Sufi meditation in Lodz, Poland, dialogue workshops in Jerusalem, and a conference in Abuja, Nigeria, to create a national inter-religious policy–these are just three of the hundreds of interfaith events that will take place over the next seven days across six continents as part of the second annual World Interfaith Harmony Week. The UN now recognizes every first week of February as World Interfaith Harmony Week, an initiative introduced by King Abdullah II of Jordan at the UN General Assembly in September 2010 and unanimously adopted by that body in under a month. Both King Abdullah II and his wife, Queen Rania, have been among the most outspoken leaders on interfaith dialogue and peace; their hometown of Amman, Jordan, will host a number of interfaith events in the coming days.
Inspired by the A Common Word initiative, World Interfaith Harmony Week has significantly expanded its reach in a short time. Throughout the week, hundreds of schools, community centers, hospitals, stadiums, places of worship, and parliament houses will host dinners, vigils, and forums in over 30 countries.
Supported by a host of religious leaders around the world, the week sends a very intentional and clear message to everyone, whether religious or not. The mission statement of the initiative is, “Love of God and Love of the Neighbour, or Love of the Good and Love of the Neighbour,” including all people of good will.
A number of interfaith initiatives have sprung up around the world in the last decade, but tensions between groups certainly continue around the world. Let’s hope that this week serves as a breath of fresh air and a spark to a renewed sense of community, from London to Lahore.
Does World Interfaith Harmony Week have a different type of significance because it was initiated by Muslims? Have interfaith efforts helped ease tension and/or build trust and respect in your community? Please share your comments below.