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Posts Tagged ‘Interfaith dialogue’

Youth Universal Peace Federation positive activities are bringing inspiration to their peers

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on February 9, 2013

IMG_0044 Youth Panel Group Photo 450

Dear Friends,

We hope that this letter finds you well and that this new-year has been filled with success in your activities and work.

As you may be well aware, Universal Peace Federation (UPF) in the UK launched a Youth Committee in September 2011 in order to focus on issues directly affecting young people. Since then, the youth team has accomplished a lot and has grown to be filled with enthusiasm and confidence in the work they are doing. On top of supporting UPF events such as the European Leadership Conferences, the youth team has also started projects of their own. Currently, theyare running two projects:

· The first project is a Youth Interfaith Council which aims to bring together young people of all faith backgrounds to foster peace and understanding. The council was initiated in November 2012 with much enthusiasm from a variety of religious people. It is crucial that this project gains momentum as the voice of young people in interfaith work is currently rarely heard. Our young people have a lot openness and passion in working with people of other faiths. This provides a strong basis upon which they can bridge gaps between faith communities and provide solidarity in representing a combined religious voice.

· The second project is called the ‘Doing Well and Doing Good’ project. It aims to connect young people to inspirational role models who have attained success in their careers and are currently working for the betterment of society. This project was initiated in March 2012 and has huge potential to continue uplifting young people by giving them insights into the personal motivations of such socially conscientious individuals. We run ‘Evening With’ style interviews which give young people the opportunity to interact personally with the role model and to become empowered to do good as a result. ‘Evenings With’ have included interviews with Sheridan Mungal (business mentor), Rioch Edwards Brown and Ian Brown (Founders of ‘So You Wanna Be In TV?’), Professor Akiko Yamanaka (Photo on Right – Deputy Foreign Minister of Japan 2005-6) and Keith Best (CEO Freedom from Torture). The next will be with former Attorney General the Rt. Hon. Baroness Scotland of Asthal QC on February 26th.

‘MicroSoft Spark-peace’ working with the organisation ‘Give for Youth’recently accepted Youth UPF’s projects to be have online funding platforms. In order to receive funding for the projects, we are looking for support from members of the public to make a contribution of any size to either or both of the projects. If you follow the links below, you will find more information on the projects which are currently aiming to raise funds for the development of the projects. It would be an incredible support to the team if you could donate any amount to eitherproject. Even a small amount such as £5 would be much appreciated, butplease remember that it is a one off donation you would be making. The deadline to receive funding is on the 4th March 2013, so time is running short!

Below are the links to both projects where you can find further information and donate:

On behalf of the Youth Committee, we would like to thank you for taking the time to read this email and would be extremely grateful for any support you can give.

Kindest regards,

Neil O’Neill
Youth Coordinator – UPF UK

Christa Kamga
Youth Coordinator – UPF UK

For any enquiries surrounding the projects, please contact us by emailing

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Universal Peace Federation – UK 2009 Activities

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on January 4, 2010

Posted in British Academy for World Peace, Community Cohesion, Cultural Programme, Evironmental Awareness, Interfaith, Marriage and Family, Peace and Development | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

UPF Get Together December 21st, 2009

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on December 23, 2009

Dr Hojjat Ramzy Receives an Ambassador for Peace Award

Snow in the late afternoon prevented many of those who said they were coming from attending an end of year get together. Nevertheless we had a good sharing about ideas for 2010 between those brave souls who were able to come. There was a presentation of an Ambassador for Peace Award to Dr Hojjat Ramzy and a discussion of the importance of marriage and family.

For the photo link

Ambassador for Peace Award for Dr Hojjat Ramzy:

Dear Madame Chairman, Secretary General, Trustees, Delegates, Ambassadors and Friends,

I greet you with Islamic greeting of peace, Assalamu Alaykum Wa Rahmatullah, meaning (Peace and blessings of Almighty God be with you all).

I would like to thank the Universal Peace Federation for accepting me as a member of their prestigious organization. It is a privilege and an honour to be part of this global organisation whose aim is to promote peace throughout the world, regardless of race, wealth or status.

My aim in life has always been to strive to live for the sake of others in the pursuit of world peace, integration, cohesion and education for all. It is a great opportunity for me to work with likeminded people who all have the same ambitions.

I would like to say, before I leave this world, it is my dream to see a world that is harmonious and peaceful for all, where everyone lives together in harmony. A free world with no wars which destroy, no walls to divide, and no borders to separate. A world where everyone is united within one family, a world in which everyone cares for each other.

And last but by no means least; I would like to thank my dear honourable friend Mr Villayat Khokhar for nominating me.

I thank you again.

May God Bless You All.

Dr. Hojjat Ramzy


Since arriving in England over thirty years ago, Dr Hojjat Ramzy has dedicated his life to the propagation of knowledge and the provision of accurate and accessible information concerning Islam to the community of Oxfordshire, in which he is currently based, and far beyond, in order to further understanding and peaceful coexistence amongst faith in this ever developing, multi-cultural country.

In September 2003, following the reorganisation of the state school system in Oxfordshire and the closure of the last single sex girls state school in the area, Dr Ramzy, who is now Proprietor, undertook the mammoth challenge of establishing the first Islamic School in this historic academic city, with the aim of providing the highest standard of education in the most conducive Islamic environment for the future generation of Muslims in order for them to enter the working world as informed and educated individuals, increasing the prospects for the integration and cohesion of these young Muslims into British society.

This, however, is not Dr Ramzy’s only pursuit. In addition to the overseeing of this establishment, Dr Ramzy also pursues the goal of providing clear and accurate knowledge about Islam to the community of Oxfordshire at large through the running of the Oxford Islamic Information Centre. Through this organisation, Dr Ramzy runs a stand in Oxford’s busy city centre which provides reliable information, advice and literature on Islam to the public free of charge. Dr Ramzy firmly believes in supplying people with an accessible source of accurate information about the religion, and endeavours to answer all questions, whatever they may be and whoever they may be asked by. From police chiefs, to bishops, from students to MPs and your average Saturday shopper, Dr Ramzy has been approached by an incredibly diverse range of inquirers and hopes to have helped dispel some of their common misconceptions about the faith. As a result of these efforts, Dr Ramzy has facilitated over 200 shahadah declarations.

Another facet of this enterprise is the provision of lessons and lectures specifically tailored to suit the needs of new Muslims, as well as the provision of Muslim wedding and divorce ceremonies in his capacity as an Islamic Judge and Registrar. In this respect, Dr Ramzy provides clear advice and support to these new Muslims as to how to retain their European identities at the same time as practising their Islamic faith.

The Information Centre also acts as a hub for fundraising and as the agent in Oxford for Muslim Aid and Islamic Relief, Human relief foundation. Dr Ramzy works to collect funds for disaster appeals in all corners of the world, by the Grace of Almighty God and with the help of the community, he has been able to raise thousands to help ease the suffering of those in need.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Universal Peace Federation: Peace Council Dec 5th, 2009

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on December 6, 2009

Universal Peace Federation Peace Council

Universal Peace Federation – UK: Peace Council

5th December 2009

Photo Link

The bi-annual Peace Council is an opportunity to understand the development of Universal Peace Federation in the UK and around the world and to strategise about activities for the coming year.

UPF – UK Activities in 2009 Powerpoint UPF UK Report Dec 5th 2009

Lord King of West Bromwich, a Patron of UPF, welcomed everyone saying  ‘Good to see so many Ambassadors for Peace and activists who have worked tirelessly to make this world a better place to live in.’ Lord King explained that the Peace Council enabled a review of UPF’s impact on world peace and to promote good practices that have been successful.

Lord King UPF

Lord King

Jonathan Fryer - international perspective - 'one family under God'

Jonathan Fryer

Seja Majeed - Volunteering

Jack Corley - Character Education

Jack Corley

Robert Williamson, the Director of UPF in the Balkan region, described the position of UPF in Albania. People in Albanian Government see the UPF as an attractive NGO as a lobby providing moral direction.

The UPF has about 1000 members and branches in eight cities where they do local projects. They have a presiding council to which 20 members are elected every two years. The Presiding Council members are responsible for the committees of the UPF in Albania. Robert shared one example in which the experience of a student who was expected to bribe a teacher before being allowed to graduate and therefore was being held back even though she had passed her exams, was brought to the highest level and dealt with through UPF’s access.

The UPF has a neutral position and therefore can speak for the nation. National media covers the elections and meetings of the national presiding council. There is a track record established that has built up over many years.

There are eight branches in Albania’s major cities. These do local level projects and service activity. These are complemented by continuous education programmes in the vision of the UPF. This work is supported by a former President of Albania and former and current Parliamentarians.

Jack Corley, the UPF Director for Ireland and the UK, presented an inspiring framework for the development of strong marriages and families. He explained that the Unification Movement Founder had been so involved in big marriage blessings in order to build a network of inter-racial, international marriage that draw together nations in conflict.

Dr David Earle is the Vice President of UPF and his wife is Vice President of Women’s Federation for World Peace so they cooperate closely in their activities. He explained the depth and range of the work in Birmingham. The Earle’s held joint meetings in the Birmingham Council chamber to discuss community cohesion in Birmingham in February and a series of meetings in their house where they have extended their living room and garage to be able to hold meetings for up to 100 people.

Seja Majeed spoke of her commitment to volunteering particularly when she was finding it difficult to find a job. She said by going out and doing volunteer activities she was able to meet the people and learning the skills that were assisting her to develop her career. She advised young people to believe in themselves and to be determined. ”The determined person is never powerless!’ she emphasised. She volunteered to work for a counter-terrorism group that then led to an internship with the three faiths forum and then to making a documentary in Iraq. The documentary then has opened doors that enabled her to meet Jon Snow and to a part time work with Amnesty International. Her advice was not just to dream about peace and the ideal but to be involved in making it a reality. (You Tube Video of Seja’s speech). She was later presented with an Ambassador for Peace award (see below).

The author and journalist, Jonathan Fryer, posed the question, ‘How can people in a diverse and crowded world live together constructively and harmoniously?’  He emphasised that we need to face each issue from a moral perspective. He considered that Britain was not a broken society but a nation that has lost its aims and goals. He added that he faces severe differences of wealth and poverty where he lives in Tower Hamlets. He concluded that while the British political scene is confrontational the solution of these issues required dialogue and cooperation drawing on our common desire for peace, prosperity and love. (You tube link)

Dr Salwant Singh Multani expressed his desire to establish a UPF Branch in Sterling. He is the Chair of Central Scotland Interfaith and has been acknowledged as the most prominent Sikh in Scotland this year. He has also been awarded the Hind Rattan award by the Indian Government.  He has a passion to establish an Interfaith Youth Hostel in the highlands of Scotland.

Interfaith Youth Hostel

Robert Williamson - Albania UPF

Posted in British Academy for World Peace, Community Cohesion, Cultural Programme, Evironmental Awareness, Interfaith, Marriage and Family, Peace and Development | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Celebrating Spirituality: South London UPF

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on November 21, 2009

Celebrating Spirituality

November 21st, 2009

An inspirational idea put forward by one of our Ambassadors for Peace, Mayura Patel, brought together representatives from Islam (Ms Saleha Jaffer), Sikh (Mrs Rawinder Kalsi) and Hindu (Mr Ganesh Lall) faiths, Buddhism (Mr Les Kemp), Christianity (Rev. Elizabeth Jatto) and Unificationism (Mr Nigel Barrett) to expound on their respective major ‘Holy Days’ or celebrations through brief presentations which also introduced the basic religious tenets of each of the faiths. Whilst each of the very simple but profound explanations portrayed the unique historic and cultural underpinnings of their celebrations, it was striking how a deep truth became very apparent, namely the underlying human striving for goodness and higher ideals, culminating in the discovery of God, and his Holy Men/Prophets on earth, leading to the ultimate experience of inner and worldly peace. This ‘sameness’ was further highlighted through the stimulating panel discussion after the presentations.

The conference was very ably chaired by Dr. Lance Gardiner. Mr Franklin Fortune showed a brief video about the recent 10.14 Marriage Rededication Blessing in Korea depicting the experiences of people from all over the world who were present at the event. This resonated beautifully with the existing mood among the participants. The conference was relatively small in scale but had a very intimate atmosphere. It was brought to a close by the traditional round of songs presented by Russell Gough as well as the usual buffet refreshments and networking among all.


Time for Vision – The Path Ahead

May 30th 2009, South London – UPF

Nigel Barrett, Susan Beresford and Cllr Faizullah Khan

Nigel Barrett, Susan Beresford and Cllr Faizullah Khan

Councillor Faizullah Khan urged peace activists to arm themselves intellectually with a higher level of understanding and tolerance with which to analyse conflicts and contribute effectively to the peace building process. Speaking on 30th May 2009 at the Peace Embassy in Thornton Heath, South London, on the occasion of the third in a series of conferences held under the title “Time for Vision – The Path Ahead”, he opined: “Desiring peace will never deliver peace, it is activism in peace which will deliver peace.”

The conference was attended by about 40 Ambassadors for Peace, UPF supporters and their guests. The series has focussed on the need for a positive vision to address the challenges we face in this era of economic, political, environmental and moral crisis. The proceedings opened with a thought-provoking presentation by Mr Nigel Barrett on the role of conscience in personal development. Drawing on the philosopher Plato’s discussion of the mythical “Ring of Gyges”, he asked if we would still live a moral life if we could be freed from being held accountable for our actions by others – a pertinent question in light of the recent scandalous revelations of political and financial improprieties. He introduced the challenging concept of a cosmic level of conscience inspired by Divine spiritual laws and principles.

Susan Beresford then presented the ongoing work of Undercroydon, a non-profit organisation, which has successfully brought communities together through innovative artistic, fashion and food-based projects. She described how projects such as the art mural in the Whitgift Centre in Croydon, in which several schools participated, have released individuals’ creative and cooperative talents.

CIMG3008 SL UPF event croppedA lively panel Q&A session followed the speaker presentations, and the proceedings concluded with the generous donation of a large cheque by the Sabrang Ladies Group to UPF for improvement of the furnishings in the Peace Embassy.

Lance Gardiner

CIMG3024 SL UPF event cropped panel

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Commemoration of Dr. L. M. Singhvi: Joint Celebration of Holy Events

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on November 19, 2009

Annual Commemoration of Dr. L. M. Singhvi’s Interfaith Contribution

Joint Celebration of Holy Events During National Interfaith Week

18th November, 2009  Committee Room 4, House of Lords

Dr LM Singhvi Inter-religious Initiatives powerpoint

Prof. Lord Parekh, Lord King of West Bromwich and Rajan Sehgal

Part One:

This was an opportunity to remember a great figure’s  interfaith activities as well as participate in the National Interfaith Week activities through the Joint Celebration of Holy Events in the religious calendar.

Prof. Lord Parekh, the host for the evening, quoted Nehru when saying, ‘We are all little people who only deserve to be remembered because of the great causes we support.’ He added, ‘The best tribute to one who is departed is that we continue their work.’  Lord Parekh remembered Dr Singhvi’s leadership of the significant World Parliament of Religions delegation from India.  He supported Hans Kung’s position of discovering the principles that are common to all religions and challenging the religions that did not share the six or seven principles that were deemed important by the other faiths.

Dr LM Singhvi was an Indian High Commissioner to the UK from 1991 – 1997. He was a President of the Universal Peace Federation (UPF) in India and on International UPF’s Global Peace Council. He came to the UK six months before he passed away in order to connect his UK friends to UPF. He held a conference in the House of Lords on May 21st 2007 entitled, ‘Inter-Religious Initiatives For Universal Peace: An Enduring Foundation for Understanding the Culture and Climate of Peace.’ A report of that event is available through the following link. (May 21st 2007 Dr Singhvi  Inter-religious Initiatives.)

Lord Parekh hosted that event in the Moses Committee room of the House of Lords. Dr Singhvi used the opportunity to express support for the proposal of the Inter-Religious Council at the UN that is one of the  purposes of the UPF expressed by Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon in its founding speech. Dr Singhvi had held meetings in Goa, India and in the UK’s House of Lords in order to promote this council as a way to improve political discourse and decision making. Anand Kumar, the Hindi and Culture Attache of the Indian High Commission, Lord Tarsem King, Rajan Sehgal of the Pakistan India Friendship Foundation all spoke glowingly of the influence he had had on them as well as the accomplishments of his career. It was concluded that he had raised the profile of India and particularly enhanced the relationship of India and the UK.

Photo link for more photos of the event.

Part Two

In the second part of the evening there was a explanation of the significance of the Holy Days of several religions.

Harrison Cohen explained the significance of Hannukah to him and to his faith.

‘I have chosen to speak about the Jewish festival of Chanukah because it is one that ultimately teaches us the importance of religious freedom and human dignity. Chanukah demonstrates the importance and indeed necessity that even just a few good people can triumph over a tyranny of evil. On each of Chanukah’s eight nights we light candles that in many ways represent the triumph of good over evil, of light over darkness. It is also notable to say that the act of lighting the Menorah during the winter period is significant in that we light an extra candle as we approach the Winter Solstice. If we look to history we see so many occurrences within which just a few good men managed to triumph over evil, I am reminded by some inspirational words said by the American president John F. Kennedy, who said: “We are not here to curse the darkness; but we are here to light a candle.” ‘ For the full speech click here

Imam Dr. Mahmadou Bocoum spoke about the significance of Eid al-Adha which is the enactment of Abraham’s offering of Ishmael. He mentioned that this was interesting in that the celebration originated in Abrahamic times. He asked if we could offer what is most precious to us as Abraham did. He mentioned that the Eid holidays have become commercialised but he  reminded the audience of the Prophetic Tradtion, which is  the second most authoritative source after the holy Qur’an,

” None of you is a true beliver who goes to bed with full stomach while his nieghbour remains hungry”.

Vijay Metha spoke of the significance of Diwali or the “Festival of lights”. Diwali or “Festival of lights” is an occasion of joy, prosperity and brightness. It is a significant festival for Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains. While in Hinduism, Diwali signifies victory over Darkness, it marks the attainment of nirvana by Mahavira, in Jainism. Sikhs often represent Diwali as a ‘Day of Freedom.’ The festival has emerged as a prime tourist attraction of Varanasi and present a breathtaking spectacle as millions of diyas are lit on the ghats and sent floating the river waters. A large number of people, including Indian and foreign tourist, congregate on the ghats and take boat rides to witness the spectacle. Since the day also marks ‘Kartik Purnima’, millions of Hindu devotees take a dip in the river Ganga. For the full speech click here.

Sister Elizabeth O’Donohoe, Secretary of Westminster Interfaith, spoke about All Saints’ Day. She said that it was a time of change of season and in the darkness we are preoccupied. Those whose names are written on the Book of Life, or Saints, are prayed for on that day. It is an encouragement to follow the path of holiness. St Ignatius Loyola began a series of spiritual exercises to follow the path of holiness. He taught followers to imagine they were standing in front of God on the Judgement Day. The society of the Saints that are prayed for on All Saints Day are the ones who will put in a good word for us at that time.

That almost everyone stayed until the end illustrated both the popularity of interfaith and the popularity of  the great causes Dr Singhvi promoted so passionately during his life.

Sr Elizabeth O'Donohoe

Mr. Anand Kumar

Dr LM Singhvi House of Lords May 21 2007

Harrison Cohen - Significance of Hannukah

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Vijay Mehta Celebrating Diwali – Festival of Lights

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on November 18, 2009

Universal Peace Federation

43 Lancaster Gate, London W2 3NA

Email: Web:

Invites you to

National Interfaith Week

Hosted by Prof. Lord Bhikhu Parekh

Celebrating and learning from Diwali – Festival of Lights

Speaker: Vijay Mehta

Committee Room 4A House of Lords

Wednesday 18th of November, 2009, 5.00pm


Diwali or “Festival of lights” is an occasion of joy, prosperity and brightness. It is a significant festival for Hindus,

Shanti Mehta and Vijay Mehta

Sikhs, and Jains. While in Hinduism, Diwali signifies victory over Darkness, it marks the attainment of nirvana by Mahavira, in Jainism. Sikhs often represent Diwali as a ‘Day of Freedom.’

The festival has emerged as a prime tourist attraction of Varanasi and present a breathtaking spectacle as millions of diyas are lit on the ghats and sent floating the river waters. A large number of people, including Indian and foreign tourist, congregate on the ghats and take boat rides to witness the spectacle. Since the day also marks ‘Kartik Purnima’, millions of Hindu devotees take a dip in the river Ganga. The event is also beamed live on TV and singing and dancing events also take place on various ghats.

For Hindus, Diwali is a five day extravagant affair. Dhanteras, the first day, is considered auspicious to buy Gold, household articles and specially utensils for kitchen. On this day, People gift “golden leaf” as it signifies prosperity and luck. Choti Diwali is the day when Lord Krishna killed Narakashura and freed the world from fear, according to the Legend. Laxmi Pooja or the actual Diwali is celebrated with a Pooja dedicated to Goddess Laxmi. Padwa is dedicated to the household cattle, where a pooja is done for them and are fed with goodies. Bhai Duj is a special day for siblings where the Brother visits the Sister’s house to celebrate the day with them.

Diwali day starts with an oil bath, after which everyone wears new clothes and sits down for a pooja of Goddess Laxmi. The whole house hold is lit with diyas in the evening and everyone, adults and kids alike play with crackers. Diwali day also sees lots of cashew studded milk sweets and other sweets. Friends and relatives visit each other to share wishes and Diwali Gifts. It emphasises on the joy of giving and sharing like all other festivals. This festival is celebrated not just in India, now but is a global festival.

There are some negative aspects to Diwali like incorrigible shopping, needless purchases and vulgar display of wealth which marks every Diwali. All these trends are propagated by market-driven forces. Most Indians put up a spectacular display of blinking lights, fire-crackers and blaring loud music.  This is a form of indulgence and is a waste of money while billions of people around us live in abject poverty.

It is time we started pondering whether Diwali is just revelry or a very deep-seated faith in addictive consumerism, an urge to possess and an equally inescapable desire to flaunt and display ones belongings.


How can we make multifaith festivals meaningful in the 21st century, especially to the younger generation and teach them the rights/wrongs of this world.

Our role as human beings is to be a trustee of this planet. While celebrating Diwali, we should ensure that we do not destroy our precious planet but use this festival to improve and enrich our life, heritage and culture. I wonder if some of you have read the article in the Economist of November 7th 2009 issue. In it, the Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki Moon, said to an audience of spiritual leaders of all faith, I quote, ‘you are the leaders who have the widest, largest and deepest reach. You can make a huge difference in tackling the climate change crisis by linking up faith and green issues and save the planet for future generations.

In conclusion, let me say that celebrating festivals including Diwali is one of the greatest uplifting experiences one can have. If you go back in time in your childhood, one of the high points of a child’s life is to attend festivals along with the family, relatives and friends of different faith and religions. It was a constant source of joy, happiness and creativity. It can be a great learning curve for multiculturalism – a recipe for peace, prosperity and a safer future for all of us.

Biography: Vijay Mehta Vijay Mehta is president of VM Centre for Peace , Founding Trustee of Fortune Forum Charity ,  Chair of Action for UN Renewal and co-Chair of World Disarmament Campaign. He is an author, a champion for truth and global activist for peace, development, human rights and environment. Some of his notable books are The Fortune Forum Summit: For a Sustainable Future, Arms No More, and The United Nations and Its Future in the 21st Century.His latest book is on Global Warming and is called ‘Climate Change IQ,’ which is available to download free of charge in electronic form from the website along with his daughter Renu Mehta founder of Fortune Forum charity held three summits in London in 2006, 2007 and 2008. The summits raised over a million pounds for charity and attracted a worldwide audience of 1.3 billion people (one fifth of humanity) including print and media coverage. The keynote speakers for the first and second summit were Bill Clinton, former US President and Al Gore, former US vice-President, and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize 2007. The guest speakers in 2008 were Ted Turner, Founder of CNN, Amritya Sen and Sir James Mirrlees both Nobel Prize winning Economists.Vijay Mehta has appeared in various TV programmes including BBC World, Press TV, Ajtak-24 hour Indian news channel, and Think Peace documentary, Canada, among others. The Sunday Times, Independent, Observer, Irish Times and Guardian newspapers, among other journals have written about him. His life is devoted to the service of peace, humanity and our planet.

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Interreligious Cooperation Promoted in Mindanao

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on November 14, 2009

Interreligious Cooperation Promoted in Mindanao

Mindanao Peace Symposium, Cagayan de Oro, Philippines November 11 and 12

Dr. Robert Kittel, Director of Peace Education, UPF-Asia
Thursday, November 12, 2009

(This is an abbreviated report – full report link here)

A coalition of eight sponsors, including government, NGOs, and religious organizations, brought together over 160 participants under the banner, “Peace Development through Inter-Religious Cooperation in Mindanao.”

For two days delegates deliberated and discussed various components of peace—but their approach was very different. Rather than focus on military strategies, arms control, and mechanisms for surrender or ceasefire, they took a journey back into history and looked at their common ancestry.

Gold Star - Mindanao Peace Article

For the full report on the symposium published in the Gold Star Daily News of Mindanao, click here.

Photo Link

On the first day, Dr. Ronald Adamat, member of the Government of the Philippines Peace Panel for Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and an advisor to the Office of the President on the Peace Process, gave an update on the current negotiations stressing that the values and sentiments of Mindanaoans must be reflected in any peace agreement.

Life-long advocate for bringing together peace and education, Dr. Estrella Babano, gave four guideposts to achieve peace and development: 1) harmony with God, 2) harmony within yourself, 3) harmony with others, and 4) harmony with the environment. As the director of Department of Education, Region X, Dr. Babano explained why peace must be linked with development. There can be no peace in the midst of economic disparity, she pointed out.

“Peace is something dynamic,” she said, “It deals with human relationship, and these are greatly affected by a number of factors, the biggest of which is our pride or ego.” The key to peace is to become “selfless,” to forget ourselves and seek peace for others first.

“It was the first time Pentecostal pastors dealt directly with Muslim leaders on issues of peace, cooperation, and mutual understanding,” said Massimo Trombin, International Field Director of the Global Peace Festival, one of the sponsoring organizations.

Concluding the symposium, all participants—Christian, Muslim, and Lumad—signed the Mindanao Peace Covenant 2009. It called for the creation of a culture of service and peace to:

  • Encourage religious leaders to begin a ministry of reconciliation among all groups
  • Establish an Inter-religious Peace Council based on repentance and forgiveness as the first steps
  • Support elected officials, educators, and leaders of religious and ethnic groups to find common ground as “One Family Under God”

Programme of the November 11-12th Seminar click 2009 Nov 11-12th symposium programme

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Mindanao Peace Initiative – UK: Conference at Philippine Embassy

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on November 6, 2009

Mindanao Peace Initiative – UK

Briefing at the Philippine Embassy

November 3rd, 2009

Please Download  –   Mindanao Peace Initiative – UK Powerpoint

Group Photo Philippine Embassy

For more photos please click here

Mindanao Peace Initiative Briefing - Gene Alcantara, Ambassador Antonio Lagdameo, Massimo Trombin, Charles Hardie, Robin Marsh

(Left to Right) Gene Alcantara, H.E. Ambassador Antonio Lagdameo, Massimo Trombin, Charles Hardie, Robin Marsh

Massimo Trombin, the International Director of Field Operations of the Global Peace Festival, briefed the local Philippine community on the developments of the Mindanao Peace Initiative at the UK Philippine Embassy on November 3rd, 2009. The peace initiative is a Track II approach to support the official peace process by grassroots, youth, education and community service projects. Massimo Trombin, who has been active in the area since 2006, used a powerpoint presentation that can be down loaded from this link (Mindanao Peace Initiative – UK Powerpoint.)

There was a broad representation of the Philippine community including representatives of the embassy staff, media, the Mindanao UK group and the Philippine Muslim Association – UK group.

The evening began with Gene Alcantara, whose passion for the issue has been instrumental in developing a local support group, welcoming the audience. He emphasised that Philippinos in the UK were not able to forget the conflict in Mindanao even though the world’s attention was focused elsewhere. He was happy that Muslims from Mindanao were present to participate in this event and to express their views. “The diaspora can contribute to peace and development in Mindanao if only by making people aware of the issues ….. or raising funds for the peace efforts in Mindanao.”

The Ambassador HE Antonio Lagdameo made an excellent speech outlining the official peace process that we will upload shortly. Ambassador Lagdameo emphasised the Philippine Government’s determination to find a peace agreement for Mindanao before the end of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s term of office in May 2010.

Mrs Loline Reed moderated the question and answer session. Dr Raheem Khan, a founding member of the Muslim Council of Britain and a Trustee of the Universal Peace Federation – UK, emphasised that Islam is a religion of peace during his comments.

Mindanao Peace Initiative Briefing - Philippine Embassy London

Dr Raheem Khan shaking hands with Sheikh Abdul Mannan Wahid of the Philippine Muslim Association UK

From this gathering and other meetings during Massimo’s visit it is planned to establish a Working Group in the UK that can support the efforts of the Mindanao Peace Initiative.

DSC05185 Mrs Loline Reed

Mrs Loline Reed

Andy Villalba

Andy Villalba: Mindanao - UK

Posted in Peace and Development | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Dr. L.M. Singhvi ‘Interfaith Imperatives’ May 2007

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on November 1, 2009

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Commemorating Dr LM Singhvi’s Interfaith Contribution and Joint Celebration of Religious Holy Days

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on October 31, 2009

Annual Commemoration of Dr LM Singhvi


Joint Celebrations of Holy Days during National Interfaith Week

Interfaith Water Ceremony

Universal Peace Federation

Tel : 020 7262 0985  Fax : 020 7724 2262

Web: Email:

Hosted by Prof. Lord Bhikhu Parekh

Committee Room 4A House of Lords

Wednesday 18th of November, 2009 – at 5pm

Dear Friends,

Prof. Lord Bhiku Parekh

Prof. Lord Bhikhu Parekh

We have a wonderful opportunity to celebrate National Interfaith Week and to commemorate the late Dr L.M. Singhvi’s contribution to interfaith work. Dr Singhvi, as a distinguished seven year Indian High Commissioner to the UK, left a deep impression particularly in his encouragement of good interfaith relations. Professor Lord Parekh, who in November 2008 gave a commemorative lecture, will highlight the significance of Dr. L. M. Singhvi’s promotion of interfaith understanding in the cause of peace. Dr Singhvi was the former President of the Universal Peace Federation (UPF) in India and in that position held numerous conferences on the possibilities of an Inter-religious Council in the United Nations.

The UPF Interfaith Committee’s series of Joint Celebrations of Holy Days seeks to provide opportunities for people of faith to learn about and celebrate other religious traditions. We are encouraging an inter-generational expression of younger and older representatives of Muslim, Jewish, Dharmic and Christian faiths to explain what Eid, the Jewish High Holidays, Diwali and All Saints Day means to them. We want to encourage younger participants from the audience to also offer their comments during the evening. It is appropriate that we can celebrate the holy days of several faiths while commemorating the contribution of Dr Singhvi who contributed greatly to interfaith dialogue.

Hon. Dr. L. M. Singhvi: May 21st 2007, Moses Committee Room, House of Lords, London

‘Today religion is often seen as a potent but negative force. As Lord Parekh said, we must not just look for commonalities between religions but for ways in which we can aid the process of co-existing well. In the declaration of UNESCO it states that ‘War begins in the minds of men’ – I say that peace begins in the minds of men, women and children. The Universal Peace Federation’s work is all about this peace and it is my privilege to introduce this work to you. UPF is emphasizing that peace is too important to be left to diplomats and soldiers alone. There are other constituencies of peace which deal with our common future and human equality.

dr l m singhvi - photos2

Dr. L. M. Singhvi

Dr. L. M. Singhvi  with Robert Kittle

Dr. L. M. Singhvi with Robert Kittle

dr l m singhvi photos4

‘The Universal Peace Federation is the forum to address these issues – we are many people, but one world, one cosmos. If we do not hang together, as religions, we will hang separately! The mission of religion is to reach the soul and heart of humanity. UPF promotes the culture of heart in the garden of diversity and is for intervention on a hundred fronts where humanity needs help and succour. Peace will not come unless civil society is at the forefront and pushing interfaith dialogue. It will not come through the establishment. Inter-religious work speaks of love of peace and the peace of shared love. There is so much we can do together and that we destroy in our separateness.’  Interfaith Initiatives

The evening promises to be an exciting occasion and therefore we urge you to reserve your place. Kindly RSVP by email or telephone to any of the numbers below. We look forward to seeing you on November 18th at 5:00 pm, House of Lords, Room 4A. (Please remember to leave 30 minutes to go through security.)

Yours sincerely,

Joyce Suda,  Director, Interfaith Committee, 0207 – 563 -0907  – Home: 0208 467 3035

Robin Marsh    Secretary General     Mobile: 44 (0) 7956 210 768    Twitter: RTMarsh

Cllr. Margaret Ali, Director, Mobile: 44 (0) 7723024750

Upcoming UPF Events

Universal Peace Federation – UK 44 (0) 207 262 0985

Peace and Development Network:

UPF is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations

Posted in Community Cohesion, Interfaith | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Bristol Showcases UPF

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on October 24, 2009

IMG_0158  Group Photo Bristol UPF meeting reduced

UPF Bristol recently held a showcase event where we could welcome our European sub-regional chair Jack Corley and our UK secretary-general Robin Marsh. We also had presence of David and Patricia Earle from UK Birmingham region supporting us warmly.

Among many guests, five new Ambassadors for Peace were introduced. We had wonderful talks and lectures but also interfaith prayers, songs, African drumming and testimonies from our dear Ambassadors for Peace. Professor Iwugo from Bristol University who is an adviser for Bristol UPF said that ‘the UPF is a very inspiring organization where all the races and all the religions can work together for world peace’.

UPF Bristol 2009 Talks and Song from Steve_and_Tomoko on Vimeo.

This showcase made people much more aware and respectful of Father and Mother Moon’s work. After the official meeting finished, people were still talking with much excitement, feeling that they want to do something together with UPF.

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The audience enjoyed learning how to play African Drums by Omanye African Drums and Dance UK Performance.

UPF Showcase Bristol 2009 from Steve_and_Tomoko on Vimeo.

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Omanye African Drums

IMG_0146 Tomoko and Danielle

Tomoko and Danielle

Danielle, 14 years old, sang beautifully during the programme.

IMG_0159 Narraser Rochelle Gordon  STOP reduced

Narraser Rochelle Gordon - STOP

There was a very serious talk by Narraser Rochelle Gordon who is involved in STOP – Solve This Ongoing Problem – of gun and knife crime. More can be found about this organisation on Facebook.

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African Drums

UPF Showcase 2009 from Steve_and_Tomoko on Vimeo.

Dr Krishna (on right playing the drum) gave a wonderful testimony of going to an international UPF conference in Korea.

For more photos of this event click here

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‘Beacons of the Light’ Booklaunch October 16th, 2009

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on October 18, 2009

Universal Peace Federation

43 Lancaster Gate, London W2 3NA

100 People Who Have Shaped The Spiritual History Of Humanity

‘Beacons of The Light’

Address and Book Launch by Rev. Dr. Marcus Braybrooke

Book Signing Rev Dr Marcus Braybrooke

Book Signing Rev Dr Marcus Braybrooke

Photo link of the Beacons of the Light Event October 16th, 2009.

Rev Dr Marcus Braybrooke with Respondents Imam Mahmadou Bocoum and Vijay Metha as well as MC Cllr. Margaret Ali

Rev Dr Marcus Braybrooke with Respondents Imam Mahmadou Bocoum and Vijay Metha as well as MC Cllr. Margaret Ali

Rev Dr Marcus Braybrooke Booklaunch with Dr Naznin Hirji

Rev Dr Marcus Braybrooke Booklaunch with Dr Naznin Hirji

Imam Dr Mamadou Bocoum praised Rev Dr Marcus Braybrooke’s scholarship in writing such a book covering so many significant spiritual figures and for his investment as his teacher in the Muslim College during his Masters course. He quoted, ‘there is one light and there are different flames coming from that light’.

He mentioned that Abraham is the only prophet who became Haleel or the ‘ultimate friend of God’. He had to pay a heavy price to accomplish this title. Many other faiths want to take this person as their own faith’s exclusive founder or leading influence. This book reveals the claims and counterclaims on Abraham.

Imam Bocuom also reflected on the words ‘wherever there is love there is God but not wherever there is God there is love’.

During the Q. and A. Rev. Braybrooke was asked the question, ‘can spirituality exist without a religion?’  He replied, ‘Religions can meet best where they meet their call in God. The Dalai Llama said that for spirituality religion was not necessary. Others are rooted in a faith during their childhood even if they leave the faith later on in life and so it is difficult to separate their religion and their spirituality.’

Asked about those figures who are not included Rev. Braybrooke admitted that there are many more than one humndred figures mentioned but not as a separate section. In the end he said the criteria was how influential they were and after that there had to be some arbitrary selection.

Please see below or here for the response of Mr Vijay Mehta to ‘Beacons of the Light’.

Photo link of the Beacons of the Light Event October 16th, 2009.

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Reconciliation and Forgiveness Conference

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on October 4, 2009

‘Reconciliation and Forgiveness’ Conference

2009 UN Year of Reconciliation

Morning Session

Forgiveness and Reconciliation Conference Full Report October 4th 2009

The day featured two sessions. The first session in the morning in a meeting room in 43 Lancaster Gate was chaired by Rev. Dr. Marcus Braybrooke. Photo Link from the morning conference:

Dr Natubhai Shah

Dr Natubhai Shah

Bhai Mohinder Sahib Singh

Bhai Mohinder Sahib Singh

IMG_8479a audience

IMG_8480a audience

The morning session was rich with experience and knowledge about the topic of Forgiveness as expressed by the pool of wisdom emanating from distinguished speakers such as depicted above as well as Dr Ven Sumana Siri, Mr Jehangir Sarosh, Andrea Foulkes and Mr Jack Corley of UPF who gave concluding remarks. The general feeling about the morning conference was well expressed by the chair Dr Braybrooke who felt that during next year we should consider a one day conference with 3 sessions, one which could be a workshop in smaller groups perhaps, given the fact that there was so much to discuss, and such a wealth of experience amongst the speakers.

The second session was held in Friends Meeting House including an Interfaith Water Ceremony and presentations by many faith and community leaders.  Photo Link from the afternoon conference:

Report on the ‘Forgiveness and Reconciliation’ event by Connie Rennie

IMG_8689a interfaith water ceremony

Interfaith Water Ceremony

IMG_8625a Connie Rennie and Robert Haines

Connie Rennie and Robert Haines Readings

Today I had the opportunity to take part in a ceremony at Friends meeting house where representatives of many different faiths came together to share the teachings, practices and experiences of forgiveness and reconciliation. It was a rare and wonderful sight to see so many different faiths being represented on one stage as each stood to share their viewpoint. The religious leaders included keynote speakers such as Dr Marcus Braybrooke: President World Congress of Faith and Rev Dr Sumana Siri: Buddhist Cardinal of Europe and many many more.
Differences are often emphasized between faiths and cultures, but by listening to the words of each of the leaders at the event today, one clear message was portrayed; forgiveness is a key aspect of a strong life of faith, which when practiced leads to peace within oneself, naturally allowing you to bring peace to others, as is described in Buddhist psychology, ‘He who loves himself will harm not another.’ Not only does forgiveness bring us closer to each other, but all faiths expressed that forgiveness brings us closer to God. One of names of God in the Qur’an is, ‘The Forgiver.’ In practicing forgiveness, do we not become God-like?  One of the most important days of faith for Jewish believers, as described by Mr. Edwin Shuker: Sephardic Jewish Association, is ‘Yom Kippur ‘or ‘The day of Atonement’ where the relationship between God and humans is reconciled through repentance, and the seeking of forgiveness.

To see the similarities in the teachings on the topic was interesting, but what I felt really created a positive atmosphere of unity in the hall, was the practice of forgiveness. Chants of forgiveness from the Muslim, Jewish and Jain traditions were presented, as well as an interactive session where the audience were asked to stand and greet their neighbor as a representative of all things that they need to forgive, and tell them, ‘You are forgiven!’ We were also led through a meditation chant by Mayura Patel representing Hinduism. At this point I felt that peace and reconciliation between people of different faiths cannot be achieved simply by an intellectual understanding, but to respect each other as much as to be willing to practice each other’s traditions. Everyone in the room was willing to share and participate in the practices of other faiths, and I was so moved!

The highlight of the event was the ‘Interfaith Water Ceremony’ where representatives of each faith poured pure water into one single bowl, while reflecting on the virtues of water and its importance to Sikhs and Gurus, as described by Bhai Gurdas in his writing, ‘Be Compassionate Like Water.’ This ceremony is a symbol of the dissolution of resentments, and the desire to become one interreligious peaceful community. And after taking part in this event and seeing the example of the leaders today I feel inspired, and re-determined to practice forgiveness as one method to bring peace within myself, to those around me, and ultimately to God. Thank you!

Rev Dr Marcus Braybrooke Reporting on the Morning Conference

Rev Dr Marcus Braybrooke Reporting on the Morning Conference

Photos by Andy Johnson

Lord King UPF Patron

Lord King UPF Patron

water ceremony different faiths 2

Interfaith Water Ceremony

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“Forgiveness and Reconciliation” Programme – 2:00 pm 4th October 2009 Friends Meeting House, Euston

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on September 25, 2009

CCWG Logo Community Cohesion Working Group copy

“Forgiveness and Reconciliation” Programme:

Universal Peace Federation   Community Cohesion Working Group

2:00 pm  4th October 2009      Friends Meeting House, Euston

Faith and Community Perspectives: Emcee Rev. Dr David Hanna: Unificationist Pastor Bromley

Rev. Dr. Marcus Braybrooke: President World Congress of Faith, Introduction & Christian Perspective

Prof. Natubhai Shah: Chair of Jain Network and Jain Academy, Jain Perspective

Rev Dr Sumana Siri: Buddhist Cardinal of Europe,

Mayura Patel: Hindu Meditative Chant with Translation by Vanessa Edwards

Mr. Edwin Shuker: Sephardic Jewish Association – UK   & Mrs. Ruth Barnett: Holocaust Educator

Mr. Bhai Mohinder Sahib Singh: Chair of British Sikh Consultative Forum

Mr. Shepetim: Muslim College, Muslim Chant

Imam Dr Abduljalil Sajid: Chairman Muslim Council for Religious & Racial Harmony UK

Miss Elisa Brann: Unificationist Youth Perspective

Mr Jehangir Sarosh: Zoroastrian Perspective

Mr Andrea Foulkes: UK TV’s Expert on Soul Freedom Therapy

Samana Prasana Pragya &  Samana Rohit Pragya: Jain Vishva Bharati London

Mr Robert Haines: Christian Reading   &    Miss Connie Rennie: Unificationist Reading

Mr Jack Corley: Regional Director, Unification Movement

Ms. Kulvinder Nagha: Sant Niramkari Youth Volunteer & Swami Saradananda: Hindu Perspective

Interfaith Water Ceremony: Rev. Dr. David Hanna: Explanation

Ms. Angad Kaur: Guru Ram Das Project ‘Be Compassionate Like Water’ by Bhai Gurdas

Break: Conclusion of Break – Bernard Chellew: ‘Ryhmes and Reasons’ by John Denver

‘Forgiveness & Reconciliation’ Experiences (1) Ms. Marcian Uwimana – Rwanda  (2) Mrs. Sabina Miller

‘Amazing Grace’ the origins by Prof. Ian Hall. Rev. Harriott, and others, to play Amazing Grace

Mr Glory Mbala, Poetry Reading

Anthony Padgett, A Jewish Artist, Reading from his Book, ‘The Rainbow Swastika Conspiracy’

Dance of Forgiveness narrated by Ms. Anusha Subramanyam of Beeja Dancing Group Performed by Dancers Elena, Jecinta and Katrina.

Lord King of West Bromwich: Universal Peace Federation Patron Concluding Remarks

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Pilgrimage – Interfaith Perspectives

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on September 2, 2009


Period of Silence to Begin

Period of Silence to Begin: Angad Kaur, Brother Tashi, Swami Saradananda, Joy Phillipou, Amarjeet-singh Bhamra, Imam Mahmadou Bocoum

What can we learn about pilgrimages that are common to all religions? On September 3rd we heard about jumping queues and ‘culturally determined’ mind sets that are challenged when we join a pilgrimage. Swami Saradananda, who coordinates pilgrimages (, talked of India as a place where Europeans or Americans had to relearn everything from how to eat, talk, sleep and go to the toilet. The happiest pilgrimage was often the one where everything went wrong! Imam Mahmadou Bocoum spoke of wearing the white clothes of the Haj and putting away things of the world. Yet he struggled when others jumped queues, pushed and shoved to fulfil their heavenly duties. Brother Tashi spoke of accumulating merit by pilgrimages as well as purifying our karma. He demonstrated the sequence of devotion when approaching the holy mountain in Tibet near Llhasa: the sequential prostration every two metres along the path.

Angad Kaur talked of two pilgrimages. The first was similar to sightseeing. The second with a spiritual guide and mentor was an external manifestation of an enriching internal journey. She could experience the devotion suffused within the stones and creation where it was practiced by holy people of the past.

Joy Phillipou grew up in the Holy Land of the Levant, providing ample time to experience swimming in Lake Galilee while thinking of Christ walking on that lake or the joy of being given turkish coffee and sanctified bread at 4:00 am by monks after sleeping overnight in the Church of Holy Sepulchre or lying down in the Garden of the Tomb in the place where Christ’s body may have been laid to rest. She felt a sacred presence within the stations of the cross on Via Doloroso holding her arms out like Christ in crucifixion.

A Unificationist, Ashley Crosthwaite, saw life of faith as a journey. The pilgrimage is a small aspect of that journey. On a pilgrimage to a holy place in Korea he and his wife, who were having difficulty to have children, were told by a spiritual lady of that place to fast one day a week and have cold showers each day for three years. At the conclusion of those three years they had their first child.

Swami Saradananda quoted Mother Theresa’s conception of a castle with seven rooms in our inner world. Each room is guarded by those who check whether you have really learned all there is to learn from that room before passing to the next. Real peace must come from within she said as we change our own inner nature. A pilgrimage brings out the real inner nature in a way that allows us to deal with what we can easily hide in our own nation and regular life.

For more photos please click here. For other interfaith activities please use this link.

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Guided Meditation and Discussion Led by Karen Szulakowska

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on August 15, 2009

Guided Meditation and Discussion Led by Karen Szulakowska

Guided Meditation and Discussion Led by Karen Szulakowska

On August 12th there was a guided meditation and discussion on ‘Spiritual Leadership’ led by Karen Szulakowska.  It was a profound evening of reflection, healing and inspiration. For more photos please follow this link.

The next meeting will be on September 16th at 6:30 pm led by Mr Rajesh Ananda of the Foundation for International Spiritual Unfoldment.


Follow the link for more about the work of the Interfaith Committee.

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‘The Search for Spirituality’ Book Launch by Prof. Ursula King

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on June 12, 2009

June 11th 2009

‘Spirituality is becoming popular. Even sociologists have become spiritual!’ said Professor Ursula King while discussing her latest book, ‘The Search for Spirituality: Our Global Quest for Meaning and Fulfillment’. She referred to a  cultural vision of spiritual oneness beyond diversity of race, nationality and religion that is evolving within the human species. It is an evolution that was not discussed by Darwin but it is happening nevertheless. Gustav Jung referred to a coming together of the interconnectedness of humanity.

Prof. Ursula King

Mr Jay Lakhani

Imam Mahmadou Bocoum

Prof. King defined spirituality in terms of the web of life, through the relationship to oneself, to others, to the environment and the Divine Spirit, Creator or God. The growing edge of spirituality, she explained, was not under our control and therefore is full of mystery as we pass through the stages of our life. We need to educate children about spirituality because we need to know how to allow our spirit to flourish throughout the ‘dance of life’.

Interfaith dialogue can enable a person to discover the spirituality within another faith. This can help us to develop both spiritual literacy and the awareness that we have great resources within us.

Mr. Jay Lakhani, the Education Director of the Hindu Council UK, suggested that there is close link between science and spirituality becoming visible at the growing-edge of science. Quantum Physics for example is clearly suggesting that the underpinning to this creation is not matter but something that is guaranteed not to be matter. What is it?  Hinduism has been claiming that the underpinning to this universe and ourselves is essentially the Spirit. First it manifests as matter then it becomes more visible as living things and clearest vision of spirit is Men and Women. This is called Spiritual Humanism.

Imam Mahmadou Bocoum who is a lecturer at the Muslim College, Ealing and a Prison Chaplain, referred to Chapter 1 and 4 as areas of the book that he really appreciated. He emphasised an inspiring figure in history for him was Mansur Al-Hallaj who was executed for proclaiming that he had seen the Lord. He thought that such a figure would have been inspired by this book. He explained the spirituality of submission with reference to the Quran and Mansur Al-Hallaj. Concluding that ‘to know God is to know ourself and the only way to know yourself is to know others.’

The evening progressed well with a number of other contributions including that of Mohammed Ali, CEO of the Islam Channel and Dr Satwant Multani, Chair of Central Scotland Interfaith, who was visiting from Scotland. Prof. King summarised the evening saying, ‘I really wished Prof. Ninian Smart could still have been with us – he would have much enjoyed the evening and the company. I hope it will inspire some people to be more spiritual….’

For more photos click here. Follow the link for more about the UPF Interfaith Committee.

Posted in British Academy for World Peace, Interfaith | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Integration, Inclusion and Identity Part II – 15th July 2008

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on July 15, 2008

“Integration, Inclusion and Identity Part II”

15th July 2008

Houses of Parliament – Committee Room 15

In the absence of Shahid Malik MP, Lord King of West Bromwich stepped in to start the meeting and  give the opening remarks. It was interesting for Lord King, being a person from West Bromwich, to speak about the importance of Community Cohesion in multi faith Birmingham. He also welcomed the former Lord Mayor of Birmingham Cllr. Mahmood Hussain,  the respected Sikh leader, Mr. Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh, and  Cllr Idriss from Birmingham.

Mr David Anderson MP was the next speaker who emphasised the importance of  local communities, like the mining community he came from,  for community building.  He also emphasised the global aspect of Community Cohesion and he gave the example of how we could work together in Britain to improve things in Iraq.  Iraq is an area where he is keenly interested in promoting better understanding between our two countries.

Tim Miller, Vice President of Universal Peace Federation – Europe, explained briefly about the work of  the Community Cohesion working Group (CCWG).
He emphasised the importance of various groups and communities working together. Through his experience in the Middle East Peace Initiative (MEPI) he found out how much we are inter-related, as he saw how political unrest in the Middle East does affect community strife at home.

HRH Prince Frederick von Saxe-Lauenberg greeted all present and congratulated the group for its efforts to improve  Community Cohesion in our neighbourhoods.

Many of the Universal Peace Federation (UPF) Community Cohesion Working Group (CCWG) members made their reports on the accomplishments of the year’s activities, working with the joint-chairs Saleha Jaffer and Cllr. Margaret Ali.

Among these CCWG members was also Former Mayor of Waltham Forest Cllr. Liaquat Ali, who said it was important to promote understanding by distributing information and knowledge about one another. He observed throughout the series of CCWG meetings how young and old, religious and civic leaders and community members including the Police were very interested in Community Cohesion. He said it takes all parties to work together to achieve the required result, he then added that he was proud to host the first UPF Community Cohesion event of this year.

The former Speaker of Hackney Council Cllr. Faizullah Khan said we are here because we have a problem of not loving each other. He spoke passionately about the fact that we have lost the value of a caring society. Unless we bring the human aspect of loving our neighbour, Community Cohesion will not be possible.  Saleha Jaffer emphasized a point made by Cllr. Khan and added that a community has to work together to educate our youth today.

The former Lord Mayor of Birmingham Cllr. Mahmood Hussain is the first Muslim Lord Mayor in Birmingham’s history of 200 years or so. Although he was proud of this fact, there were many people who had been skeptical about the outcome of this appointment. He said Birmingham is an amazing city with a multi faith population of 1 million – the largest local authority in Europe.

The former Lord Mayor said that what makes Birmingham a most amazing city is the fact that its people, mainly a population of immigrants, had chosen to stay in Birmingham because they simply loved the city! This makes a good recipe for Community Cohesion, because people are willing to break down barriers or at least they are not against doing so. Breaking down barriers is one job UPF does very well indeed so it will be a good thing to hold a Community Cohesion event in Birmingham.

Ms. H. Bhattia explained about the existing community problems in Hastings, mainly due to the asylum seeker population. She also outlined ways to overcome these challenges. She expressed concern in terms of the rise of the British National Party candidates that are targeting Hastings. In developing Community Cohesion, Ms. Bhattia expressed that a greater effort should be made to include the Host community in the programs, so real cohesion can take place. She also shared the positive news of the upcoming launch of the Hastings Interfaith Forum in October which will be followed by a Community Cohesion event in Hastings.

Rev. D. Palmer explained passionately about the Community Cohesion event in Bristol.  UPF- CCWG was invited to organize an event there. She said: “Representing all the councilors, NGO’s, youth and faith leaders, I can say that we had a most amazing start of this work in May. Everyone was appreciative of the UPF model of CC which is based on universal principles of peace building, emphasizing the importance of ’one family of mankind’.  They carry on the good work and are planning to invite a group of youth from Bristol to come to CC event in September, to encourage greater give and take.

There were three contributions from distinguished faith leaders:

The respected Sikh leader from Birmingham Soho Road Guduwara, Bhai Sahib Ji, felt that the main role of faith leaders in building CC was to teach their followers, especially the young, to practice their faith in action. That will turn them into good citizens and responsible people – and if they could learn that all faiths teach these things, they will learn to respect and understand one another. He also suggested that faith leaders can assist local Government, Police and other departments, who often lack information that faith and community leaders can provide.

A great interfaith giant Imam Dr Abduljallil Sajid, agreed with most of the sentiments expressed by Ba Ba Ji. He also added that through his vast experience in the interfaith world, he could see a lot of people of diverse backgrounds coming together. This togetherness is the first step in building community cohesion. The next step would then be WORKING together for a higher cause, as is encouraged by UPF.

The Most Rev Father Dr Abiola emphasized the importance of faith leaders in taking care of their own people. They should teach them to share information about themselves with others and learn from others about themselves. In this way communities will not be shy or scared of one another and will avoid pockets of isolation, hence the communities will reach out to each other.  This is our aim and this is what we can learn from this meeting.

There were a few Police officers who gave us words of encouragement and offered us their services when needed. Inspector Melanie Roulston of Waltham Forest is working on a pilot scheme in CC work along with 2 Sergeants.  At present there are five of these projects in the country.

Carl Wonfor of the National Security Tension Team (ACPO) explained how important it is to have such gatherings of people. He talked about programmes that have borne fruit. He said we should all try to do things like this and develop our focus groups.

Matthew Huish, UCL Interfaith Society Chair, talked about FAITHLINK, a youth organization that brings youth of all backgrounds together. They discuss topics of interest with students and thus get to know one another.  One exciting project they have:   young people of different faiths go to Israel and Palestine. They participate in service projects and thus become acquainted with the situation in the Middle East. Most importantly they learn the points of view at both sides of the conflict. This is an ongoing project and so far they made four trips to the Middle East.

They are also planning summer service projects in the UK. It is the best way for people to get to know one another, Mathew Huish said.

Most exciting was to hear from a 16 year old called Liam Wilkinson, who was introduced to us by David Walker, a mentor training youth in Southwark.  They both spoke about youth mediation programme that had successfully taught Liam and others resolve tensions. It was extremely exciting to hear from a 16 year old, speaking so candidly and with deep confidence about the value of the mediation work that he is doing.

The evening was brought to a conclusion by Cllr Margaret Ali, joint chair of CCWG, emphasizing the point made by Saleha Jaffer, the other joint chair of CCWG, regarding how the group would like to help the policy makers and officers with the difficult task of keeping in touch with the people on the grass roots level.

Posted in Community Cohesion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

East London Community Cohesion Event, 4th May 2008

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on May 4, 2008

UPF - logo

Universal Peace Federation – UK

Community Cohesion Working Group

East London Community Cohesion Event

Minhaj-Ul-Quran Mosque, Forest Gate, London

Sunday 4th May 2008 (2-6pm)

Partners for this event include: Minhaj-Ul-Quran, WFWP S-London, SABRANG ladies, IMF Newham, FAITHLINK, WAIT East – London, Service for Peace, UPF-EAST

On a bank holiday weekend on a Sunday, Mayor of Waltham Forest,  Mayor of Havering, speaker of London Borough of Hackney and most appropriately  the civic ambassador of Newham gathered in Minhaj-Ul-Quran Mosque in Rumford Road,  Forest Gate, Newham, to address a room full of over a hundred activists and professionals, Youth , and women  regarding Community Cohesion projects in the region of East London area and to congratulate those in the audience who brought models of good practice from the community in specific areas of women, youth and civic/faith-leader groups.  Mrs Saleha Jaffer and Cllr Margaret Ali joint chairs of Community Cohesion working group- welcomed all and invited The Civic Ambassador of Newham , Cllr Omana Gangadharan to give the opening  speech. The speech was a wonderful testimony to her life coming to this point – she  said that Newham is one of great Boroughs  championing  diversity and building community cohesion.

Mayor Ali was very encouraged to see so many people here for this Community Cohesion Event. He was greatly honoured to host the first of the Community Cohesion events in Waltham Forest back in February, and is very pleased to be in this follow up event here in Newham and encourages a cohesive community as it is a happy community.

Cllr. Faizullah Khan, Speaker of London Borough of Hackney, was very passionate about Community Cohesion and how Faith leaders and our Sacred Texts from all Faiths, just as much as Quran, can help so much in bringing better understanding and respect for the “other”.

Mayor Georgina  Gulpin of Havering, born in Newham said “My Borough misses out so much compared to Newham because there is  so much diversity here…we must all strive to make good effort to better community relations wherever we are..”

The incoming Civic Mayor of Newham, Cllr Akbar Chaudhary, praised the people and policies of Britain to make Britain one of the most tolerant countries in the world, he said we should all work together to keep it that way!

As Mr Carl Wonfor of National Community Tension Team (NCTT) of Metropolitan Police said during the speech he delivered: “I’ve never seen so many Mayors in one room together at one time. I am particularly impressed as this is a Bank Holiday weekend and the event is on a Sunday! I want to congratulate the Mayors for their  commitment to Community Cohesion and the organisers for bringing you all together” . Mr Wonfor also emphasised the importance of highlighting   and documenting all the good reports of the amazing activities  he heard about,  particularly the projects he listened to  in the Youth group workshop.  (He was suggesting we put these on a website perhaps that of GPF). He wanted to bring these positive models to the attention of the Police Chiefs. We need to give young people a voice. He added that “All the good works already exist and the government does not need to invent new projects but support those in existence. We need to give young people a voice, people like those in the audience doing good have at least one aim to make everyone in the community feel safe! If we have a cohesive community where there are support structures, people can be helped before they get into trouble

There were Models of good practice presented  by women, (from WFWP and Sabrang  Ladies Friendship and  Co-operation in South London)  also sister  Khadija from Minhaj Ul Quran shared about her work with women. ,Youth work from Minhaj Ul Quran, was shared by Rafiq Patel who guides the youth work. and Youth from Service for Peace,(with Wait –East) and  FAITHLINK, Faith connection for Youth- spoke of great models of good practice. Wait East had earlier in April in collaboration with London Wildlife Trust-   done a great project in Dagenham  involving youth of all races, backgrounds and faiths working alongside each other clearing the smaller trees to give way for larger trees to develop.

Models from Faith Leaders, included speakers from  Church of England and from the Catholic Church in Manor Park, Mr Patrick Hanley,  who spoke of the great work they are doing in Muslim Christian dialogue forum, together with Imam Qureshi.  The  2 Christian ministers were working closely in cultural and religious celebration projects with an Interfaith group in NEWHAM as well as with Minhaj Ul Quran particularly. The chief Imam of the Mosque spoke passionately about their work and expressed deep appreciation for spiritual aspect of the UPF presentation by Tim Miller.

Imam Qureshi said “this is a fantastic event – all different people together makes good community -thanks for coming to our Mosque . I enjoyed all the speeches, particularly Mr Miller’s  speech, which had such a good spiritual input.. .”.

We later had  3 concurrent  workshop sessions 1. With women and women leaders    2. Youth and Youth leaders doing  projects and 3. Faith and  Civic leaders. All 3 groups  had animated exchange of idea s and information sharing. We had reports from all three groups which were quite illuminating.  People   who did not have opportunities to share, were given a chance to speak briefly .

The meeting was brought to a close with a good feeling of having sewn the seeds for good works to follow.

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