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Posts Tagged ‘religious dialogue’

Joint Faith’s Celebration- Mawlid An-Nabi (Birth of Prophet Mohammed), Pesach (Passover), Easter And Vaisakhi

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on April 16, 2010

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The Joint Faith’s Celebration was a accumulation of sharing, talk, reading, food, music and drama highlighting the significance of ‘Mawlid An-Nabi (Birth of Prophet Mohammed), Pesach (Passover), Easter And Vaisakhi’. Around the sharing of these precious faiths’ holy events there were many significant meetings among the 80 plus people gathered, including interfaith figures such as Rev. Dr Marcus Braybrooke, President of the World Congress of Faiths, Community Cohesion figures such as Dr Husna Ahmad, CEO, Faith Regen Foundation, Marilyn Brummer of the League of Jewish Women and humanitarian influential figures such as Dr Saif Ahmad, (MADE in Europe), Dr Hojjat Ramzy, Proprietor of the Iqra Girls’ School in Oxford and a presentation by Daniel Hurter about Children’s Relief Bethlehem.

Photo Link

Rev Dr Marcus Braybrooke explained the significance of Easter to Christians. ‘Lord Jesus Christ’s first word after resurrection was ‘Mary’. It was a personal word illustrating that this is a personal experience. Through the death of Jesus on the Cross we gained ‘Atonement’ for our sins. We can become ‘At One with God’. He described the feeling, ‘I am loved and forgiven’ rather than feeling abandoned by God. The belief in Easter is fundamental to Christians that illustrates that ‘love is stronger than hatred’.

Dr Husna Ahmad, CEO, Faith Regen Foundation identified a number of moral standards that were established by the Prophet Mohammed, (PBUH). Monetary honesty in financial dealings, keeping of one’s word and not lying were some of those standards that were established at that time that are needed during these days as well. The first human rights party was supported by Prophet Mohemmed who emphasised that wars had to fought ethically and respect given to prisoners of war in a code that had a role like the Geneva Convention today.

Jack Lynes showing his Freedom Pass explained that this (free London transport for those over 60 years old) has some parallels with Passover (Pesach)! He described the symbols of the Passover seder meal as a process of ‘visual early education’ rooted in the experience of the slaves in Egypt. The traditions of the ‘spring clean’ of the Jewish home before Passover as a healthy tradition that is supposedly looking for bread to remove from the house. The extra cup set out for Elijah to take on his return pressaging the coming of the Messiah. However, the belief of the children in Elijah’s coming has similarities to the belief in Father Christmas of Christian young children. Seder traditional ending is the toast, ‘next year in Jerusalem’. which has many meanings but Jack considers to be reliving the experience of those slaves, ‘next year we shall be truly free’.

Mr Sukhbir Singh explained, ‘Sikhs all over the world celebrated Vaisakhi yesterday, and will continue to do so for another few days. Vaisakhi for the Sikhs represents the birth of the Khalsa, and has its beginnings in a remarkable event that took place over 300 years ago. During the latter part of the 17th century, India was ruled by the Mogul Emperor Aurangzeb who was bent upon converting the Hindus into Islam.’  For more click here

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UPF Statement on the Status of Women

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on March 3, 2010

Universal Peace Federation


UPF STATEMENT ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN


Universal Peace Federation’s Parallel Event at the 54th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, taking place March 1 to 12, 2010 at the United Nations, highlights the essential value and central role of women in peacebuilding and human development.

UPF affirms the need for women to serve in leadership positions throughout the world in all sectors of society.

UPF recognizes the equal value of men and women. Their absolute value derives from a common origin, God. God is the origin of both men and women, and all of God’s creation manifests complementary masculine and feminine aspects.

Men and women are extensions and manifestations of God’s harmonious masculinity and femininity. The complementary relationship between men and women expresses the wholeness of human experience. Thus, there should be no gender discrimination but rather harmony of the sexes through love.

Throughout history, women have taken the leading role in cultivating families as the dwelling places of peace and love, in shaping the individual character of children, and in fostering harmonious social relationships. In the family, both father and mother are equally entitled to reverence and honor. The path toward establishing global peace begins with strengthening families.

The ideal of peace is at the core of all religions. Through dialogue and mutual understanding, there can be peace among religions, and peace among religions is a necessary prerequisite for world peace. Women can and should play a central role in promoting interfaith understanding and cooperation.

UPF emphasizes the essential importance of women in addressing issues of peace and development in all sectors, including politics, business, culture, and religion. Women must be encouraged and empowered to assume leadership roles in the resolution of conflict, peacebuilding, and sustainable development.

Universal Peace Federation

Office of UN and International Relations

866 UN Plaza, Suite 529

New York, NY 10017

Tel: 212-588-1802 Fax: 212-826-2176

Email: unoffice@upf.org

Posted in Peace and Development | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Experiencing the Sacred: Dr Naznin Hirji

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on February 12, 2010

Experiencing the Sacred: Dr Naznin Hirji

16th February, 2010

Universal Peace FederationInterfaith Committee

Dr Naznin Hirji spoke of the conditions conducive to experience of the sacred. She quoted major figures as Rumi, that “according to the polishing of one’s heart can see the hidden meaning of things”. He described the “silence that speaks” and a “thread that extends from the heart to the lips” while words tear the fabric of that silence.

There was another theme 0f architecture that facilitates experience of the sacred. There were examples of Islamic architecture with explanations of the significance of the design that both symbolised and facilitated experience of the transcendent and the spiritual. There followed a discussion of spirituality and personal experiences of the sacred.

Link for photos:

——————————————————————————–

We have been holding monthly interfaith events in order to explore spirituality from many different traditions. Some monthly events have included talks about mystics and visionaries from various faiths. Other months have featured guided meditations. There have been book launches by interfaith figures such as Rev Dr Marcus Braybrooke, (photo above on left) that focus upon influential spiritual thinkers or the search for spirituality.

From 7pm to 8.30pm Dr Naznin Hirji (above photo on right) will speak and lead a discussion on the topic, ‘Experience of the Sacred’. Naznin’s Doctorate is about this area. She is a consultant in Change Management and a long time activist in the Aga Khan Development Network.

On Behalf of the Interfaith Committee:

Joyce Suda – UPF Director, Interfaith Committee Chair – Tel: 02084673035

Robin Marsh – Secretary General – Mobile: 07956 210 768 Universal Peace Federation – UK

Biography:
Naznin Hirji has a doctorate in Politics, International Relations and Policy Studies with specialisation in the Philosophy of Learning, Faith and Human Development. She also has an MSc in Change Agent Skills and Strategies and a Postgraduate Certificate in Research Methods. She has several years’ experience as an Educator in the area of experiential and existential learning, spiritual leadership and change management using innovative approaches and a passion for Islamic architecture. Naznin represented her community as a Member on the Ismaili Religious Education Board UK from 1992-1995 and as a Member of The Ismaili National Council UK from 1999-2002, both positions incorporating multifaith and multicultural interfaces and global development issues. She has also held several other leadership and Educator positions with emphasis on policy issues. Naznin has worked on various projects within the Aga Khan Development Network including the Aga Khan Foundation, and has long been affiliated with The Institute for Ismaili Studies in London. She has participated in planning Committees on several international events and contributed to the initial thinking for the Festival of Muslim Cultures UK 2005-2006. In 2007-2008 she project-led the planning, research and writing of three Volumes of a community religious education Curriculum, which have been translated for use in Central Asian countries and are also in use in Europe, Canada, East Africa and Russia. Naznin has published several articles and is in the process of writing for an International Handbook on Learning.

Working at individual, group and organizational levels, she has traveled extensively to support the processes of transformation and transition. Her style of work is to blend the artistic, scientific and philosophical in order to inspire creativity in people and to foster openness of approach to lifelong learning.

Interfaith Committee:

Dr. Ghayassudin Siddiqui
Dr. Christoph Von Luttitz
Mr. Sukhbir Singh
Mrs. Joyce Suda
Dr. Raheem Khan
Imam Mahmadou Bocoum
Imam Nabel Haidari
Mrs. Karen Szulakowska
Ms. Brenda Hodgson
Mr. Amarjeet-singh Bhamra
Dr Naznin Hirji (invited to join)
Mr. Ujjwal Banga
Professor Karel Werner (invited to join)
Mr. Robin Marsh

Email: pa@uk.upf.org Web: www.uk.upf.org Office Tel: 020 7262 0985

Universal Peace Federation – UK

Peace and Development Network: http://uk.youtube.com/PeaceDevelopmntNetwk

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


Posted in Interfaith | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Harrison Cohen – Festival of Chanukah

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on November 18, 2009


Harrison Cohen – Festival of Chanukah

Speech at House of Lords

November 18th 2009

Your Lordships, esteemed colleagues and friends: Let me start by saying it is truly a great honour and a privilege to have been given the chance to speak before you this evening. Before I start I am actually reminded of something that Lord Parekh mentioned earlier, and that of a concept in Jewish teachings that learning in honour of someone departed, it is as if they themselves have committed a good deed. So I’m honoured to be honouring the memory of Dr Singhvi with this presentation tonight.

Next month, Jews all over the world will be celebrating the festival of Chanukah. I hope now over the next few minutes to provide you with an insight into the meaning of Chanukah, both for myself as a Jew, as well as its particular relevance to all of us as members of different faiths living in Britain today. As we look at the world around us it’s hard not to notice the pain and the suffering brought on by poverty, disease, extremism, war and terror. We are only now beginning to emerge from the greatest economic crisis of our time and a swine flu epidemic, two global threats that if anything demonstrate the interconnectivity and interconnectedness of all of mankind. As we look around Britain today on the one hand it is easy to see a society fractured by baseless hatreds, prejudices and intolerance. Yet, as I look around this room tonight I’m pleased to say that I know these challenges can be faced and G-d-willing overcome – knowing that when a small group of men and women, and religious leaders come together in a display of unity, that we are no longer divided by difference, but we are united by our 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.”

We may not be able to make right all the wrongful ills in the world today, but at least we can try to change one person in the same way as [Iman Dr] Mahmadou [Boucoum] said, for each person is a world unto themselves. By lighting a candle we can at least bring a tiny spark of illumination to a world beset by darkness and confusion. Today, our world may be filled with compulsions to violence, intolerance and hatred, but it is also countered with the unending struggle in the fruition of goodness. The Jewish people know all too well the consequences of such evil compulsions, the challenges brought on by darkness and suffering: For throughout our history we have fought for survival time and time again, we have fought for the right to practice, to pray and to worship: To live our lives as the Torah commands us to. Throughout history when faced with inquisition and pogrom the Jews fought back with an unrelenting spiritual faithfulness. Throughout our exile and wanderings in the wilderness of the Diaspora we cling to the belief of the arrival of Messianic Era and the return to the Promised Land.

Read the rest of this entry »

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

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

and

Joint Celebrations of Holy Days during National Interfaith Week

Interfaith Water Ceremony

Universal Peace Federation

Tel : 020 7262 0985  Fax : 020 7724 2262

Web: www.uk.upf.orgWeblog Email: pa@uk.upf.org

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 www.uk.upf.org 44 (0) 207 262 0985

Peace and Development Network:  https://peacedevelopmentnetwork.wordpress.com

http://uk.youtube.com/PeaceDevelopmntNetwk

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 »

Upcoming Universal Peace Federation – UK Programmes Nov – Dec 2009

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on October 20, 2009

UPF - logos 2-0 cm

Upcoming Universal Peace Federation – UK Programmes

Click on the links for further information.

November 18th – 5:00 pm Commemorating Dr LM Singhvi’s Interfaith Contribution and Joint Celebration of Religious Holy Days:
Hosted by Prof. Lord Bhikhu Parekh in Committee Room 4A, House of Lords. 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. The UPF Interfaith Committee’s series of Joint Celebrations of Holy Days seeks to provide opportunities for younger and older faith representatives to express their faith and to both learn about and celebrate other religious traditions.

November 24th – 5:00 pm‘Immigrants Contribution to British Society’
Committee Room 12, House of Commons:  Lord Bikhu Parekh, Chair of ‘Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain’ Report in 2000, Ms Yasmin Alibhai- Brown – distinguished Journalist and Commentator, Mr Tom Brake MP – Liberal Democrat Spokesperson on Home Affairs and Mr Keith Best – Chief Executive, Immigration Advisory Service.

November 26th – 6:30 pm: UPF-UK Environment Chapter: 43 Lancaster Gate, W2 3NA “London Initiative ahead of Copenhagen 2009 – ‘Think globally – act locally’ “ Emma Burnell, Vice Chair of SERA and Lawrence Bloom, the chair of the UN Environment Programme, Green Economy Initiative.

November 28th – World Culture Association: 43 Lancaster Gate, W2 3NA

December 5th – 10:30 amUniversal Peace Council: 43 Lancaster Gate, W2 3NA

The UPF Bi-annual Peace Council Meeting is a gathering of Ambassadors for Peace and friends to review activities and strategise how to utilise the cooperative influence of UPF’s growing national and international network. The Universal Peace Federation and its slogans of ‘one family under God’ and ‘living for the sake of others’ has incredible significance in this time of unsettling changes. The UPF Peace Council will begin at 10:30a.m. On Saturday 5th of December, with sessions up to lunch of reports and keynote speakers who have been supporting UPF events during the year.

Recently Held Events:

Rev. Dr Marcus Braybrooke: Book launch, ‘Beacons of the Light‘  October 16th

Green Economy Initiative with speakers Lawrence Bloom and Murad Qureshi September 3rd. For the report please click here.

September 6th 6:30 pm –   Pilgrimage:  A discussion of the role of pilgrimages in different faiths. For photos click here.

Robin Marsh
Secretary General, UPF – UK

Mobile: 44 (0) 7956 210 768     Twitter: RTMarsh

Cllr. Margaret Ali

Director, UPF – UK

Mobile: 44 (0) 7723024750

Universal Peace Federation – UK

Tel: 44 (0) 207 262 0985

Peace and Development Network:  https://peacedevelopmentnetwork.wordpress.com

http://uk.youtube.com/PeaceDevelopmntNetwk

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

Posted in Community Cohesion, Evironmental Awareness, Interfaith, Peace and Development | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Vijay Mehta – Response to the book launch of ‘Beacons of the Light’

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on October 17, 2009

Response to the book launch of Beacons of the Light by Rev. Dr. Marcus Braybrooke

‘Challenges for Religions and Faiths in the 21st Century’

by Vijay Mehta

Held by Universal Peace Federation Web: www.uk.upf.orgwww.upf.org

on 16th October, 2009 Reception & Book Signing

43 Lancaster Gate, London W2 3NA

Vijay Mehta

Vijay Mehta

It was a pleasure attending the book launch and thanks to Robin Marsh and Margaret Ali for giving me an opportunity to forward a response to the book.

It was nice the way Rev. Dr. Marcus Braybrooke introduced his book as the spiritual rich list. In a very meaningful, humorous way, Dr Braybrooke described his remarkable book to showcase people who have shaped our world and the history of humanity. In a sense it is about our interconnectedness. We are all responsible for one another’s actions as we will live in an age of mutual engagement.

In his introduction Dr Braybrooke has pictured the spiritual history of mankind and I quote “as a great river with various springs, sources and tributaries, always changing sometimes dividing, but moving forward enriching the present and opening new vistas for the future.” What a profound statement. I have picked up a few highlights from the book. However I am not able to do justice as the book only arrived yesterday owing to the postal strike.”

Among the outstanding features is a continuous stream of spiritual people who have influence and inspired us by the writings and actions defining in different ways our relationship to the divine and supreme. One common theme appears to be the desires of all people of all faiths to be in oneness with the Supreme Being as the ultimate goal. This thought of oneness is still inspiring the religious followers of all faiths and is still the ultimate goal which in other words can be put as salvation.

According to the Hindu scriptures the human body is gained after 840,000 births and deaths. When you are given the precious gift of being a human, you are given one chance to be free from the endless circle of death and birth and obtain moksha (salvation) through prayer, meditation, penance, devotion, good deeds, love, forgiveness, tolerance and kindness. That is in essence the teaching of all faiths and religions. In certain cases, it is the selfless service, sacrifices through non-violence, interfaith fellowship to reach the ultimate reality.

Out of the 100 holy men described in the book 23 are from the Indian Origin and many others who are influenced by Indian thought and philosophy. There influences are far reaching and is felt in all part of India and around the world. This is evident from the fact that you can find Holy Men in most parts of India seen everywhere in daily life. Among the great Indian Holy men, the notables are Buddha, Chaitanya, Shankra, Kabir, Guru Nanak, and Gandhi just to name a few. Their influence has been far reaching specially Buddha and Gandhi whose theory and practice of non-violence which has reached worldwide practiced by the likes of Dalai Lama and Martin Luther King. I should also mention Emperor Asoka who is credited with making Buddhism a world religion. It is fair to say that if there is no Asoka, then there would be no Buddhism today.

In the last chapter, ‘which beacon shines most brightly’ is fascinating not because it lists holy people who made a difference but it also gives the much needed perspective of other religions and gifts and inspirations to the people who have very little knowledge of other religions than their own.  Religion no doubt has been a great source of strength and a source of cross-culture harmony in this world full of turmoil.

However, there are things hard to explain in religion which maybe legitimising violence, holy wars, killings and genocide. Is god a loving, supreme, holy light which is so tolerant that these questionable atrocities keep happening in our world? Among other questions which can be asked is if the dominance of patriarchal attitude of religion (of which women have been excluded for so long) and god has always been portrayed in the masculine form. Also one’s own salvation an ultimate goal of religion is meaningless if billions of people around us are living in poverty, squalor and hunger. Also, the author orthodoxy and radicalism in religion needs to be dealt with. The obvious example is the extremism of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and how it can be contained. How can we make religion and faith meaningful in the 21st century, especially to the younger generation and teach them the rights/wrongs of this world.

However, on a positive note as Dr Braybrooke said in his introduction, and I quote “my hope is that we all become aware of the varied spiritual heritage which we now share we shall now discover the spiritual resources to enable us to live together in peace, to relive the suffering of the hungry and marginalise and to treasure the planet that has been entrusted to us.” I hope the book ‘beacons of light’ will transforms our lives in a meaningful way and awaken our quest for truth. If that transpires then the writing of the book by Dr Braybrooke will be an invaluable contribution to humanity.

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

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

Posted in Community Cohesion, Interfaith | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Interfaith Meditation and Spiritual Leadership Sept 16th

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on August 25, 2009

UPF - logos 2-0 cm

UPF-UK Interfaith Committee

Rajesh Ananda:

Foundation for International Spiritual Unfoldment

Guided Meditation

&

Discussion: ‘The Value of Spiritual Practices (Prayer, Meditation etc):

How do we raise the profile of the value of spiritual practices?’

6:30 pm 16th September 2009,

43 Lancaster Gate, W2 3NA

Rajesh Ananda will guide a meditation and a discussion of the leadership of his spiritual Guru, the Gururaj Ananda Yogi, from whom he inherited his position and wisdom. Gururaj Ananda Yogi emerged as a spiritual master in South Africa at the same period as Nelson Mandela who is well known in the world. Gururaj was also struggling against apartheid although he was never jailed he was threatened on numerous occasions. Kindly RVSP to reserve your place.

Sincerely,

Robin Marsh on behalf of the Interfaith Committee

Mobile: 44 (0) 7956 210 768

Universal Peace Federation – UK www.uk.upf.org Tel: 44 (0) 207 262 0985
Peace and Development Network:    Blog: https://peacedevelopmentnetwork.wordpress.com

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

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‘Beacons of the Light’ Rev. Dr. Marcus Braybrooke Oct 16th

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on August 20, 2009

100 People Who Have Shaped The Spiritual History Of Humanity

UPF - logo

Universal Peace Federation:

43 Lancaster Gate, London W2 3NA

Web: www.uk.upf.orgwww.upf.org

‘Beacons of The Light’

Address and Book Launch by Rev. Dr. Marcus Braybrooke

Rev Dr Marcus Braybrooke

Rev Dr Marcus Braybrooke

16th October, 6.00pm – 7:00pm Reception & Book Signing

At 43 Lancaster Gate, W2 3NA

7.00 pm Keynote Address

Followed by Respondents and Q&A

You cordially invited to attend an address and book launch by Rev. Dr. Marcus Braybrooke, entitled, ‘Beacons of The Light’ which introduces 100 of the world’s most influential spiritual teachers.

Rev. Dr. Marcus Braybrooke DD., is a retired Anglican Clergyman. He was Executive Director Council of Christians & Jews 1984 – 87, and Chairman of the World Congress of Faiths 1978 – 83 & 1992 – 99, and is its current President. He is the author of more than a dozen books. His Lambeth Doctor of Divinity was presented by the Archbishop of Canterbury in recognition of “his world-wide work for inter-religious understanding and co-operation.”

At 6.00 pm we will have a reception for those of you who wish to take time to speak to Rev. Dr. Marcus Braybrooke and when there will be a more relaxed and personal time for those who wish to have their books signed by him.

Reviews
It’s a book that should be on the shelf of anyone who wishes to understand the astonishing variety of ways in which religious faith has shaped the way human beings live and the way they think. Canon David Winter, Former Head of BBC Religious Broadcasting.

With his breadth of knowledge, enthusiasm, diligent work and sensitivity Marcus has become a beacon for others, including myself, to follow.

Rabbi Jackie Tabick, Chair of the World Congress of Faiths, London.

Seeing the spiritual history of mankind through the eyes of wise elders from all cultures and religions reminds us of our common humanity and points the way to a peaceful future.

Alison Van Dyk, Chair, Temple of Understanding, New York

After Dr Braybrooke’s talk we will have respondents from different faiths, then the floor will be open for comments and questions. He will be available later to sign books. Please let us know if you are able to attend so that a place is reserved for you. We look forward to seeing you.

Yours sincerely,
Robin Marsh                                                                            Cllr. Margaret Ali
Secretary General                                                                 Director
Mobile: 07956 210 768                                                     Mobile:07723024750

Universal Peace Federation – UK    www.uk.upf.org

Peace and Development Network: http://uk.youtube.com/PeaceDevelopmntNetwk

https://peacedevelopmentnetwork.wordpress.com

UPF is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations
Follow the links for more about the Interfaith Committee or the Community CohesionChapter of UPF.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

More About the Book: www.o-books.com

Marcus Braybrooke

Extent: 512 pages  Size: 51/2×81/2 inches 216/140mm

Paperback

World rights

First published 2009

Religion/History

CONTENT: Today we are inheritors of the wisdom of spiritual teachers of every religion, century and country – thanks to the work of many scholars and translators. Their messages, with significant cross-cultural harmonies, can still inspire us today and help us recognise the oneness of all human beings.

Beacons of Light introduces 100 of the world’s most influential spiritual teachers – some like Jesus, the Buddha or Muhammad are well known; others like Rabia, Manikkavacakar, Guru Arjan Dev or Hildegard deserve to be better known. The story of their lives is clearly set in the historical and religious context of their time. A summary is given of their message and continuing influence.

The author has dared to rank the 100 according to his personal assessment of their influence and challenges the reader to do the same and not just to absorb the information but also to reflect on the impact of the people discussed.

The book is an invitation to the reader,as a citizen of the world, to claim his or her inheritance of spiritual riches.

AUTHOR: Marcus Braybrooke has for forty years played a significant role in the growing worldwide interfaith movement. He is President of the World Congress of Faiths, Co-Founder of the Three Faiths Forum, a Peace Councillor and a Patron of the International Interfaith Centre at Oxford. He has travelled widely to share in many interfaith gatherings. He is also the author of over forty books on religion and prayer, including 1,000 World Prayers and A Heart for the World (both O Books).

ENDORSEMENTS AND REVIEWS: I never expected to read a book in which Calvin, Guru Nanak, Mohammed and Francis of Assisi sat side by side, along with 96 others, in the pantheon of the ‘world’s most influential religious figures’. Probably only Marcus Braybrooke, with his unparalleled grasp of the world’s religious scene, would have attempted it – and only one with his genuine openness of spirit could have succeeded. It’s a book that should be on the shelf of anyone who wishes to understand the astonishing variety of ways in which religious faith has shaped the way human beings live and the way they think. Canon David Winter, Former Head of BBC Religious Broadcasting

Beacons of Light continues the series of invaluable contributions that Marcus Braybrooke has made to furthering interreligious understanding and respect among people of different faith traditions;. Everyone will benefit from this book. Newcomers to interfaith exposure will take a giant leap forward. Experienced participants will also learn from this well-researched and eloquently expressed volume. At the end, readers can agree with the author’s selection and categorization of “the one hundred people who have had the greatest influence on the spiritual life of the world,” or they can accept his invitation to make their own list. Either way, their judgement will be illuminated by the succinct, informative biographical sketches of these people who are, indeed, Beacons of light. Dr Bill Lesher, Chair of the Council for a Parliament of the World Religions, Chicago

Beacons of Light is a priceless and inspiring gift from the good and open heart of one of the global interfaith movement’s wisest and most respected leaders, Marcus Braybrooke. It is impossible to read without being spiritually enriched. Your heart and mind will be opened by this treasure of a book that shines with the brightness of 100 of humanity’s greatest lights. Revd Charles Gibbs,, Executive Director of the United Religions Initiative

I like the style – it is accessible, dense and thorough. It leaves room for questions to be asked. Paul Carling, Director of Religious Studies, Sherbourne College

Tells the life story of influential spiritual teachers, some of them perhaps unlikely bedfellows, although that contributes to its appeal. Inspiring. Bookseller selected title

Marcus Braybrooke is one of the most significant Christians I have ever met. Rabbi Tony Bayfield, Head of the Movement for Reform Judaism and a President of the Council of Christians and Jews, Quotation from ‘The Church Times’

Marcus Braybrooke is to be thanked for stretching our minds with some of his choices. He closes with a chapter on WHICH BEACON SHINES MOST BRIGHTLY. Thus good reading for 101 nights. Richard Boeke, Amazon Review

We’ve had rich lists and power lists before. Now Marcus Braybrooke, a retired vicar, has produced the “holy list”, selecting 100 people who he believes have done the most to shape the history of humanity. It should come as no surprise that an Anglican cleric has decided that Christ is the most influential figure. However, as co-founder of the Three Faiths Forum – an organisation that encourages mutual respect and understanding – he has been careful to make the top 10 representive of the major faiths. Jonathan Wynne-Jones, Telegraph Blog

http://www.o-books.com/product_info.php?cPath=68&products_id=574

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Global Financial and Economic Meltdown

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on July 15, 2009

THE GLOBAL FINANCIAL AND ECONOMIC MELTDOWN AND THE NEED FOR A PARADIGM SHIFT

Global Vision 2000 and the Universal Peace Federation jointly organised, on July 13th, an emergency seminar in a parliamentary Committee room to examine the underlying causes of the financial and economic crisis and the need for a fundamental paradigm shift to restore stability, prosperity, justice and peace.

Kelvin Hopkins MP

Kelvin Hopkins MP

Lord King of West Bromwich

Lord King of West Bromwich

Lord Ahmed of Rotherham

Lord Ahmed of Rotherham


For More Photos Please Click Here

The seminar shed light on the terrifying nature of the death spiral of the global debt based financial and economic system and the ruinous path towards servitude and serfdom. There were parliamentary, interfaith, monetary and fiscal reform perspectives shared and brought to bear on terms of alternative radical holistic solutions offering suffering humanity hope and salvation. This event took place when Parliament is at it’s lowest ebb and it’s image has been tarnished. The event affirmed grassroot coalitions facing the urgent need for civic society to champion the values of public service and the common good and claim Westminster as the people’s shared political space.

Speakers gave clear evidence of the ‘grand canyon’ between officials who imagine green shoots of recovery and the common experiences in our communities.

The financial crisis has revealed an economic crisis now manifesting as a full blown political crisis. Participants agreed that the future is viewed with fear rather than hope and the hatred of the stranger stalks the land. We are now seeing the rise of political extremism which threatens the peace and unity of the country. We deplored the way mainstream media and political elite are taking remedial action but failing abjectly to address the underlying forces. There is a need to review and redesign a fairer, just and sustainable global economic system that empowers the world’s poorest billion to emerge from desperate poverty and facilitate global peace; helping both wealthy and poor to lead full and healthy lives.

In offering different proposals for change this seminar moved us all in the direction of a socially and ethically based mind-set , a new paradigm and the nature of the system that could implement it.

The seminar addressed the following issues:

Are we witnessing a ‘L shaped’ Great Depression rather than a ‘V shaped recession’? Do we need regulation, reform or revolution? How can monetary, fiscal and economic justice advocates connect with the people and political system? How can people power and national sovereignty be secured against the global financial oligarchy? How can the UK deliver on it’s commitments on MDG?  What does the City of London need to do to be the leader in global finance? Is Islamic finance a Trojan horse or Panacea?  What type of paradigm shift is required?

How do we overcome the difficult first task, that of receiving a hearing from public leaders in order to enter an inclusive dialogue. There is a need for a radical shift in awareness, through a clear, short message, that will give people confidence to say, “No. This is wrong, we will no longer accept it. That was the key point of the day; short, crisp pamphlets. Not heavy books.”

Speakers in order:-

Co-convenor  Robin Marsh        Secretary General,  Universal Peace Federation UK – welcomed us with a plea to bear in mind the intensity and ubiquity of suffering around the globe.

Co-convenor   Moeen Yaseen     Managing Director     Global Vision 2000 – – emphasised the challenge before us as outlined with such clarity in the press release summarised above.

Rev'd Canon Peter Challen

Rev'd Canon Peter Challen

Canon Peter Challen: Chairman, Christian Council for  Monetary Justice, – (text of speech below in Comment section) singled out key words EXPLOITATION and EXPONENTIAL GROWTH as lying behind our now evident mistakes; reminding us that they fed the process by which we had made commodities of LAND, PEOPLE AND MONEY, embedding the ill effects of doing so in centuries of legal protection for vested interests. All traditions of good faith cried out against this grave distortion of natural law. Speakers to follow will clarify means by which we must de-commoditise these three fundamental subjects

Lord King, as host for the seminar, reminded us of the detail of our distorted economies, nationally and globally, and pressed us to attend to the proposals to be offered to meet the challenge we face.

Lord Ahmed wished the seminar well and underlined the urgency of our getting the message of moneytary and fiscal reform across to Parliamentarians.

Kelvin Hopkins MP, spelt out the almost total loss of a vision of inclusive justice and the cost of not restoring a moral base to political economy.

Anne Belsey

Anne Belsey

Daud Pidcock

Daud Pidcock

David Trigg

David Trigg







Anne Belsey: Monetary Reform Party, took us to the grass roots task of communication, illustrating, from her own diligence in the work of the Money Reform Party, the fundamental issue of talking in our communities, with a clear, succinct message, of the need and the process for money reform, as a basic contribution to generating the critical mass we must build to seek effective change.

Daud Pidcock: Global Vision 2000 –brandishing ‘The Crash of 2008’ a revisiting today of a study of ‘people versus the banks’ by Swann, he spoke as a scholar long probing the history of the abuse of money [‘lethal tender’!] as a driver of the disintegration of society, presented evidence we cannot ignore of the need and difficulty of restoring state transparent responsibility for the money supply. ‘We’ve endured iron, stone and the lash, but the hardest to endure is debt’ We must restore the effect of the Jubilee practised for 2 1/2 thousand years 2500 BC in Babylonia; explode the myth of the Bank of England being a nationalised bank; expand the M0 supply for community ends.

David Triggs, Coalition for Economic Justice and Executive chair, Henry George Foundation, informed us eloquently and passionately of the need for genuine capture and distribution of the accumulated value of land springing from our co-operative activities over time. He stressed the need to rediscover the natural law that governs the prospects of all life on earth as the basis for our paradigm shift of ordinate significance and to translate this into the economic means of collecting the community’s value for the community, combating the erosion of justice by grossly distorted property rights.  Fight against nature and it will punish you. Work in harmony and it will reward. Water runs down hill!. Such a fact cannot be fought or legislated against; it just is. Economics, the production and distribution of wealth for all is intimately part of nature and thrives only by its rules.



hol130709 058 cropped Adrian Wriggley

Dr Adrian Wrigley

Dr. Nafeez Ahmed

Dr. Nafeez Ahmed

Ian Parker-Joseph

Ian Parker-Joseph






Dr. Adrian Wrigley, Systemic Fiscal Reform Group, emphasised the systemic nature of economic disorder and the systemic response we need to make. He contrasted the countries where revenue was based in the collection and fair distribution of community value with those that taxed people’s productiveness, the former producing more just and stable societies. The old paradigm of ‘absolute resource ownership’ must give way to the new mindset that could be triggered by a’ debt for tax’ swop.  Land must be restored to the factors of economic productiveness and the great monopolies [land, water, intellectual property etc.] ended.  He explored the history of economic society through the ages and found we had known the solution for millennia. Tax and regulation are smokescreens. What matters is the funding source, that of the largest monopolies, land and money. Avoid this melancholy proof and expect inevitable meltdown. Scholars back to Confucious are unanimous on free access to nature’s gifts unless that access causes harm or exclusion through exploitation or exponential extraction, in which case the victim must be compensated. Civilisation flourishes under these conditions. The paradigm under which presently we suffer took over at the beginning of the 20th century when nature was cut out of the analysis. We don’t need a new paradigm, we need to re-instate the old one. Leaders need to read history and start thinking deeply and stop rebutting the well informed public. Free market capitalism is the best approach but of the Eastern not Western variety!

Dr. Nafeez Ahmed: Director, Institute for Policy Research and Development, Provided further scholarly evidence of the fundamental change of perception required if we are to replace exploitative structures with those creating inclusive justice. New structures founded on only productiveness, not speculation; on the ending of wage slavery, and the interest free funding sustainable growth must be designed.

Ian Parker-Joseph:   Leader, Libertarian Party, (click for full text) explored the creative tension to be found between a global consciousness of our interdependence and the nurture in freedom of the rich diversity of local  communities. He recommended the interplay of 1] £Sterling – debt free money for societal infrastructure-2]  £Sovereign as 100% backed trading currency, and 3] Free banking in competition.

Robin Marsh and Moeen Yaseen

Robin Marsh and Moeen Yaseen

Report by Rev’d Canon Peter Challen

Further details, and access to papers delivered, form……Email: myaseen@globalvision2000.com

www.globalvision2000.com Mobile                07818 082011

Global Vision 2000 is an independent international Islamic think tank committed to the evolution of global humanity.

For More Photos Please Click Here

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Religious and Spiritual Leaders Series

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on July 10, 2009

Religious and Spiritual Leaders Series

9th July 2009
43 Lancaster Gate

Presented with a Photo of the Sikh Leader His Divine Holiness Satguru Jagjit Singh

Presented with a Photo of the Sikh Leader His Divine Holiness Satguru Jagjit Singh

Ambassador for Peace Award - Prof. Tara Singh Anjan

Ambassador for Peace Award - Prof. Tara Singh Anjan

Imam Mahmadou Bocoum

Imam Mahmadou Bocoum

Held under the auspices of the Interfaith Committee as a monthly event, the first meeting went well last night.  There was a guided meditation and discussion led by Dr. Amarjeet-singh Bhamra. This was a good opportunity to find peace of mind after our busy working day. This was followed by a talk on the life and significance of Mansur al-Hallaj, the Sufi thinker who was executed for his controversial statements in 922 in Baghdad. Both sections developed into a profound discussion about the experience of divinity. The inner experience of great religious and spiritual leaders has led them to pioneer movements of revival that have profoundly influenced civilisations even if they were inconvenient or unpopular at the time.

The ecstatic intoxication of Mansur al-Hallaj spurred him to witness to others about his experience which shocked the religious and political leadership of the time.  The inner experience of meditation based some of the oldest known religious scriptures has enabled the exploration of the relationship of mind, body and soul that have challenged our concepts of human limitations.

The next event will be on August 13th from 6:30 pm. There will be a guided meditation and a discussion. Please put this in your diaries and let us know if you are going to attend.  (Click here for more photos of  July 9th’s event.)

IMG_0001

Presenting Sant Tehal Singh with an Ambassador for Peace Award

Presenting Sant Tehal Singh with an Ambassador for Peace Award

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Universal Peace Federation – Peace Council

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on July 6, 2009

Universal Peace Federation (UPF) – Peace Council

43 Lancaster Gate

July 4th, 2009

Link for Photos:

UPF Peace Council - July 4th 2009

UPF Peace Council - July 4th 2009

Greetings from Lord King of West Bromwich - UPF Patron

Greetings from Lord King of West Bromwich - UPF Patron

Ambassador for Peace Award Recipients

Ambassador for Peace Award Recipients

The UPF Peace Council was held last Saturday on July 4th in order to gather together branches and committees of UPF across the UK. It was useful to promote the work of committees to those activists in parts of the UK where is less activity. It was also useful to identify new areas in which there is interest to develop UPF activities.

Reports from UPF Committee Chairs or active representatives.

Gene Alcantara - Mindanao Peace Initiative

Gene Alcantara - Mindanao Peace Initiative-UK

Gene Alcantara spoke about the Mindanao Peace Initiative – UK that involves supporting youth service activities, a Hip Hop convention and a number of other initiatives to bring young and old from different communities together in this Philippine area of Christian-Mulsim conflict. (For more information please see comment below. Click links  MinPI Also the link to various activities. Further Explanation By Gene Alcantara)

Cllr. Margaret Ali, Saleha Jaffer and Cllr. Janet Baddeley: UPF Community Cohesion Group

Cllr. Margaret Ali, Saleha Jaffer and Cllr. Janet Baddeley: UPF Community Cohesion Group

The Community Cohesion Group announced events such as a Forgiveness and Reconciliation Festival on October 4th, an event to commemorate ‘Black History Month’ in September and a Holocaust Day event in late January 2010.

Marios Gerogiokas - Report from UPF Environment Chapter

Marios Gerogiokas - Report from UPF Environment Chapter

Dr Marios Gerogiokas announced a series of conferences and discussions with experts to consider the issues surrounding Climate Change negotiations culminating in Copenhagen in December 2009. These include a talk by Dr. Yacob Mulugetta from Surrey University on Understanding Food, Water and the Energy Crisis on July 16th and a talk by Lawrence Bloom on September 3rd evening both at 43 Lancaster Gate.

Marriage and Family Committee Report by Chair Eddie Hartley

Marriage and Family Committee Report by Chair Eddie Hartley

Marriage and Family Committee Chair, Eddie Hartley, highlighted the upcoming conference on the 18th of July,Commitment in Marriage: What the Faith Traditions Offer Modern-Day Britain held together with the Women’s Federation for World Peace.He also reported on the UN International Day of the Family event held on May 15th.

Dr David Earle reporting on UPF activities in Birmingham

Dr David Earle reporting on UPF activities in Birmingham

Birmingham UPF – Dr David Earle explained the progress being made in Birmingham with the local Council in partnership with Women’s Federation for World Peace run locally by his wife, Patricia.

Dr Satwant Multani - Interfaith Youth Hostel Project Inspired by Paul Currie's 1000 Mile Walk

Dr Satwant Multani - Interfaith Youth Hostel Project Inspired by Paul Currie's 1000 Mile Walk

Dr Satwant Multani, the Chair of Central Scotland Interfaith, spoke of the Interfaith Youth Hostel project and the inspiration he had received from Paul Curries 1000 mile walk. He had raised £1000 for the Interfaith Youth Hostel among the members of his Gurdwara. A quick collection from the audience raised a further £180 for the project.

Ambassador for Peace Awards

Ms. Hadia Saad

Ms. Hadia Saad

Mr Mohammed Khokhar

Mr Mohammed Khokhar: Community Liaison Officer / UK Funds Distribution Manager for International Charity Muslim Aid

Karen Szulakowska

Karen Szulakowska

Major(Retired) Suryaparsad Upadhya

Major(Retired) Suryaparsad Upadhya

Posted in Community Cohesion, Evironmental Awareness, Interfaith, Marriage and Family, Peace and Development | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Mindanao Peace Initiative by Gene Alcantara

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on July 6, 2009

Mindanao Peace Initiative by Gene Alcantara

Dear Friends and Kababayans

Gene Alcantara

Gene Alcantara

You will know that the conflict in Mindanao continues to cause pain and suffering, dislocation and costs in terms of the economy, loss of human life, increased poverty and destruction of localities. As we have also seen recently the situation allows kidnap-for-ransom activities which create fear and deflect tourism and investment in the region.

I am writing to tell you that a Mindanao Peace Initiative was launched during the Global Peace Festival Mindanao in September 2008. The event was co-sponsored by the Universal Peace Federation (UPF), the Philippine Government at national and local levels, and non governmental organisations. Enclosed herewith please find the Declaration of the Inauguration of the Mindanao Peace Initiative (MinPI).

In our desire to get involved in the pursuit of peace in Mindanao and help our compatriots there, we have set up a UK Committee to support and seek funding for the MinPI. I hope you will be able to join us and contribute to the peace efforts.

A couple of projects we will be supporting this year are the Lanao Del Norte (LDN) Peace School Model, and the First Mindanao Hiphop Convention to be held in August 2009.

With Service For Peace we are also exploring the possibility of advocating volunteerism and service in LDN and Davao City, as well as implementing micro financing and soft loans for young entrepreneurs and women.

The MinPI UK Committee will be overseen by UPF and its partners, particularly in the Filipino community. Administration and handling of contributions/sponsorships will be provided by International Relief Friendship Foundation, Inc. (IRFF), a UK charity organization [http://www.irff.org/]. Execution on the ground in Mindanao will be the responsibility of Service For Peace [www.serviceforpeace.org] and partner Filipino NGOs.

I would be grateful if you could please forward this to friends and kababayans who might be interested in getting involved or to contribute financial and other help. If anybody wishes to provide any financial help, please go directly to http://www.irff.org/ to do so, specifying your contribution is for the Mindanao Peace Initiative UK.

Meantime if you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

With best wishes

Gene Alcantara

Mindanao Peace Initiative,
UK Committee
43 Lancaster Gate,
London W2 3NA

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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.

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Islam, Renewal of United Nations and Peace

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on June 2, 2009

Islam, Renewal of United Nations and Peace*

IMAM Dr Abduljalil Sajid

The Muslim Council for Religious and Racial Harmony

* A paper prepared for the ‘World Summit on Peace: A New Vision for peace in the 21st Century’ held at Seoul, Korea 29 to 2 June 2009

Bismillah Hir Rahma Nir Rahim (I begin with name of God the Most Kind the Most Merciful). I greet you with the greetings of Islam (Assalamu Alaykum wa Rahmatullah wa Barakathu (May God’s blessing and peace be with us all.)

I am honoured to be asked to speak to you on the important issue of “Islam, Renewal of United Nations and Peace” at the great city of Seoul in the South Korea in the World Summit on Peace: A New Vision for Peace in 21st Century organised by the Universal Peace Federation – UPF. I am also very grateful to the Founder, Chairman and the Secretary General of the Universal Peace Federation – UPF for providing me an opportunity to explain my thoughts of the very important topic.

I have two roles: First to explain what we have been doing in the United Kingdom for Peace and secondly explain the position of my faith.

So far as Universal Peace Federation – UPF UK is concerned the major emphasis of this year has been to support the United Nations in its activities and make it more effective through its organs. The UPF has held various activities in the UN buildings in New York, Geneva and Vienna promoting themes that support the wider direction of the UN. There has been a big emphasis on the UN International Day of Families and the September 21st Day of Peace at UPF Branches throughout the world. The UN International Day of Families has been supported by the UK branch with two events in London attracting an MP, local politicians a senior UNA representative, and interfaith leaders. There have been various activities in the UPF – UK promoting dialogue between cultures and faiths called for by several UN Resolutions for the Dialogue of Civilisations and Faiths. Interfaith, Community Cohesion, Humanitarian activities and the promotion of Millennium Development Goals have been continuing strongly in activities of UPF branches and HQ.

We did recommend on 2nd April 2009 at the meeting of House of Commons in parallel to G20 meeting at Excel with the support of Dr Walsh, Secretary General of UPF International, Rev. Chung Hwan Kwak and Lord Tarsem King the following:

1.      The current financial crisis did not happen by accident. The root cause of the present political, economic and leadership problem is that it has no link with God and it is not based on any ethical foundation. Therefore we recommend an Economic Ethical reform accompanied by greater transparency and fairness to all.

2.      Consideration of the true relationship based on family life, which is the only God inspired institution given to mankind by God, and wider economic realities.

3.      Character and Peace education in the family with wider community, faith based institutions and public schools be given priority.

4.      Debt forgiveness for the poorest nations of world should become a reality.

5.      Interfaith and intercultural dialogue to promote better understanding of our diverse communities and culture and our roots.

6.      Dedication to fulfilment of the UN Millennium Development Goals be given priority if the International community wanted to establish a sustainable economy in the world.

Regarding the Renewal of the United Nations we have working on the three point Agenda:

1.      Renewed UN Must increase its Security Council membership;

2.      Renewed UN Must become democratic in theory and practice to gain respect of the people of the world.

3.      Renewed UN Must establish a second chamber consists of recognised major faith leaders to provide moral and spiritual guidance to political leaders of the World.

Let me deal with other important issues in clarifying two terms Islam and Peace one by one. The Word “Islam”: The “root” of the word “Islam” in Arabic is SALAMA which is the origin of the words Peace and / or Submission, a submission to God and peace to all humanity. It is, thus, no wonder why the salutation in Islam is: “Al-Salamu Alaikum or Peace on You.”  In this regard, Prophet Mohammad ordered his fellow Muslims to salute others Muslims or non-Muslims with peace when he said: “Peace before Speech” It is a Rule in Islam that during war time, an enemy warrior who pronounces the word peace is totally immune. The United Nations has a link with Peace of the World but only an able UN and renewed UN can deliver Peace.

Let me deal with some principles which Islam teaches for establishing internal and external Peace.

Islamic Moral and spiritual teachings are the basis of internal Peace:

Here are some moral teachings of Islam, which comes from the idea of “promoting good and preventing evil” “Amar bil Maroof and Nahi a’nil Munkar” (The Holy Qur’an 3:104; 110; 9:71); Be Honest, (The Holy Qur’an: 22:78 and 16:92); Be truthful, (The Holy Qur’an:25:72 and 104:1); Be Pure, (The Holy Qur’an: 23:1-11); Be Unselfish, (The Holy Qur’an: 17:32); Be Just, (The Holy Qur’an: 4:135); Be good and do good to others, (The Holy Qur’an:2:83; 2:195 and 41:33); Be part of the change you wanted to see as God will not change unless you change for yourself, (The Holy Qur’an: 13:11); Love, (The Holy Qur’an:2:195,9:108 and 96:11); Listen and Obey, (The Holy Qur’an:64:16; Pray – Quite time, (The Holy Qur’an:7:205), Istikhara – Seek guidance from God, (The Holy Qur’an: 1.45).

Let me deal with these principles in some details which may be pre-requisite for peace:

1) Read and Learn! Read and learn in the name of God who has created. .[1]

2) Believe and work hard. Those who believe and work hard deserve God’s forgiveness and a great reward[2]

3) Be pious and respect your parents. God Almighty has prescribed that you worship none except Him and that you do good to your parents…[3]

4) Be honest and fight for your rights. You ought to be engaged in the effort to the way of God courageously and honestly…[4]

5) Be aware of tomorrow. Let every one, male and female, see what he/she is doing for tomorrow…[5]

“That is a past nation. It belongs to it what it has earned by itself and to you belongs what you have earned by yourselves, [6]

6)Be Good and Do good deeds: ‘And do good. Truly Allah loves the good-doers.’ [7]

7) Be Peaceful in all aspects of life; The word Islam is itself derived from the word peace (i.e. salaam). And Muslim is the best description of those who believe in this religion:

‘It is the religion of your father Abraham. It is He (Allah) Who has named you Muslims both before and in this (the Holy Qur’an), that the Messenger be a witness over you and you be a witness over mankind!’ [8] The essence of this religion is peaceful submission to the Lord of the worlds: ‘Yes, but whoever submits his face (himself) to Allah (i.e. follow Allah’s Religion of Islamic monotheism) and he is a good-doer, then his reward is with the Lord, on such shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.’ [9]

‘When his Lord said to him, “Submit (ie. Be a Muslim)!” He said, “I have submitted myself to the Lord of the worlds.” [10] ‘”And we were ordered to submit to the Lord of the worlds”’ [11]

Paradise is itself a place of peace: ‘For them will be the home of peace (paradise) with their Lord. And He will be their Helper and Protector because of what they used to do.’ [12] ‘Allah calls to the home of peace and guides whom He wills to a Straight path.’ [13]

Allah, the High, the Blessed, has named Himself “Peace”: ‘He is Allah other than Whom there is none (that has the right to be worshipped) the King, the Holy, the Peace…’ [14]

8) Be Merciful and patient: Mercy is the companion of peace in the salutation of Muslims. The Messenger of Islam is a Mercy to the worlds. And the slogan of Islam, repeated in every utterance and action is “In The Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.” The behaviour between the believers is one of patience and mercy:

‘Then he became one of those who believed and recommended one another to perseverance and patience, and (also) recommended one another to piety and compassion.’ [15]

9) Compassion and Forgiveness In Islam: Muslims are enjoined by the Holy Qur’an to “pardon and forbear… [For] do you not desire that God should forgive you your sins, seeing that God is much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace?” They are reminded of this duty when they pray five times daily to “Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate” or invoke “God the Forgiver” or “God the Pardoner” – four of God’s ninety-nine names.

Leadership must be forgiving: “And it was by God’s grace that thou [O Muhammad] didst deal gently with thy followers: for if thou hadst been harsh and hard of heart, they would indeed have broken away from thee. Pardon them, then, and pray that they be forgiven. And take counsel with them in all matters of public concern; then, when thou hast decided upon a course of action, place thy trust in God: for, verily God loves those who place their trust in Him.” [16]

Forgiveness: A different outlook and a new start: In Islamic history one may find an outlook of a different nature. When the Romans conquered any country, the first thing they would do is mass massacre. When the Muslims entered any country, they would give guarantees of life, property and honour to all the non-belligerents. Even in war a Muslims are not allowed to kill an old person, a woman, and a child, those who are crippled or disabled. Not only that, even trees are not to be cut and crops are not to be burnt. The entire Islamic history does not know of the concept of mass killing or massacre of enemies. One cannot find one single example of any Inquisition or ethnic cleansing on the name of Islam.

Ends cannot justify means: Another point is that Islam is very unique and firm in asserting that the ends cannot justify the means. This means that to achieve even good ends you could resort to evil means. The principle that Islam has enunciated is that

“Good and bad are not equal. Replace evil by good”. (The Holy Qur’an 41:34)

If you fight falsehood with falsehood it is falsehood that prevails. If you replace vice with vice, it is vice which triumphs. If you change evil by evil, it is evil which is victorious. Islam says that evil is to be eliminated by good. If you pursue this technique then only you would be able to fill the earth with goodness, and justice, and peace and fellow feeling. As far as the wrong (Munkar) is concerned, you are permitted to eliminate it. But as far as the truth and virtue (Ma’ruf) is concerned, it is not to be enforced by power.

10) No Coercion in Islam and Justice and Fairness to Non-Muslims: Unlike many other religions where people were offered either conversion and peace or death, Islam came with the just word of our creator. In the Holy Qur’an 2:256; God said “Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error…” [17]There are many other verses in the Holy Qur’an that deals with the nature of spreading God’s message. One of my favourites which I keep quoting is Verse 10:99 “If it had been thy Lord’s Will, they would all have believed, all who are on earth! Wilt thou then compel mankind, against their will, to believe!” [18]

Global Ethics and Interfaith Dialogue: I am reminded the words of Professor Hans Kung “No peace among nations without peace among the religions and no peace among the religions without dialogue between the religions”. I add “No peace without Justice and no Justice without forgiveness and compassion”.  Dialogue and agreement must be conscientiously applied and maintained, so to create bonds of love, care, trust and confidence. Its prerequisite is proper education and learning from one another.  We must speak and act truthfully with compassion. We must treat others as we wish others to treat us. Every human being must be treated, fairly, humanly and with dignity without any fear or discrimination.

I admire the work of Prince Hassan El Talal over the years for promoting better understanding between different faiths and advocating dialogue for resolving conflicts. His short book “Continuity, innovation and Change” is must read for every Muslim. I not only share his vision but also say that he represents true Islamic scholarship in the current debate on the issue of World peace. The building of peace requires an attitude of sanctity and reverence of life, freedom and justice, the eradication of poverty, dissolution of all forms of discrimination and the protection of the environment for personal and future generations. The ideals of peace include fundamental and global directives such as:

  • Do not kill i.e. have respect for life;
  • Do not steal i.e. deal honestly and fairly;
  • Do not lie i.e. speak and act truthfully;
  • Do not commit sexual immorality i.e. respect and love one another.

I confirm that Islam is faith of moderation and girder of unity for all mankind and blessing for mankind because Muslim model communities where:

  • All of God’s creation – whether human, animal or the environment – is valued and respected;
  • Where people want more to serve others than to get what they can for themselves;
  • Where no one has too little or too much;
  • Respecting the right of others to disagree with us;
  • Being sensitive and courteous to all.

The world will not change for the better unless the conscience of individuals is changed first. Remember, Remember, Remember. Evil is not in the body. Evil is in the mind, Therefore harm no body. Just change the mind.  Lord You said and your word is true! Love is stronger than hate. O God Almighty You are peace and from You peace comes. Bestow upon all of us Your peace and make our final destiny in your eternal abode of peace. Let there be respect for the earth, peace for is people, love in our lives, and delight in the good, forgiveness for our past wrongs and from now on a new start.

This is a brief sketch of the basis of true peace within our selves for the sake of all humanity. May God have mercy upon all of us and show us the true guidance for establishing Peace and making necessary changes in the United Nations. May God guide us all and show us the right path in our lifetime.

Amen.

Imam Sajid

Imam Sajid

Imam Dr Abduljalil Sajid

Chairman Muslim Council for Religious and Racial Harmony UK (MCRRH);

President National Association of British Pakistanis (NABPAK);

President Religions for Peace UK and Deputy President of European WCRP -Religions for Peace;

Chairman European Inter-cultural Dialogue;

Deputy President and International Secretary World Congress of Faiths (WCF);

Adviser to European Council of Religious Leaders/Religions for Peace (ECRL);

Adviser to the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) Europe and International Affairs Committee (EIAC);

Link Officer Brighton and Hove Interfaith Contact Group (IFCG) for National and International Inter-faith matters;

European Representative of World Council of Muslims Inter-faith Relations (WCMIR)

[1] The Holy Qur’an, 96:1

[2] The Holy Qur’an, 5:9

[3] The Holy Qur’an, 17:23

[4] The Holy Qur’an, 22:78

[5] The Holy Qur’an, 59:18

[6] The Holy Qur’an, 2:134

[7] The Holy Qur’an, 2:195

[8] The Holy Qur’an, 22:78

[9] The Holy Qur’an, 2:112

[10] The Holy Qur’an, 2:131

[11] The Holy Qur’an, 6:71

[12] The Holy Qur’an,16:127

[13] The Holy Qur’an, 10:25

[14] The Holy Qur’an, 59:23

[15] The Holy Qur’an, 19:17

[16] The Holy Qur’an, 3:159

[17] The Holy Qur’an, 2:256

[18] The Holy Qur’an, 10:99

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Three Faiths Celebration Article – Daily Jang

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on April 20, 2009

To Promote Inter-Religious Understanding Practical Steps Are Needed

Under the Auspices of Universal Peace Federation (UPF):

Brief Translation
Religion is the Only Way to Bring World Peace and to Bring People Closer Together But it is Usually Used as a Justification to Kill People.

Joint Celebration of the Holy Events of the Three Faiths of Abraham

Joint Celebration of the Holy Events of the Three Faiths of Abraham: April 14, 2009

Dr Raheem Khan quoted that the Holy Prophet’s teaching includes bringing negotiations of peace with non-Muslims in every way.

Under the auspices of the UPF, Muslims, Christians and Jewish leaders came together to address this meeting. They said practical steps are needed rather than just talk to bring inter-religious cooperation and understanding.

Dr Raheem Khan said, over the past centuries people are being killed in the name of religion while religion is the only way that there can be peace in the world. Interfaith dialogue is an important need of the day.

Yael Lindenboim said the current circumstances of the world demand that mutual hatred should be replaced by mutual understanding between communities.

There were messages from Canon Andrew White, the ‘Vicar of Baghdad’ and the former Bishop of Jerusalem, the Rt. Rev’d. Riah Abu El-Assal. Imam Nabil Haider gave a recital from the Koran

There were recitals from different texts. The importance of each of the ceremonies was explained. The occasion was attended by a large number of distinguished members of different faith communities.

Joint Celebration of the Three Faiths April 14 2009 Daily Jang Article

Joint Celebration of the Three Faiths April 14 2009 Daily Jang Article

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Joint Celebration of the Holy Events of Three Faiths

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on April 14, 2009

Joint Celebration of the Holy Events of Three Faiths

14th April, 2009
The Joint Celebration of the Holy Events of the Three Faiths was inspired by a very successful Jewish – Muslim Celebration evening on October 21st 2006 following the 2nd Lebanese war. Yael Lindenboim had suggested that event because the Jewish High Holy Days and Eid celebration at the end of Ramadan occurred at roughly the same time that year. Yael was acknowledged at the start of this evening by Dr Raheem Khan who had been one of the leading members of the Community Cohesion and Interfaith committees organising this event. The evening began with messages from those who had been aware of the evening but could not be there. Canon Andrew White, the ‘Vicar of Baghdad’, had prepared a message that was presented by Sharon Booth his Personal Assistant and Project Manager of Foundation for the Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East. The Rt. Rev’d. Riah Abu El-Assal, the former Bishop of Jerusalem, also sent a message that was read by Vanessa Edwards.

Each of the three faiths representatives were to present scriptural readings about the holy event in their calendar and to explain both the significance and some of the traditions included in the celebration. There followed also some younger representatives presentations, cultural performances and food from each religious heritage.

Links for Event :   More Photos:
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Rev. Dr Shadrach Ofosuware PhD FRSA: Easter

Pastor Dr Shadrach Ofosuware PhD FRSA, the Pastor of Freedom Centre International, a multicultural Christian Pentecostal church with an aim to “Raise overcomers and set the captives Free” explained that Easter was a time of renewal as Jesus came to renew humankind by bringing salvation through his sacrifice.

Pastor Shadrach shared that Easter is the celebration of the Passover a time of atonement in which the High Priest makes a sacrifice of the Passover lamb for atonement of sins in the Holy of Holies. That shedding of blood atones for sins. Jesus shed his blood, like the Passover lamb, for our past, present and future sins. Therefore we can treat each other with love and care. Pastor Shadrach concluded ‘the blood of Jesus unites all nations and all people’.

Imam Dr Abduljalil Sajid JP: Mawlid An-Nabi

Imam Dr Abduljalil Sajid JP

Imam Dr Abduljalil Sajid expressed how the birth and life of Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) influenced the world. Muslims in various parts of the world celebrate his birth as a perfect human being, in the festival of Mawlid An-Nabi, who came not to start a new faith but to continue the faiths of Judaism and Christianity.

He pointed to the inclusive nature of the constitution of Medina as an example of his worldview. He did not create a constitution just for his followers but for all people of Medina, including those of other faiths, both for security and prosperity.

His character of forgiveness was also exhibited in the conflict with the population of Mecca. During the persecution he did not want to condemn any of the persecutors so that they could have a chance to realise their mistake and come round to support him.

After the victory over Mecca he was asked how he wanted to deal with the population of Mecca. He answered that he would deal with them in the same way that Joseph forgave his brothers for their wrong doing. This action led to an era of peace.

Edwin Shuker: Passover

Edwin Shuker, Passover Seder Traditions

The ‘Joint Celebration of the Three Faiths’ included presentations, music and food from each faith. Because of the oncoming sundown Edwin Shuker, the Vice President of the World Sephardic Council, began the evening with a reading from the Torah and explained the reason for the traditional Passover foods. ‘Passover is a symbol of hope, he said, ‘it is my favourite holiday in the Jewish calendar’ he said.

He felt  that the act of sharing this precious message is holy in itself. ‘When I heard from Dr Khan the inspiration for this event I felt that his passion for the event went way beyond him; from the God that unites us all.’

He explained some of the symbolism in Passover. He said that the removal of the leavened bread, ‘Hametz’, from the house prior to Passover, was an expression of removing the arrogance or pride. The Passover traditions are the longest rituals in the western world having been followed for 3300 years.

Edwin Shuker is also a member of the International Division of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and President of Justice for Jews of Arab Countries.


Bishop Riah Abu El-Assal

Much as I desire to be with you and all taking part in the Three Faith Traditions Celebrations, I am afraid, physically speaking, it is not going to be possible.  However, I want you to know that I will be with you all in the spirit.

I have always advocated co-living not simply co-existence; believing that this will be the only way left for us, humans, to live in peace and harmony in years to come.

Religion was never meant to separate people from people; irrespective of this or that person’s convictions.  Neither was it meant to imprison any and make him/her a slave of this or that tradition.  St. Paul was right when he challenged us to re-examine where we stand as believers when he said: “the letter kills but the spirit gives life.” We are called to bring life even in the midst of death.  How more when we are called to live together, recognize the otherness that is in the other, if we wish the other to recognize the otherness that is in us.  Religion has been used, misused and often abused, not by the outsiders, but those who claim to be the defenders of the faith!!! I am sick of that religion and I call on all who believe in the ONE GOD who created ALL of us to enjoy and appreciate the beautiful mosaic that the Almighty left for us humans to enjoy.  To ignore the other and / or pretend he/she does not exist, does not make him/her cease to be.

Easter reminds us of the love of God who cares for All His Children and want them to be united for what protects His beautiful image in each and everyone.  It is the day when we celebrate the victory of life over death, the victory of faith over doubt, the victory of hope over despair.  In the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi, I dare say it is in the recognition of the other that I am recognized; in appreciating the other and his otherness that I am appreciated and my otherness; and it is “in giving that we receive.” Easter is also the Passover, when we are called to pass–over barriers and reach out with whatever love God has placed in our hearts to meet the so-called ‘other.’  Only in passing we will realize that we have come to a Brother and to a Sister, not simply another creature. Oh for the day when God in His Mercy will break down all the barriers that separate the Brother in God from the Brother in God, the Sister in God from the Sister in God.  This is the vision that St. John in the Book of Revelation saw and shared with us when the ‘new heaven and the new earth’ come in our midst and the Almighty be the God of All of us.

In closing, I wish to quote Joan Chittister: “Vision is not the ability to predict the future.  Vision is the foresight to create the future.”

God bless you all and know that this comes with my love and my best wishes.’

Bishop Riah Abu El-Assal is the former Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem

Canon Andrew White

Canon Andrew White

‘Greetings from Baghdad, I am so sorry that I am unable to be with you today especially as my great friend and member of my board Dr Raheem Kahn is behind this event.

Today you come together as members of the three great monotheistic faiths, Islam, Christianity and Judaism. Together we have one great thing in common we all believe that G-d is one. We all believe that G-d is part of our life and we believe interfaith activity does not make us weak in our faith it should makes us stronger and indeed more orthodox in what we believe and practice. Unlike many in the West I do not live and work with those who do not believe much. Most people believe firmly in their faith. Yet they are serious about engaging with the other.

At the same time we all realise that when religion goes wrong it goes very wrong. We do not deny that religion is at the core of so many of the problems in the world today, but if religion is part of the problem it must also be part of the solution. The solution begins with you; you have come together as one not two or three. You must hear each other’s story and you will soon discover that you are friends not enemies. It was the American poet Longfellow who said “Who is my enemy; it is the person whose story I have not heard”.

May the Lord, Hashem, Allah and the Almighty G-d be with you all forever.’

Canon Andrew White
Vicar of St Georges, Baghdad
President, Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East

————————————————————————————————————————————————–

Invitation letter:

Universal Peace Federation (UPF)
43 Lancaster Gate, London W2 3NA
Tel : 020 7262 0985  Fax : 020 7724 2262
Email: peacefederationuk@gmail.com
Web:  www.uk.upf.org

The UPF Community Cohesion & Interfaith Working Committees would like to invite you to a joint celebration of the holy events of the three faiths on Tuesday April 14th, at 6.30pm at 43 Lancaster Gate, London, W2 3NA.

1)   MAWLID AN-NABI – The birth of the Prophet Mohammed, (peace be upon him) takes place on March 9th in 2009. Charity and food are distributed, and stories about the life of Muhammad are narrated with recitation of poetry by children. There are also large street processions and homes or mosques are decorated.

2)   PESACH – The season of Passover when Jews commemorate the liberation of the Children of Israel who were led out of Egypt by Moses begins on April 9th and finishes on April 17th. This is commemorated each year at the ‘Passover Seder’.

3)   EASTER commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is the most important Christian festival. On Good Friday, Jesus Christ was executed by crucifixion. On Easter Sunday Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is celebrated. Easter is a time for families to worship and spend time together.

More information on all these Holy Days at BBC Religion website – www.bbc.co.uk/religion

As you well know these three Holy Days have a deep significance in the lives of the respective faith traditions and many who are less religious also hold these days as a special time in their yearly calendar – a time of togetherness in their families. As the 3 Holy Days are in close proximity, we are fortunate to have this opportunity to be together, to celebrate them all.

The Programme will include:

  1. Short talks about each festival delivered by prominent speakers from each Faith and illustrating the importance of the Holy Days to their faith community.
  2. The foods of the three faiths with particular significance for the celebrated holy events .
  3. Music, Poetry and Cultural Performances from each faith community.

More than anything we will have lovely people from all communities who want to share their Holy Day with others. We will learn from each other and enjoy a high spiritual experience, created by our collective good will. Peace, Harmony and Joy will reign!

Should you wish to contribute (or someone you know) please let us know!!

Yours Sincerely,

Dr Raheem Khan – special consultant to the three faiths celebration
Saleha Jaffer – Joint Chair of CCWG and Community Cohesion/preventing extremism consultant
Margaret Ali – Joint chair of CCWG & Director-UPF UK
Robin Marsh – Secretary General of UPF UK

Other members of the Community Cohesion Committee include
Cllr. Liaquat Ali: former Mayor of London Borough of Waltham Forest
Mrs Ruth Louise Barnett: Holocaust educator
Cllr. Janet Baddeley: Watford Borough Council
Habibah Anwar Bhatti: BME Development and Community Cohesion officer, Hastings  V. A.
Cllr. Mushtaq Lasharie: Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea & Chair of 3rd World Solidarity
Brenda Hodgson: Peace activist
Alan Rainer: Interfaith activist & RE teacher
Hilde Rapp: Conflict Resolution & Co – Chair, Centre of International Peacebuilding
Ajit Singh MBE: Interfaith activist
Tim Miller: Chair of Hastings Interfaith Forum
Mathew Huish: Chair of Faithlink (student interfaith group)
Shamsuddin Agha: President of Indian Muslim Federation – UK
Mr Brij-Mohan Gupta: Chair of Hindu Culture and Heritage Society – UK
Cllr. Faizullah Khan: Former Speaker of London Borough of Hackney
Mr Edwin Shuker: Vice President of the World Sephardic of Congress
Cllr. Greta Sohoye: Croydon Council
Cllr. Lurline Champagne: London Borough of Harrow Council
Mr David Sasson: Peace Activist
Amarjeet-Singh Bhamra PhD IHM: Interfaith activist and Ayurveda Consultant

Interfaith Committee members include below:
Dr Ghayassudin Siddiqui
Dr. Christoph Von Luttitz
Mr Sukhbir Singh
Mrs Joyce Suda
Mrs Ruth Barnett
Mr Mathew Huish
Dr Raheem Khan
Mr Martin Moloney

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Jubilee Debt Campaign – G20 – New Vision Amid the Economic Crisis: 2nd April 2009

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on April 11, 2009

Jubilee Debt Campaign

The dust has settled on last week’s G20 summit, and it’s time to ask: did world leaders Put People First?


Our verdict: it was high on rhetoric, and high on headline figures, but overall the G20 failed
to deliver the radical changes that are desperately needed.

 

Shortly before the summit, we released a new report warning of the risks of a new debt crisis emerging from the financial turmoil, as already unpayable poor country debts continue to grow. The G20 summit didn’t calm those fears. In fact, it took some worrying decisions – such as massive extra funding for the International Monetary Fund, without fundamental reforms to put people before Washington economics – that have begun to take us down that path. Read our full G20 response

But despite these setbacks, the G20 summit is not the end of the story. As one placard had it at the G20 protest, ‘The beginning is nigh’. World leaders may still be stuck in their old way of thinking, but we’ve started a global discussion about how to transform the financial system to replace 30 years of discredited economic thinking.

That discussion will continue in the months ahead. In June, the United Nations will host a major meeting on the financial crisis. The G20 leaders have said they will meet again in six months time, and the G20 Finance Ministers are due to meet in Scotland in the autumn.

This crisis is still a massive opportunity to clean up global finance. But it’s going to take continued and determined campaigning throughout 2009, and beyond, to make that happen.

Jubilee Debt Campaign

http://www.jubileedebtcampaign.org.uk/

 

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UPF Recommendations for the G-20 Summit April 2nd 2009 – London

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on March 30, 2009

UPF Recommendations for the G-20 Summit April 2nd – London

When the leaders of the G-20 convened in Washington DC last November, they committed themselves to “lay the foundation for reform to help ensure that a global crisis…does not happen again.”

If there is to be lasting change, the G-20 must acknowledge that the current financial crisis did not happen by accident, and it was by no means inevitable. The root cause of the problem has as much to do with moral, indeed spiritual failure, as governmental or financial mismanagement. For this reason, improved fiscal, economic and trade policies alone are not enough. The attitudes and behaviour of people, institutions and even entire nations must change.

The social sphere that comprises business, trade, and finance is embedded in a wider culture and ethos that, during the best of times in human history, provide the moral and spiritual framework within which we, as human beings, live day to day. Thus, the G-20 must engage in deeper reflection on the moral and spiritual infrastructure that forms the foundation of life in the world. We take an enormous risk when we either ignore or de-value that reality.

Therefore, as the G-20 gathers in London, we offer the following recommendations:

Ethical Reform: In addition to consideration of critical factors such as energy, security and climate change, food security, the rule of law, and the fight against terrorism, poverty and disease, an even greater need is for ethical reform. This call for ethical reform should be accompanied by greater transparency and fairness whether in financial markets, trade or ‘tax havens’ or in standards of good governance both in developing and developed nations.

The Importance of Social Institutions: Wealth, prosperity and human security are dependent not only on the proper functioning of governments, banks and markets, but also the proper functioning of families, communities, schools, and faith-based institutions, where character is shaped and our core values are learned.

Sustainable Growth: We call on the G-20 to promote sustainable growth for developed and developing nations.

Marriage and Family: Strong, stable, loving families are profoundly relevant to the quality of economic life. The G-20 should give consideration to the relevance of family life to wider economic realities.

Character Education: Character education, not only in the family or faith-based institution, but also in our schools, will help assure a thriving moral culture that is necessary for a robust and stable economy. Hard work, thrift, honesty, responsibility, empathy are moral virtues that are essential to a good business and a good economy.

Unselfishness: At the heart of many of the world’s greatest religious and moral worldviews is an emphasis on the universal value of unselfishness, and the control of self-centeredness. While traditionally, free markets are guided by a profit incentive, that human inclination must be balanced by higher principles such as altruism and service to others. We call upon the G-20 nations to dedicate 0.7% of Gross National Income at least by 2013 (agreed upon by developed nations in 1970 by UN General Assembly Resolution and reaffirmed on several occasions since) to support overseas development assistance and the fulfillment of the Millennium Development Goals. We would encourage developed nations to forgive debts of the poorest nations of the world especially those accumulated by despotic regimes and that are now shackling succeeding democracies. This altruism demonstrates ‘living for the sake of others’ within the human family.

We are All Members of One Human Family: Humanity is one universal family. Despite the diversity of race, nationality, ethnicity and religion, we are all human and we all derive from a common source or origin, known by many as God, Allah, Jehovah, Brahman, the ultimate reality. We call for increased emphasis upon interfaith and intercultural dialogue between and beyond the nations of the G20 to promote understanding of our common root. Let us never forget that we are one family under God.

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G20 Put People First Demonstration – March 28th 2009

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on March 28, 2009

G20 Put People First Demonstration: March 28th 2009

This was a good opportunity to highlight important issues regarding fairness, relieving poverty, injustice and climate change. Among the 35,000 people involved there were a wide ranging number of groups included in the demonstration. Where else could you share a walk with ‘Bananas for Justice’ who were emphasising fair trade issues and a paper mache dragon that was promoting the World Development Movement? The demo was preceded by a church service led by the Bishop of London, the Rt. Rev. Richard Chartres in Westminster Central Hall. For much of the march from Westminster to Hyde Park I was helping to carry the Jubilee Debt Campaign banner or placards. We were following a group including one with a Mohican haircut and another with bright pink hair who took turns to power a speaker system through bicycle power and chanted or sang in a way that was well practiced and humourous.

The speakers promoted issues of fairness and justice not just within the financial system but throughout our entire human family. Those on stage or on video repeatedly illustrated the injustice of the current economic and trading system. Rather than the G20 being the goal and end of the campaign the feeling from speakers and activists was that this is only one step in a long campaign to rectify the current unfairness. The current crisis was repeatedly referred to by participants and speakers as a watershed that is provoking reflection and must not be followed by ‘business as usual’.

Photo Link: http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/PeaceFederationUK/PutPeopleFirst#

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Inter-religious Cooperation Beyond Dialogue

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on March 17, 2009

Inter-religious Cooperation Beyond Dialogue  – London, UK

On Saturday 28th February the UPF Interfaith Committee continued their series of events showcasing models of Inter-religious Cooperation Beyond Dialogue. Mr Sukhbir Singh, the London representative of the Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha, explained how the Sikh community in Birmingham supported the Hindu community during the Ram Katha Vedic Festival in the Birmingham NEC in 2001. After telling the story from the perspective of the Sikh community, Mr Singh was followed by the director of the festival, Mr Dinesh Chauhan, in sharing the perspective of the Hindu community. After a description of langar, the holy and humble sharing of food which is essential to the Sikh faith, Mr Singh described the scale of support being offered to the festival: A marquee was to be erected in the NEC car park where food for 10,000 people would be prepared daily. Both communities had encountered episodes of obstacles, which frequently threatened to jeopardise the entire festival. After some miraculous breakthroughs, the 9-day event was executed successfully. There were no emergencies, no health and safety issues. The event was highly praised by the then Birmingham Lord Mayor. The stories were so touching that many had tears in their eyes.

Mr Sukhbir Singh and Mr Dinesh Chauhan

Mr Sukhbir Singh and Mr Dinesh Chauhan

Many Sikh organisations actually could not comprehend or approve of this initiative. Many Hindus had second thoughts about working with Sikhs – however the perseverance of great leaders like Mr Chauhan, Mr Sukhbir Singh  and Mr. Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh the Chairman of the Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha, AND with the help of God, they could overcome all obstacles and bring about such a glorious result of such impact that many cannot forget this precious experience. To date, it gives them much joy and empowerment as the testimonies demonstrated. It was very pleasing to see that friendships have developed and strengthened over the years because of this experience of Inter religious Initiative Beyong Dialogue.

Miss Balhar Kaur, the daughter of Mr Singh, gave an account of her experience as an 11-year old volunteer within the kitchen, or langar. She could testify to the electric and deeply spiritual atmosphere created when Hindus and Sikhs cooperated in the preparation of food for the festival participants. In homage to her father, she announced that “anything is possible with my Dad.”

Mr Sukhbir Singh's family in the UPF Office

Mr Sukhbir Singh's family in the UPF Office

Hindus and Sikhs worked side-by-side in the preparation of food, chanting God’s name together, truly creating the spirit of one family under God.

After the presentations, discussion circles were organised in order to generate new ideas of how our respective faith communities could offer something to another faith community. Some of the ideas mentioned included: serving langar in the Middle East as part of the ongoing Middle East Peace Initiative; organising an Interfaith Festival of Forgiveness around the time of the UN International Day of Peace; empowering youth cooperation amongst faith communities; and celebrating the gift of service.

Krishna Chauhan, the son of Mr Dinesh Chauhan, took the opportunity to promote an upcoming event promoting unity between Sikhs and Hindus through the joint celebration of the festival of Holi: On Sunday 15th March the Guru Gobind Singh Khalsa College will host the Redbridge Nagar Holi Celebration. Everyone was invited to join in between midday and 4pm.

The next event will be a joint festival between the Abrahamic faiths celebrating the birthday of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Pesach & Easter. At 43 Lancaster Gate, London W2 3NA, on Tuesday 14th of April at 6.00pm. For more information please contact 020 7262 0985 or http://www.uk.upf.org

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Perspectives on Iraq

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on October 14, 2008

Last night we held a meeting entitled ‘Perspectives on Iraq’ to hear the views of those Iraqis who understood something of the current situation in Iraq.
We were fortunate to have Dave Anderson MP who is the Joint President of the Labour Friends of Iraq and a long time official of the Trade Union, Unison. Dave Anderson expressed that he had been opposed to the 2003 invasion of Iraq but had become involved in the Labour Friends of Iraq. He had accepted an invitation to visit Iraq from the Iraqi Trade Union movement who, he discovered, had welcomed the invasion as a liberation from Sadaam Hussein. He felt the most important point was to listen to the Iraqi people in how to help them solve their problems. Dave had taken Iraqis to the North East to his constituency to visit business people and to show them how the political and civil system worked. He said, “we’re a helping hand” from which Iraq can gain a lot but also we have a lot to learn from Iraq which is, after all, the cradle of civilisation.

Talar Salih Faiq, a UK representative of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), an autonomous region in Iraq since 1991. She explained that it is a secular Government that observed human rights and that 27% of the politicians in the KRG are women, the highest in the whole Middle East. There were some critical comments from the audience about corruption in the KRG to which Talar replied that every nation in the world has to struggle against corruption. The Kurdish people have suffered a great deal and are only now coming into development. It will take some time to become a mature democracy with refined systems against corruption. She, and all she knew, were doing all they could to help the people of the KRG and the rest of Iraq.
Gary Kent, who is the Parliamentary Adviser to the Kurdish Regional Government and Director of the Labour Friends of Iraq, said he wanted to listen to the Iraqi people themselves. Dave Anderson and he had wanted a ‘warts and all’ view of Iraq. The Kurdish people are the largest people without their own nation. They have every reason to be bitter after their great suffering. Even so the KRG have big plans including a huge airport that will have the 5th largest runway in the world. He expressed that contact with the wider world and in particular investment is very important both for Iraq and for the KRG.
Sadiq Al-Wohali had just returned from a visit to Iraq part sponsored by the UK Football Academy. He had been in 2007 amid all the violence to train football coaches in Sadr city when 40 people graduated his course. This year he returned to train coaches in several more areas around Iraq. Surprisingly he said there are several football teams in Sadr city including a women’s team! Aziz Al-Naib drew attention to the plight of refugees within Iraq and talked of his upcoming visit to make a documentary film.
One of the final comments of the night was from Dave Anderson. He emphasised his determination to continue to help the people of Iraq. ‘I will work with whoever you vote into power. If someone is not good you have the right to work to get them voted out. That’s the great thing about democracy.’

Dave Anderson MP, Aziz Al-Naib, Robin Marsh, Talar Faiq Salih, Gary Kent

Dave Anderson MP, Aziz Al-Naib, Robin Marsh, Talar Faiq Salih, Gary Kent

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