Winners’ Speech at World Interfaith Harmony Prize Giving Ceremony

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Your Majesty, Your Highnesses, Your Excellencies, World Interfaith Harmony Week team and honoured guests.

I greet you in the name of all that is Good and Holy and True. I greet you in the name of Peace.

What do we say, when thank you is not enough?

In a world where innocent and beautiful dreams are buried every day through hate crimes motivated by religious extremism, we are deeply aware of the responsibility of the work we do and of the significance of receiving the 2019 HM King Abdullah II Prize for our work in the United Nations’  World Interfaith Harmony Week. Apart from the immense encouragement it gives us in our work, it also gives us a global platform from which we must and will continue to spread the message of interfaith, encourage fellow organisations and to carry the light of love for the other, wherever we may go. We are enthused to continue our work, always striving to do better and to be better.

I used to think that Interfaith is something we do. But now I realise it is something we are. I used to think that peace building was something we do, but now I realise that we are the bridges to peace.

And then, I used to think that diversity was something we are, but now I realise that Diversity is what we do. We do Diversity every time we show kindness and understanding to a fellow human being who is different from us, but we are kind anyway. Kind enough and curious enough to engage: Tell me about yourself, who are you? Let us learn about our neighbours, let us make friends with one another.

This prize is an opportunity to encourage others and to shine our lights even brighter. At a time when so many places around the world are experiencing sensitive elections, we are aware of how easy it is to manipulate religion for political purposes. We need to be wide awake, and to be clear about what Interfaith is and what it is not. It is sometimes a difficult path to navigate, but we know that anything that separates people from others, or from any part of Creation is not interfaith, is not inclusive, is not Love. It is our job to ask always: Where is the Love? Mostly, we are reminded that spiritual leadership and political leadership can live happily together in one body. We saw a fine example of that recently in New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern after the tragic Christchurch attacks, and we see that right here, in Your Majesty’s global leadership and tireless Interfaith message. We take this opportunity to congratulate Your Majesty on the recent award of the 2018 Templeton Prize for your significant and continuous contribution to religious harmony both within Islam and between other religions, as well as the award just last month of the Lamp of Peace in Assisi. However, Interfaith is never practiced in isolation so we also respectfully extend our congratulations to the dynamic and dedicated team which supports Your Majesty’s endeavours.

Your Majesties and honoured guests, there are no words to describe how humbled and proud we feel to be here, in your presence today, accepting these generous gifts. The true and most priceless gift lies in the acknowledgement of our work. And that gift belongs not only to us, but to every man, woman and child who dreams of a better life, a kinder life, and a life where justice and inclusivity on every level are the experienced reality. I do not have the words to express the gratitude and respect that is in my heart today. May you be blessed always with love, light and joy and may you find ever greater support for the exceptional and significant work that you do to make the world a better place for all of us. We wish for you the best of what it is that we wish for ourselves.

We salute the Jordanian people, the Jordanian way. Our lives will never be the same. Thank you.

Dr. Berys Anne Gargan