God creates human with various tribes and nations so that they know each other (Holy Quran 49:13). For that, the difference as a conflict trigger is contradicted to nature law.
He added, one of human main duty was to ensure that religion is the base of peace. He ensures that religion cannot be an excuse of violence in any form.

Syamsuddin believes, dialogue is needed to prevent those conflicts. The intensity of ideas exchange between civil societies should be encouraged. For that, interfaith dialog should not only at the elite but also at the grassroots level.
“We must ensure that several activities can bridge the gap between civil societies and push the understanding,” he said. The interfaith dialogue is only meaningful if we involve all elements in society. “The dialogue can be achieved by good environment and the spirit of honesty, togetherness, and relationship,” he said.

While President of the United Nations General Assembly, Abdulaziz al-Nasser, said, religion teach us to bring unity and harmony among people. “Universal values is the base to unite diversity,” he said.
Al-Nasser added, UN also boosts the universal values, such as peace, victory, honor, and humanity, supported by religion.

Editing: Yeyen Rostiyani
Reporting: Teguh Firmansyah/Satya Festiani

Source

Interfaith harmony week celebrated at United Nation

Posted on February 14th, 2012

JC LISA PALMIERI BILLIG ROMA
Religious leaders stress positive role of religions in creating a culture of peace

Some remarkable contributions from world religious leaders were heard at the UN General Assembly last week. Their statements served to remind international diplomatic representatives accredited at the UN of the moral, spiritual foundations and the common responsibilities of their work.
Two years ago, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution for the establishment of World Interfaith Harmony Week (1-7 February), thus paying tribute to the important contribution that interreligious dialogue can make to peace building.

On February 7, the President of the UNGA, H.E. Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser presided over a session organized by religious and other NGOs, entitled “Common Ground for the Common Good.” All the world’s major religions were represented.

Music, theater and art interspersed the speeches. Perhaps the most moving contribution was a performance under the direction of Mehr Mansuri of “The Children’s Theatre Company”, a group of very young youngsters of all colors and ethnic origins who presented “Peacemaker’s Quotes” and “One World” by Lory Lazarus.
The topics covered by speeches were “common ground”, “mediation of conflict”, “disaster prevention/response”, ”revitalization of the UN”, “sustainable development.” Fresh and harmonious perspectives were presented in a context of respect for diversity within a framework of unified purpose.
Speakers included various ambassadors, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See (the most Reverend Francis Assisi Chullikatt) and other internationally acclaimed representatives of the world’s major religions, of religious and interreligious NGOs, of UNESCO, the UN Alliance of Civilizations and several senior, international officers of “Religions for Peace”, the world’s largest multi-religious organization working in over 90 countries.

The RfP speakers – including present and past international co-presidents and high officials of the organization – represented six major global religions: Christianity (RfP Secretary General Dr. William Vendley); Islam (Prof. Dr. M. Din Syamsuddin, Chairman of the second largest Islamic organization in the world, Indonesia’s “Muhammadiyah”); Judaism (Rabbi David Rosen, the Jerusalem based International Director of Interreligious Affairs of AJC, the American Jewish Committee); Buddhism (the Venerable Chung Ohun Lee, founding Head Minister of Won Buddhism of Manahattan); Hinduism (Sri Radharamano Jayati); and an eminent Sikh leader (Bhai Saheb Mohinder Singh).

Despite acknowledged differences between the religious traditions, basic commonalities and unified visions were presented.

A repeated theme was the oneness and interdependence of the human race, unity in diversity. According to Buddhism, said Ven. Lee, “all religions and spirituality are based on a Common Source, all human beings and all forms of life are interconnected as One Extended Family…all things on the Earth are one… When you look at the person next to you, realize and understand that that person is you” (Buddhism ) The Sikh vision: “The whole of the human race is but one large family”; while Sri Radlharamano pointed out that “Hindus have never attempted to expand their borders militarily in the name of religion …Hinduism’s pride is that it celebrates diversity”; Dr. Din Syamsuddin recalled that Islam holds that “God made us into different nations and tribes so that we might come to enhance mutual understanding, mutual respect, and cooperation (the Quran, 49:13)”.

In the context of global unity, interreligious cooperation and partnerships between governments and religious communities with their separate but intercommunicating spheres, was generally seen as an antidote to the misuse of religion and its perversion into extremism and violence.

Secretary General Dr. William Vendley(Christianity) said “Today, no walls can be built high enough to protect ourselves from the needs of others…We are no safer than the most vulnerable among us.” He added that “religious bodies on the one hand and intergovernmental and governmental bodies on the other have different and quite distinct identities, mandates and capacities. Cooperation between them should respect these differences, even as it helps us all to build the peace for which our hearts hunger.”

Rabbi David Rosen (Jewish) stressed the need to give religious leaders roles in mediation for conflict resolutions. “Ignoring” religion, “as political leaders seeking a solution to conflicts have often done in the past” he said, ”encourages extremist elements to take center stage….If one does not want religion to be ‘part of the problem’, then one must empower the religiously responsible voices and ensure that ‘religion is part of the solution ‘ advancing a spirit of cooperation and mutual respect

He pointed to two significant examples of successful interreligious cooperation within Israel and between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
One is the Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel, the local constituent of Religions for peace, encompassing 70 interfaith organizations and institutions.
Second, “the Council of the Religious Institutions of the Holy Land” for the three Abrahamic faiths, facilitated by AJC among others and part of RfP’s regional council, is composed of the Ministry of Waqf/Religious Affairs of the Palestinian Authority and its sharia courts, the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, and the Patriarchates and Bishoprics of the Holy Land. Its three mandates are “to keep open avenues of communication between the Israeli and Palestinian institutional religious leadership, and to ‘trouble shoot’ where necessary; to collaborate in combatting all violence, incitement and disrespect against any one of the religions and their holy places;…to support efforts to bring about an end to the conflict….”
Actions include united stands against attacks on places of worship, and a current review of how Israeli and Palestinian textbooks portray the different religious communities, he said.
’’Most of us do not presume that religious leadership alone can bring a resolution to the conflict in our land. However we are convinced that the right engagement with such religious institutions and interfaith cooperation is critical…to overcome the wounds of the past, advancing collaboration and mutual respect between the communities that share the Holy Land….”
Last but not least, as the saying goes, we must include a plea for more active roles for women, launched by the only woman speaker in this group, the Rev. Chuch Ohen Lee.
“If we fully incorporate women’s gifts, utilizing half of the populations’ talents, we can transform the way we handle global affairs in solving the world’s problems. Women’s perspectives should be included in all levels of decision making including religion and interfaith dialogue” said the Buddhist leader.

Source

Editorial: Protect Pluralism With Vigilance

Posted on February 13th, 2012

February 13, 2012

Is pluralism under threat in Indonesia? From the rising religious intolerance displayed by radical groups, it might seem so. Minority groups across the country have come under increasing pressure from such fringe groups as the government has stood by.

With their backs against the wall, many groups are now pushing back. Over the weekend, residents of Central Kalimantan demonstrated in front of the Tjilik Riwut Airport to prevent leaders of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI ) from landing in Palangkaraya. The FPI leaders were scheduled to inaugurate the organization’s provincial branch in the city.

The residents opposed the FPI’s violent stance against minority groups and its continual riding roughshod over the country’s laws and social norms.

Despite the presence of such groups, pluralism is alive and kicking , according to a new survey conducted by the Syarif Hidayatullah University and the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR ). The survey says the vast majority of Indonesians — 95 percent — agree that religious freedom should be respected.

In a show of unity, thousands of representatives from various religions reaffirmed their commitment to pluralism and religious tolerance over the weekend to mark World Interfaith Harmony Week. Such an open display of a common purpose can only be good and further strengthen the nation’s social glue.

Every Indonesian should have the right to practice his or her faith in peace and security. Pluralism is embedded in the nation’s social fabric and forms the bedrock for social harmony. And it is the government’s duty and responsibility to ensure this right is upheld and protected.

Based on the survey, most Indonesians feel this way. The nation was born based on such values, even though radical elements within society have always existed. Democracy allows them to come out into the open and voice their views, but they must stay within the law.

If we are not vigilant, however, our tolerance to religious ethnic differences will slowly be chipped away by the constant attacks from radical groups. They can practice their faith as they see fit, but they should not be allowed to violently dictate what the rest of the population should believe.

Source

Artist at UN WIHW Celebration

Posted on February 13th, 2012


JC Records recording artist James Cannings at United Nations General Assembly for World Interfaith Harmony Week Feb, 7, 2012.
Posted by James Cannings on February 12, 2012 at 4:30pm

JC Records recording artist James Cannings at United Nations General Assembly for World Interfaith Harmony Week Feb, 7, 2012. James was a guest of Susan Bastarrica — founder/organizer of Vigil 4 International Peace and Ecology

Ambassador for Peace James Cannings performs at and is the musical director for these events.
Last year Vigil 4 International Peace and Ecology, pursuant UN Resolution A/RES/55/282 in 2001, celebrated its 10th anniversary of sponsoring Peace Vigil concerts at Central Park Bandshell and in Prospect Park.

At the UN last year, in recognition of. Ambassador for Peace Susan Bastarrica’s achievement, the NGO Committee on Spirituality Values and Global Concerns – “CSVGC ” presented to Ms. Bastarrica the Visionary Leadership for Spiritual Values Award.

Photo: – Gary Spolansky

Source

Hundreds Make An InterFaith Tour

Posted on February 13th, 2012

Written by
Fred Hall

Greensboro, NC — The National Conference of Community and Justice held its 2012 InterFaith tour in Greensboro.

The tour brings together individuals from the Christian, Islamic and Jewish faiths to tour the three different houses of worship across Greensboro. The group visited Temple Immanuel, Saint Pious The Tenth Roman Catholic Church, and the Islamic Center.

Organizers say the tour helps foster a better understanding of different religions by letting people see and learn first hand and not through the media.

NCCJ’ s Anyrown Ambassadors also held a discussion about how to foster a better understanding from different faith groups.

Source

Leaders demand that govt guarantee religious freedom

Posted on February 13th, 2012

Irawaty Wardany, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Mon, 02/13/2012 11:10 PM A

As religious leaders celebrated what is known as World Interfaith Harmony Week here on Sunday, the Indonesian Christian Church (GKI) Yasmin congregation was still prevented from holding religious services in their Bogor church.

On Sunday, dozens of congregation members held a service, presided over by Rev. Ujang Tanusaputra, in front of the State Palace in a gesture seeking government help.

“This is our way of showing our concerns for this country. We’ve been barred from our church for months. Our house of worship is sealed,” said GKI Yasmin spokesman Dwiati Novita Rini after the service.

Bogor Mayor Diani Budiarto has banned the congregation from using the church for religious services due to permit application issues. The administration has defied a 2010 Supreme Court ruling guaranteeing the congregation’s right to hold services at the church.

Dwiati said GKI Yasmin church had been sealed and locked since 2010 and the congregation resorted to conducting services on the pavement in front of the church complex.

Responding to this lengthy standoff between GKI Yasmin and the Bogor administration, Indonesia’s Interreligious Council (IRC) chairman Din Syamsuddin said on Sunday the government should guarantee the rights of all religious groups. He also called on all religious groups to refrain from violence.

“I am really concerned about the current condition of [Indonesian] religious groups. The government has failed to protect [the groups] when practicing their respective religious beliefs,” he said on the sidelines of the World Interfaith Harmony Week meeting in Jakarta.

The government, he added, should handle the problems seriously. Otherwise, religious-related violence would continue to occur.

Recently the Ahmadiyah sect, which the government considers deviant, was subject to violence. The Shiite community in Sampang, Madura, was also the target of attacks from a nearby Muslim community. The repeated violence against religious followers has shown up a lack of state action in its failure to protect citizens from attacks by others.

Furthermore, Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali recently called the Shiites heretical, a statement that could be used by hard line organizations to attack the groups.

Meanwhile, in opposition to the presence of the Islam Defenders Front (FPI), which has used violence on occasion, residents in Palangkaraya in Central Kalimantan staged a protest at the province’s Tjilik Riwut airport on Saturday. They objected to four senior FPI leaders, who were scheduled to inaugurate the organization’s provincial branch in the city. The protesters alleged that the FPI often conducted violent acts against minority groups in the name of Islam.

Din Syamsuddin, who is also the chairman of Indonesia’s second-largest Muslim organization, Muhammadiyah, said that religious mass organizations also had the right to exist as long as they did not resort to violence.

“I’m not talking about specific groups, but in general they have the right to exist, the right to speak up. However, they can only do that under one condition: they should be nonviolent,” he said.

He added that many mass organizations were needed in Indonesia because they contributed to the country, referring to Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah.

Several religious leaders attended the celebration of World Interfaith Harmony Week on Sunday. Among them were Andreas Yewangoe of the Indonesian Conference of Churches, I Nyoman Udayana of the Indonesian Hindu Organization, Philip Wijaya of the High Buddhist Council and Wawan Wiratma of the Confucian group Matakin.

All of the leaders agreed that interfaith dialogue was important to promote peace and harmony despite religious differences.

I Nyoman Udayana said that all human beings were the same before God.

“It is only good or bad [deeds] that will differentiate us. Therefore, all human beings should live in harmony and diversity,” Nyoman said.

He added that although religious rights were stipulated in law, in practice the government should not discriminate against any minority group.

Din Syamsuddin said that there were no religions in Indonesia that opposed diversity, “Stop looking at what is different, start looking at our similarities in order to live in peace and harmony.”

World Interfaith Harmony Week was declared by United Nations General Assembly in 2011 and is celebrated in the first week of February. (rpt)

Source

Diversity brings harmony in Indonesia: religious figures

Posted on February 13th, 2012

Sun, February 12 2012 21:18 | 295 Views

Jakarta (ANTARA News) – Thousands of religious congregation representatives in Indonesia gathered at Nusantara Hall of Parliamentary Building in Jakarta on Sunday to celebrate World Interfaith Harmony Week 2012 with the theme Diversity Creates Harmony in Indonesia.

The religious congregation figures that led the delegations in the event were Chairman of Muhammadiyah (one of largest Muslim organizations), Din Syamsuddin, Representative of Catholic Religion, Andreas Sewangu, Representative of Hindu Religion I Nyoman Udayana, Representative of Buddhism, Philip Wijaya, Representative of Confucian religion, Wawan Wiratma, and representative of Christians.

“On this occasion, we pledge that there is no religion in Indonesia that refuses diversity. Do not always look for what is different, but take our similarities to live in harmony and peace in Indonesia,” said Syamsuddin.

The religious figures and the representatives of religions in Indonesia expressed their commitment to keep harmony in the society, nation and state under the Pancasila ideology.

Din Syamsuddin also said that the decision to choose the Parliamentary Building as a place of the World Interfaith Harmony Week 2012 was aimed to bring closer relationship between the interfaith society and people`s representatives.

Chairman of the People`s Consultative Assembly (MPR) Taufik Kiemas gave a positive respond to that statement. He said MPR will support every program that promotes interfaith harmony in Indonesia.

“Year by year, MPR will support events that renew pledges of commitments of interfaith harmony in Indonesia,” said Kiemas.

In the meantime, the Representative of Hindu Religion, I Nyoman Udayana said every human being is the same in front of God. “Only good and bad make us different. Therefore, people should live in harmony in their diversity,” he said.

“The interfaith congregation should respect each other to promote harmony,” he further said.

According to Udayana, the state has a responsibility to keep interfaith harmony in Indonesia, “The state had guaranteed freedom of religion, but practically, there is still unfairness between the majority and minority,” he said.

World Interfaith Harmony Week is an annual event to be observed in the first week of February starting in 2011.

The anniversary was aimed to create mutual understanding and inter-religious dialogue that constitute important dimensions of a culture of peace and establishes World Interfaith Harmony Week as a way to promote harmony between all people regardless of their faith. (*)
Editor: Aditia Maruli
COPYRIGHT © 2012

Source

Religious figures speak about diversity

Posted on February 13th, 2012


Monday, 13 February 2012 11:22 WIB
REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, JAKARTA

– Thousands of religious congregation representatives in Indonesia gathered at Nusantara Hall of Parliamentary Building in Jakarta on Sunday to celebrate World Interfaith Harmony Week 2012 with the theme Diversity Creates Harmony in Indonesia. The religious congregation figures that led the delegations in the event were Chairman of Muhammadiyah as one of largest Muslim organizations, Din Syamsuddin; Representative of Catholic, Andreas Sewangu; Representative of Hindu, I Nyoman Udayana; Representative of Buddhism, Philip Wijaya; Representative of Confucian, Wawan Wiratma; and representative of Christians.

“On this occasion, we pledge that there is no religion in Indonesia rejects diversity. Do not always look for the difference, but take our similarities to live in harmony and peace in Indonesia,” said Syamsuddin.
The religious figures and the representatives of religions in Indonesia express their commitment to keep harmony in the society, nation and state under the Pancasila ideology. Syamsuddin also said that the decision to choose the Parliamentary Building as a place of the World Interfaith Harmony Week 2012 was aimed to bring closer relationship between the interfaith society and people`s representatives.

The Representative of Hindu Religion, I Nyoman Udayana said every human was equal before God. “Only good deeds or bad deeds distinguish us. Therefore, people should live in harmony in their diversity,” he said. “The interfaith congregation should respect each other to promote harmony,” he further said.
According to Udayana, the state was responsible to keep interfaith harmony in Indonesia, “The state guarantees the religiouse freedom, but practically, there is still unfairness between the majority and minority,” he said.

Chairman of the People`s Consultative Assembly (MPR) Taufik Kiemas responded positively to that statement. He said MPR would support every program that promotes interfaith harmony in Indonesia. “MPR will support events that renew pledges of commitments of interfaith harmony in Indonesia,” said Kiemas.
World Interfaith Harmony Week is an annual event to be observed in the first week of February starting in 2011. The anniversary is aim to create mutual understanding and inter-religious dialogue that constitute important dimensions of a culture of peace and establishes World Interfaith Harmony Week as a way to promote harmony between all people, regardless of their faith.

Editing: Yeyen Rostiyani
Source: Antara

Source

UN Marks Interfaith Harmony Week: “Common Ground for a Common Good”

Posted on February 12th, 2012

Feb 7 2012 (UN News Centre) —

The President of the General Assembly Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser today stressed the potential of all of the world’s religions to promote global peace and stability, saying that faiths have common principles that can be used to bring about grater unity and harmony among people.

“We recognize and celebrate the values that are shared across religious traditions,” said Mr. Al-Nasser at a General Assembly event to mark the end of the annual World Interfaith Harmony Week, which was established by Member States through a resolution adopted by the Assembly in 2010.

“The common principles form a common ground that unites us in our rich diversity,” said Mr. Al-Nasser, noting that the UN was itself established in pursuit of universal values such as peace, freedom, human rights, dignity, and the oneness of humanity, which are also espoused by many of the world’s religions.

“These principles have been translated by Member States into the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” said Mr. Al-Nasser at the event, whose theme was ‘Common Ground for the Common Good.’

The common ground includes respect for human rights; affirmation of the equal value of all human beings; the importance of compassion and service to others; and the universal aspiration for peace, he added.
He announced that he will on 22 March convene a one-day thematic debate in the Assembly on “fostering cross-cultural understanding for building peaceful and inclusive societies,” which, he said, will draw on the discussions at last year’s 4th Forum of the UN Alliance of Civilizations in Doha, Qatar.

Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro noted that although faith is “the glue that often bonds communities and cultures around the world,” it was too often used as an excuse to emphasize differences and deepen divisions. “Only by finding common cause in mutual respect for shared spiritual and moral values can we hope for harmony among nations and peoples,” she said.

She urged the interfaith community to speak out against extremism, advance tolerance, and stand firm for social justice, dignity and mutual understanding. “Today’s event is testament to the benefits we can all derive from coming together and learning from each other,” said Ms. Migiro.

The World Interfaith Harmony Week is based on the pioneering work of The Common Word initiative. This initiative, which started in 2007, called for Muslim and Christian leaders to engage in a dialogue based on two common fundamental religious Commandments; Love of God, and Love of the Neighbour, without nevertheless compromising any of their own religious tenets. The Two commandments are at the heart of the three Monotheistic religions and therefore provide the most solid theological ground possible.

The World Interfaith Harmony Week extends the Two Commandments by adding ‘Love of the Good, and Love of the Neighbour’. This formula includes all people of goodwill. It includes those of other faiths, and those with no faith.

The World Interfaith Harmony Week provides a platform—one week in a year—when all interfaith groups and other groups of goodwill can show the world what a powerful movement they are. The thousands of events organized by these groups often go unnoticed not only by the general public, but also by other groups themselves. This week will allow for these groups to become aware of each other and strengthen the movement by building ties and avoiding duplicating each others’ efforts.

Source

Supporting and Aspiring for Interfaith Harmony

Posted on February 12th, 2012

February 1 to 7, 2012 has been a memorable week in more ways than one for Zamboanga City and its residents.

Backed by a UN proclamation setting aside the first week of February every year to celebrate World Interfaith Harmony, several groups and organizations…
began meeting late in 2011 to plan for celebrating the week in an appropriate manner and thus promote interfaith harmony

Led by the National Ulama Conference of the Philippines (NUCP) the several groups which included the Silsilah Dialogue Movement, the Archdiocese of Zamboanga, two universities, the Office of the ZC Mayor and several other government agencies and NGOs, formed a core working group under the coordination of Alih Aiyub, the Secretary General of the NUCP ZAMBASULTA and a professor in a state university in the city.

Partners of the World Interfaith Harmony Week present during the LaunchingThe activities planned to make the first World Interfaith Harmony Week celebration in Zamboanga a significant one sought to bring to the attention of the general public the importance and the need for harmony between and among the various faith groups. This is particularly relevant to Zamboanga City, the majority of whose population belong to two major religions, Christianity and Islam, and a small minority to other religions.

In its effort to spread the message of interfaith harmony to as many groups in the community as possible, the activities for the week engaged the various sectors of society – students, teachers, business people, government officials at different levels of governance, imams, priests and religious women, the media – to a more heightened consciousness of interfaith harmony. Students participated in sessions (“conversations”) on interreligious dialogue; members of the media on their role in promoting harmony rather than discord; imams and priests/pastors used the theme of interfaith harmony in their sermons to their respective congregations for the weekly Friday prayer and Sunday mass or service. Artists contributed in their special way by holding an art exhibit of their work in the gallery of the Ateneo de Zamboanga University.

At the opening of the exhibit Fr. Albert Alejo, SJ, welcomed the guests in lieu of the ADZU President who was away. In his remarks Fr. Alejo made reference to the difference between the empiricism of statistics and the infinite possibilities that art makes possible for man to dream and aspire. Statistics on interfaith discord can be most discouraging but art makes it possible to dream the infinite possibilities for interfaith harmony.

Mayor Celso L. Lobregat giving his message during the Lauching of the World Interfaith Harmony WeekA big gathering of representatives ( chairs and kagawads) from the barangay councils in the city were in big attendance at a special activity for them held in the auditorium of Harmony Village which is the headquarters of the Silsilah Dialogue Movement.

One participant was heard to have said that she was glad that she had attended because “it was the first time I attended an activity on a topic which had an impact on my personal and professional orientation.”
At a business meeting of the week’s partners for the various activities, the consensus was that the week-long celebration went exceptionally well and that the partners exhibited harmony among themselves in all the undertakings.

The partners will meet again in February to work out an arrangement for continued cooperation among themselves in the propagation of interfaith harmony.

The culminating activity was a dinner for representatives of the partners who were most heavily engaged in implementing the week’s activities. It was a way of saying “Gracias” “Salamat” “Magsukol” “Thank you” to one and all. All’s well that ends well.

Source

Harmony Among Religions At The United Nations?

Posted on February 12th, 2012

Katherine MarshallSenior Fellow, Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at Georgetown University

The United Nations General Assembly began on February 11 to debate Syria’s prolonged and bitter tragedy of killing, after the Security Council, next door, failed miserably to find enough agreement among the world’s dominant nations to act. United Nations idealists believe that the General Assembly, as a body representing all the world’s nations, has the responsibility and the capacity to protect the vulnerable. Sadly such idealism is generally in scant supply these day and so these General Assembly debates have an aura of symbolism as the tanks mass in Syria.

On February 7 in the same General Assembly Hall a very different group gathered in a very different spirit. It was inspired by what some might call an even more idealistic cause: interfaith harmony. For the first time World Interfaith Harmony Week was celebrated at the United Nations. Sikhs, Zoroastrians, Muslim imams, Christian bishops, Shinto priests, Jewish rabbis, and many others came there to celebrate and reflect on their deep belief that, while religious diversity is part of humanity’s very essence, people can live in peace and harmony. The morning event did change the generally dour tone of the Hall as music echoed, children read inspirational passages, and speaker after speaker spoke to the ideals of common cause and the common good. It concluded with representatives of different religions symbolizing their common, shared care for the earth as each watered a tree.

World Interfaith Harmony week, for those who gathered to celebrate, marked a hard won achievement. In October 2010 the General Assembly passed, unanimously, a Resolution declaring the first week in February each year as World Interfaith Harmony Week. In proposing it, King Abdullah of Jordon harked back to the initiative of Muslim leaders who reached out to Christians in a 2007 letter entitled “A Common Word”. The King urged that: “It is .. essential to resist forces of division that spread misunderstanding and mistrust, especially among peoples of different religions…Humanity everywhere is bound together, not only by mutual interests, but by shared commandments to love God and neighbor; to love the good and neighbor.” The aim is thus to work through interfaith dialogue and common action to counter the idea and reality of a clash of civilizations.

There’s another agenda that various actors have pursued doggedly over the years: to find a wider, more recognized space for spiritual voices in the United Nations. Organizations inspired or linked to many faith traditions are indeed currently present at the United Nations as accredited representatives of their organizations, and they can thus participate, as does civil society more broadly, in many aspects of the hugely varied work of the United Nations. But the formal bodies like the Security Council and General Assembly are for nation states and thus only the Holy See has a seat (as an observer). This is not to the liking of advocates of more formal representation, who believe that at a minimum the United Nations could benefit from spiritual counsel as they act on grave matters of war and peace. World Interfaith Harmony Week is a compromise or a step, depending on how you look at it, short of a full decade for Interreligious Harmony or a formalized and permanent Spiritual Council.

The interfaith morning at the General Assembly, meanwhile, served one purpose well. In a short space of time it highlighted the extraordinary diversity of religious and faith involvement in the many dimensions of the work of the UN. Peace, of course, was front and center, as leaders from Indonesia and Nigeria spoke to religious efforts to settle conflicts. The care for nature by religious traditions (including traditional spiritual traditions) has real power to inspire more forthright action, and the children’s voices echoed that theme. United Nations agencies are more alert today to how important religion is to the citizens they seek to help (some awakened by the jolt of 9/11, others by opening their eyes to realities on the ground). A revitalized United Nations will, it was argued, take more account of their religious partners.

The most moving moment Tuesday morning came as Yuka Saionji spoke of what she termed 3/11: the disaster that struck Japan on March 11 last year as earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster called forth every ounce of spiritual energy and courage. In Japan’s secular society religious organizations sprang into action and people turned to their faith for comfort. Saionji could barely choke out words to express her profound gratitude for the support and comfort that Japan received when disaster struck. In the hardest times religion does seem to offer true common ground for the common good.

Theologian Hans Kung often repeats his maxim that there can be no peace among nations without peace among religions, and no peace among religions without dialogue among religions. The ideal of World Interfaith Harmony Week is that such dialogue should take place everywhere, not just for one week a year but as part of daily lives. The United Nations celebration was thus a part of a much wider effort not just to bring together the visible symbols of living religion but to explore why their differences matter as part of humanity’s heritage and reality and how much, despite our differences, we have in common.

Source

Global – World Interfaith Harmony Week, Feb 2012 (Video)

Posted on February 12th, 2012

The World Harmony Run supports the goals of WIHW.

The General Assembly… “Proclaims the first week of February every year the World Interfaith Harmony Week (WIHW) between all religions, faiths and beliefs.” – UN General Assembly resolution A/RES/65/5, adopted 20 October 2010

The World Harmony Run supports the goals of WIHW.

SEE: UN Initiative /World Interfaith Harmony Week

Wherever possible, WHR national and international team members join in local events which encourage interfaith harmony throughout the year.
****
“Passing the Harmony Torch is a simple, tangible and powerful way to express love of one’s neighbour. Conveying this message of interfaith harmony and understanding in churches, mosques, synagogues, temples and other places of worship will surely help foster a culture of peace and a growing feeling of universal oneness.” ” -Davidson Hepburn, President of UNESCO General Conference (2009 -2011) – See YouTube video with English captions / subtitles:

Source

Seychelles’ interfaith council launched – 11.02.2012

Posted on February 11th, 2012

The Seychelles Interfaith committee has taken a step further to better help address social issues and promote unity in the society through the launch of its council.

The Seychelles Interfaith Council (Sifco) was officially launched on Tuesday at the Le Relax Hotel, Anse Royale.

Guests at the event included former President James Mancham, Designated Minister Vincent Meriton, Chief Justice Fredrick Egonda-Ntende, Minister for Social Development and Culture Bernard Shamlaye, principal secretaries, chairperson of Campaign for Awareness, Resilience and Education against substance abuse (Care), Sarah Rene, and Sifco members.

The official launch of the council coincided with the world interfaith harmony week celebrated all over the world from February 1-7 annually.

The week was proclaimed by the UN general assembly in the resolution adopted on October 20, 2010, in which it points out that mutual understanding and interreligious dialogue constitute important dimensions of a culture of peace and established the World Interfaith Harmony Week.

The General Assembly encourages all states to support, during that week, the spread of the message of interfaith harmony and goodwill in the world’s churches, mosques, synagogues, temples and other places of worship on a voluntary basis and according to their own religious traditions or convictions.

Addressing those present, Pravin Darad of the Hindu council of Seychelles said the main aim of Sifco is to bring together all the religious denominations, irrespective of their faith, to bring unity in diversity to serve the community.

During the event, Robert Moumou of the Grace and Peace Baptist Church presented the council’s proposed plan for this year. Among the activities for 2012, Sifco will commemorate several international days including the international day against drug abuse and illicit trafficking on June 6 and the international peace day on September 21.

The council is in the process of finalising its legal framework and constitution and is also engaging in discussions with the Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation for an agreement that will allow the two parties to help each other mainly in educating the public.

“We have also approached the University of Seychelles on a possible chaplaincy programme. We are also looking into the possibility of organising student support strategy and the introduction of a module or course on the religions of the world,” he said.

He added that the council will continue to work on drug and other social issues including harm reduction strategies and others in Seychelles and to continue in our role as mediator between political parties if and when needed.

Bishop Denis Wiehe of the Roman Catholic church gave an overview on how the council members started in 2009 and why they decided to take a step further from being a committee to a council.

“We realised we must move forward so as to broaden and strengthen our group and its activities, so we have decided to form a council that will officially be launched, registered and recognised in society,” he said.

Bishop Wiehe also presented the members of the council and a list of activities organised from 2009 to 2012. He also thanked all who have helped Sifco from the beginning.

In an interview, Sifco co-opted member Robert Ah Weng, who is also the director of Care, said Sifco aims to bring unity, to work towards a common goal and to address social issues.

In 2009, when it started, leaders of several religious denominations met at the Care House to discuss strategies to help drug users and since Care is not affiliated with any religious group, it was seen as the ideal partner to host the meeting.

Mr Ah Weng said since then the group has met regularly at the Care House and meetings were coordinated by Care members.

“The council does not only address matters relating to substance abuse but moral and religious issues which can affect society,” he said.

Source

Peaceful mediation of conflict through interfaith dialogues

Posted on February 11th, 2012

M. Din Syamsuddin, New York | Sat, 02/11/2012

|
At a time when differences often lead to friction, and friction leads to conflict, the search for peaceful ways of resolving differences and conflicts has become imperative. In this regard, the significance of mediation as an instrument to resolve differences and find common ground cannot be overstated.

The importance of the peaceful resolution of differences becomes even more evident when we look at the reality of the world where we live in today. While poverty, illiteracy, disease and injustice still present the most difficult challenges to humanity, we are also presented with the fact that violent conflicts and even wars continue to be the most devastating source of human suffering.

History has shown us that violent conflict and war are the worst enemies of mankind. History also teaches us how violent conflict and war destroy not only communities and nations, but also civilizations.

It is indeed disheartening to see that conflict remains a defining characteristic of today’s world. War, which we thought to be obsolete, continues to serve as an instrument by which nations resolve their differences.

Thus, we should do our best to renounce the use of force and war as a means of conflict-resolution. Through war, human kind would accomplish nothing but misery. The use of force will never resolve differences. The use of violence will only breed more violence.

Differences, be they religious, ethnic, cultural or even civilizational, will continue to be a fact of life. But these differences should by no means become a reason why we cannot live in harmony and peace. In fact, Islam reminds us that God placed us in different nations and tribes so that we might come to enhance mutual understanding, mutual respect, and cooperation (The Koran, 49: 13). Therefore, perpetuating those differences in order to foment conflict is certainly against God’s Law of Nature.

Our main task is therefore to ensure that religion continues to serve as the basis of peace. We must continue to work to ensure that religion will not be used, misused and abused to justify acts of violence in any forms. The Holy Koran strongly reminds us that whoever killed a person without justified reason is he that has killed all mankind and humanity (The Koran 5: 32).

When conflicts do occur, it is our task to ensure that they are resolved peacefully, not through the use of violence. Here, we believe in the power of dialogue, and that interfaith dialogue could take the form of mediation between conflicting parties. It is true that sometimes conflicts have no religious motive, as religion is only used as a means of justification, yet religious approaches to conflict resolution are often fruitful.

It is my belief that more of these dialogues are needed. More exchanges of views and discussions among civilizations should be encouraged. Therefore, we should continue to make the dialogue among civilizations useful both at the elite and grassroots levels. We should ensure that various activities to bridge the gap among civilizations would contribute to the enhancement of mutual understanding and respect in a concrete way.

Mediation through interfaith dialogues would not be meaningful unless parties to such dialogues were able to articulate their point of view in a frank and candid manner. Dialogues would quickly turn into a political theater if we were unable to be honest with each other. Fruitful dialogues can only be achieved in an environment that promotes candidness and honesty within a spirit of togetherness and brotherhood.

Faith-based organizations, like Muhammadiyah, whenever possible can and should play a role in mediation efforts to resolve conflict. We have played, and will continue to play, that role at the community level. We have also played that role in order to bridge differences among communities at the national level.

The challenge we are now facing is how to continue emphasizing the value of mediation through interfaith dialogues and cooperation as an instrument to bridge civilizational divides and conflicts at the global level.

Various initiatives in this area remind us that religion and religious leaders do have a positive role to play in international relations.

Religion does serve as a source of values and norms that can provide guidance for healthy inter-state relations based on mutual understanding, mutual respect and equality. Those dialogues also serve as a venue for religious leaders to articulate their aspirations for a peaceful and just world.

At the grassroots level, interfaith dialogues and cooperation can provide the basis for peace among people of different faiths. Dialogues can remove mutual suspicions, which often result from ignorance, lack of knowledge about each other and an absence of mutual respect.

It is my hope that the 2012 World Interfaith Harmony Week will serve as an integral part of our effort to bridge divides among civilizations, among states, among nations and among communities. It is also the hope of all of us who are here today that our relentless efforts will in the end yield to a peaceful, just, prosperous and harmonious world.

The writer is chairman of Muhammadiyah. The article is an abridged version of his speech at the opening of the 2012 World Interfaith Harmony Week at the United Nations, New York.

Source

World Interfaith Harmony Forum at the UN General Assembly

Posted on February 10th, 2012

Caritas Internationalis has been part of the high-level civil society and NGO coordination to develop the annual World Interfaith Harmony Week in cooperation with the president of the UN General Assembly.

The week concluded with GA President Ambassador Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser’s invitation to the more than 900 participants at UN Headquarters. “We recognize and celebrate the values that are shared across religious traditions,” said Mr. Al-Nasser. “The common principles form a common ground that unites us in our rich diversity,”

He announced that he will on 22 March convene a one-day thematic debate in the Assembly on “fostering cross-cultural understanding for building peaceful and inclusive societies,” which, he said, will draw on the discussions at last year’s 4th Forum of the UN Alliance of Civilizations in Doha, Qatar.

UN Deputy Secretary-General, Dr. Asha-Rose Migiro encouraged all present to assume their respective responsibilities. “Only by finding common cause in mutual respect for shared spiritual and moral values can we hope for harmony among nations and peoples,” she said.

Archbishop Francis Assisi Chullikatt, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN, noted the compassion and dignity with which Catholic organisations and others bring to communities around the world. Not to empathize numbers or the magnitude of humanitarian responses but rather to underscore our common goal, to protect people everywhere, to expand human security and build peace across borders and barriers.

Speakers representing world religions, indigenous and national traditions added voices and commitments from UNESCO, UN Alliance of Civilizations, Religions for Peace, SRICAITNAYA, Guru Namak Nishkam, American Jewish Committee-Interreligious Affairs, Cordoba Initiative, Goi Peace Foundation, Catholic Relief Services, Berkeley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs, Won Buddhism, Universal Peace Foundation, Committee of Religious NGOs, Civicus and many more.

The search for peace, the opening of greater understanding and respect for all – these are quintessential dimensions for all paths to interfaith harmony, reconciliation, restoration and justice. Without careful dialog and mediation, our world remains terribly vulnerable.

UN General Assembly President declared today’s gathering an historic event. It brought into international public focus the long, yearning call initiated many years ago by the King of Jordan to promote the vital role of religion in society and in the world. As the Children’s Theatre Company, with youth from ages 5 to 20, brought the entire assembly into a near riveting silence with their rendition of ‘Our World’, all present understood without explanation in the closing moments that our work is now – so their future is vibrant tomorrow!

Source

Message Of His Excellency Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu

Posted on February 10th, 2012

The Text Of The Message Of His Excellency Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu Secretary General Of The Organisation Of Islamic Cooperation To The Special Panel Event Hosted On Monday, 6th Of February 2012 By The OIC Permanent Observer Mission At The United Nations

Date: 07/02/2012 – View in: Arabic | French – Print

“Excellencies, Distinguished Panelists, Distinguished Permanent Representatives, Participants from the Permanent Missions, UN Secretariat and institutions, Civil Society Representatives, Ladies and Gentlemen,

On the occasion of the World Interfaith Harmony Week, I wish to convey my greetings to all who have contributed to the consensual adoption of the UN General Assembly Resolution 65/5 proclaiming the first week of February each year as the World Interfaith Harmony Week. I would particularly like to congratulate the President of the General Assembly, H.E. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser for the initiative that he took to organize a major special event to be held at the General Assembly tomorrow under the title of “Common Ground for the Common Good” to mark the concluding day of the World Interfaith Harmony Week.

Promoting interfaith harmony is an important priority for the OIC. The OIC took the lead in pioneering Dialogue Among Civilizations at the United Nations as early as 1998 in order to promote intercultural and inter-civilizational understanding and mutual respect for diversity. Therefore, the UN General Assembly Resolution 65/5 falls in line with the OIC policies which aim at promoting a culture of harmony among peoples of diverse religious faiths, civilizations and cultural backgrounds. Taking this opportunity, I wish to express once more my warm felicitations and congratulations to His Majesty, King Abdullah II of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan for his vision and wisdom in initiating the proposal of the World Interfaith Harmony Week. My thanks also go to the sponsors of the resolution.

The resolution 65/5 complements other prominent initiatives including the initiative for interfaith dialogue by His Majesty Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia which after the major events held in Makkah, Madrid and at the UN General Assembly in New York in 2008, led eventually to the establishment of the King Abdullah Interfaith Dialogue Center in Vienna, as a result of commendable commitment on the part of the Governments of Saudi Arabia, Austria, and Spain. The Alliance of Civilizations initiative developed by Turkey and Spain and other intercivilizational and interreligious efforts certainly deserve utmost recognition and praise.

After the adoption of the resolution 65/5, I had called on the OIC Member States and the members of the international community to observe the World Interfaith Harmony Week every year in a befitting manner so as to help engender a culture of tolerance and understanding among diverse faiths and civilizations. I am happy to observe that both in 2011 and 2012 the Week provided inspiration to hundreds of gatherings and programs around the world. It is significant that most of these events were held at the local, grassroots level.

I believe that the observance of the World Interfaith Harmony Week will serve to the common efforts for peoples of all faiths and beliefs to coexist in peace, harmony and goodwill by providing impetus for joint action in different areas.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The call for a worldwide interfaith harmony gains more importance when we find ourselves confronted by radical and extremist elements who are active in pursuing an agenda of religious intolerance and hatred. In this regard, I am particularly gratified that the OIC’s leadership paved the way in 2011 for the consensual adoption of two important resolutions by the UN Human Rights Council and the General Assembly under the identical title of “Combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against persons based on religion and belief”. I am encouraged and heartened by the recognition and support that our initiative has received especially from the interfaith dialogue partners, including the prominent institutions represented in today’s panel event. The Resolutions 16/18 and 66/167 provide a good basis for concerted action and implementation by states, at both the national and the international levels. The support of the partners of the interfaith dialogue would naturally be essential for a result-oriented action in fighting all sorts of religious intolerance, including Islamophobia, Christianophobia and Anti-Semitism.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am particularly happy that the Permanent Observer Mission of the OIC to the United Nations in New York is organizing for the second year in a row a Special Panel Discussion under the theme of “The Role of Faith based Organizations and Interfaith Initiatives in Reconciliation and Peace Making” on the occasion of the World Interfaith Harmony Week. Interfaith and faith based initiatives at community, national and international level have the potential of making positive contribution to reconciliation, mediation and peace making efforts in both first and second tracts, and I am confident that these sort of panel events will be instrumental in raising awareness on the past and ongoing efforts but also in evoking the immense potentials by helping forge new partnerships. The OIC General Secretariat recognizes and appreciates the courageous and noble contributions of all peacemakers around the world and offers its experiences and its moral and cultural authority and affinity vis-a-vis Muslim communities as an asset to be benefitted from by the peacemakers. The OIC General Secretariat itself will continue its mediation, reconciliation and peacemaking efforts in full partnership with the OIC member states, UN institutions, international and regional organizations and prominent peace institutes including the ones represented by the panelists of today’s event.

I am confident that the distinguished panelists will provide a new vision and understanding to the distinguished participants on the importance of religious peace making as a concept and tool in the service of peace.

Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu
Secretary General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation

Source

Round-table discussion dedicated to the World Interfaith Harmony Week

Posted on February 10th, 2012

UN in Armenia

Some 60 young Armenians learned more about freedom of religion, faith and belief religious tolerance and diversity, freedom of conscience and human rights at the debate led by well known human rights defender Avetik Ishkhanyan, Chairman of the Armenian Helsinki Committee.

The young people are from different religious communities, civil society activists and students of Yerevan different universities.

The event was organized by the UN Department of Public Information and was dedicated to the World Interfaith Harmony being commemorated since 2011 in the first week of February, according to the UN General Assembly.

Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General said: “Respect for diversity and peaceful dialogue are essential if the human family is to cooperate globally to face shared threats and seize common opportunities. That is why efforts by States, civil society and other actors to build trust among communities and individuals lie at the heart of so many UN initiatives, from the Alliance of Civilizations to our wide-ranging work to protect human rights, promote social cohesion and build a culture of peace”.

This debate was organized in the framework of a series of debates on human rights issues, which were launched on the Human Rights Day, December 10, 2011 by the UN Department of Public Information and the Armenian Helsinki Committee.

Different UN publications in Armenian language were distributed at the event.

You can find more photos from the event here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/unarmenia/sets/72157629241245731/

Source

In Honor of World Interfaith Harmony Week (Video)

Posted on February 10th, 2012

February 9, 2012 5:43 pm

In honor of World Interfaith Harmony Week, this video depicts fundamental similarities among the world’s religions.

The World Interfaith Harmony Week, proposed at the UN General Assembly on September 23, 2010 by H.M. King Abdullah II of Jordan, was adopted unanimously by the UN less than a month later. Celebrated the first week of February, it provides a platform—one week in a year—to promote the effective work of interfaith groups and concerned individuals in support of peace and tolerance.

Source

U.N. marks week seeking interfaith links

Posted on February 10th, 2012

By THE WASHINGTON TIMES Thursday, February 9, 2012

The role of religion in promoting links and dialogue across cultures and across continents moved into the spotlight earlier this month as the U.N. General Assembly marked the second annual World Interfaith Harmony Week.

Springing from a 2007 initiative seeking common ground between Muslims and Christians, the week is designed to provide a platform where groups from all faith traditions can highlight their diversity, build ties across religions and stress the “common principles” that promote interfaith cooperation.

Events this year were held around the globe, with more than 100 seminars, services and interfaith gatherings being organized in countries such from the Netherlands and Brazil to Jordan, Indonesia and Pakistan. In the United States, events marking World Interfaith Harmony Week were organized in Boston, Seattle, Salt Lake City and Omaha, Neb., among other cities.

Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, the Qatari diplomat who currently serves as president of the U.N. General Assembly, announced Tuesday — the last day of the weeklong event — that the body will hold a one-day “thematic debate” next month on how political and religious leaders can “foster cross-cultural understanding for building peaceful and inclusive societies.”

“We recognize and celebrate the values that are shared across religious traditions,” Mr. Al-Nasser told General Assembly delegates, according to an account published by the United Nations News Service. “The common principles form a common ground that unites us in our rich diversity.”

Backers of the World Interfaith Harmony Week, who include Jordanian King Abdullah II, say interfaith dialogue, even between religions with a history of suspicion and rivalry, can be promoted on the basis of common fundamental commandments: love of God and love of neighbor.

While religion has been used at times to deepen divisions, it can also be “the glue that often bonds communities and cultures around the world,” according to U.N. Deputy-Secretary General Asha-Rose Migiro.

“Only by finding common cause in mutual respect for shared spiritual and moral values can we hope for harmony among nations and peoples,” the Tanzanian diplomat told United Nations News Service.

Source

Interfaith Harmony Week Commemorated in Vienna

Posted on February 10th, 2012

By UPF – Austria
Thursday, February 09, 2012 |

Vienna, Austria – Two Buddhist nuns from the Fo Guang Shan temple, which had opened a year ago in Vienna, chanted the Heart Sutra to open UPF-Austria’s World Interfaith Harmony Week commemoration on February 9. They explained that this beautiful recitation was dedicated to peace in the world.

After welcoming remarks by the President of UPF-Austria, Mr. Peter Haider, and the showing of a recently released video about UPF activities during the past year, Dr. Ismail Nawaishe, a Vienna-based medical doctor from Jordan, explained briefly about the religious situation in his country. It was His Majesty King Abdullah II bin Al Hussein from Jordan who introduced the idea of a World Interfaith Harmony Week at the United Nations. It was then accepted and supported by the General Assembly shortly afterwards. Dr. Nawaishe emphasized that in Jordan Muslims and Christians traditionally lived together without conflict, visiting each other during religious holy days.

The main program of the evening was a panel discussion by representatives of the generation under 30. The first speaker was Ruwan Jeewantha Fernando, president of the Austria-Sri Lanka Society. He gave a short overview of the religious situation and the culture of his country, in which Buddhism is the prevalent religion. It spread to Sri Lanka in the early period of its existence. Therefore, 70 percent of the population are Buddhist. But there are also Muslims, Hindus, and Christians. He himself was raised as a Catholic and grew up with his Buddhist friends. They did not experience conflict. Later he studied theology and moved to Austria, where he joined the Holy Cross Monastery, which became famous for producing with Universal Music the album “Chants – Music for Paradise”; these Gregorian chants hit the charts of popular music. But he left the monastery and went back to his country to serve his people. He got married, and his wife is a Buddhist. They had a Christian and a Buddhist wedding celebration. “I never felt that I did anything against my beliefs, for Deus est caritas – God is love!” Mr. Jeewantha explained. He also stated that ”Once you feel God’s love, you cannot fight against other religions.” Mr. Jeewantha came with his wife and their baby girl to the event.

The second speaker was Ana Govedarica, a religion teacher from the Serbian-Orthodox Church. Her parents came from Bosnia-Herzegovina. She was born and raised in Vienna, but she feels that she has two identities: Bosnian-Herzegovinian and Austrian. She learned about the Serbian Orthodox religion from her father, who taught her the traditions of their original home country.
Anna reflected: “For the Serbians and Bosnians who live in Vienna, the Orthodox Church is more than a religion. When they arrive here the religious community serves as an information pool which helps them to settle in the new environment. Also, whenever they visit the Church they meet their compatriots; they cook their traditional food, and they experience a little bit of their home country in a not always familiar environment. That’s why religion is more important for most of the immigrants than it is for the Austrians, and every year more believers leave the Catholic Church. That’s probably one reason why the Catholic Church handed over several church buildings to various Orthodox Church communities during the last 20 years.”

The next speaker was Akio Friesacher, an 18-year-old high school graduate who had spent six months in South Africa as part of an exchange program of his school. He himself grew up in two cultures, having a Japanese mother and an Austrian dad. In South Africa he experienced a great variety of cultures and religions, which he enjoyed very much. “The first month I lived with a Muslim family and the rest of the time with a Christian family. At school Muslim children sat beside Christians, but there were no conflicts.” Religion played an important role at school: every morning would begin with a prayer in one of the religious traditions of the children present. Also, moral education was emphasized a lot, even by the mathematics teacher. They had a course on “Life Orientation,” in which teachers taught students how to live a good and meaningful life. Since many pupils came from a poor background, they were much more eager to study hard and be successful than pupils in Western countries usually are. Even with 40-50 pupils in one classroom there was mutual respect and the feeling of belonging together. In conclusion Akio stated that he could learn a lot about other religions and cultures during the six months in South Africa.

Minas Sweha from the Coptic Church of Vienna explained some important facts about the Coptic people: Egypt (the word Coptic means “Egypt”) was Christianized by the apostle Mark, thus being one of the first Christian countries in the world. The Coptic culture has preserved many elements of the ancient Egyptian culture, such as the Coptic calendar, which is practically the ancient pharaonic calendar, with the new year stating on September 11. Also their Christian hymns go back to the Egyptian hymns which people used to sing for the pharaohs. The Coptic Church is known for having been the birthplace of monasticism. This tradition started with Saint Antonius the Great, who was called by Jesus while praying in a church. There are many monasteries in the Coptic culture. Also, the Coptic Church has been a church of martyrs, even until this day. Jesus’ teaching of loving one’s enemy has always been the central teaching for them. There are three Coptic churches in Vienna and one monastery. The young generation is well integrated in the church communities, because for them going to church means coming home to their own culture. When riots erupted in Egypt and many Coptic people were killed, the Coptic youth organized a protest march which the Roman Catholic Cardinal attended. They learned that it takes a lot of effort to organize such a public event.

Marlies Haider, a tourism management student, spent two years as part of a UPF program organizing interreligious and intercultural activities in Oceania. She was part of an international team of young people who did service work in the Solomon Islands, Fiji, Australia, and New Zealand. Marlies explained some of their activities, such as renovating or rebuilding kindergartens and schools or building a bridge in rural areas. Part of their strategy was to involve the local community, which meant cooperating with different Christian groups. Through their common service work they could experience beautiful harmony between the different Christian churches. They also offered lectures on character development in schools, a program which was gladly accepted by most of the schools. Marlies and her group were specially impressed by the religious attitude of the people of Oceania. Most of the people are Christians, and she said that on Sunday morning there would be no people on the street because everybody, including the young people, would be attending church.

After these presentations Ewald Schenkermayr, who had introduced the speakers, asked each of them to briefly summarize what World Interfaith Harmony Week means to them.
Ana Govedarica said that love is above all. She quoted the Serbian-Orthodox Patriarch who used to say: “First comes the human being; the religion comes second!”
Akio Friesacher: “Religious harmony should not be restricted to this one week. It should be brought into our daily life.”
Minas Sweha: “In Egypt there is no religious harmony at the moment. For us this is a dream which hopefully comes true in the future.”
Marlies Haider: “Every religion has a core teaching which coincides largely with other religions. We should concentrate on these core teachings.”
Mr. Jeewantha from Sri Lanka answered a question from the audience about how he and his wife educate their daughter. They baptized her, his Buddhist wife doing most of the preparations for the ceremony, since she knew this meant a lot to her husband and felt it would benefit their little daughter.
As the evening progressed the people moved on to the buffet. The fact that more than 70 guests attended the meeting on this really cold winter day showed the importance of this new UN initiative of World Interfaith Harmony Week and encouraged the organizers to continue with interreligious programs. Furthermore, the fact that most of the speakers were young people impressed the audience..

Source

World Interfaith Harmony Week 2012

Posted on February 9th, 2012

Real dialogue started more than 1400 years ago
by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)

Dr. Mozammel Haque

Real dialogue started more than 1400 years ago by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), said Lord Ahmad of Rotherham, Labour Peer at the VIP Event – Islamic Cultural Exhibition which was arranged as part of the United Nations World Interfaith Harmony Week 2012, on Tuesday, 7th of February, 2012, at the Islamic Cultural Centre & The London Central Mosque. The Islamic Cultural Centre, London and Exhibition Islam jointly organised this VIP Event which was attended by members of Parliament, including Lord Ahmed of Rotherham, Lord Sheikh of Cornhill, Lord Adam Patel of Blackburn, Ambassadors of the Muslim Countries, representatives of embassies, members of different interfaith organisations,

Many organisations in the United Kingdom celebrated UN World Interfaith Harmony Week on 6th and 7th of February. 2012. World Interfaith Week was proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations in a resolution: “Proclaimed the first week of February every year the World Interfaith Harmony Week between all religions, faiths and beliefs” adopted on 20 October, 2010.

Lord Sheikh
Speaking at the VIP Event at ICC, Lord Sheikh quoted from his speech in the House of Lords where he stated, “Unfortunately, there is a demonisation of Islam in certain quarters, and it is important that the media act in a responsible manner in this regard and avoid use of inflammatory language. In regard to suicide bombings, Islam forbids suicide. In the holy Qur’an it is written that,“ whoever kills a human being … it as though he has killed all mankind, and whoever saves a human life, it is as though he saved all mankind”. This saying is similar to what is written in the Talmud, where it is written, “if you save one life, it is as if you have saved the world”.”

Lord Sheikh also said, “I believe that there are more similarities than differences between people and we should highlight the similarities in order to establish closer links between communities.”

Highlight the similarities
Referring to the Exhibition Islam at the Islamic Cultural Centre, Lord Sheikh said, “At the Exhibition today we can see displays of various items which give a very brief description of achievements of the Muslims and their contributions to the world in various fields. All these empires and dynasties have contributed a great deal to the understanding and promotion of the subjects I have described.”

Referring to the Hajj Exhibition at the British Museum, Lord Sheikh said, Hajj Exhibition “explains one of the pillars of Islam and creates better understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims.”

Islam teaches us to celebrate differences
Lord Sheikh also said, “Mutual understanding, respect, and inter-faith dialogue are essential if we are all to coexist peacefully. Islam teaches us to celebrate the difference and diversity which God has purposefully created in our world.”

Finally, Lord Sheikh said, “Islam is indeed a religion of peace and everyone one of us should therefore be an Ambassador to convey this message and help promote peace and harmony between various racial and religious groups.”

Lord Ahmad
Lord Ahmad of Rotherham spoke about interfaith dialogue. He said, “It is important that the Islamic Cultural Centre is providing platform for dialogue but the real dialogue started 1400 years ago by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Real dialogue started 1400 years ago
by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)
Lord Ahmed mentioned, “Even long before revelation, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) made a society Halful Fazul and also entered into agreement with the Jewish community and people with faith or no faith.

Lord Ahmed also mentioned about Caliph Omar. He said, “When Caliph Omar (may Allah be please with him) conquered Jerusalem he allowed the Jewish community to return to Jerusalem after 300 years when they have been excluded and he included them in all the decision making process.”

Responsibility to neighbours
“So dialogue started all ago and so we have responsibility to our neighbours,” said Lord Ahmad and then he quoted from the Holy Qur’an, which says, “There is no compulsion in religion.”

This stunning exhibition outlines: Islam – The Religion; Islamic History; Islam’s Relations with other faiths. It also allows visitors to view Historic Qur’ans, Torah Scrolls and Bible fragments from across the Islamic World.

The Interfaith Relations Committee of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) organised an event under the heading “Building Trust, Peace & Harmony through Interfaith Relations”, on Monday, the 6th of February, 2012 at the House of Lords, hosted by Lord Sheikh of Cornhill. Lord Sheikh who chaired the event, welcomed the audiences including the Guest of Honour Princess Badiya El-Hassan of Jordan who presented a message on behalf of her father, HRH Prince Hassan bin Talal of Jordan.

In this connection, it may be pointed out that many Muslim countries sponsored the resolution to create United Nations World Interfaith Harmony Week as the first week of February each year.
POSTED BY DR. MOZAMMEL HAQUE AT 09:56
LABELS: ISLAMIC CULTURAL CENTRE, LORD ADAM PATEL OF BLACKBURN, LORD AHMED OF ROTHERHAM, LORD SHEIKH OF CORNHILL

Source

Tony Blair Twitter Q&A

Posted on February 9th, 2012

Wed, 08/02/2012 – 12:00am

8 February 2012 — In honour of UN World Interfaith Harmony Week Tony Blair, Patron of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, participated in a question and answer session on Twitter. We had great questions from all around the world. Here is a summary of the Twitter conversation:

Tony Blair: Hi, this is Tony Blair + for interfaith harmony week I’ll be answering questions from here #AskTony twitpic.com/8h9boc

Thank you to all of you who have already sent in questions. I’ll RT the question and then provide an answer #AskTony

Question 1 to Tony Blair: @mssolidarity #AskTony How does interfaith work help conflict?

Answer 1 from Tony Blair: @mssolidarity Understanding other religions and viewpoints helps break down barriers + avoid misunderstandings

Q2: @HaleyHD How can we use new media to promote interfaith dialogue? #askTony

A2: @HaleyHD We’re doing it now! Vital to use all the tools which connect people in the modern world

Q3: @MoiraNash Why do you think youth in particular are important in advancing the interfaith movement? #AskTony

A3: The energy, drive and passion of the next generation is the key to peaceful coexistence between all people…

Q4: what are the benefits of living in a multifaith community? #asktony

A4: You get to understand how people live and think which is vital

Q5: @micahchallenge – How can ordinary citizens help remind governments to keep their promises on the MDGs? #asktony

A5: The same way we got the commitments in the first place – strong mobilisation of the faith community + pressure on political leaders#AskTony

Q6: @Duyvenbode What are the key positive & negative perceptions of sacred texts in the public square? #AskTony

A6: @Duyvenbode Positive – debate is in the open. Negative – often no room allowed for proper discourse

Q7: How can we ensure faith schools are a force for good in the interfaith story? #AskTony

A7: By making interfaith education a major part of what we teach — 1 route is our FacetoFaith schools programme bit.ly/yvh7j4 .#AskTony

Q8: @nothing but nets – How can interfaith efforts make a difference in the fight against malaria? #AskTony

A8: Working across faiths raises awareness in rich countries + let’s us use the faith infrastructure in poor countries to fight disease#AskTony

Q9: @YourMajesty Do you think anything can be done do present the Muslim faith in a good light in the media, like other religions?#AskTony

A9: Yes, by telling of the great charity work Muslim organisations do + by Muslim engagement in interfaith #AskTony

Q10: @Hah26 – how important is religious education in schools?#AskTony

A10: @HAH26 – Vital we should know about all faiths not just one#AskTony

Q11: @Zopalok – how do you reconcile the different needs of religious communities with liberal equality of rights + obligations? #AskTony

A11: @Zopalok By accepting that faith too has to have a pluralistic attitude so faith friendly democracy + democracy friendly faith#AskTony

Q12: @david_cowan What do you think about the social and cultural impact of de-Christianisation and secularisation in Europe?#AskTony

A12: @david_cowan the judeo-christian values of Europe r essential to its nature + to its future including respect for those of different faiths

Q13: @UsmanANawaz In your opinion will the Arab Spring create a space in the middle-east for religious freedom? #AskTony

A13: @UsmanANawaz – it can do and must do because democracy only works with an open mind. #AskTony

Q14: @Silkoff What role should faith communities have in improving gender equality? Can you be a religious feminist? #AskTony

A14: @Silkoff – it’s a huge challenge for faith but one they have to overcome. #AskTony

Q15: @JackBailey88 What are your thoughts on the passing of Christopher Hitchens and what role to atheists have in interfaith work? #asktony

A15: @askjackbailey88 – Chris was great, deeply spiritual if not religious. People of faith should never be afraid of secular dialogue. #AskTony

Q16: .@DrOpinion how can we improve our theological understanding with countries such as China?Do we concentrate on 3 Abrahamic Faiths?#AskTony

A16: .DrOpinion, we have to engage more, China has a rich history + many millions of Buddhists.Understanding China helps the faith world #AskTony

Q17: .@CIFAorg – is interfaith action impactful beyond fighting malaria? can it build community as a whole? #AskTony

A17: .Cifaorg yes because strong communities need people to work together + in today’s world communities will often be interfaith.#AskTony

Q18: .@CianSOsullivan -away from the public eye what have you done or tried to do to improve your personal understanding of faiths?#AskTony

A18: .@CianSOSullivan – read more, thought more, studied more #AskTony

Q19: janemerrick23 amused by the #asktony Q+A going on at moment. Questions v predictable, and I doubt he’s even at the screen, but still rather amusing

A 19: RT RuthTurner. @janemerrick23 #asktony I promise you Jane, he’s personally answering them. We’ve been giving him twitter lessons …

Q20: @RuthTurner I stand corrected! Apologies to you and Tony #asktony #journalistapologisestotonyblair

Q21: .@jwright89 When is it right to grant religious minorities cultural minority rights? #AskTony

A21: .@jwright89 they should have rights as long as they do not diminsh or impose upon the religious rights of all. #AskTony

Q22: .@kateIxer what has been a personal highlight for you from all your#interfaith anti#malaria work in Sierra Leone? #AskTony

A22: .@KateIxer so far, doing the Hitchens debate, teaching @ Yale, listening 2 students + seeing value faiths bring on the ground#AskTony

Tony Blair’s Closing response: Sorry everyone, time’s up, but thanks for your questions. Until the next time, please keep following the Foundation on twitter.#AskTony

Source

More interfaith respect still needed

Posted on February 8th, 2012

The Rev. Arlyn Macdonald
Universal Interfaith Church
Montrose

Posted: Wednesday, February 8, 2012 2:00 am

This is World Interfaith Harmony Week, and I would like to take this opportunity to invite people of all faiths and spiritual paths to think about working with each other in new ways to create a community where each person’s beliefs are respected, and we work together for the common good.
On Feb. 7, speakers from the world’s great spiritual religions and traditions were invited by United Nations General Assembly President H.E. Mr. Nassir Abdulazez Al-Nasser to present a program to the General Assembly entitled “Common Ground for the Common Good.” Among the speakers were the Rev. Michael Beckwith from the Agape International Spiritual Center and H.E. Dr. Asha-Rose Megiro, UN Deputy Secretary-General.

The program at the United Nations was one of many all over the world marking the Season for Nonviolence, a three-month period to learn how to better communicate with each other, resolve differences, and be more creative in solving personal, family and community challenges. Montrose is a great community in which to live, but there is still room to grow in the area of interfaith respect. Communities strong in interfaith relations thrive, are more successful, more able to meet the needs of all the people who live and work together, and can establish a solid network of people of all faiths who can make a difference.

“The Golden Rule” is practiced by all religions. It gives us a common ground to work for the common good. From this foundation, we can build an interfaith community of caring, compassionate and forward-looking people to meet the changing future. This does not mean we have to give up our own faith but simply to allow other people to have their own faith, too. We are all people of faith and that is the most important understanding.

Source

HE Prof Ekmeleddin Ihsanogulu

Posted on February 8th, 2012

The text of the message of HE Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanogulu Secretary General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to the Special Panel Event hosted on Monday 6th Feb, 2012 by the OIC Permaneet Observer Mission at the UN headquarters in New York

CLICK HERE TO READ TEXT

World’s religions can promote global peace

Posted on February 8th, 2012

Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser

LISTEN / DOWNLOAD

World religions have the potential to promote global peace and stability, according to the President of the UN General Assembly.

Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser spoke at an event in New York on Tuesday to mark the end of the annual World Interfaith Harmony Week established by the General Assembly in 2010.

He told the gathering, which brought together representatives of different faiths that millions of people around the world identify themselves as believers.

Ambassador Al-Nasser said religions and the United Nations have a common ground.
“This common ground includes respect for human rights as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, affirmation of equal value of all human beings, the importance of compassion and service to others and universal aspiration for peace.”

Source

UN officials underline religions’ role in promoting global harmony

Posted on February 8th, 2012

7 February 2012
General Assembly President Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser.

The President of the General Assembly Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser today stressed the potential of all of the world’s religions to promote global peace and stability, saying that faiths have common principles that can be used to bring about grater unity and harmony among people.
“We recognize and celebrate the values that are shared across religious traditions,” said Mr. Al-Nasser at a General Assembly event to mark the end of the annual World Interfaith Harmony Week, which was established by Member States through a resolution adopted by the Assembly in 2010.

“The common principles form a common ground that unites us in our rich diversity,” said Mr. Al-Nasser, noting that the UN was itself established in pursuit of universal values such as peace, freedom, human rights, dignity, and the oneness of humanity, which are also espoused by many of the world’s religions.

“These principles have been translated by Member States into the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” said Mr. Al-Nasser at the event, whose theme was ‘Common Ground for the Common Good.’

The common ground includes respect for human rights; affirmation of the equal value of all human beings; the importance of compassion and service to others; and the universal aspiration for peace, he added.

He announced that he will on 22 March convene a one-day thematic debate in the Assembly on “fostering cross-cultural understanding for building peaceful and inclusive societies,” which, he said, will draw on the discussions at last year’s 4th Forum of the UN Alliance of Civilizations in Doha, Qatar.

Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro noted that although faith is “the glue that often bonds communities and cultures around the world,” it was too often used as an excuse to emphasize differences and deepen divisions.

“Only by finding common cause in mutual respect for shared spiritual and moral values can we hope for harmony among nations and peoples,” she said.

She urged the interfaith community to speak out against extremism, advance tolerance, and stand firm for social justice, dignity and mutual understanding.

“Today’s event is testament to the benefits we can all derive from coming together and learning from each other,” said Ms. Migiro.

Source

Statements of the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations

Posted on February 8th, 2012

Intervention of the Holy See

66th session of the United Nations General Assembly
Special Event
World Interfaith Harmony Week 2012:
Common Ground for the Common Good

New York, 7 February 2012

Mr. President,

It is my pleasure to add my voice to yours Mr. President and to that of Her Excellency Dr. Asha-Rose Migiro, UN Deputy Secretary General and the other leaders speaking in today’s program to highlight the work being done by religious organizations and to promote ongoing efforts for achieving greater interreligious harmony.

Today’s meeting is a reminder that the participation of religious organizations and openness to the Transcendent are not only a welcome reality in many parts of the globe but are a necessity everywhere if we are to address the challenges of our time.

This reminder of the role of religious organizations within society is particularly important in a time when we increasingly see societal and governmental leaders denying the role of religious organizations or marginalizing their participation in public life and in decision making. These efforts not only deny the truth of the human search for the Transcendent but also fail to acknowledge the role of religion in the very founding of the states, institutions and ideas which we now hold dear.

For its part alone, the Catholic Church and its many organizations have been active in every corner of the globe. These organizations have worked to promote access to education at its over 68,000 kindergartens, 92,000 primary schools and 42,000 secondary schools; they have worked to provide access to health care through more than 5,000 hospitals, 17,000 dispensaries, 500 homes for people with leprosy, 16,000 homes for the elderly, chronically ill or disabled; they have worked to resolve conflicts through numerous interreligious dialogue initiatives and direct mediation of conflicts such as those efforts in Mozambique and in Latin America and they have worked to respond to disasters through the commitment of the many professional and dedicated agencies who not only provide assistance after disasters but live in solidarity with the populations affected by disaster long before and after disasters occur. These organizations not only provide such services regardless of race, religion and national origin but often, thanks to dedicated consecrated religious personnel, lay employees and countless volunteers, are able to provide these services more cost effectively than other sectors of society.

While these statistics represent only a portion of the selfless efforts and great sacrifice being done by religious organizations and their personnel, sometimes even at the expense of their own lives, they serve as a constant reminder that no serious efforts to achieve the goals of the United Nations as set out in the Charter will be successful and lasting if religious and faith-based organizations are not actively engaged in policy discussion and implementation.

Mr. President,

This year’s World Interfaith Harmony Week falls only three months after the important gathering of over 300 religious leaders at the Assisi Meeting for Peace of October last, 25 years after the first such meeting of religious leaders in Assisi. These meetings represent the commitment of church and religious leaders to join forces in promoting peace and rejecting the use of religion as a justification for violence and to serve as an example for all religious believers of the efforts needed to promote a culture of peace.

At this Assisi meeting three months ago, Pope Benedict XVI called on all to reject violence as being against the true nature of religion. He stated, “If one basic type of violence today is religiously motivated and thus confronts religions with the question as to their true nature and obliges all of us to undergo purification, a second complex type of violence is motivated in precisely the opposite way: as a result of God’s absence, his denial and the loss of humanity which goes hand in hand with it. The enemies of religion… see in religion one of the principal sources of violence in the history of humanity and thus they demand that it disappear. But the denial of God has led to much cruelty and to a degree of violence that knows no bounds, which only becomes possible when [an individual] no longer recognizes any criterion or any judge above himself, now having only himself to take as a criterion. The horrors of the concentration camps reveal with utter clarity the consequences of God’s absence”. Now, we gather today in the United Nations to reiterate yet again the need for religious believers to reject violence and commit ourselves to working to promote greater respect and understanding amongst believers of all religions and the promotion of the common good of all of humanity.

Mr. President,

As your note in preparation for this meeting acknowledges, the world’s religions play a vital role in the mediation of conflict and the promotion of dialogue and reconciliation, in the response to disasters, in promoting development and respect for the environment and in revitalizing the work of the United Nations. However, in order for religious organizations and people of religious belief to achieve these ends and to continue this work, it is of fundamental importance that all States respect religious liberty and recognize the rights of individuals and religious organizations to profess and practice one’s faith and to also participate within political and social life.

Respect for religious liberty provides the protections necessary for religious leaders and believers of all faiths not only to practice their faith and but also to provide a voice to the voiceless when circumstances threaten peace and human dignity. It is therefore imperative that all governments and political and religious leaders work to promote genuine religious liberty so that religious organizations can continue their many contributions to society and work to promote even greater respect for the common good.

Thank you Mr. President.

Source

GA President praises international week for interfaith harmony

Posted on February 8th, 2012

UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 7 (Xinhua)

UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) — The president of the UN General Assembly (GA), Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, said here Tuesday that World Interfaith Harmony Week can help provide “firm building blocks” for a culture of peace.

Al-Nasser’s statement came as he addressed the assembly during a special event to mark the final day of World Interfaith Harmony Week. The event was titled “Common ground for the common good.”

“During World Interfaith Harmony Week, we not only affirm our own traditions, but reflect on the qualities and values of the traditions of others,” Al-Nasser said. “It is this spirit of mutual respect and cooperation that will afford us firm building blocks for the establishment of the culture of peace at all levels. ”

The week for interfaith harmony, which began on Feb. 1, is a time set by the UN for inter-religious dialogue and promotion of understanding between faiths. The idea for the week was proposed to the General Assembly by Jordan in September 2010 and officially adopted by the assembly the following month.

Al-Nasser said that he commends the assembly for adopting the resolution on World Interfaith Harmony Week.

“In doing so, member states underscored the centrality of interfaith cooperation as an important condition for building a culture of peace,” he said. “Billions of people around the world identify themselves as believers.”

He added that in a world that is becoming both more interconnected and divided, it has become more important than ever to draw on religion’s potential to increase peace and stability in the world.

Religious organizations, in many cases, have done concrete humanitarian work on the ground before international development cooperation even existed, Al-Nasser said.

“For this reason, it is important that the United Nations acknowledges the social and moral significance of faith,” he said.

Al-Nasser said he is in favor of including representatives from different faiths in conversations at the UN.

“Here in this General Assembly Hall, where nations gather at a common table of dialogue, issues of faith have rarely been discussed in any systematic way,” said Al-Nasser. “Recently, however there has been a greater trend toward dialogue with religious and interfaith organizations at the United Nations. I believe this dialogue should be encouraged.”

On March 22, the assembly will hold an interactive thematic debate titled “Fostering cross-cultural understanding for building peaceful and inclusive societies.” Al-Nasser said this event will help explore the “valuable role” of faith-based groups in achieving the UN’s goals.

“During the meeting we will also discuss the role of religions and religious organizations in enhancing dialogue and understanding, with participation from different parts of the world,” he noted.

Source

DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL, AT INTERFAITH HARMONY WEEK EVENT

Posted on February 8th, 2012

SAYS COMMON CAUSE IN MUTUAL RESPECT FOR SHARED VALUES IS ONLY WAY TO UNITE NATIONS, PEOPLES

Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro’s opening remarks at the special event on “Common Ground for Common Good” to mark the concluding day of the World Interfaith Harmony Week, in New York on 7 February:

I am pleased to address this special event, and I thank the President of the General Assembly for hosting it. Let us also thank King Abdullah of Jordan for his continued efforts to advance inter-religious harmony — including the adoption, last year, of World Interfaith Harmony Week by the General Assembly, as well as the ongoing efforts in Amman to facilitate negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian authorities.

Faith is the glue that often bonds communities and cultures around the world. Yet, too often it is used as an excuse to emphasize difference and deepen divisions. Only by finding common cause in mutual respect for shared spiritual and moral values can we hope for harmony among nations and peoples. This observance is meant to remind us that the world’s great religions have more in common than what divides them. Divided, we are weak; united we are strong.

Today we need such strength as never before. Economic, social, environmental and humanitarian challenges are straining the fabric of society in all regions. The interfaith community has an opportunity — and a responsibility — to speak out against extremism, to advance tolerance, to stand for social justice, dignity and mutual understanding.

The United Nations, for its part, is very active in this regard. The recent forum of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations in Doha is one such example of our efforts to further dialogue and tolerance. Many United Nations agencies, funds, programmes and departments collaborate with faith-based groups. A United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force on Engaging Faith-based Organizations for the Millennium Development Goals is devoted to establishing synergies that will magnify our work.

Faith-based organizations can also form a key component of the Secretary-General’s policy of developing transformative multi-stakeholder partnerships over the coming five years. Today’s event is testament to the benefits we can all derive from coming together and learning from each other.

Our world is blessed with countless riches — from the teachings of great religions to the traditions of indigenous communities. World Interfaith Harmony Week is our opportunity to celebrate this diversity and to highlight our shared commitment to peaceful, inclusive, sustainable and equitable development for all.

I wish you a successful event and a joyful week.

Source

Common ground for the common good (Video)

Posted on February 8th, 2012

“On the occasion of the World Interfaith Harmony Week
07 February 2012

Special event to mark the concluding day of the World Interfaith Harmony Week (1–7 February 2012)

Running time: 03:14:58

Source

Military joins and supports the World Interfaith Harmony Week Celebration

Posted on February 8th, 2012

02 February 2012 5th Civil Relations Group

Military joined the celebration of World Interfaith Harmony Week at Ateneo de Davao University headed by Lieutenant General Arthur Tabaquero on February 1, 2012. The Ateneo Theology Division and Al Qalam Institute welcomed the response and support of the military in attending its symposium that focused on “Celebrating Harmony among the People of God’.

Lt. Gen. Tabaquero shared that the mutual understanding and inter-religious dialogue constitute an important dimension in culture of peace and help for working partnership in various undertakings to create united and solid efforts for community against ignorance, violence and terror especially among the less privileged ones. Different people of various religious sectors responded the call on peace promotion as they signed the commitment for peace tarpaulin for actively participate the eradication of culture of violence and silence and change them to a Culture of Dialogue which founded on love and spirituality.

Further, the United Nations Organization recognizes and proclaims every first week of February as ‘World Interfaith Harmony Week’ and that there is a need of dialogue among different faiths and religions in the world to celebrate the love of God.

“I am grateful and convinced that this celebration strengthens interfaith movement for the promotion of understanding and harmony among the people in the country in order to attain lasting efforts of peace and progress”, Tabaquero said.

Meanwhile Tabaquero added that all government forces under Eastern Mindanao Command yearn on continuous coordination as it builds up dedication to advance initiatives in achieving peace, orderly and productive communities in the country.

Eastmincom Commanding Officers headed by Lieutenant General Arthur Tabaquero listen during the symposium of World Interfaith Harmony Week launched by Ateneo Theology Division and Al Qalam Institute on February 1st last Wednesday at Ateneo de Davao University.

Lieutenant General Arthur Tabaquero signs the commitment for peace tarpaulin during the World Interfaith Harmony Week symposium at Ateneo de davao University on Wednesday February 1, 2012.

Lieutenant General Arthur Tabaquero shares his view during the theological symposium at Ateneo de Davao University last Wednesday that his relationship with his wife is an example of interfaith harmony between a Muslim and a Christian, a proof that harmony is possible regardless of religions and people

Source

United Nation’s World Interfaith Harmony Week

Posted on February 7th, 2012

FEB 13 Posted by youthpeacecouncil
By Robin Marsh
Tuesday, 07 February 2012

Last night Universal Peace Federation -UK held a meeting in Parliament to remember the Holocaust, to examine the dynamics of forgiveness, reconciliation and remorse. This was held to comemorate the UN’s World Interfaith Harmony week. There were many precious contributions and stirring testimonies.Chaired by Rev. Dr. Marcus Braybrooke, President of World Congress of Faiths, the event featured presentations by Marina Cantacuzio, founder of the Forgiveness Project, Jack Lynes, Chair of Harrow Bereavement Care and a leading member of the Jewish community for interfaith, Shaykh Dr Hazim Fazlic, a Bosnian Imam now in Birmingham, Ruth Barnett, a Holocaust & Genocide Educator as well as a Kindertransport child, Jack Corley, Chairman of the Universal Peace Federation-UK and Sukhbir Singh who introduced the Forgiveness Charter on behalf of Bhai Mohinder Sahib Singh, spiritual leader of Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha – Birmingham UK.

Imam Dr Abduljalil Sajid JP attended the meeting and presented a paper on ‘Forgiveness and Reconciliation: From an Islamic Perspective’ to accompany the report.

Marina Cantacuzio writes on her website, ‘Forgiveness is an inspiring, complex, exasperating subject, which provokes strong feeling in just about everyone. Having spent all of 2003 collecting stories of reconciliation and forgiveness for an exhibition of words and images which I created with the photographer, Brian Moody, I began to see that for many people forgiveness is no soft option, but rather the ultimate revenge. For many it is a liberating route out of victimhood; a choice, a process, the final victory over those who have done you harm. As Mariane Pearl, the wife of murdered journalist Daniel Pearl, said of her husband’s killers, “The only way to oppose them is by demonstrating the strength that they think they have taken from you.”

The exhibition tells some extraordinary stories – stories of victims who have become friends with perpetrators, murderers who have turned their mind to peace building.

As I talked to friends, colleagues and strangers about this exhibition, I noticed that forgiveness cuts public opinion down the middle like a guillotine. There are those who see forgiveness as an immensely noble and humbling response to atrocity – and then there are those who simply laugh it out of court. For the first group, forgiveness is a value strong enough to put an end to the tit-for-tat settling of scores that has wreaked havoc over generations. But for the second group, forgiveness is just a copout, a weak gesture, which lets the violator off the hook and encourages only further violence. This is why we called the exhibition, The F Word. For some people forgiveness is a very dirty word indeed.

She added in her paper on ‘Forgiveness’, ‘Forgiving someone does not mean you reconcile with them, it means taking hold of your painful emotions and deciding to let them go. (It means) a refusal to let the pain of past dictate the path of the future healing the memory of the harm, but not erasing it (not forgive & forget). If F is a struggle for understanding, then it’s a realisation that, “if I had lived your life perhaps I would have made your choices”. Forgiveness is not forgetting that something painful happened. By forgiving the people who hurt you, you do not erase painful past experiences from your memory. Those experiences have a great deal to teach you, both about not being victimized again and about not victimizing others.’

Jack Corley explained Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s perspective on ‘Forgiveness and Reconciliation’ particularly in his meeting with the late North Korean President Kim Il Sung. He also elucidated the principles behind the forgiveness earned by Jacob from his older Brother Esau.

He added that gestures are very important in higher levels of forgiveness, reconciliation and peace building. He highlighted the visit of Queen Elizabeth II to Ireland in 2011 that won her great respect from the Irish people. The 1977 visit of Anwar Sadat to the Israeli Knesset was a gesture that opened the way to peace between two nations that had been frequently at war.

He asked where the religious leaders were when there are efforts for peace? Universal Peace Federation’s founder Rev. Dr Sun Myung Moon has promoted the establishment of an Interreligious Council at the UN. There religious leaders, who business is peace, centred on the wisdom of their faith built up over many generations, can take an innovative approach from politicians whose agenda and focus is different.

The Universal Peace Federation seeks reconciliation on many levels. However as we are now sitting in Parliament we do want to urge our political leaders to establish or maintain the moral foundation that is necessary for peace and reconciliation. (Full Speech)

Rev Dr Marcus Braybrooke introduced the evening with a prepared speech saying, ‘Interfaith Harmony week is so important. Sadly so often in the past religious exclusivism and contempt for the other has been a contributory factor in the genocidal killings that scar human history. It is time for people of faith to make deep apology to members of other faiths whom they have hurt and offended as Pope John Paul II did at the Western Wall in Jerusalem It is also vital that as people of faith we work together for a more just and peaceful world. Some people have expressed surprise that we should link a belated observance of Holocaust Memorial day and World Interfaith Harmony Week. At first, I felt the same, but increasingly I have seen how appropriate it is. Rightly in a time of silence we shall remember the six million Jews and many others who died in the Holocaust and many more who have been slaughtered in terrible genocides – especially we pray for comfort to those whose family members died, and those who were injured.But perhaps the least we can do in memory of the voluntary and involuntary sacrifice of so many people is to pray and act to ensure that such horrors are never repeated.This is why Interfaith Harmony week is so important. Sadly so often in the past religious exclusivism and contempt for the other has been a contributory factor in the genocidal killings that scar human history. It is time for people of faith to make deep apology to members of other faiths whom they have hurt and offended as Pope John Paul II did at the Western Wall in Jerusalem It is also vital that as people of faith we work together for a more just and peaceful world
In a speech entitled HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL DAY, INTERFAITH HARMONY, FORGIVENESS AND HEALING, Ruth Barnett explained that ‘Forgiveness is an extremely complex issue which I see very much in terms of an individual process of self-acceptance. By this I mean acceptance of the aspects of our self that we would rather not own.’

‘Reverend Braybrooke opened the evening by expressing the horror we all feel at the utter brutality and depravity of what was perpetrated in the Holocuast – and, sadly, in so many genocides and atrocities since. Expressing horror at such evil is natural and human but at the same time locates the atrocities outside ourselves. Forgiveness begins, in my opinion, by owning the capacity in oneself (which is part of every human being) for acting in this same evil manner. Only by owning our darkest thoughts, urges, ideas and interest in evil, are we in a position to take control and choose not to act violently but responsibly, not to retaliate or exact revenge but to seek understanding through dialogue.
‘We need to develop the courage to care and the will to act before it is too late when atrocities against humanity are developing. In my opinion, the Holocaust could have been prevented if the Armenian Genocide, perpetrated by the Ottoman Turks under cover of WWI, had been brought to justice and closure. In the 50 years after the end of WWII, silence and disbelief inhibited the process of Holocaust acknowledgement and healing, which is even now not yet complete. This has created impunity for further violence and genocides, further traumatisation and retreat into ignorance and indifference.’
‘A part of the Holocaust has yet to be fully acknowledged, memorialised, compensated and closure through acceptance of the survivors. At least half a million Sinti and other Gypsies were deliberately murdered by the Nazis for the same reason that Jews were murdered – because the Nazis decided they could not fit into the Aryan ‘master-race’. Since 1945 Roma/Gypsy/Travellers have been persistently and increasingly persecuted, evicted, deported, their homes torched or bull-dozed, and murdered Gypsies not considered important enough by police to find the perpetrators. We have another genocide emerging under our noses all over Europe, including England. Are we going to develop the Courage to Care and the Will to intervene this time? Or are we going to allow the persecution and injustices suffered by Gypsies to continue until the massacres begin?’
Imam Dr Abduljalil Sajid commented in his paper, ‘Forgiveness and Reconciliation: An Islamic Perspective’ that, ‘The God, Allah is the ultimate power Who can forgive. Forgiveness means closing an account of offense against God or any of His creation. However, forgiveness must meet the criteria of sincerity. God, the All-Knowing, has the knowledge of everything including whatever a person thinks but does not express in words or deeds. An offense may be against (a) a person, (b) a group of persons or society, (c) other creation of God such as animals, plants, land, atmosphere, bodies of water and the life therein, and (d) God, Allah. Muslims understand that an offense against the creation of God is an offense against God.’

Source

Dialogue needed for peace and tolerance

Posted on February 7th, 2012

Tue, 07 February 2012

The ‘week’ is held in recognition of the fact that Islam and Arab Islamic culture abound with the values of fairness, justice – By Abdulaziz al Jahdhami – MUSCAT — As per the Royal Orders of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos, Rapprochement and Human Harmony week was organised by the Sultan Qaboos Centre for Islamic Culture. The opening ceremony was presided over by Shaikh Abdullah bin Mohammed al Salmy, Minister of Awqaf and Religious Affairs, at Al Bustan Palace Hotel yesterday.
Speaking on the occasion, Al Salmy said that the disagreement among cultures and religions do not reach the level of a world problem that requires conferences and seminars as it is the case with Muslims and Islam. “This is mainly attributed to the fact that Muslims constitute one fifth of the world population and the fact that many of them stick to their religious and cultural manifestations whether they are in their own countries or abroad. Some may think that these manifestations are against their traditions, values and laws to the extent that some may practise violence against some of them in the name of Islam,” he said.

Moreover, Muslims and Westerners have witnessed certain common cultural experiences, such as the culture in Andalusia, Sicily, Oman, Baghdad and others.
He added that both Westerners and Muslims are responsible for any crisis in their relations and should therefore join hands to overcome such crisis through rapprochement and concord.
The week is held in recognition of the fact that Islam and Arab Islamic culture and civilisation abound with the values of fairness, justice and constructive communication with other cultures and civilisations.
Speaking on the occasion, Habib bin Mohammed al Riyami, Secretary-General of the Sultan Qaboos Centre for Islamic Culture, said: “The Rapprochement and Human Harmony Week reflects His Majesty’s interest to serve the mutual understanding and rapprochement among different cultures and civilisations in the world. It also highlights the significant role of dialogue to promote peace and stability as well as present the Islamic values such as justice, tolerance and the constructive communication.”

The event came to achieve various objectives some of which are establishing the concept of human co-operation which is based on mutual respect and solidifying the fabric of cultural exchange among nations.
It also aims to enhance the cultural and religious affinity and mutual understanding among human beings of different cultures and religions. It also serves to facilitate communication among human cultures to achieve the affinity and emphasise the role of dialogue in supporting international peace and stability through raising the public awareness about related issues.

This outstanding event serves as a platform for a number of renowned Arab and international scholars, intellectual, researches and academics to exchange views and come out with visions, ideas and proposals that enhance human harmony based on the common human values and mutual interests. Various discussions were held focusing on the theoretical framework and the methods and means that can help achieve this rapprochement.

In fact, such occasions mark a great opportunity to review the Sultanate’s experience in the field of cultural dialogue and support of human co-existence and harmony through meetings, visits and activities. This event highlights the role of the Sultanate in supporting understanding among people.

About 10 sessions were held yesterday discussing several themes such as the experience of dialogue in the Islamic civilisation history with the world’s civilisations, environmental harmony issues and human harmony and media role in the convergence among cultures and civilisations.
The role of university chairs in promoting the objectives of convergence between cultures and nations was also highlighted. Moreover, special sessions discussed the various successful applied means to bring youths together in the dialogue of cultures and civilisations. Organising the Rapprochement and Human Harmony Week comes as participation by the Sultanate in the initiative of King Abdallah of Jordan, of making the first week of February every year as World Interfaith Harmony Week.

Source

Celebrate World Interfaith Harmony Week!

Posted on February 7th, 2012

by admin on February 6, 2012

Harmony amongst religions seems like a no-brainer, but unfortunately conflict in the name of religion seems to be at the root of many of the challenges our world faces! In October of 2010, acting on a proposal by HM King Abdullah II of Jordan, the U.N. General Assembly designated the first week in February as “World Interfaith Harmony Week.” The idea is that promoting and celebration interfaith harmony in the international community is the best place to start promoting harmony for all. ”Love of the Good, and love of the neighbor” — this is the underpinning message of the week. This year marks the second annual celebration worldwide, with hundreds of gatherings, meals, forums, events, and celebrations taking place all over the globe.

Euphrates encourages you to visit the website to learn more about the reasons behind the declaration, as well as the many different ways to commemorate the ideal of harmony amongst faiths leading the way to harmony for all. Find an event near you, and join in the conversation! This inspiring model, with support from so many religious leaders and international community, is certainly helping to prepare for peace!

Source

Interfaith Witness as a Way of Life

Posted on February 6th, 2012

POSTED AT: SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 05, 2012 05:17:56 PM
AUTHOR: FRANCIS X. CLOONEY, S.J.

Cambridge, MA. This is Interfaith Awareness Week at Harvard, as part of World Interfaith Harmony Week; only in part by coincidence we have scheduled a rich variety of events at the Center for the Study of World Religions. After the week is over, I will reflect on some of what happened and I’ve learned during it, but for now, I would like to catch up on two testimonies to interfaith awareness that remind us how everything depends on the persons who make learning across religious boundaries — awareness, dialogue, comparative theology, however you express these matters. They are occasioned by the death last summer of Franz Josef Van Beeck, SJ, and in December, of Kenneth W. Morgan.

The first link is to The Elijah Interfaith Institute in Jerusalem. Take a look at the website, and you will see that its founder and director, Alon Goshen-Gottstein, has created a space and meeting point among religions that offers a remarkable witness to the importance of the sharing of faith and values across religious boundaries in small and practical ways. But I wish to call your attention to his moving reflection, posted several months back, on his friendship with Fr. Van Beeck, SJ.

Joep, as everyone called him, was a renowned theologian who taught for so many years at Boston College and then at Loyola University of Chicago and a prolific author and dynamic lecturer who, among his many writings, often returned to the ways we Christians can and must learn from Judaism and other faith traditions. Joep and Alon worked together on a number of projects over the years, and became good friends. Alon’s warm mention of his last visits to Joep testifies to their long friendship, and to the kind of spiritual exchange that manifests the deep and living bonds that do cross boundaries and bring religions closer to one another, however formidable the theological and institutional blocks may seem.

The other link I wish to offer you is from my own Center’s site, to the memorial we recently posted upon the death of Kenneth W. Morgan, the long-time Director of the interfaith Chapel House at Colgate University, and at 103, one of the very last links of the founding of CSWR in 1960. As the account at our site shows, his commitments too, like those of Joep, added up to a life-long commitment to learning, to finding common ground among diverse religious and secular views, all for the sake of a wisdom that came to fruition in the lives of his many students, and in institutions like Chapel House and CSWR.

As readers of this blog know, I believe in the importance of study, theological investigation, and intellectual exchange, and am often enough lost in my books. But reflecting upon the stories told in these two links, I am happy to be able to remind you and me too, that it is in the long run, by commitments that add up to a whole way of life, and in the friendships we form across religious boundaries, that we best play our part in the great interreligious story of our times. Our world will be increasingly interconnected interreligiously, and no one has the power to stop the emerging dialogue; but we have to do it well, and live what we say. Figures like Joep Van Beeck, ever the lively seeker after the truth, and Kenneth Morgan, the wise teacher and builder of communities – and Alon Goshen-Gottstein too, in his on-going ministry – remind us that we should live in witness to the new dialogical reality, and at our best should make such witness a way of life that flourishes in friendships near and far. In the life and in the friendships, faith is made visible, tangible.

Source

“Exhibition Islam: Muhammad (PBUH) – A Mercy to Mankind”

Posted on February 6th, 2012

Written by: Alia Raffia Ullah 2012-02-06 07:51:51
Share this article on 1 1
IslamOnline.net_London

The Islamic Cultural Centre and The London Central Mosque hosted an inspirational exhibition during the World Interfaith Harmony Week, which is taking place during the first week of February 2012. Muhammad (peace be upon him) – A Mercy to Mankind is a brand new permanent exhibition held at the Islamic Cultural Centre and the London Central Mosque, open to the general public from the 4th February until the 8th February. This is a free event that aims to inspire the British Muslim community.

Exhibition Islam

Exhibition Islam is an independent, non-profit making registered charity. Launched in the UK in 1993, the organization specializes in encouraging and developing a greater understanding of Islam in both the domestic and international arenas. Through the use of diverse educational resources that are delivered through specialist ‘museum style’ exhibitions, Exhibition Islam creates contemporary spaces that enable visitors to unearth the vibrancy and beauty of the Islamic faith. By implementing the latest exhibition resources and technological advances in methods of display, they take a unique and revolutionary approach to developing environments that are accessible to people regardless of cultural, political or economic background.

By the turn of the new millennium, the organization was fast emerging as the leading exhibition provider in the industry and over the last five years, has been at the forefront of raising global Islamic awareness and fostering a greater understanding and appreciation of Islam. Exhibition Islam has organized and hosted events at a variety of prominent locations in Britain including prisons, schools, museums, mosques, pedagogical institutions and shopping centers attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors over the past decade. The organization has since established its name as the leading Islamic exhibition provider in the West.

As well as devising specialist events and exhibitions, Exhibition Islam provides services to facilitate and assist other organizations. In the past, Exhibition Islam has provided support material for the openings of Edinburgh Mosque, London Muslim Centre and the Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre. Exhibition Islam has also presented exhibitions internationally; in June 2006, they co-hosted an Islamic event, the first of its kind ever to be hosted outside the Danish parliament in Copenhagen. Exhibition Islam also exhibited during the Asian Games 2006 in Doha, Qatar. In 2008 they launched their first exhibition in Norway, and went on to further present the acclaimed ‘Quran Exhibition’ in the United Arab Emirates.

Muhammad (peace be upon him) – A Mercy to Mankind

Over the last decade, Exhibition Islam has received frequent requests by the British Muslim community to install and create a permanent exhibition that is accessible to the public on a permanent ongoing basis. In 2008, delegates of a new organization named ‘The Global Commission for Introducing the Messenger’, under the umbrella of the Muslim World League visited Exhibition Islam at an exhibition that was hosted in West London, and entered into a dialogue of how they could work in partnership with Exhibition Islam to launch a permanent exhibition in central London. Due to both organizations having a long working relationship with The Islamic Cultural Centre and London Central Mosque, the venue was identified as the ideal setting to host such an exhibition. The site was also considered idyllic by both organizations as it provides both a good location as well as sufficient space for the purposes of this project.

Mr. Shahid Munir, Exhibition Islam Director has stated regarding this event “We hope to use this occasion to once again invite guests and members of the public to visit the “Muhammad (peace be upon him) – Mercy to Mankind? exhibition gallery. This exhibition gallery is fast becoming a prominent assembly point for members of different faiths to interact with the Islamic faith and explore more about its belief systems and history”

The exhibition is based on a museum format, structured along eight themed zones. These different sections are based on specific informative themes that both Muslims and non-Muslims can learn from. These displays are centered around the following; basic beliefs, the creation of the universe, previous prophets in Islam, the life and teachings of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the Noble Qur’an, Islam and Science, Women in Islam and Islam and other faiths. Each zone includes diverse exhibition tools including bespoke graphic designs, display cabinets with ancient manuscripts, Islamic inventions, scientific tools and models.

This exceptional exhibition combines impressive educational displays, multimedia presentations, unique sculpted artifacts and interactive models developed specifically for the exhibition and an exquisite and historic collection of Qur’anic and other faith manuscripts and antiques. The exhibition experience is enhanced further through the installation of 8 plasma screens showing a range of thematic documentaries about relevant aspects of the Islamic Faith. Exhibition organizers have even arranged guided tours for groups including university, college and school students and delegations of all the major faith groups in Britain.

The Purposes of the Exhibition

The aims and objectives of the exhibition are to enlighten the British public about the Islamic faith, history and civilization. According to various polls, more than 60% of the British public obtain information about the Islam its heritage through the media, with less than 5% having any real interaction with Muslim organizations. The exhibition aims to provide a public platform where visitors can learn about Islam in a relaxed and friendly environment. This modern exhibition enhances the visitor experience to the London Central Mosque and epitomizes the welcoming nature of the Muslim faith providing a safe space that encourages discussion and dialogue between visitors from various religious and cultural backgrounds.

Speaking exclusively to “Islam Online”, Umar Ansari the Exhibition Project Manager said, “the ‘Muhammad – Mercy to Mankind’ permanent exhibition gallery is not only a true milestone for Exhibition Islam, but is also a great achievement for the entire Muslim community in Britain. This bespoke exhibition has raised standards in the presentation of the Islamic faith and has empowered the Muslim community to invite their friends, neighbors and colleagues to gain a true insight into the Muslim faith and practice. Above all, it has made information about the Islamic belief and history accessible to everyone.”

Conclusion

“Muhammad (peace be upon him) – A Mercy to Mankind” is a fantastic contribution and revolutionary exhibition that presents an insight into representations of Islam in the future. The exhibition proved well attended and is an opportunity for the family to spend time together gaining inspiration from the Islamic faith. Speaking to “Islam Online”, Sadiya Ahmed a visitor at the event said, “I feel so proud of the developments Muslims have made in Britain. This exhibition provides a sense of identity and is a great opportunity for my children to learn about their religion. I want to congratulate Exhibition Islam for this experience.”

Exhibition Islam is an exemplary organization in Britain, through their professional approach to campaigning for promoting tolerance and understanding of Islam they have managed not only to engage the British Muslim community but the wider population, offering hope for the flourishing prospect of representing Islam in the UK.

Source

United Church of Canada Marks World Interfaith Harmony Week

Posted on February 6th, 2012

Canada is not immune to the poisonous influence of religious bigotry, persecution, and hatred, says The United Church of Canada’s Moderator, Mardi Tindal.

“Incidents of vandalism that target places of worship or other religious sites are reminders that work still needs to be done to build bridges of understanding here at home as well as internationally,” says Tindal.
Tindal made her comments in conjunction with the start of World Interfaith Harmony Week on February 1.

In October 2010, the United Nations declared the first week of February World Interfaith Harmony Week. The UN resolution encourages all states to voluntarily support the spread of the message of interfaith harmony and goodwill in the world’s churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, and other places of worship.

When the resolution was first introduced to the United Nations General Assembly, it was acknowledged that “Our world is rife with religious tension and, sadly, mistrust, dislike and hatred. These religious tensions can easily erupt into communal violence. They also facilitate the demonizing of the other which in turn predisposes public opinion to support war against peoples of other religions.… The misuse or abuse of religions can thus be a cause of world strife, whereas religions should be a great foundation for facilitating world peace. The remedy for this problem can only come from the world’s religions themselves. Religions must be part of the solution, not part of the problem.”

Tindal says that the UN resolution reaffirms that mutual understanding and interreligious dialogue constitute important dimensions of a culture of peace.

She adds, however, that World Interfaith Harmony Week is not just about finding common ground among people of faith, or dialogue among religious leaders. She says it’s important to include all people of goodwill in the conversation—those of other faiths, and those with no faith.

“World Interfaith Harmony Week provides the opportunity for all of us to recognize that the common values we hold far outweigh the differences we may have,” says Tindal. “It is also a good time to consider how we bring our common values to our shared societal challenges.”

The United Church of Canada participates in interfaith dialogue and action through local, national, and global organizations including the World Communion of Reformed Churches. Significant resources, including group study guides, are available on whole world ecumenism, United Church–Jewish relations, and United Church–Muslim relations.

Source

Interfaith leaders mark harmony week

Posted on February 6th, 2012

Chirendra Satyal, Kathmandu, Nepal
February 6, 2012

Gathering calls on now-secular country for greater peace-building efforts

Jesuit Father Bill Robins lights candle at the interfaith program
Religious leaders marked World Interfaith Harmony Week for the first time in Nepal yesterday with a gathering that called for greater efforts to forge a lasting peace and for the country to abide by secular principles.

“We pray that all can learn to give and receive forgiveness after all the violence we have been through,” said Jesuit Father Bill Robins at the start of the gathering at the national academy hall in Kathmandu.

The gathering was jointly organized to mark the special UN week, which ends tomorrow, by Religions for Peace and the United Peace Federation.

Around 300 people attended the event during which a message from the president of the UN General Assembly, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, was read out.

“We have become a secular country and our behavior should reflect this so that we promote unity among various religions and do not cause conflict,” said chief guest, Kulchandra Gautam, a former deputy UN secretary general.

“We feel shy to say that we are from a country where Gautama Buddha was born as some of our political leaders are still claiming that they will bring change in Nepal through the power of guns,” he said, adding that: “Religious leaders have to play a pro-active role to bring about peace as politicians cannot bring it about themselves.”

Source

Food brings Jews and Muslims together at Interfaith Roundtable

Posted on February 6th, 2012

Published: Sunday, Feb. 5, 2012 9:02 p.m. MST
By Molly Farmer, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Alan Bachman hopes the scene of local Jews and Muslims literally breaking bread Sunday will be a type for other gatherings the world over.

“The Jewish and Muslim communities here have always had a great relationship,” Bachman said. “Hopefully, this is a microcosm for the world.”

The feast was part of a month-long event put on by the Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable — which Bachman chairs — to promote “love, harmony and understanding among all faith traditions.” More than 20 events will be held at places of worship throughout the valley to encourage increased religious understanding among the state’s many faiths.

See all 11 photos | Click to enlarge
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Jews and Muslims come together to make traditional cuisine as part of the Interfaith Roundtable at Congregation Kol Ami in Salt Lake City Sunday, Feb. 5, 2012.
From the archive
Faith in harmony: Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable celebrates 10 years with many faiths, one family – Feb. 3, 2012
Race questions cloud lawsuit over Jewish cemetery – Jan. 6, 2012
Race questions cloud lawsuit over Jewish cemetery – Jan. 6, 2012
Members of various faiths come together on behalf of immigrants at the Cathedral of the Madeleine – March 4, 2011
Utah’s religious community comes together in the Tabernacle on Temple Square to celebrate diversity – Feb. 20, 2011
The Jewish Congregation Kol Ami and the Islamic Society of Greater Salt Lake were the honored guests at Sunday’s cooking tutorial and tasting. The food, which was prepared in line with both Kosher and Halal dietary laws, was meant to symbolize the similarities between the two cultures and faiths.

“We are more the same than different,” said Sharifa Kudiya, a Muslim native of Pakistan who has been in Utah for 27 years. “The human nature is the same everywhere.”

Kudiya, who lives in Draper, made halva, a paste dessert that includes cream of wheat, saffron and coriander.

The halva was eaten alongside honey cakes made by Karen McArthur of Kol Ami.

“Food tends to bring people together,” McArthur said.

Rabbi Ilana Schwartzman welcomed everyone to her house of worship, saying food, especially in Jewish tradition, encourages understanding and unity in times of sorrow and joy.

“The people that you eat with are the people that you share your life with,” she said. “There is so much strife in the world…We’re trying to find commonality.”

The Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable was created 10 years ago in anticipation of the 2002 Winter Olympics. Interfaith Week served as a time of prayerful reflection in preparation for welcoming the world to Salt Lake City and returns every February on the anniversary of the Games. It has now expanded to a month-long celebration.

This year’s event will conclude Feb. 26, with the annual Interfaith Music Tribute at the Salt Lake Tabernacle. It will feature song, dance, scripture, and prayers by Buddhist, Celtic tradition, Christian Bell Ringers, Christian Gospel Choir, Hindus, Jews, Latter-day Saints, Muslims, Presbyterians, Sikhs, Thai Buddhist, and Unitarians.

For a complete list of events, visit www.interfaithroundtable.org

Email: mfarmer@desnews.com

Twitter: mollyfarmer
Source

World Interfaith Harmony Week – Australia

Posted on February 6th, 2012

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 2012

The World Interfaith Harmony Week was first proposed at the UN General Assembly on September 23, 2010 by H.M. King Abdullah II of Jordan. Just under a month later, on October 20, 2010, it was unanimously adopted by the UN and henceforth the first week of February will be observed as a World Interfaith Harmony Week.

The World Interfaith Harmony Week is based on the pioneering work of The Common Word initiative. This initiative, which started in 2007, called for Muslim and Christian leaders to engage in a dialogue based on two common fundamental religious Commandments; Love of God, and Love of the Neighbour, without nevertheless compromising any of their own religious tenets. The commandments are at the heart of the three Monotheistic religions and therefore provide the most solid theological ground possible

In Brisbane this event was celebrated on Sunday February 5th at the Multi-Faith Centre at Griffith University hosted by the Queensland Jewish Community Services Inc and the Roman Catholic Commission for Ecumenism and Inter-Faith Dialogue.

Inter-Faith opportunities are rich and challenging experiences for me so this afternoon gathering promised much with the “Who is my God” theme. Susan Handley of the Baha’i Community and Linda Ward, a Pagan stretched my understanding of religion beyond the dominant cultural language of my Western heritage.

The Baha’i Community I have known mostly through their hosting of World Teachers’ Day each year at the local primary school where I worked in Annerley. Susan’s presentation introduced me to the prayer and meditation of her religious practice.

Linda’s presentation came from a Celtic background in elements of spirituality that I easily identified with via my readings of John O’Donohue. You can get a glimpse of Linda’s approach and the diverse world of Pagan life in a great youtube clip: Australian Pagan Speaks

The acknowledgement of Land was done by Aunty Anne Chapman a member of Griffith’s Council of Elders with family ties to the Manandangi and Kamilaroi clans.

This wasn’t just a “talk-fest” about Divinity. It was an spiritual encounter and the litany of eight prayers from diverse traditions enhanced the spirit of the moment.

A feature of the gathering was a presentation to the Hon John Mickel MP member for Logan and speaker of the House for his contributions to Multi-Faith awareness in Queensland.

If you didn’t get to a local celebration this year, perhaps you might look to organising an event in your locality next year.

Source

World Interfaith Harmony Week

Posted on February 6th, 2012

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 2012

This week is the second time World Interfaith Harmony Week is being celebrated. http://worldinterfaithharmonyweek.com/ As the website states, “The World Interfaith Harmony Week is based on the pioneering work of The Common Word initiative. This initiative, which started in 2007, called for Muslim and Christian leaders to engage in a dialogue based on two common fundamental religious Commandments; Love of God, and Love of the Neighbour, without nevertheless compromising any of their own religious tenets.” This week is a reminder of the importance of spiritual hospitality, making room for others in our hearts and minds, as we strive to be peacemakers in our communities. I will be involved in two programs this week as part of World Interfaith Harmony week. One is for Canterbury School parents and the other is open to all who are interested. Hopefully I will see you at either the open house or the movie.

Canterbury School parents are invited to an open house hosted by the Haven Interfaith Parents (HIP) to learn about the multi-faith efforts occurring at Canterbury School. The open house will be Tuesday, February 7th from 7-9 pm in the Haven (located in the Middle School). The questions which will be discussed are on the HIP page.

A Seed of Common Ground (an interfaith group in Fort Wayne) is sponsoring the movie “Cities of Light” with a discussion to follow. The movie and discussion will be Wednesday, February 8th from 7-9 pm at Allen County Public Library, Meeting room C (Main floor, southeast end, close to Dunkin’ Donuts.

Source

SCMI Observed International Interfaith Harmony Week

Posted on February 5th, 2012

Masophy Kengoo – Study Secretary Women’s Desk

The Student Christian Movement of India in collaboration with Visthar organized a Public Lecture as part of the International Harmony Week at the SCM programme Center on 4th February 2012.The International Interfaith Harmony Week was first proposed at the UN General Assembly on September 23, 2010 by H.M. King Abdullah II of Jordan. Just under a month later, onOctober 20, 2010, it was unanimously adopted by the UN and henceforth the first week of February will be observed as a World Interfaith Harmony Week. The World Interfaith Harmony Week extends the Two Commandments by adding ‘Love of the Good, and Love of the Neighbor’.

This formula includes all people of goodwill. It includes those of other faiths, and those with no faith.The world Interfaith Harmony week provides a platform – one week in a year- when all interfaith groups and other groups of goodwill can show the world what a powerfull movement they are.

The programme began with a word of Welcome and Introduction by Dr. David Selvaraj, Director of Visthar and the Inauguration of the 5th Edition of the School of Peace which was followed by a dance presented by the international participants of the School of Peace. Participants from different country, different faith and different organization participated in the programme.

Dr. Ratnagar Sadhananda, Professor and Director of Karnataka Theological Research Institute (KATHRI) Kannada University delivered the lecture on “Towards a Spirituality of Hope”. The lecture was divided into three parts namely Spirituality of Resistance is Spirituality of Hope, Spirituality of Crisis is Spirituality of Hope, Spirituality of Hospitality is Spirituality of Hope. He said that the Spirituality of Resistance, Crisis and Hospitality connect Hope with our involvement to bring changes. The task for us is to make music with what is left.

The programme came to an end with a Concluding Remark and Vote of Thanks by Rev. Raj Bharat Patta the General Secretary of the Student Christian Movement of India.

Source

Lynnwood church’s credo: Celebrate humanity

Posted on February 5th, 2012

By Julie Muhlstein, Herald Writer

The Rev. Steven Greenebaum has a collection of books representing different faith traditions. His Living Interfaith Church meets the second and fourth Sunday of each month in the cafeteria of Lynnwood’s Alderwood Middle School.

LYNNWOOD — On one Sunday, members of the Living Interfaith Church will learn about actions in the United Nations General Assembly. On another, the topic will be Abraham Lincoln.

Those aren’t subjects churchgoers typically encounter at Sunday services. At Living Interfaith, which meets two Sundays each month at Alderwood Middle School, members have come to expect themes that broaden their horizons.

The Rev. Steven Greenebaum started the church in 2010 by holding services in his Lynnwood home. At the root of his mission is the idea that there is no single “right” spiritual answer.

“None of us is there to convert or convince anybody,” Greenebaum said Thursday. “We’re there to celebrate our common humanity and learn from each other.”

On different Sundays, the church honors traditions of various faiths. The group celebrated and learned about Christmas, Hanukkah and, for Chinese New Year, Confucian, Daoist and Buddhist beliefs.

As for his own background, Greenebaum said “I am excruciatingly hard to categorize. I am Jewish. I have not left Judaism, it’s still my spiritual path.” He is also ordained as an interfaith minister. Before starting the Lynnwood church, he was involved with the Interfaith Community Church in Seattle’s Ballard area.

“I have never felt that any one group had the right answer — and that included my own,” Greenebaum said. “My question was about one path being the path, not that my path was wrong.”

Greenebaum has written a book on the subject, called “The Interfaith Alternative,” due out in April from New Society Publishers.

At its Feb. 12 gathering, Living Interfaith members will learn about the United Nations recognition of World Interfaith Harmony Week, the first week of February. The U.N. General Assembly this week heard from speakers representing the world’s major religions.

Greenebaum said he learned about World Interfaith Harmony Week from people he had met from Jordan. The week was first observed by the UN in 2011.

“It is at the core of who we are,” Greenebaum said. “Twice a month, we come together — Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Jew, Baha’i, humanist and seeker — to pray together, learn about each other, and celebrate our common humanity.”

In recognition of the week, several members of his group attended a mosque in Shoreline. “For a lot of people, it was their first time. It was a wonderful experience,” he said.

On Feb. 26, the church’s theme is “Remembering Lincoln — Greatness Does Not Mean Perfection.” Greenebaum said the topic arose when he read different sources about the 16th president. Some discredited Lincoln’s reputation, others portrayed Lincoln without flaws, he said.

He is troubled by what he sees as “airbrushed history,” and believes perfectionism is “spiritually destructive.”

“Humans make mistakes,” Greenebaum said.

He also said that Living Interfaith is different from a class in comparative religion. “The whole idea is less to learn intellectually about different religions and more to experience different spiritual paths,” he said.

“If your spiritual path helps you to be a more caring person, it’s working for you,” Greenebaum said.

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460, muhlstein@heraldnet.com.

Living Interfaith

The Living Interfaith Church meets the second and fourth Sundays of each month in the Alderwood Middle School cafeteria, 20000 28th Ave. W., Lynnwood. Services are at 11 a.m. with a potluck lunch at noon. Information: www.livinginterfaith.org.

Source

Interfaith conversation to bring together local leaders

Posted on February 4th, 2012

SPECIAL TO THE DISPATCH
FEBRUARY 3, 2012 12:16:00 PM

In celebration of World Interfaith Harmony Week, an interfaith conversation between five local religious leaders will be held Monday, Feb. 6, at 7 p.m. in Nissan Auditorium on the Mississippi University for Women campus. The event is free and open to the public.

Part of MUW’s International Series, the discussion will explore world religions’ core teachings on violence and how to overcome it.

“The conversation will address not just armed conflict and terrorism, but also local problems like gun violence, domestic violence, and child abuse,” said Kim Whitehead, who co-directs the series and will moderate the panel. “We will explore what these traditions say about both the roots of violence and the possibilities for nonviolence.”

Panelists will include Rev. Tom Bryson of First Presbyterian Church, Columbus; Linda Campany, former Zen monk; Ghanshyam Heda, MUW faculty and leader in the India Association of Memphis; Seth Oppenheimer, student rabbi at Congregation B’nai Israel, Columbus; and Rani Sullivan of the Islamic Center of Mississippi in Starkville.

“Inter-faith dialogue is critical for promoting and maintaining civic and international stability. It is not about advocating one religion or one culture; rather, it promotes celebration and respect for diversity in our world, which can lead to nonviolent conflict resolution, thereby promoting human dignity and security,” Sullivan, who works with Whitehead on interfaith exchange between MUW students and members of the Starkville mosque, said.

World Interfaith Harmony Week grew out of the work of The Common Word initiative, which began in 2007 and calls for Muslim and Christian leaders to engage in interfaith dialogue. The week was formally adopted by the United Nations in 2010 and is celebrated the first week of February.

The panel discussion is co-sponsored by MUW’s College of Arts and Sciences, Office of Student Life, Hearin Leadership Program and Department of Languages, Literature, and Philosophy, with additional support from the National Endowment for the Humanities through the Mississippi Humanities Council and the Zeta Rho Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International.

For more information, contact Whitehead at kwhitehead@as.muw.edu or Deborah Miranda at dmiranda@nsgslp.muw.edu.x

Read more: http://www.cdispatch.com/news/article.asp?aid=15468#ixzz1lOTiYD9Y

Source

Bulgaria holds forum on interfaith dialogue

Posted on February 4th, 2012

Sat Feb 4, 2012 12:38AM
Ivaylo Spasov, Press TV, Sofia

It’s not “tolerance” when you say “I don’t mind Muslims, but I don’t want to see them pray publicly”… This message was delivered in a forum in Sofia, dedicated to interfaith harmony. In scholars’ view, “tolerance” has turned into a shallow word with no real applications.

This representative of the governmental department for religious issues tells Press TV there is no interfaith tension in Bulgaria and that this is one tolerant society. Experts, however, doubt it.

In addition to addressing common messages, spiritual leaders urge this “power” to be focused also on common efforts to fight modern-day atrocities.

Gramatikov, a monk who has been ordained a deacon, says religion is not a gap but a bridge between people. He insists that, despite their different beliefs, in the end, people are judged by their deeds.

And as actions speak louder than words, in less than a month Bulgaria has hosted an exhibition on houses of prayer and a movie festival dedicated to the Middle East and North Africa, with a special focus on Iran. All of these come as attempts for Bulgaria to set a different example in times when Islamophobia is turning into an appealing political platform throughout the EU.

Over one million people are expected to take part in more than a thousand events throughout the world – exhibitions, fairs, discussion. All of them are held within the UN-sponsored World Interfaith Harmony Week.

Source

PM luncheon with religious reps highlight of UN interfaith week

Posted on February 4th, 2012

By Debra Chong February 02, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 2 – For the second year running, Putrajaya is marking an international week-long celebration of religious harmony with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak hosting a luncheon for Malaysia’s multi-religious national leaders.

The luncheon, as announced today by National Unity and Integration (NUID) Minister Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon (picture), appears to have replaced a week-long series of school programmes aimed at fostering better religious understanding among students, which was to be the highlight of the UN World Interfaith Harmony Week that started yesterday.

“The highlight will be a lunch hosted by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak for major religious leaders on 15 February 2012,” Koh said in a statement today.

The school initiative, mooted by members of the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism (MCCBCHST) had won the approval from Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin last month.

Muhyiddin, who is also in charge of the Education Ministry, was reported to have agreed to launch the programme.

The Malaysian Insider understands that Muhyiddin is no longer launching it and that the range of extra-curricular activities that were to run through the Rukun Negara clubs set up in each national school have also been axed.

Instead the heads of each school will deliver a speech on behalf of the Education Minister during assembly, a source from the Cabinet’s Special Committee to Promote Understanding and Harmony Among Religious Adherents (JKMPKA) told The Malaysian Insider.

The source also said that the Federal Territory NUID will be holding several activities, such as a community clean-up, aerobics exercises and a religious forum in the city from tomorrow, while various events will be held at the national level in the Sultan Idris University of Education (UPSI) in Tanjung Malim, Perak and will see youth participants from abroad, including South Korea.

The Cabinet’s interfaith panel chief, Datuk Azman Amin Hassan, who is also director-general of the NUID, did not respond to The Malaysian Insider’s calls for confirmation.

Koh said that three religious and cultural festivals coincided with the world harmony week and remarked that it gave Malaysians “special reasons” to celebrate.

Muslims in Malaysia mark the birthday of Prophet Mohamad or Maulidur Rasul on February 5 while ethnic Chinese of Hokkien descent will celebrate Chap Goh Meh (the 15th day of the Lunar New Year and regarded as the end of the festival) on February 6. Hindu Malaysians celebrate Thaipusam on the following day, February 7.

Koh said it was an opportunity for Malaysians to “condemn, combat and contain the extremists” within society “emphasise and reaffirm the principles of moderation and inclusiveness in line with 1 Malaysia” as PM Najib advocates.

The senator urged faith organisation to “organise talks, joint charitable programmes and other initiatives, phased out in the month of February.”

The UN World Interfaith Harmony Week was first proposed by Jordan’s King Abdullah II in the UN General Assembly in October 2010 as a way for member countries to show a united front in the fight against religious extremism and violence and promote a culture of peace.

Malaysia had first observed it last year with PM Najib hosting a lunch for leaders of the different faith groups in Putrajaya on February 14.

But Datuk Ilani Isahak, who was the Cabinet’s first interfaith panel chief but died after a year on the job, had grander plans to build up a group of “peace ambassadors”and involve talks with religious leaders from strife-torn countries towards that goal.

Source

Faith groups call for sense of responsibility and interdependence

Posted on February 4th, 2012

UK / WELLBEING03 FEB 2012

Healing the World was the theme of an event at London Central Mosque that brought together different faith groups during World Interfaith Harmony Week

A Dharmic panel discussion with Yann Lovelock, Ajit Singh, and Kiran Bali at London Central Mosque Photo © Dr Richard Boeke

Interfaith organisations came together in London on 1 February for an afternoon of discussion and learning as part of the United Nations World Interfaith Harmony Week. First observed in 2011, the week is an annual event to foster dialogue, mutual understanding and cooperation among all people regardless of their faith, and was proposed in 2010 by HM King Abdullah II and HRH Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan.

Hosted by the London Central Mosque, the theme of the 1 February event was ‘healing the world’. Two separate panels discussed what this means from their own religious perspectives.

A panel of representatives from the Abrahamic faiths, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, included Rabbi Jackie Tabick, who discussed the topic in the context of taking care of our planet’s natural resources.

Rabbi Tabick addressed the need for world faiths to reframe the idea of humanity’s relationship with creation and change people’s perception of human dominion over nature. It is humanity’s responsibility to be good stewards of creation, she said.

Echoing the need for a renewed sense of responsibility, the Rev Peter Owen Jones, presenter of the BBC’s Around the World in 80 Faiths, was emphatic in his view that world religions have largely failed in addressing this issue.

Imam Abjujalil Sajid proposed that before anything else can happen, people must take responsibility for themselves. This begins with how we communicate, which must be done, gently, calmly and with reason, he said.

The second panel of the afternoon offered perspectives from the Dharmic traditions, namely Buddhism, Sikhism, and Hinduism.

Ajit Singh, a trustee from the World Congress of Faiths, which was one of the co-sponsors of the event, said that Sikh prayer establishes a link between the person and the elements, and damaging the elements means we are damaging ourselves and all other beings.

Kiran Bali, a Hindu from West Yorkshire and an interfaith leader, discussed aryuveda, a traditional medical approach that seeks balance among many factors that contribute to our wellbeing. She also discussed ahimsa, an important tenet of dharma (righteous conduct) meaning to cause no pain to any other living thing either in thought or deed.

The final panellist, Yann Lovelock, discussed Buddhist perspectives on how holding one set of beliefs does not mean you must have antipathy for another, and how unless you understand your own mind, you cannot begin to understand the traditions of another.

While the Abrahamic traditions offered ideas that highlighted the theme of responsibility, the Dharmic perspectives fell largely into the theme of interdependence. In their presentations, all of the speakers returned to the notion that keeping both these themes in mind is vital to finding solutions to the major problems that we face today.

Source

Consider this: Interfaith harmony

Posted on February 3rd, 2012

By The Post-Standard Editorial Board

In explaining the need for World Interfaith Harmony Week, Jordan’s Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal noted that “the misuse or abuse of religions can be a cause of world strife, whereas religions should be a great foundation for facilitating world peace.”

In October 2010, the U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution calling for its member states to hold events during the first week of February to challenge “forces of division that spread misunderstanding and mistrust, especially among peoples of different religions.”

Sunday, more than 200 Central New Yorkers gathered at Syracuse’s Temple Society of Concord to celebrate religious diversity and share faith traditions.

Muslims, Hindus, the Moorish Society, Roman Catholics, Jews, Bahai, Sikhs, pagans and others spent a few minutes each sharing a skit, scripture, music or poetry to illustrate aspects of their beliefs.

The event was put on by Interfaith Works of Central New York and Women Transcending Boundaries. It showcased the earnest, ongoing efforts to educate about the religious tapestry of our community. By introducing people to traditions different from their own, the event moves the world closer to understanding and trust.
Related topics: editorial

Source

Awqaf ministry marks World Interfaith Harmony Week

Posted on February 3rd, 2012

Petra | Feb 03,2012 | 23:24

AMMAN — The Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs on Thursday held a celebration to mark World Interfaith Harmony Week, observed annually during the first week of February.

During the ceremony, held at the King Abdullah I Mosque, Minister of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Abdul Salam Abbadi said Jordan sets an example of moderation and tolerance, noting that Islam calls for harmony, coexistence and justice.

In September 2010, His Majesty King Abdullah proposed the launch of the World Interfaith Harmony Week at the UN General Assembly, which adopted the initiative in October that year.

Source

World Interfaith Harmony Week

Posted on February 3rd, 2012

Feb 2nd, 2012 by Colin.

religionnerd.com

Sufi meditation in Lodz, Poland, dialogue workshops in Jerusalem, and a conference in Abuja, Nigeria, to create a national inter-religious policy–these are just three of the hundreds of interfaith events that will take place over the next seven days across six continents as part of the second annual World Interfaith Harmony Week. The UN now recognizes every first week of February as World Interfaith Harmony Week, an initiative introduced by King Abdullah II of Jordan at the UN General Assembly in September 2010 and unanimously adopted by that body in under a month. Both King Abdullah II and his wife, Queen Rania, have been among the most outspoken leaders on interfaith dialogue and peace; their hometown of Amman, Jordan, will host a number of interfaith events in the coming days.

Inspired by the A Common Word initiative, World Interfaith Harmony Week has significantly expanded its reach in a short time. Throughout the week, hundreds of schools, community centers, hospitals, stadiums, places of worship, and parliament houses will host dinners, vigils, and forums in over 30 countries.

Supported by a host of religious leaders around the world, the week sends a very intentional and clear message to everyone, whether religious or not. The mission statement of the initiative is, “Love of God and Love of the Neighbour, or Love of the Good and Love of the Neighbour,” including all people of good will.

A number of interfaith initiatives have sprung up around the world in the last decade, but tensions between groups certainly continue around the world. Let’s hope that this week serves as a breath of fresh air and a spark to a renewed sense of community, from London to Lahore.

Does World Interfaith Harmony Week have a different type of significance because it was initiated by Muslims? Have interfaith efforts helped ease tension and/or build trust and respect in your community? Please share your comments below.

Source

Call to maintain interfaith harmony

Posted on February 2nd, 2012

→ Staff Correspondent

Dhaka University Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr AAMS Arefin Siddique speaks at a discussion on ‘Interreligious Harmony and Bangladesh’ at TSC auditorium in the city on Wednesday. The Department of World Religions and Culture in association with the Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue of Dhaka University hosted the event. sun photo

The essence all religions is the same, each containing the great message of peace and harmony, speakers said at a discussion on Wednesday.

They said the creator is one and all creations are similar to God.

The Department of World Religions and Culture in association with the Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue of Dhaka University hosted the discussion at TSC auditorium to mark The World Interfaith Harmony Week.

Professor AAMS Arefin Siddique, DU vice-chancellor, was present at the programme as the chief guest.

He said, “It seems that we are living in a primitive era, as brother kills his own brother while wife her husband.”Human’s external outlook is different, but s/he has same biological characteristics, Prof Arefin added.

Dr Abdullah Al Maruf, director (publication) of Islamic Foundation, said “The world has given approval to our claim that we maintain interreligious harmony in the country.”

He added: “We are trying to enhance such harmony in every sphere of our country.”

Ven Buddhananda Mahathero, deputy chief of International Buddhist Monastery, said, “We need to follow the sayings of great personalities to rein in violence spreading across the world.”

Most Rev Bisop Theotonius Gomes, CSC, Dhaka, said the objective of every religion is to keep harmony among people.

Prof Dr Kazi Nurul Islam, director of Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue, chaired the programme.

He said, “We should keep in mind that we can establish an interreligious harmony in the world.”

“In 1971, we forgot about our religion and fought for the country’s Liberation,” Prof Islam went on.

Swami Ameyanandaji Maharaj, principal of Ramakrishna Math & Mission, among others, spoke on the occasion.

Source

Guyana abhors religious stigmatisation

Posted on February 2nd, 2012

Written by GINA
Wednesday, 01 February 2012 22:18

– President assures at Interfaith Week
– Religious channel to be prioritised

THE Guyana Government, for the second year in succession, has responded with loyalty to the United Nations global call for countries to host a suite of activities in early February to mark the occasion of World Interfaith Harmony Week.

President Donald Ramotar has an emblem pinned on his shirt on arrival at the National Culture Centre yesterday.

Yesterday, members of the different religious faiths converged on the National Cultural Centre to launch Guyana’s programme of activities.

The launch, which was attended by President Donald Ramotar, featured prayers and reflections from the Hindu, Rastafarian, Christian, Muslim and Baha’i faiths, singing of the national song, “O Beautiful Guyana” and remarks on the occasion.

Guyana holds the reputation as a country highly tolerant of religious diversity, and according to President Ramotar, is setting the precedent for other countries where devotion to faith comes at the cost of persecution.

The Head of State took the firm stand that Guyana rejects the notion that “any person or any people can be stigmatised or prosecuted because of religion,” and that the government will repudiate any government, organisation or person to subject people to policies that restrict the pursuit of their faith.
Similar sentiments were expressed by United Nations Representative, Dr Beverly Barnett, who ranked Guyana’s reputation a prime example and a perfect opportunity for citizens to work together.
Pandit Reepu Daman Persaud addresses the audience at the National Cultural Centre.

World Interfaith Harmony Week follows a clarion call by King Abdullah II of Jordan, on September 23, 2010, for the global community to engage in constructive dialogue aimed at promoting virtues such as respect for all human beings, irrespective of religion, race and the prevention of vices, among them intolerance and racism.

President Ramotar, in his keynote address, reiterated the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) administration’s policy on religion.
“Our people have absolute freedom to observe and celebrate their faith. That freedom is not only guaranteed by our Constitution, but there is a genuine respect for religious freedom on the part of the government,” President Ramotar said.

Since 2005, the idea of an Inter-religious Television (IRTV) channel dedicated to the broadcasting of religious programmes on a 24 hour basis was conceptualised under the auspices of former President Bharrat Jagdeo.

Members of the Inter-Religious Organisation (IRO) met on several occasions during last year to discuss the resources necessary for the setting up of the channel, including funding and equitable distribution of air time amongst the various bodies. Yesterday, President Ramotar assured that the initiative is still a priority of the government.
, “I will pursue the promise of my predecessor, former President Bharrat Jagdeo, that the inter-faith television station will be up and running as soon as possible and, that the regular engagement of faith communities and leaders will continue,” President Ramotar said.
On the roster of activities for interfaith week that will be held during the period February 1 to 7, are an inter-faith symposium, exhibition and a harmony walk that will culminate with a cultural programme.
Sharing his reflection on harmony from the Hindu perspective was Pandit Reepu Daman Persaud, who recited and interpreted excerpts from the Hindu scriptures with evidence that God is universal.

He explained that religion is all about service to people, and in so doing, a service to God.
Brother Bacchus of the Muslim Youth League called for an end to the media propagation of religious hate at the political and community level.

His closing words were, “No one is a believer until he/she desires for others the same as he/she desires for self.”

Dr Vindyha Persaud of the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha quoted famous words of Mahatma Gandhi, “All religions of the world, while they differ in other respects, unitedly proclaim that nothing lives in this world but truth.”

Source

Lobregat enjoins support to Interfaith Harmony week

Posted on February 2nd, 2012

Lobregat enjoins support to Interfaith Harmony week

Posted on Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines/01 February 2012 by Sheila Covarrubias– Mayor Celso Lobregat today reiterated his call on all offices and agencies in the city to actively participate in the activities of the celebration, a directive he issued through Executive Order 434 and signed 4 January.

Zamboanga City Mayor Celso Lobregat reaffirms his commitment to interfaith harmony and support to the celebration of World Interfaith Harmony Week during its launching program Wednesday afternoon highlighted by the signing of the pledge of commitment at a local hotel. JOEY BAUTISTA
Displaying harmony and unity, people representing different faiths, culture and beliefs this afternoon converged at a local hotel to launch the World Interfaith Harmony Week celebration in Zamboanga spearheaded by the National Ulama Conference of the Philippines (NUCP) Zambasulta chapter.

Mayor Lobregat along with Archbishop Romulo Valles, Basilan Ulama Supreme Council President Dr. Bongcael Tabasan, DILG Regional Director Paizal Abutazil (representing Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo), Silsillah Dialogue Movement founder Fr. Sebastiano D’Ambra and ARMM OIC Governor Mujiv Hataman (represented by NUCP-Zambasulta head of secretariat Ali Aiyub) were among those invited to share their thoughts on interfaith harmony during the launching program at the Astoria Hotel that was highlighted by the unveiling of the logo, a creation of artist Rameer Tawasil and the signing of the pledge of commitment by the different stakeholders.

The world Interfaith Harmony Week was first proposed at the UN General Assembly on 23 September 2010 by King Abdullah II of Jordan and less than a month later, on 20 October 2010, it was unanimously adopted by the UN and declaring the first week of February as World Interfaith Harmony Week.
Lobregat in his message said the World Interfaith Harmony Week is based on the pioneering work of the common word initiative, an initiative that started in 2007, calling on Muslim and Christian leaders to engage in a dialogue based on two common fundamental religious commandments: love of God and love of neighbour, without nevertheless compromising any of their religious tenets.

“Today’s launching of the week-long celebration demonstrates our strong resolve for the attainment of long and genuine peace through dialogue amongst all stakeholders—Muslim, Christians and all other faiths in the community, a policy to which our administration is committed for years now,” the mayor stressed.
The activity likewise, he said, also typifies the strong and harmonious relationship between Muslims and Christians in Zamboanga City towards the promotion of dialogue and peace. He commended the Ulamas, and all other organizations dedicated to Muslim-Christian dialogue for peace, like the Silsilah Dialogue Movement of Rev. Fr. Sebastiano D’Ambra, PIME, and the Peace Advocates of Zamboanga headed by Rev. Fr. Angel Calvo.

Like the NUCP and other stakeholders, the city government under his administration, the mayor stressed, has been a strong advocate of dialogue and peace as all initiatives are directed towards harmony and peace. These initiatives include the implementation of projects that promote Muslim Christian relationship such as the sponsorship of sunset meal called Pagbukah during Ramadan, the implementation of a literacy program for Muslim women and the acceleration of basic social services and implementation of various infrastructure projects in Muslim-dominated communities.

For his part, Arbishop Valles said religious leaders in Mindanao were ahead of the UN in advocating for interfaith harmony by 17 years through the organization of the Bishops Ulama Conference, which has the same objectives and purpose as the UN’s declaration.
In their individual messages, Sec. Robredo (read by Dir. Abutazil) and ARMM OIC Gov. Hataman (read by Prof. Aiyub) called on all people to “rise above their differences” and to “drop all biases” to attain peace and harmony in this part of the country and the world.

The World Interfaith Harmony Week celebration in Zamboanga, themed “Celebrating harmony among all people of God”, is organized by the NUCP-ZamBaSulTa with the support of Silsillah Dialogue Movement, Archdiocese of Zamboanga, Ateneo de Zamboanga University, office of the city mayor and other stakeholders.
Other activities during the week include a workshop on interfaith harmony in the barangay at the Harmony Village in Sinunuc 2 Feb. at 8am; dinner and cultural presentation and launching of arts month among others.

Also present during the kick off program this afternoon were Councilor Luis Biel III, Rev. Fr. Nev Vigano, Fr. Max Rodriguez, Fr. Giulio Mariani, Dr. Abdurahim Kenoh, Prof. Ali Yacub, and other religious leaders and peace advocates. (Sheila Covarrubias)

Source

Guyana joins the rest of the world in observing world interfaith harmony week. (Video)

Posted on February 2nd, 2012

Guyana joins the rest of the world in observing world interfaith harmony week. (YOUTUBE link)

Source

Considered a global model for religious tolerance…

Posted on February 2nd, 2012

Guyana joins 28 other countries in observing Harmony Week

– weeklong series of activities planned from today

GUYANA is among 29 countries in the world observing United Nations World Interfaith Harmony Week, from February 1st to 7th annually. This event goes a long way towards ending religious war, violence and crime, and strives to ensure that people will be able to live in safety and peace, and have food to eat.
To commemorate this event, the Interfaith Harmony Committee has, once again, organized a series of events, beginning with a breakfast at the National Cultural Centre this morning during which there will be an address by His Excellency President, Donald Ramotar.

According to the co-chair of the committee, Pandit Chrishna Persaud, the agenda for this event is the same as last year, with a few additions.

Alluding to the importance of the occasion, he said, “We are following the same pattern, with a few additions. Harmony week activities commence today. The focus is building barriers and building bridges where religious communities are concerned, because there is a need to end the bigotry, hatred, fighting, and (to) build trust. No one religion has a monopoly on the path to salvation or to God’s grace, and it is time that we recognize that.”

He also explained that Guyana can be considered a model for the world, because Guyanese people have a history of sharing in each other’s cultural heritage, and do not suffer from the negatives like many Middle-Eastern countries.

“It is imperative we do not lose what we have, but build upon it and make it better. It is good that Harmony Week can be celebrated now, coming out of elections, so where ethnic distrust may be prevailing at some level, we can cross that divide at some level,” Pandit Persaud stated.
In recognising the importance of the event, Pandit Persaud urged religious leaders to visit schools in their areas, address students, and explain to them the significance of the week, and the importance of breaking barriers.

Meanwhile, Committee member Pastor Ronald Mc Garrell said support for the event last year was tremendous, as the State, other stakeholders, the Inter-Religious Organisation (IRO), and religious leaders were instrumental in the success of Harmony Week 2011.
Activities to be observed during the week include a prayer breakfast at the National Cultural Centre at 09:30 hrs today, at which Members of Parliament, the diplomatic community and religious leaders from around the country will meet.

Following this, there will be a symposium from 13:00 hrs to 16:00 hrs; and, on Friday, all will be invited to participate in the Harmony Walk from the Cenotaph, proceeding along Church Street to the Promenade Gardens for a cultural presentation.
“We will also be having a tree-planting exercise around the city,” Pastor Mc Garrell informed.

The United Nations launched the first World Interfaith Harmony Week on February 1st, 2011 with a broad range of activities around the world, including interfaith breakfasts, film screenings, and talks featuring the active participation of civil society, UN entities, and other intergovernmental organizations.

The draft resolution A/65/L5, titled the World Interfaith Harmony Week, put forth by Jordan was sponsored by 29 co-sponsors: Albania, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Egypt, El Salvador, Georgia, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Liberia, Libya, Mauritius, Morocco, Oman, Paraguay, Qatar, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Tanzania, Tunisia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Uruguay and Yemen.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 31 January 2012 23:55

Source

Major Interfaith Initiative to be Held at London Central Mosque

Posted on February 2nd, 2012

Major Interfaith Initiative to be Held at London Central Mosque

Faith organisations will come together in London this week in a bid to end anger and hate among different religious groups.

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) – Faith organisations will come together in London this week in a bid to end anger and hate among different religious groups.

The “Healing The World” event will see representatives from different religious organisations discussing the sources of hate in an attempt to create better interfaith relationships. The event will take place on 1 February 2012 at The London Central Mosque, from 12.30pm until 5pm.

Charity – the World Congress of Faiths has organised the event in conjunction with the International Association of Religions Freedom.

The event is also supported by Religions for Peace and the United Religions Initiative.

It will be officiated by Rabbi Jackie Tabick (Jewish), Rev Peter Owen Jones (Christian), Imam Abduljalil Sajid (Islam), Kiran Bali MBE (Hindu), Yann Lovelock (Buddhist) and Ajit Singh MBE (Sikh).

The event is being co-ordinated by Dr Richard Boeke, chairman of the British Chapter of the International Association For Religious Freedom.

The event is part of World Interfaith Harmony Week, which works to promote forgiveness, compassion and oneness among different faiths.

The event is free to attend and all participants are asked to register with the World Congress of Faiths, which works to develop better understanding, co-operation and respect between different religions.

Source

Scarritt Bennett Breakfast to celebrate 2nd World Interfaith Harmony Week

Posted on February 1st, 2012

By Turner McCullough, Jr. | January 30, 2012 |

Scarritt Bennett Center sets celebration of 2nd annual World Interfaith Harmony Week with kick-off breakfast February 1.

Scarritt Bennett Center announces plans to celebrate the second annual World Interfaith Harmony Week. This year the center will host its monthly Common Table Breakfast, February 1, as the kick-off event marking the week. The breakfast will be held 8 to 10 a.m. in the Raintree Room. Cost is $15.

In response to the United Nations designating the first week of February as World Interfaith Harmony Week, Rabbi Rami and Rev. Tim Miner created this global breakfast celebration of human religiosity. Breakfasts were held in a dozen countries last year, and the hope is to expand it this year.

Building on Scarritt Bennett’s monthly Common Table breakfast, the Nashville Interfaith Harmony breakfast features music and speakers from different traditions joining to celebrate the diversity, depth and richness of Nashville’s religious life.

More info: (615) 320-1182 or wisdomhouse@scarrittbennett.org

Source

Philippines consider challenges for World Interfaith Harmony Week

Posted on February 1st, 2012

Philippines consider challenges for World Interfaith Harmony Week
Published in Interfaith News –
Oceania News 25Jan 2012 Written by Administrator

Inviting the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Moro National Liberation Front, Abu Sayyaf, New Peoples Army and other insurgent groups to interfaith harmony and peace dialogue will be a big challenge, the Zamboanga City-based local organizers of the World Interfaith Harmony Week 2012 celebration said.

“It’s an idea, a crazy idea, but this great idea can also to my mind on some other occasion. I think no matter how the things they (rebels) do they probably can tell us us why they are doing this,” Silsilah Dialogue Movement founder Fr. Sebastiano D’Ambra said during a press conference with local media on Monday.
But D’Ambra doubts if they can easily achieve a harmony with the said rebel and militant groups “because that will be a miracle, only in the Philippines, this miracle can happen.” He said in spite of this a reflection of something can be done together.

“Of course, no promises of any but just a kind of sincere sharing with some. If their real leaders can not come because they’re afraid they can send somebody to tell us that this is their (of Abu Sayyaf, MILF and others) voice. We will see what will happen. That’s a great challenge to us,” he said. For Professor Ali Yacub, Muslim convener of the Inter-Religious Solidarity Movement for Peace (IRSMP), the challenge to invite the Abu Sayyaf, MILF and other groups can be done but the challenge not to be arrested them especially those wanted and with warrant of arrest is a very impossible thing.

“We can guarantee the invitation but by not arresting, we can’t guarantee,” said Prof. Yacub, also the president of Golden Crescent Consortium of Peace Builders and Affiliates (GCCPBA).

The United Nation General Assembly encourages all States to support, on a voluntary basis, the spread of the message of interfaith harmony and goodwill in the world’s churches, synagogues, temples and other places of worship during the week long celebration.

It is based on love of God and love of one’s neighbor or on love of the good and love of one’s neighbor, each according to their own religious traditions or convictions.

Former school superintendent Dr. Abdurrahman Keno of the Department Education explained that the purpose of celebrating WIFHW is to create awareness on all people of the world that there is such harmony through interfaith dialogue.

“I can say without any contradictions that if there are hundreds of Abu Sayyaf, there are 10 or 20 more of them who are real Muslims that subscribe to harmony and dialogue through interfaith dialogue,” he said.

Prof. Alzad Sattar, another organizer of WIFHW, said the idea of inviting the rebels and others to interfaith harmony and peace is possible but in a different level. “This is a challenge for us. We should not stop until we die insha-Allah (in God’s will).”

But a local human rights and peace advocate who specializes international humanitarian law and rules of engagement opposed the idea of inviting Abu Sayyaf and NPA to interfaith dialogue, saying that terrorists will not respond to the invitation and do not want to be recognized as a group.

He instead challenged the media to reaching out to rebels through radio, television and newspapers.

“We can not invite a group purely Abu Sayyaf, NPA or international terrorists under Bin Laden, although we can conduct a forum in a particular barangay, where they will join the masses, the group of people, without identifying themselves,” he said.

By Hader Glang

Source: Zamboanga Today

Source

The World Interfaith Harmony Week

Posted on February 1st, 2012

The World Interfaith Harmony Week
Posted by Online on Feb 1st, 2012 // No Comment

MANILA, Philippines — To promote dialogue and civility among the world’s religions, the United Nations, through an initiative proposed by King Abdullah II of Jordan, kicked off the first World Interfaith Harmony Week in February 1-7, 2011. The proposal highlighted Muslims, Christians, and Jews for their participation and for making up 55 percent of the world’s population. The resolution, however, was drafted to exclude no one.

The observances are meant to reaffirm that “mutual understanding and inter-religious dialogue constitute important dimensions of a culture of peace,” according to the resolution passed by the United Nations General Assembly. The week is an opportunity for interfaith advocates, religious and government leaders, and people from all walks of life to celebrate the common ground they share as people of faith, and take a united stand against any form of violence in the name of religion.

Most religions have finally reached an acceptable state of peace and tolerance. History has shown that not only do these attitudes carry a dangerous risk of expression in acts of religious hatred, but they hinder any form of constructive dialogue among faiths that may enrich their understanding of one another. Misunderstanding seems to be the primary contributor to discord and it is important to recognize the possibility that the different religions can actually gain through communications.
Some conflicts have been incited and intensified by religions. Too often we put religion in the “too difficult box” but no matter how difficult it is to talk about religion, it is dangerous not to. Those who ferment religious extremism and prejudice have no hesitation speaking out as loudly as they can, claiming dominance of their ideas. The silent majority need to speak up and counter the intolerance, so that voices of moderation ignorance, cooperation, open mindedness, and respect can all be heard together.

World Interfaith Harmony Week stands out as the first global acknowledgment of the importance of interfaith cooperation and understanding for world peace and prosperity, and sends a message to all faiths that it is always good to have friends in time of crisis but it is even better to have friends all the time. CONGRATULATIONS!

Source

United Church of Canada Marks World Interfaith Harmony Week

Posted on February 1st, 2012

PRESS RELEASE
Jan. 31, 2012, 10:57 a.m. EST

United Church of Canada Marks World Interfaith Harmony Week

TORONTO, ONTARIO, Jan 31, 2012 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) — Canada is not immune to the poisonous influence of religious bigotry, persecution, and hatred, says The United Church of Canada’s Moderator, Mardi Tindal.

“Incidents of vandalism that target places of worship or other religious sites are reminders that work still needs to be done to build bridges of understanding here at home as well as internationally,” says Tindal.

Tindal made her comments in conjunction with the start of World Interfaith Harmony Week on February 1.

In October 2010, the United Nations declared the first week of February World Interfaith Harmony Week. The UN resolution encourages all states to voluntarily support the spread of the message of interfaith harmony and goodwill in the world’s churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, and other places of worship.

When the resolution was first introduced to the United Nations General Assembly, it was acknowledged that

“Our world is rife with religious tension and, sadly, mistrust, dislike and hatred. These religious tensions can easily erupt into communal violence. They also facilitate the demonizing of the other which in turn predisposes public opinion to support war against peoples of other religions…. The misuse or abuse of religions can thus be a cause of world strife, whereas religions should be a great foundation for facilitating world peace. The remedy for this problem can only come from the world’s religions themselves. Religions must be part of the solution, not part of the problem.”

Tindal says that the UN resolution reaffirms that mutual understanding and interreligious dialogue constitute important dimensions of a culture of peace.

She adds, however, that World Interfaith Harmony Week is not just about finding common ground among people of faith, or dialogue among religious leaders. She says it’s important to include all people of goodwill in the conversation-those of other faiths, and those with no faith.

“World Interfaith Harmony Week provides the opportunity for all of us to recognize that the common values we hold far outweigh the differences we may have,” says Tindal. “It is also a good time to consider how we bring our common values to our shared societal challenges.”

The United Church of Canada participates in interfaith dialogue and action through local, national, and global organizations. Significant resources, including group study guides, are available on whole world ecumenism, United Church-Jewish relations, and United Church-Muslim relations.

Source

Multiple events look to promote interfaith harmony

Posted on January 31st, 2012

Sarah Ford
Staff writer
Published: Monday, January 30, 2012

Religious Life at DU will host events beginning tomorrow and ending on Feb. 9 to celebrate Interfaith Harmony Week, a tradition recently established by the United Nations to spread awareness about students of different faiths.

University Chaplain Reverend Gary Brower has outlined several events that DU will host in celebration of Interfaith Harmony Week, which are aimed at getting students of both religious and non-religious backgrounds involved.

“We want to highlight inter-religious themes,” said Reverend Brower. “These provide opportunities fostering understanding and respect for people who are different.”
Events for the week, which have been extended through next week to accommodate for students’ absences during Winter Carnival, will include volunteer opportunities at the African Center, a poster viewing in the chapel and a dinner discussion for several students with the Chaplain. Other possible events have yet to be announced.

The poster viewing, planned to take place on the Feb. 9, will involve posters made by students of the Wellness Living and Learning Community, and will be on display in the chapel. During the viewing, students will have the opportunity to make their own prayer bead sets celebrating whichever religion they choose.
There will also be a dinner discussion for several students on Feb. 9 that will center on the theme of “what we bring to the table” and will allow students of different religions to answer questions about their faith.

“We want students to be engaged in several ways and in different ways,” said Brower. “We are encouraging them to engage with discussion, crafts, volunteerism and more.”
Students can look for more information on upcoming events and how to get involved in the coming week.
Interfaith Harmony Week was proposed by H.M. King Abdullah of Jordan at the United Nations on Sept. 23, 2010, and was passed by an unanimous vote on Oct. 20 of that year. The aim of the celebration was to have one week each year where “all interfaith groups and groups of goodwill become aware of each other and strengthen their movements,” as proposed by the resolution.

After its passing, the tradition received 300 letters of support from leaders around the world, and in the first celebration in 2011 there were more than 200 events held in 40 countries.
Now DU will join much of the world in hosting events to foster understanding and acceptance of other religions among the religious community on campus.

Source

Interfaith event to tackle hate

Posted on January 31st, 2012

Interfaith event to tackle hate (UKPA) –

Faith organisations will come together in London this week in a bid to end anger and hate among different religious groups.

The Healing The World event will see representatives from different religious organisations discussing the sources of hate in an attempt to create better interfaith relationships.

The event will take place on February 1 at The London Central Mosque, from 12.30pm until 5pm.

It will be attended by Rabbi Jackie Tabick, Rev Peter Owen Jones, Imam Abduljalil Sajid (Islam), Kiran Bali MBE (Hindu), Yann Lovelock (Buddhist) and Ajit Singh MBE (Sikh).

The event is part of World Interfaith Harmony Week, which works to promote forgiveness, compassion and oneness among different faiths.
Charity the World Congress of Faiths has organised the event with the International Association of Religions Freedom.

They have also received support from Religions for Peace and the United Religions Initiative.
The event is free to attend and all participants are asked to register with the World Congress of Faiths, which works to develop better understanding, co-operation and respect between different religions.
For more information contact the charity on 01935 864055 or email admin@worldfaiths.org or dvd.horner@googlemail.com.

Copyright © 2012 The Press Association. All rights reserved.

Source

Peace Troubadour sings for global unity

Posted on January 31st, 2012

From staff reports
Published: Monday, January 30, 2012 at 10:45 a.m.

Cecilia St. King, Peace Troubadour, will perform at 6:30 p.m. Saturday in Thomas Auditorium at Blue Ridge Community College in conjunction with World Interfaith Harmony Week.

The United Religions Initiative of Henderson County, a member of the United Religions Initiative global interfaith network and Blue Ridge Community College will celebrate the first World Interfaith Harmony Week, Wednesday through Feb. 7, with a concert featuring Cecilia St. King, Peace Troubadour, at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Thomas Auditorium, Blue Ridge Community College.

Facts
Want to go?
What: Concert featuring Cecilia
St. King
When: 6:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Bo Thomas Auditorium,
Blue Ridge Community College
Admission: Free; love offering
Information: 828-435-1337 ,
gprichard19@gmail.com
First proposed by H.M. King Abdullah II of Jordan, the week was established by the UN General Assembly in October 2010 in recognition of the importance of “mutual understanding and interreligious dialogue” for peace.

URI, an organization founded on the principle of enduring interfaith cooperation for peace and justice, endorsed the resolution in a letter to King Adbullah in December and called on its 500 member organizations to join in the inaugural observance this year.

The URI of Henderson County is one of 500 grassroots Cooperation Circles in 78 countries around the world. Founded under the leadership of Mary Page Sims 14 years ago, the Henderson County circle is one of the oldest in the network.

The Rev. Gary Prichard is the chairman.

St. King “happened to have a connection with Mary Page Sims, one of the founders of the URI in Henderson County,” Prichard said.

The local URI holds an annual event at the start of each year, Prichard said.

“This one is a little bit special,” he said. “I hope people leave with a sense of hope.”

St. King has appeared on NBC’s “Today” and on CNN and has presented concerts on stages around the world. Born in Jamaica, St. King moved with her family to the United States when she was 8. She works as a recording artist and also owns a children’s entertainment company.

St. King was only a few blocks away from the World Trade Center when it was struck by the first airplane on 9/11.

“I saw the first tower on fire,” St. King said. Six months after running from the fall of the center, she was diagnosed with throat cancer. She spent time healing in a monastery in New Zealand and turned her tragedy into triumph by being a voice for peace. Her album “Listen Up Heart” is a collection of 12 tracks that range from ballads to rock.

“We would especially like to invite any young people in the area who may have an interest in peace,” Prichard said. “This is a program that would have wide appeal to young people.”

For more information, contact Prichard at 828-435-1337 or at gprichard19@gmail.com. The local URI website is www.academyforpeace.org.

Source

UN World Interfaith Harmony Week & SNV

Posted on January 31st, 2012

UNITED NATIONS: Press Release

Rev. Michael Bernard Beckwith, President of the Association for Global New Thought and Founder of the Agape International Spiritual Center, will be speaking on Tuesday, February 7th, at the United Nations General Assembly.

Rev. Michael joins speakers from the world’s great religious and spiritual traditions called together by General Assembly President, H.E. Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, to celebrate the importance of World Interfaith Harmony Week, taking place during the 15th Annual Season for Nonviolence (SNV). Everyone is invited to view the LIVE UN Webcast (free).

I am sharing today the press release and the link to both the United Nations webcast and the statement about World Interfaith Harmony Week, in order to highlight the way on which the Seasons for Nonviolence (of which Rev. Beckwith is co-chair) works with the United Nations to build a culture of peace worldwide. It is a job for all of us.

World Interfaith Harmony Week is an annual event to be observed during the first week of February starting in 2011.

Recognizing the imperative need for dialogue among different faiths and religions to enhance mutual understanding, harmony and cooperation among people, the General Assembly encourages all States to support during that week the spread of the message of interfaith harmony and goodwill in the world’s churches, mosques, synagogues, temples and other places of worship, on a voluntary basis and according to their own religious traditions or convictions.

Tomorrow is the first year of the Season for nonviolence, and, as promised I will start highlighting a quality of peacemaking each day. The first will be COURAGE. Hope you find something meaningful in my sharing.

Peace and Blessings,

“revgerry”

Source

Central New Yorkers of many faiths come together Sunday for World Interfaith Harmony Assembly

Posted on January 30th, 2012

Published: Monday, January 30, 2012, 2:00 AM
By The Post-Standard
Follow

Editor’s note: This story was written by contributin writer Julie McMahon
Syracuse, NY — The theme of Sunday night’s World Interfaith Harmony Assembly was simple. “We can live in harmony,” were the words of an original song by Joan Hillsman, director of Syracuse’s chapter of the Gospel Music Workshop of America.

“Sing it to your neighbor,” Hillsman called out, and the audience of diverse religious backgrounds complied, smiling.

“Unity is what we’re striving for,” said Sister Pat Bergan, of St. Lucy’s Roman Catholic Church in Syracuse. “The more we can be together and celebrate, the richer we are,” she said.

In celebration of 2012 World Interfaith Harmony Week, Central New Yorkers of faiths spanning Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism and others gathered together at Temple Concord in Syracuse. Rabbi of the synagogue, Daniel Fellman, hosted the celebration. It was organized by Interfaith Works CNY and Women Transcending Boundaries.

The evening’s presentations varied across groups. Some were vibrant and energetic acts, others were quiet reflections of values and practices in a religious tradition and many performances were given by young people.
A group of members of the Hindu faith, composed of refugees from Bhutan living in Syracuse, dressed in brightly colored outfits, sang a traditional hymn and danced.

“We see the goal of all religion is to reach enlightenment,” said Jai Subedi, a case worker for Interfaith Works CNY. “There is diversity in ways to reach a common goal,” he said.

Timothy Jennings-Bey spoke on behalf of the Moorish Society. The religious organization draws its faith from Islam and values civic duty, Jennings-Bey said. “Love, truth, peace, freedom and justice,” he said, are the pillars that guide unity in faith.

A small group of children of the Baha’i community of Syracuse exhibited their performance skills with songs, a rap-style rendition of a traditional prayer and recitations of prayers in Spanish and Persian. “Each community’s treasure is its children,” said one of their helpers, as the children made the crowd laugh.

At the end of the celebration, Hillsman invited representatives of each faith to take the stage together for another round of singing. “I’m sure now that you’ll agree,” she said, “this has been an example of harmony.”

Source

People’s Prayer Breakfast Pre-Empts the National Prayer Breakfast!

Posted on January 29th, 2012

Submitted by Kevin Zeese on Sat, 01/28/2012 – 14:00

Tale of Two Breakfasts and How Religious Leaders Are Joining the Struggle for Economic Justice
Dear Friends,

While the 1% attend the National Prayer Breakfast for the Rich and Famous, the 99% Will Pray, Reflect and Draw Attention to the Marginalization of Millions Suffering Economic Despair.

Washington, DC, January 28, 2012 – As plans are being made at the Washington Hilton Hotel in Dupont Circle for the elaborate invitation only National Prayer Breakfast, organized by The Fellowship Foundation, a conservative Christian organization more widely known as “The Family”, just a few blocks away a humble gathering of interfaith clergy, lay leaders, faith-based social justice advocates and members of the Occupy Movement are simultaneously finalizing their plans for an alternative interfaith People’s Prayer Breakfast.

Coincidently, both are being held on the very day that the UN World Interfaith Harmony Week begins, Thursday-February 2, 2012, marking the beginning of a special week set aside by the UN to enhance mutual understanding, harmony and cooperation among people.

Counter to the lavish National Prayer Breakfast held at the Washington Hilton, the People’s Prayer Breakfast will offer simplicity and a model of GREEN in its use of environmentally friendly paper products and recycling efforts, pledging not to use plastic bottles-only pitchers of water to accompany a modest continental breakfast.

Though the names of the guest speaker and guest musician for the National Prayer Breakfast is usually kept secret until a few days before the breakfast, Occupy Faith DC is openly announcing that, spicing up the morning’s prayerful program with fitting socially conscious music, will be Dr. Ysaye Barnwell from the internationally acclaimed, “Sweet Honey In the Rock”.

“This breakfast is open to everyone and is both a call to prayer and a call to action.” says James Lee, Coordinator and one of the founding members of Occupy Faith DC (OFDC), an interfaith coalition supporting the non-violent social action of the Occupy Movement in the National Capital Region. Continues Lee, “We are gathering to tell the political, business, and media leaders in our nation that, “There is enough for everyone!” in our society, and that this current crisis is not only about “jobs”, but about our national priorities.”

“We must remember”, states Rev. Brian Merritt, Pastor of the Palisades Community Church in Washington,DC, also a founding member of Occupy Faith DC that, “Prayer is a sacred act that connects us to something greater than ourselves and moves us to action in transforming the world.”

This newly formed interfaith coalition of Occupy Faith DC has attracted both clergy, lay leaders and members from mosques, temples, churches, and synagogues, as well as from interfaith and ecumenical bodies, and other faith-based organizations who have come together to provide material and spiritual support for the efforts and ideals of those in the Occupy Movement whom they feel are sacrificing their comfort, bearing the harsh weather conditions, and persevering in order to raise the important issues of concern surrounding the great economic disparity which, in their opinion, is the greatest challenge in our society today.

“Occupy Faith DC also wants the voices of the children to be heard.”, says Annie Storr, Associate Professor of Education Studies Corcoran College of Art and Design and artistic and educational consultant for the People’s Prayer Breakfast Children’s Art Project entitled, “Enough For Everyone! Youth and Children’s Visions and Prayers For the Future of Our Nation.” The children’s artwork will be carried in silent witness across from the National Prayer Breakfast by members of Occupy Faith DC , then displayed on the internet; and 24 works of art or images will be exhibited at different places of worship after Feb.15, 2012.

The People’s Prayer Breakfast will be held on Thursday, February 2nd at the Church of the Pilgrims, 2201 P St.NW Washington, DC.20037 beginning at 7:30am. A strategizing session and dialogue are planned to follow the breakfast.

For more details, reference their website at occupyfaithdc.org and, though free to the public, free-will donations would be appreciated and can be given by accessing their peoplesprayerbreakfast.org website.

A Press Conference will be held Monday, January 30th at 1pm in front of Luther’s Place, 1226 Vermont Avenue NW.to announce plans for the breakfast and to issue a call for people of faith from across the region to join them in unison, with members of the Occupy movement, in prayer and reflection on the economic suffering and marginalization of millions of US citizens.

Present, as speakers for Occupy Faith DC will be Rev.Graylan Hagler of the Plymouth Congregational Church, Rev.Dr.E.Gail Anderson Holness of Christ Our Redeemer AME Church & President of the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington (IFC),Rev. Brian Merritt of The Palisades Community Church and Imam Johari Malik of the Dar Al Hijrah Islamic Center. More TBA. All media are requested to meet in front of the Martin Luther Statue.

For more information, contact: Rev.Brian Merritt 202-966-7929 (Office)

Contact Name: Rev. Brian Merritt
5200 Cathedral Avenue NW Washington, DC 20016
Phone Number: 202-966-7929

http://www.occupyfaithdc.org

About Occupy Faith DC: Occupy Faith DC is an Interfaith coalition supporting the non-violent social action of the Occupy Movement in the National Capital Region. The coalition includes both clergy and members from mosques, temples, churches, and synagogues as well as interfaith and ecumenical bodies, and other faith-based organizations. We have come together to support the efforts and ideals of the Occupy Movement promoting inclusion, economic justice, peaceful coexistence, and the brotherhood of mankind.

http://www.occupyfaithdc.org

Source

World Interfaith Harmony Week: Message from President Sampaio

Posted on January 26th, 2012

By ISABELLE | Published: 24 JANUARY 2012

Message from the United Nations High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations on the World Interfaith Harmony Week, From 1 to 7 February 2012

Dear Friends,

The UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) seeks to reduce tensions across cultural divides that threaten stability and peace among and between communities and societies. The Alliance welcomes efforts by states, civil society, and other actors to build trust and respect among diverse communities – including among religions.
We therefore welcome the UN General Assembly’s unanimous adoption on October 20th, 2010, of a Resolution establishing the World Interfaith Harmony Week, upon an initial proposal by H.M. King Abdullah II of Jordan on September 23rd 2010.
We note that the intent of the resolution is to be broad and inclusive, bringing together people of all religions, faiths, and beliefs.

We urge members of the Alliance of Civilizations, partners, civil society organizations, faith communities, universities, youth, and other sectors to visit the website established by the Jordanian government at www.worldinterfaithharmonyweek.com to learn more about the initiative and investigate ways in which they may promote the initiative, support it or get involved.

Furthermore, you will find below two notes prepared by the Secretariat of the Alliance that provides you with an overview of the initiative – please disseminate them to your own constituencies and partners. I thank you in advance for your kind collaboration.

Sincerely,

H.E. Mr. Jorge Sampaio, Former President of Portugal, United Nations High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations

Note 1: Background

World Interfaith Harmony Week, from 1 to 7 February 2012

On October the 20th 2010, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously established the World Interfaith Harmony Week through the adoption of a Resolution upon an initial proposal by H.M. King Abdullah II of Jordan on September 23rd 2010.

The UNGA Resolution on “World Interfaith Harmony Week” reaffirms that mutual understanding and interreligious dialogue constitute important dimensions of a culture of peace and it proclaims the first week of February of every year the World Interfaith Harmony Week between all religions, faiths and beliefs.

Therefore, it encourages all States to support, on a voluntary basis, the spread of the message of interfaith harmony and goodwill in the world’s Churches, Mosques, Synagogues, Temples and other places of Worship during that week based on Love of God and Love of the Neighbor, or based on Love of the Good and Love of the Neighbor, each according to their own religious traditions or convictions.

“The World Interfaith Week Harmony” is underpinned by the idea that there is a lot to be done by:
(1) ‘Co-ordinating and uniting the efforts of all the interfaith groups doing positive work with one focused theme at one specific time annually, thereby increasing their collective momentum and eliminating redundancy.
(2) Harnessing and utilizing the collective might of the world’s second-largest infrastructure (that of places of worship — the largest being that of education) specifically for peace and harmony in the world: inserting, as it were, the right ‘software’ into the world’s religious ‘hardware’.
(3) Permanently and regularly encouraging the silent majority of preachers to declare themselves for peace and harmony and providing a ready-made vehicle for them to do so. Moreover, if preachers and teachers commit themselves on the record once a year to peace and harmony, this means that when the next inter-religious crisis or provocation occurs, they cannot then relapse into parochial fear and mistrust, and will be more likely to resist the winds of popular demagoguery.’

Your help is very much needed. Specifically, we need and gratefully ask you to:
(1) Write a personal email or letter of support for this initiative and post it at www.worldinterfaithharmonyweek.com at the appropriate place.
(2) Forwarding an email to all those on your email list who you think might be interested in it and them to their friends and so on as much as possible.
(3) Posting any resources you think would be important to the theme of the World Interfaith Harmony Week at www.worldinterfaithharmonyweek.com at the appropriate place.
(4) Organizing an event as simple as a sermon or a lecture or an event on the first week of next February on the theme of Interfaith Harmony.
(5) Recording your event at www.worldinterfaithharmonyweek.com at the appropriate place according to your own country.
(6) Consult the United Nations’ Alliance of Civilizations website (www.unaoc.org) to find inspiration to develop your own project for the 2012 world interfaith harmony week.

Note 2: Get involved!

The World Interfaith week Harmony between all religions, faiths and beliefs aims at celebrating Love of God and Love of the Neighbor or Love of the Good and Love of the Neighbor, each according to the various religious traditions or convictions.

By uniting all interfaith groups and faith communities — those consisting of hundreds of members as well as those of very few — but also by binding together all the world’s citizens of good will and by uniting our efforts between East and West, North and South, our combined efforts will have a greater impact for good.

From 1 to 7 February 2012, let us
- Use the second largest historical infrastructure on earth – places of worship – to help cement religious leaders in promoting interfaith harmony.
- Use schools – all kinds and levels – and classrooms to help disseminate among youth a culture of peace, respect, tolerance, harmony and human dignity.
- Use public zones of encounter – market places, parks, libraries, museums, community centers – to celebrate interfaith harmony and world peace.
- Use the workplace to organize a common event to enhance people’s knowledge, more tolerant attitudes and mutual respect.
- Use new technologies of information and communication, media and new media to help disseminate stories on the implementation of this initiative and make the headlines.
- Use this week to demonstrate that people from different communities can come together in harmony to serve a common humanity
- Use any other opportunities to implement this initiative and contribute to enlarge its scope.

Plan and organize your event and register it on the website
www.worldinterfaithharmonyweek.com

For additional information, please contact Helena Barroco, High Representative for UNAOC’ office in Lisbon, hbarroco@netcabo.pt

This entry was posted in Act, Awareness raising Initiatives, Connect, Faith based and Inter faith Organization, News, Upcoming Opportunities. Bookmark the permalink.
« UNAOC shared results of Doha Forum during youth gathering at the United Nations

Source

Call to action for World Interfaith Harmony Week

Posted on January 10th, 2012

URI has issued an updated and expanded tool card to encourage people to take action for this year’s World Interfaith Harmony Week, February 1-7.

World Interfaith Harmony Week was established by the UN General Assembly in 2010 in recognition of the importance of “mutual understanding and interreligious dialogue” to peace. URI, an organization founded on the principle of enduring interfaith cooperation for peace and justice, participated actively in the inaugural observance in 2011 and has called on its more than 530 member organizations to participate again this year.

Read the rest of this entry »

THE PRESIDENT OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE UNITED NATIONS

Posted on December 25th, 2011

United Nations, New York, 22 December 2011

On the Occasion of the start of the 40-Day Countdown to
World Interfaith Harmony Week: 1-7 February 2012

As the President of the General Assembly of the United Nations, it is my privilege to draw your attention to the resolution that the Assembly adopted in 2010 reaffirming that mutual understanding and interreligious dialogue constitute important dimensions of a culture of peace and proclaiming the first week of February every year as the World Interfaith Harmony Week between all religions, faiths and beliefs. The Week was first observed in February 2011.

Read the rest of this entry »

Chinese mark interfaith harmony week

Posted on March 7th, 2011

ucanews.com reporter, Beijing

Hundreds of Catholic faithful in Beijing have prayed for religious harmony in a delayed celebration of the United Nations’ World Interfaith Harmony Week http://worldinterfaithharmonyweek.com/.

Read the rest of this entry »

Islam, UN resolution and religious harmony

Posted on March 6th, 2011

Lily Zakiyah Munir, Zamboanga City, The Philippines

Opinion www.thejakartapost.com

At a ceremonial dinner with some 150 guests, mostly aleemat (women ulama) from Mindanao, a Christian priest told the audience about his experience of feeling peaceful among Muslims in Mindanao.

The priest was passing the Muslim majority area, Jolo, and discovered that he was the only Christian aboard the boat. Looking like a stranger, he was greeted by a Muslim Tausug. They chatted. Then came another, and another man, who greeted him. The priest continued his story, that he slept soundly in the boat knowing that he was the only Christian there.

Read the rest of this entry »

CRCS Holds Concert of Harmony “Youth, Religion and Peace”

Posted on March 1st, 2011

www.ugm.ac.id

After the success of the youth interfaith gathering event entitled Youth, Religion and Disaster with students representatives from religious organizations from each campus as the participants on February 12, 2011, as the final event of the World Interfaith Harmony Week activities (WIHW), CRCS held a music concert entitled Concert for Harmony. The concert in the Koesnadi Hardjosoemantri Cultural Center, Saturday (26/2) aims to promote messages of peace and the spirit of inter-religious dialogue which is the soul of WIHW. The committee intentionally presents the students with different religious backgrounds, with the hope of improving interfaith cooperation among young people, especially students.

Read the rest of this entry »

Interfaith celebration a key step forward

Posted on March 1st, 2011

www.sun2surf.com

PRIME Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and the government deserve our highest accolades for launching, a fortnight ago, the first celebration of World Interfaith Harmony Week.
The various programmes held marked an initial step that needs to be expanded and given greater in the coming years.

World Interfaith Harmony Week is an outcome of a UN resolution, proposed in 2010 by King Abdullah II and Prince Ghazi Muhammad of Jordan, calling on all UN member states to observe a worldwide week aimed to promote accord between all people.

Read the rest of this entry »

Harmony

Posted on February 27th, 2011

Zenkai Taiun Michael Elliston

www.sweepingzen.com

I was recently honored by an invitation to participate in a panel presentation following a luncheon at a local church. It was in recognition of the United Nations resolution establishing World Interfaith Harmony Week, hosted by Faith Alliance of Metro Atlanta (FAMA), featuring a “distinguished panel…made up of Archbishop Wilton Gregory, Ambassador Andy Young, Rabbi Analia Bortz, Tayyibah Taylor, Brother Shankara, Taiun Michael Elliston and moderated by Rev. Dr. Gerald Durley.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Interfaith week aims to ease tensions

Posted on February 24th, 2011

www.thestaronline.com

KUALA LUMPUR: The objective of the United Nations Interfaith Har­mony Week is to turn the tide against the inter-religious tension, mistrust, dislike and hatred in the world.

Ambassador of Jordan, Maher Ahmad Lukasha, said the language of the UN resolution – initiated by King Abdullah II of Jordan in September last year – excluded no one, of any religion or of no faith.

Read the rest of this entry »

OIC Mission holds a Special Event at the UN Headquarters on the occasion of the World Interfaith Harmony Week

Posted on February 24th, 2011

www.oicun.org

On 3 February 2011, the OIC Mission to the UN in New York held a Special Event titled “The Role of Faith Based Organizations and Interfaith Initiatives in Development, Reconciliation and Peacebuilding” at the UN Headquarters on the occasion of the World Interfaith Harmony Week. In his message delivered by HE Ambassador Ufuk Gokcen, Secretary General of the OIC, Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu hoped that the observance of the World Interfaith Harmony Week would serve peoples of all faiths and beliefs to coexist in peace, harmony and goodwill.

Read the rest of this entry »

‘Interfaith harmony, peace go hand in hand’

Posted on February 23rd, 2011

The Jordan Times

AMMAN (JT) – Interfaith specialists and clerics on Tuesday explored different means of fostering dialogue among the followers of the Abrahamic religions.

The symposium, held by the University of Jordan (UJ) in cooperation with the Royal Institute for Interfaith Studies, marks World Interfaith Harmony Week, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

Proposed by His Majesty King Abdullah and adopted by the UN General Assembly in October, World Interfaith Harmony Week seeks to spread a message of interfaith harmony among followers of Islam, Judaism and Christianity.

Read the rest of this entry »

Syabas to Penang’s interfaith panel

Posted on February 17th, 2011

Thomas Lee

The Malaysia Chronicle

Penang has become the first state in the country to establish a state executive council portfolio to handle religious matters relating to the non-Islamic religions like Buddhisms, Christianity, Sikhism, Taoism and Hinduism.

The high-profile Exco Non-Islamic Religious Affairs Committee is headed by Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng himself, with Deputy Chief Minister (II) Prof Dr P. Ramasamy as the deputy chairman.

Read the rest of this entry »

World Interfaith Harmony Week Celebrated in Tokyo

Posted on February 16th, 2011

By UPF – Japan

Tokyo, Japan – A commemorative event of the United Nations’ annual “World Interfaith Harmony Week” was hosted by UPF-Japan on January 29 in Tokyo as an opening program of Ambassadors for Peace Council Meeting.
After the moderator’s introductory remarks on the World Interfaith Harmony Week and its significance, Rev. Taishu Nara, a Shinto priest who led the programj, blew a stone whistle which was a ritual for inviting the gods and offered a purification prayer. Then, Mr. Kumar Raiv, a research scholar of the Hindu Cultural Exchange, prayed for peace, and Rev. Nichiko Yoshida and Rev. Jiei Shizuka, who are Buddhist monks, chanted a sutra harmoniously. Rev. Toru Miyahara, a Christian Pastor, read verses from the Revelation of the New Testament and offered a prayer for welcoming the Lord at the Last Days.

Read the rest of this entry »

Week of Interfaith Harmony in Moldova

Posted on February 16th, 2011

By UPF – Moldova

Chisinau, Moldova – A round-table discussion on “Interfaith cooperation as the important instrument of establishing the culture of peace in Moldova” initiated by the Universal Peace Federation took place on February 2 in Kishinev. The event was connected to the World Interfaith Harmony Week, declared by the UN General Assembly to be celebrated yearly in the beginning of February.

Read the rest of this entry »

Intefaith Harmony Week Celebrated in St. Lucia

Posted on February 16th, 2011

By UPF – St. Lucia

Anse-la-Raye, St. Lucia – St Lucia is a predominantly Christian country. Ninety-nine percent of the people are Christians, and the other one percent consist of Hindus and a few Muslims. About 75 percent of the Christians are Catholic and the rest belong to several Protestant denominations. In St Lucia, there is not a conflict of religions “per se” but rather a conflict of Christian denominations which have traditionally seen each other as rivals and do not cooperate together to address the problems of the country.
On January 6, six youth representatives of four different religious denominations met together to prepare for the February session of Interfaith Harmony Week. They prepared the agenda, the program, and the organization of the meeting.

Read the rest of this entry »

In Seoul, UPF Celebrates the UN Week of Interfaith Harmony

Posted on February 16th, 2011

By Dr. Michael Balcomb, Director of Communications, UPF

Seoul, Korea – As events in Egypt moved toward their climax half a world away, UPF convened an International Leadership conference in Seoul in honor of the first United Nations week of interfaith harmony. The program considered models of peaceful transitions to democracy, with a special emphasis on the often-neglected responsibilities of religious and spiritual leaders to defuse long-standing tensions between different ethnic and minority groups in the days and months following abrupt political change.

Read the rest of this entry »

Govt transformation giving what the people really want

Posted on February 16th, 2011

Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR — In US railroad parlance, a mallet is a very large and powerful steam locomotive. And in the railroad industry, a locomotive that goes off the rails is a pretty disastrous thing for various reasons, economically as well as a loss in reputation.
Recently, it appears that John Malott, the former US ambassador to Malaysia, had gone off the rails when he claimed that race relations in Malaysia “are worse than at any time since 1969”.

Read the rest of this entry »

Genuine dialogue will lead to interfaith harmony

Posted on February 16th, 2011

thesundaily.com

The government must be congratulated for celebrating the inaugural UN World Interfaith Harmony Week which began on Monday. Even so it would have benefited far greater number of people in the country had it been organised on a bigger scale nationwide, given wider publicity and involve more religious leaders than the normal motley of interfaith promoters. Considering that it is important to racial harmony and national unity more thought and planning should have been put into the organisation of the event. Maybe next year’s celebrations would take care of the shortcomings of this year’s celebration.

Read the rest of this entry »

EDITORIAL: Build bridges, not walls that divide us

Posted on February 16th, 2011

malaysia.news.yahoo.com

Kuala Lumpur (The Star/ANN) – One of the most moving images during the massive protests in Egypt that led to the ouster of Hosni Mubarak was how the country’s majority Muslims and minority Coptic Christians came together as Egyptians first, just as they did during the protests against British colonial rule in 1919.

Read the rest of this entry »

Moderation the way forward, say groups

Posted on February 16th, 2011

YUEN MEIKENG

thestar.com.my

PETALING JAYA: Religious groups agreed that moderation is the way forward in a multi-religious country like Malaysia and support the Prime Minister’s proposal to promote peace and harmony during this World Interfaith Harmony Week and form a global movement of moderates.

Read the rest of this entry »

Penang sets up exco portfolio for non-Islamic affairs

Posted on February 16th, 2011

Himanshu Bhatt

thesundaily.com

GEORGE TOWN (Feb 16, 2011): Penang has set up a new state executive council (exco) portfolio for non-Islamic religious affairs, the first of its kind by a state government in the country.

The move, made in conjunction with the United Nation’s World Interfaith Harmony Week, is aimed at improving the handling of matters related to religious communities that include Buddhists, Christians, Sikhs, Taoists and Hindus.

Read the rest of this entry »

An Interview With Ruth Turner of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation

Posted on February 15th, 2011

Rahim Kanani

huffingtonpost

In a recent interview with Ruth Turner, Chief Executive of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, we discussed the significance of World Interfaith Harmony Week, the work of the Faith Foundation, ways in which we can engage difference, and more.

Read the rest of this entry »

PM: Shun extremism

Posted on February 15th, 2011

thestar.com.my

PUTRAJAYA: Extremism in any faith – be it among Muslims, Christians, Buddhists or Hindus – will leave a negative impact on the community, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said.

Read the rest of this entry »

DIFFERENCE IN RELIGIOUS BELIEFS NOT THE CAUSE OF TENSIONS, SAYS NAJIB

Posted on February 14th, 2011

Bernama

PUTRAJAYA, Feb 14 (Bernama) — Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said today that extremist understanding of religion rather than difference in beliefs is a cause of tensions in a country.

Read the rest of this entry »

Malaysia Celebrates World Interfaith Harmony Week On Monday

Posted on February 13th, 2011

By Nur Syuhada Shamsuddin

PUTRAJAYA, Feb 13 (Bernama) — Tomorrow, Malaysia will for the first time celebrate World Interfaith Harmony Week as put forward by the United Nations (UN) with various programmes prepared, including a meet-and-greet session with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and religious leaders here.

Read the rest of this entry »

Good Religious Values Basis in Creating Harmony – Murugiah

Posted on February 13th, 2011

bernama.com

KANGAR, Feb 13 (Bernama) — The good values in every religion generates the basis to harmonious living and strong binding for unity, said Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk T. Murugiah.

“There should not be any criticism directed at any religion as it could cause differences and destroy the harmony,” he said when speaking at the 2011 World Interfaith Harmony Week programme at the Arau matriculation college here last night.

Read the rest of this entry »

UNITED RELIGIONS INITIATIVE (ALL KERALA INTERFAITH HARMONY WEEK OPEN QUIZ COMPETITION)

Posted on February 13th, 2011

Prof. John Kurakar

URI Central committee conducted an All Kerala Interfaith Harmony weeks Open Quiz Competition at Karickom International Public School on 12th February,2011.

Read the rest of this entry »

U.S. and Jordanian Missions Co-Host Discussion on Interfaith Collaboration

Posted on February 13th, 2011

geneva.usmission.gov

Diplomats, UN Officials and Civil Society Share Experiences at Event to Mark
World Interfaith Harmony Week
Geneva, February 7, 2011

The Permanent Missions of the United States of America and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan jointly sponsored a panel discussion on the occasion of the first World Interfaith Harmony Week, as proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in November 2010.

Read the rest of this entry »

PM to meet religious leaders during Interfaith Week

Posted on February 13th, 2011

thestar.com.my

PUTRAJAYA: For the first time, Malaysia will celebrate World Interfaith Harmony Week on Monday as put forward by the United Nations (UN) with various programmes prepared, including a meet-and-greet session with the Prime Minister and religious leaders here.

Read the rest of this entry »

Syracuse event showed interfaith harmony

Posted on February 13th, 2011

syracuse.com

Event showed Syracuse as place to embrace diversity of faith To the Editor: On Jan. 30, more than 300 Syracusans gathered to celebrate during the first World Interfaith Harmony Assembly of CNY, which included song, dance, readings, prayers, poetry, stories and chants from many faith traditions.

Read the rest of this entry »

Zambo hosts 1st ‘World Interfaith Harmony Week’

Posted on February 10th, 2011

Iligan.gov.ph

ZAMBOANGA CITY ¬–Different religious leaders here, Christian constituents and Muslim women leaders and peace advocates hailing from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao gathered together for an “Interfaith Harmony Solidarity Dinner” held at the Garden Orchid Hotel last Monday to observe the United Nations-declared “World Interfaith Harmony Week”. Amina Rasul-Bernardo, the lead convenor and president of the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy (PCID), revealed that 2011 is the first celebration of World Interfaith Harmony Week, which takes place every first week of February, after the passage of a UN resolution in October last year sponsored by King Abdullah of Jordan.

Read the rest of this entry »

H.B. PATRIARCH THEOPHILOS’ ΙΙΙ ADDRESS IN THE OCCASION OF THE “WORLD INTERFAITH HARMONY WEEK”.

Posted on February 9th, 2011

His Beatitude THEOPHILOS III
Patriarch of Jerusalem

02 February 2011,

Your Royal Highness, Prince Ghazi Bin Mohammad Bin Talal

Honourable and Distinguished Guest,

It is a great honour for us, the Council of Churches in Jordan, to be amongst you today in this holy site celebrating the “World Interfaith Harmony Week”.We affirm our deep appreciation for the efforts of His Majesty King Abdullah the Second to this great initiative. We hold dearly His Majesty’s and the Hashemite Kingdom’s continued heritage and commitment to freedom of worship and for progressing the bridging and understanding between faiths.

Read the rest of this entry »

Passionists International shares in first World Interfaith Harmony Week

Posted on February 9th, 2011

Passionists International

To mark the first ever World Interfaith Harmony Week, the committee of Religious NGOs at the United Nations hosted an interfaith breakfast on 3 February 2011 in cooperation with the UN Department of Public Information. Kevin Dance of Passionists International is a member of the Executive Committee.

Read the rest of this entry »

UNAOC, UN DPI PRESENT UN PREMIERE OF “OUT OF CORDOBA”

Posted on February 9th, 2011

UN Alliance of Civilisations

A rapt audience of hundreds of people packed the ECOSOC Room for the UN premiere screening of the documentary film “Out of Cordoba: Averroes and Maimonides in Their Time and Ours” on the evening of February 3, 2011. The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations in partnership with the UN Department of Public Information organized the screening event in honor of World Interfaith Harmony Week. Directed by Jacob Bender and produced by MLK PRODUCCIONES of Malaga, Spain, “Out of Cordoba” has received awards at several international film festivals.

Read the rest of this entry »

UNAOC PARTICIPATES IN INTERFAITH BREAKFAST TO OBSERVE WORLD INTERFAITH HARMONY WEEK

Posted on February 9th, 2011

UN Alliance of Civilisations

On February 3, 2011, the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) participated in a United Nations interfaith breakfast, organized by the Committee of Religious NGOs at the United Nations, in partnership with the UN Department of Public Information at the Salvation Army International in New York City.

Read the rest of this entry »

Faith Alliance of Metro Atlanta Celebrates UN World Interfaith Harmony Week

Posted on February 9th, 2011

RCIMedia

The Faith Alliance of Metro Atlanta (FAMA) held its first luncheon event of 2011 on February 2nd at Trinity Presbyterian Church. The focus was on the themes of World Interfaith Harmony Week, celebrating the recent resolution passed by the United Nations.

Read the rest of this entry »

Interreligious harmony week portrayed through posters

Posted on February 9th, 2011

ucanews.com

BANGLADESH: Teachers and students at Dhaka University‘s department of World Religions and Culture marked a successful United Nations Inter-faith Harmony Week February 1-7 with poster displays and discussion meetings.

Read the rest of this entry »

UN launches first Interfaith Harmony Week

Posted on February 9th, 2011

Archdiocesan Ministry of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs

The United Nations launched the first World Interfaith Harmony Week today with a broad range of activities around the world, including interfaith breakfasts, film screenings and talks featuring the active participation of civil society, UN entities and other intergovernmental organizations.

Read the rest of this entry »

First World Interfaith Harmony Week

Posted on February 8th, 2011

CNN iReport

The first UN World Interfaith Harmony Week

[1st week of February] was marked by hundreds of events taking place all over the world.

King Abdullah of Jordan, who first proposed the idea in September, 2010, held a lunch with senior religious figures from Jordan and the Holy Land.

Read the rest of this entry »

Celebrating World Interfaith Harmony Week in Africa

Posted on February 8th, 2011

Capital Ethiopia News

On the occasion of the 16th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union held in Addis Ababa, under the theme of “Towards Greater Unity and Integration through Shared Values” Interfaith Peace-building Initiative (IPI) and United Religions Initiative of Africa (URI) called for the African Union and its 53 member States to celebrate the first World Interfaith Harmony Week. Both organizations also call upon different religions leaders in Africa to organize interfaith harmony prayer throughout Africa and to promote the teaching of the Golden Rule to make this happen.

Read the rest of this entry »

7 Lessons From the First World Interfaith Harmony Week

Posted on February 8th, 2011

As the first World Interfaith Harmony Week concludes, here are some initiatives that people the world over contributed to. As part of a globalisation of culture, there are some truths of each religion that need to be highlighted and put into a wider and more contemporary social context. To me, this initiative is a start that we must strengthen. As I tracked interfaith developments across the world, I learnt seven lessons that all religions across the world would do well to follow:

Read the rest of this entry »

Interfaith harmony week in RI kicks off to a tragic start

Posted on February 7th, 2011

The Jakarta Post

Ridwan Max Sijabat

Religious leaders and government officials called on the public to end prejudice and stop religious violence at the start of a religious harmony week on Sunday, when three Ahmadis
were killed.

The chairman of Muhammadiyah, the nation’s second-largest Muslim organization, Din Syamsuddin, made the call during the official opening of World Interfaith Harmony Week at the Jakarta Convention Center on Sunday, following an attack by 1,500 people on members of the Ahmadiyah faith, in which there were three killed and five seriously injured in Cikeusik in Pandeglang, Banten.

Read the rest of this entry »

6th February 2011 – World Interfaith Harmony Week

Posted on February 7th, 2011

Ministry of Hajj

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Jeddah, Rabi Al-Awwal 02, 1432 H
Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu expressed great pleasure to note that the international community is observing the World Interfaith Harmony Week on February 1-7, 2011

Read the rest of this entry »

RI celebrates world interfaith harmony week

Posted on February 7th, 2011

Anatara News

Ruslan

Jakarta (ANTARA News) – Hundreds of adherents of different faiths all over the country celebrated World Interfaith Harmony Week at the Senayan indoor stadium here on Sunday.
“The event is the formal agenda of the UN aimed at campaigning for the importance of harmonious life among adherents of different faiths,” Chairman of the Presidium of the Inter-Religious Council (IRC) for Indonesia Prof Dr Din Syamsuddin said in his address to the event.

Read the rest of this entry »

World Interfaith Harmony Week begins today

Posted on February 7th, 2011

The Daily Sun

The World Interfaith Harmony Week begins today with a view to building peaceful relationships among the adherents of the world’s religions.
From now on, first week of February will be observed as the World Interfaith Harmony Week across the globe every year.

Read the rest of this entry »

Breaking the ice on interfaith dialogue

Posted on February 7th, 2011

The Tribune

Kathy Hanson

Emily Hull’s shy remark broke the ice for an interfaith circle of about 15 women who met for the first time Saturday in the kitchen of the Darul Arqum Islamic Center of Ames.

Read the rest of this entry »

Interfaith Awareness Week: a catholic Catholic Perspective

Posted on February 6th, 2011

America

FRANCIS X. CLOONEY, S.J.

Cambridge, MA. In case you haven’t noticed, we are now entering the 12th annual Interfaith Harmony Week, an initiative celebrated (sometimes with slightly different names, such as Interfaith Awareness Week) around the world to notice, celebrate, and deepen the awareness we have of people of faith traditions other than our own. Read the rest of this entry »

Premier Leterme on interfaith breakfast

Posted on February 6th, 2011

www.demorgan.be

Prime Minister Yves Leterme in A