Marcus Braybrooke recently visited Singapore for the International Conference on Cohesive Societies.
'Many Communities, One Shared Future': Singapore 19-21 June
King Abdullah II says interfaith is top priority
'Every global challenge in this 21st century demands that we resist hatred and exclusion,' King Abdullah II of Jordan said in his opening address to last week’s International Conference on Cohesive Societies (ICCS), held last week in Singapore, 'Economic growth, peacemaking, protecting the environment, global security, inclusive opportunity—all these critical goals require that people of faith cooperate, and combine our strengths to our common benefit. The vast majority of people on earth are members of a spiritual community. Each has its own traditions and convictions. But our world religions also have something profound in common—the commandment to show compassion and respect for others.'
The King denounced those 'who preach a hate-filled message about Islam.' Hate speech and violence is a threat to all humanity, he said, and this is why interfaith co-operation should be a top priority.
The President of Singapore - the world’s most diverse society - stressed the importance that the government attached to social cohesion. The thousand participants from across the world saw many good examples of this.
Karen Armstrong, a historian of World Religions, Lord Alderdice, Marcus Braybrooke, President of the World Congress of Faiths and some members of the Faith and Belief Forum, who took part in the programmes for young people, were among those from Britain who participated.
'Religions meet,' Evelyn Underhill wrote in her book on Mysticism, 'where religions take their source: in God.'
For many of the pioneers of the interfaith movement, it was an overwhelming sense of God's universal love that motivated them. They recognised that no language or creed can fully describe the Holy One - they are at best like fingers pointing at the moon. They discovered too that a sharing 'in the cave of their heart' of each other’s different faith and practice was mutually enriching. It also inspired them to work together for a world society committed to non-violence, in which no one is homeless or hungry, and the natural world is treasured.
Such an approach is not, as the Revd Dr Yazid Said suggests an imposition of 'sameness', but a growing discovery of the unbounded love of God for every person and for all life.
At the end of last year, WCF invited responses to a survey to find out more about what its members and friends would like from the organisation and valued about it. One matter we noted was an interest in receiving more interfaith comment and news from us, so we have decided to produce a short newsletter on a quarterly basis. The first one of 2019 is here. Do let me know if you have any ideas for future issues, and send me items and news you would like us to include. The next deadline is 10 May for the early June issue. Thank you.
This is almost your last chance to buy tickets for our student-led Conference on 3rd July in Petreborough. The latest #interfaith research - hear it for yourself at our first student-led conference, open to WCF members and non members alike plus a special price for students. Register now http://ow.ly/O9hK30jjw10
Our member Pejman Khojasteh will be speaking at the Ian Ramsey Centre Summer Conference entitled Religion, Society and the Science of Life on the subject of the developments in artificial intelligence based on biotechnology and the implications with regard to religion and society.
Meretz UK hosts award-winning international artist and campaigner, Swadeka Ahsun, on Saturday 20 May. WCF member Swadeka will display and also discuss her creations, which are inspired by Arabic calligraphy, Islamic culture, Western art history and natural scenes.
Born in Mauritius, Swadeka lives in Belsize Square, NW3, and has exhibited throughout the UK, Europe, Middle East and the Gulf. Among numerous honours she has won the Muslim News Award 2016 and the Alhamra Award. She is a member of the Royal Society of Art and the Arab Jewish Forum. Swadeka currently supports EU projects as a partner in Creative Europe; she also serves as an outreach artist for the Queen’s Gurkha Logistic Regiment at Aldershot, Hampshire.