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Celebrating Interfaith Harmony Week by United Nations: A Perspective of Pakistan

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Khalid Masood Khan – Celebrating Interfaith Harmony Week by United Nations: A Perspective of Pakistan

Interfaith harmony embodies the notion of living and letting live. In a world of increasing political and economic dissonance, peaceful co-existence among practitioners of various religious beliefs is the only way forward for peace and prosperity. Strengthening interfaith harmony and religious diversity can be instrumental in the development and progress of Pakistan. Likewise, it is also critical for the world to ensure the spirit of interfaith harmony to realize the objectives of peace, progress and co-existence. 

World Interfaith Harmony Week is an annual event observed during the first week of February after the General Assembly designation in 2010. The General Assembly pointed out that mutual understanding and interreligious dialogue constituted essential dimensions of a culture of peace. It established World Interfaith Harmony Week to promote harmony between all people regardless of their faith.

Recognizing the imperative need for dialogue among different faiths and religions to enhance mutual understanding, harmony and cooperation among people, the General Assembly encourages all States to spread the message of interfaith harmony and goodwill in the world’s churches, mosques, synagogues, temples and other places of worship during that week, voluntarily and according to their religious traditions or convictions.

World Interfaith Harmony Week (WIHW), conceived to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence, was first proposed by King Abdullah II of Jordan at the United Nations in 2010. It was quickly adopted by the UN General Assembly (resolution A/RES/65/5), declaring the first week of February each year as World Interfaith Harmony week, calling on governments, institutions and civil society to observe it with various programs and initiatives that would promote the aim of the WIHW objectives.

The resolution aimed to work on the elimination of all forms of intolerance and discrimination based on religion or belief, recognizing the imperative need for dialogue among different faiths and religions in enhancing mutual understanding, harmony and cooperation among people.

It also aimed to recalling with appreciation various global, regional and sub regional initiatives on mutual understanding and interfaith harmony, including the Tripartite Forum on Interfaith Cooperation for Peace and the initiative “A Common Word”.

It further recognizing that the moral imperatives of all religions, convictions and beliefs call for peace, tolerance and mutual understanding. The core objectives are as following:

  • Reaffirms that mutual understanding and interreligious dialogue constitute critical dimensions of a culture of peace;
  • Proclaims the first week of February of every year the World Interfaith Harmony Week between all religions, faiths and beliefs;
  • Encourages all States to support, voluntarily, the spread of the message of interfaith harmony and goodwill in the world’s churches, mosques, synagogues, temples and other places of worship during that week, based on love of God and love of one’s neighbour or the love of the good and love of one’s neighbour, each according to their religious traditions or convictions;
  • Requests the Secretary-General to keep the General Assembly informed of the implementation of the present resolution.

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

The World Interfaith Harmony Week extends the Two Commandments by adding ‘Love of the Good, and Love of the Neighbour’. This formula includes all people of goodwill. It consists of those of other faiths and those with no religion.

The World Interfaith Harmony Week provides a platform—one week in a year—when all interfaith groups and other groups of goodwill can show the world what a powerful movement they are. The thousands of events organized by these groups often go unnoticed by the general public and other groups. This week will allow these groups to become aware of each other and strengthen the movement by building ties and avoiding duplicating each others’ efforts.

This initiative will provide a focal point from which all people of goodwill can recognize that their common values far outweigh their differences and thus provide a strong dosage of peace and harmony to their communities.

Unfortunately, due to the baggage of communalism, traced back to 1947 when India and Pakistan won their freedoms from the British, there is a dire need to spread the message of acceptance and sharing, especially among the Hindus, Christians and Muslims. It is a must for a peaceful and developed Pakistan where there is interfaith harmony among various religious entities and sects, which are presently inharmonious due to unhealed wounds of the Partition and other factors, both external and internal. The human rights situation, particularly of the minorities, is precarious though the present scenario is in sharp contrast to the history of this land replete with exemplary stories of religious pluralism.

Thus, interfaith harmony is part of a neglected history of Pakistan, which is of enormous importance to remember again today and claim for any envisioning of a harmonious future of the South Asian region and the world. For a peaceful Pakistan, it is crucial to tap into the deeper layers of the indigenous history of our area. The Plan envisages fostering religious and social harmony and helping develop a pluralistic society in Pakistan where people of different beliefs can live together peacefully and exercise their rights, guaranteed by the Constitution of Pakistan. The recent events in Pakistan have provided the state with a solid rationale for pursuing the augmentation of religious tolerance and amicable conflict resolution. Learning from the vast historical background of the country that preaches and promotes interfaith harmony and religious diversity, the state plans to teach these values back into policy-making for valuable peace and development outcomes. The state is aware of the need to promote tolerance, religious freedom and mutual acceptance to ensure justice.

Pakistan needs legislative, judicial and administrative support to ensure interfaith harmony inside the country. Then, there is also a need for the international community to respect the faiths and allow peace to flourish worldwide. Diversity is the hallmark of humanity, and respecting beliefs among the comity of nations is critical for world peace, prosperity and growth.

Read more: https://republicpolicy.com/tackling-the-rising-islamophobia/     

 

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