World Interfaith Harmony Week – Australia

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The World Interfaith Harmony Week was first proposed at the UN General Assembly on September 23, 2010 by H.M. King Abdullah II of Jordan. Just under a month later, on October 20, 2010, it was unanimously adopted by the UN and henceforth the first week of February will be observed as a World Interfaith Harmony Week.

The World Interfaith Harmony Week is based on the pioneering work of The Common Word initiative. This initiative, which started in 2007, called for Muslim and Christian leaders to engage in a dialogue based on two common fundamental religious Commandments; Love of God, and Love of the Neighbour, without nevertheless compromising any of their own religious tenets. The commandments are at the heart of the three Monotheistic religions and therefore provide the most solid theological ground possible

In Brisbane this event was celebrated on Sunday February 5th at the Multi-Faith Centre at Griffith University hosted by the Queensland Jewish Community Services Inc and the Roman Catholic Commission for Ecumenism and Inter-Faith Dialogue.

Inter-Faith opportunities are rich and challenging experiences for me so this afternoon gathering promised much with the “Who is my God” theme. Susan Handley of the Baha’i Community and Linda Ward, a Pagan stretched my understanding of religion beyond the dominant cultural language of my Western heritage.

The Baha’i Community I have known mostly through their hosting of World Teachers’ Day each year at the local primary school where I worked in Annerley. Susan’s presentation introduced me to the prayer and meditation of her religious practice.

Linda’s presentation came from a Celtic background in elements of spirituality that I easily identified with via my readings of John O’Donohue. You can get a glimpse of Linda’s approach and the diverse world of Pagan life in a great youtube clip: Australian Pagan Speaks

The acknowledgement of Land was done by Aunty Anne Chapman a member of Griffith’s Council of Elders with family ties to the Manandangi and Kamilaroi clans.

This wasn’t just a “talk-fest” about Divinity. It was an spiritual encounter and the litany of eight prayers from diverse traditions enhanced the spirit of the moment.

A feature of the gathering was a presentation to the Hon John Mickel MP member for Logan and speaker of the House for his contributions to Multi-Faith awareness in Queensland.

If you didn’t get to a local celebration this year, perhaps you might look to organising an event in your locality next year.