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.
- Winter Holidays around the World
- Ramadan, Islam
- Holi – The Festival of Colors, Nepal
- Religious Celebrations in Tanzania
- Holidays in Turkey
- La Diada De Sant Jordi, Catalonia
- Christmas: Netherlands and Catalonia
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.
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.
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
Od yavo’ shalom aleinu (x3)
Ve’al kulam (x2)
Aleinu ve’al kol ha olam
— 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