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.