Our world continues to be beset by conflict and intolerance with rising number of refugees and the internally displaced persons in a hostile and unwelcoming world. Sadly, we are also witnessing actions and messages of hate spreading discord among people. The need for spiritual guidance has never been greater. It is imperative that we escalate efforts to spread the message of love and harmony based on our common humanity, a message shared by all faith traditions. Thus, our theme for the observance of the Interfaith Harmony Week for 2019 is, “The Path to Sustainable Development through Interfaith Harmony, with five sub themes about interfaith leaders addressing: eradicating poverty, empowering women and girls, achieving health for all, disaster recovery, and peace.
The World Interfaith Harmony Week was first proposed at the UN General Assembly on September 23, 2010 by H.M. King Abdullah II of Jordan. Just under a month later, on October 20, 2010, it was unanimously adopted by the UN and henceforth the first week of February will be observed as a World Interfaith Harmony Week.
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 own religious tenets. The Two commandments are at the heart of the three Monotheistic religions and therefore 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 includes those of other faiths, and those with no faith.
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 not only by the general public, but also by other groups themselves. This week will allow for these groups to become aware of each other and strengthen the movement by building ties and avoiding duplicating each others’ efforts.
It is hoped that this initiative will provide a focal point from which all people of goodwill can recognize that the common values they hold far outweigh the differences they have, and thus provide a strong dosage of peace and harmony to their communities.