7 Lessons From the First World Interfaith Harmony Week

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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:

Lesson 1: shun violence
Indonesia: Interfaith harmony week in RI kicks off to a tragic start
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.

Lesson 2: trust the leadership of children
South Africa: Religious harmony: Muslim pupils treat pensioners to tea
A NEW international initiative to promote peace and harmony between different religious groups has inspired pupils from a local Muslim school to treat a group of senior citizens to high tea. To mark the newly inaugurated World Interfaith Harmony Week, 17 Grade 9 pupils from Nizamia Islamic School in the CBD visited residents of Padca’s Riverside Park Home on Bulwer Street yesterday.

Lesson 3: engage, talk, create spaces for dialogue
India: Hindus welcome World Interfaith Harmony Week
Hindus have applauded the launching of “World Interfaith Harmony Week” by United Nations (UN). Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that “it was step in the right direction”. Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, stressed that despite our seriously different traditions, we should learn to live together in mutual trust and peace. Dialogue would bring us mutual enrichment and help us overcome prejudices passed on to us by previous generations.

Lesson 4: Embrace diversity
Saudi Arabia: OIC committed to engender a culture of harmony
Jeddah: Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, or OIC, in a statement on the occasion of the World Interfaith Harmony Week, said the OIC is committed to engender a culture of harmony among peoples of diverse religious faiths, civilisations and cultural backgrounds. We took the lead in pioneering Dialogue among Civilizations at the United Nations as early as 1998 to promote intercultural and inter-civilisational understanding and mutual respect for diversity. “The urgency attached by the OIC to establish interfaith harmony is vindicated in various initiatives taken including that of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia with major events in Makkah, Madrid and at the UN General Assembly in New York in 2008,” he added The international community is observing the World Interfaith Harmony Week on February 1-7, 2011.

Lesson 5: Donate generously — your organs, that is
Canada: Organ donation a catalyst for faith harmony breakfast
Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Lutheran leaders join Trillium Gift of Life Network in urging registration of consent. TORONTO, Feb. 3 /CNW/ – At an interfaith breakfast to mark the United Nation’s World Interfaith Harmony Week today, faith leaders, working with Trillium Gift of Life Network, encouraged their respective communities to register their consent to donate organs and tissues. The breakfast also marked the official launch of the newest material prepared by Trillium Gift of Life Network to address myths and misconceptions associated with becoming a registered organ and tissue donor within the Hindu faith community.

Lesson 6: Turn religious terrorism on its head
UK: Qadri for promoting interfaith harmony to tackle terrorism
Founder of Minhaj-ul-Quran International Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri speaking at the World Economic Forum in Swiss resort town of Davos has underscored promoting of inter-faith harmony for tackling terrorism. This year international terrorism was on the agenda of WEF where the experts discussed ways of combating it.Qadri spoke on the topic ‘The Reality of Terrorism’ at a discussion on Saturday.John Chipman, Director- General and Chief Executive, UK-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) introduced Dr Qadri’s Fatwa on terrorism and asked about its impact at the global level and in the Arab world.

Lesson 7: Walk, sing, dance for interfaith harmony
Guyana: Religious bodies host successful ‘Harmony walk’
As observances for World Interfaith Harmony Week continue, individuals from the various religious groups came out in their numbers yesterday for the ‘Harmony Walk’. The walk started at the Cenotaph and ended at the Promenade Gardens, where there was a religious programme and cultural show. Present were leaders from the Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Baha’i and Rastafarian faiths. Those gathered were treated to songs and dance, as well as readings from the different groups. Bishop Juan Edghill who was one of the prominent participants, said the turnout was as expected, while noting that all of the other activities that were held for the observances were well attended.

Source: Hindustan Times.