Muslim Council of Britain Celebrates World Interfaith Harmony Week 2012

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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 “.