World Interfaith Harmony Week 2012

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Real dialogue started more than 1400 years ago
by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)

Dr. Mozammel Haque

Real dialogue started more than 1400 years ago by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), said Lord Ahmad of Rotherham, Labour Peer at 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 Islamic Cultural Centre, London and Exhibition Islam jointly organised this VIP Event which 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, members of different interfaith organisations,

Many organisations in the United Kingdom celebrated UN World Interfaith Harmony Week on 6th and 7th of February. 2012. World Interfaith Week was proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations in a resolution: “Proclaimed the first week of February every year the World Interfaith Harmony Week between all religions, faiths and beliefs” adopted on 20 October, 2010.

Lord Sheikh
Speaking at the VIP Event at ICC, Lord Sheikh quoted from his speech in the House of Lords where he stated, “Unfortunately, there is a demonisation of Islam in certain quarters, and it is important that the media act in a responsible manner in this regard and avoid use of inflammatory language. In regard to suicide bombings, Islam forbids suicide. In the holy Qur’an it is written that,“ whoever kills a human being … it as though he has killed all mankind, and whoever saves a human life, it is as though he saved all mankind”. This saying is similar to what is written in the Talmud, where it is written, “if you save one life, it is as if you have saved the world”.”

Lord Sheikh also 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.”

Highlight the similarities
Referring to the Exhibition Islam at the Islamic Cultural Centre, Lord Sheikh said, “At the Exhibition today we can see displays of various items which give a very brief description of achievements of the Muslims and their contributions to the world in various fields. All these empires and dynasties have contributed a great deal to the understanding and promotion of the subjects I have described.”

Referring to the Hajj Exhibition at the British Museum, Lord Sheikh said, Hajj Exhibition “explains one of the pillars of Islam and creates better understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims.”

Islam teaches us to celebrate differences
Lord Sheikh also said, “Mutual understanding, respect, and inter-faith dialogue are essential if we are all to coexist peacefully. Islam teaches us to celebrate the difference and diversity which God has purposefully created in our world.”

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.”

Lord Ahmad
Lord Ahmad of Rotherham spoke about interfaith dialogue. He said, “It is important that the Islamic Cultural Centre is providing platform for dialogue but the real dialogue started 1400 years ago by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Real dialogue started 1400 years ago
by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)
Lord Ahmed mentioned, “Even long before revelation, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) made a society Halful Fazul and also entered into agreement with the Jewish community and people with faith or no faith.

Lord Ahmed also mentioned about Caliph Omar. He said, “When Caliph Omar (may Allah be please with him) conquered Jerusalem he allowed the Jewish community to return to Jerusalem after 300 years when they have been excluded and he included them in all the decision making process.”

Responsibility to neighbours
“So dialogue started all ago and so we have responsibility to our neighbours,” said Lord Ahmad and then he quoted from the Holy Qur’an, which says, “There is no compulsion in religion.”

This stunning exhibition outlines: Islam – The Religion; Islamic History; Islam’s Relations with other faiths. It also allows visitors to view Historic Qur’ans, Torah Scrolls and Bible fragments from across the Islamic World.

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.

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.