This week is World Interfaith Harmony Week, an annual event observed during the first week of February, to promote a culture of peace and to spread harmony and tolerance among followers of all world religions, faiths and beliefs. This observance event was first proposed by King Abdullah II of Jordan at the 65th United Nations (UN) General Assembly in New York in September 2010 and was adopted on 20 October 2010, after Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad presented the proposal to the UN General Assembly.
World Interfaith Harmony Week reaffirms that mutual understanding and interreligious dialogue are important dimensions of a culture of peace and recognises the need for dialogue among different faiths and religions to enhance mutual understanding, harmony and cooperation among people. It encourages everyone to support and spread interfaith harmony and goodwill in the world’s churches, mosques, synagogues, temples and other places of worship during this week.
The observance week aims to promote the message ‘Love of God and Love of one’s neighbour or Love of the good and Love of one’s neighbour’, each according to their own religious traditions or convictions. Its’ message invites everyone, excludes no one, and is purely voluntary. Events taking place this week to celebrate interfaith harmony include harmony breakfasts; people watching a movie and discussing different faiths; fairs with products and foods from all over the world; community interfaith declarations; and joint community work such as feeding the homeless, blood-donation drives and painting community centers or an interfaith mural.
At the UN General Assembly in September 2010, King Abdullah said more than ever before, the world was confronting multiple global crises which could not be effectively addressed without coordinated, multilateral action. He said no country can face these crises and provide for its future in isolation and the threats are global, but so are the solutions.
“It is essential to resist forces of division that spread misunderstanding and mistrust especially among peoples of different religions. World Interfaith Harmony Week is a call to respect our differences and personal beliefs and to unite around the basic principles that people of all beliefs agree upon and to understand harmony can only come if we build upon a solid foundation of dialogue that has ‘Love of God and love of the neighbour or Love of Good and Love one’s neighbour” as its principle for engagement,” said the king.
King Abdullah II has long been known for his peace initiatives with the Amman Message bringing together authoritative figures of Islam to denounce terrorism and promote harmony within the world of Islam. Under his patronage, the ‘Common Word’ initiative brought together Christian and Muslim leaders from around the world on the basis of the commandments of ‘Loving God and Loving one’s neighbour’.
Rene Wadlow, president of the Association of World Citizens, says today after decades of conflict, the emphasis of the countries of the world, both in policy and practice, has been upon competition, conflict and individual enrichment. She says there is a need for an emphasis on harmony, cooperation, mutual respect and working for the welfare of the community with a respect for nature.
“Citizens of the world have called for a cultural renaissance based on the concept of harmony suggesting the focus should be on cooperation, coexistence and visions of a better future. Harmony is a universal common value in which we can find true belief that transcends all cultures and religions. Humans are born with a spiritual soul that develops to seek self-fulfilment and the meaning of life is to seek harmony within our inner self,” says this leader.
According to Wadlow, as our soul grows to maturity, we achieve our own harmony, however, harmony is not only a personal goal of inner peace but a guideline for political, social and world affairs. She adds that International Harmony Week has the potential to promote the healing of religion-based tensions in the world and the whole world should act for peace and prosperity with collective energy.
“Peace can be achieved through opening our hearts and minds to a broader perspective. Our action should enhance peace, reduce conflict and activate a harmony of culture. We are one human race and we inhabit one world, therefore we must see the world with global eyes, understand the world with a global mind and love the world with a global heart,” she says.
WATCH: Message of support from the chief rabbi of Ukraine and Kyiv of the Progressive Jewish Congregations and chair of the All-Ukrainian Council of Religious Organisations |