A Movement We Can't Ignore
UN Interfaith Harmony Week was the brainchild of Jordan’s King Abdullah and Jordan’s Prince Ghazi. Tired of talking about issues of religious conflict, they decided to take tangible action. Just one year ago, they launched a platform—one week in a year—when communities across the globe could illustrate the powerful movement they have created to further notions of solidarity between people of all faiths or no faith for social justice.
At the launch of this event in 2010, King Abdullah stated: “Humanity everywhere is bound together, not only by mutual interests, but by shared commandments to love God and neighbor… [This] is a special week during which the world’s people, in their own places of worship could express the teachings of their own faith about tolerance, respect for the other and peace.” This initiative sparked 300 letters of support, 200 events in over 40 countries, and international interfaith gatherings with figures like Pope Benedict, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Saudi King Abdullah.
The most amazing part: all of this happened in less than 3 months.
As I reflect on my 6 months as a Faiths Act Fellow, I can’t help but to realize how much we have accomplished in such little time. I think that’s truly the nature of interfaith work; there is a profound “readiness” in many parts of the world to engage with the challenging yet inspiring task of figuring out how we can all coexist, and beyond that, work together to achieve the ideals that we all share. In my brief time in Atlanta, I have had the chance to work with dozens of faith communities, college students, and youth organizations to join the fight against malaria.
What has been most striking about my time here so far is the incredible desire and very real demand there is for deeper, more responsible, and sustainable structure for interfaith dialogue and action. Although there are very developed interfaith niche groups in many global cities around the world, there are still many communities looking for opportunities to join the movement, and I find that my job as a Faiths Act Fellow is to provide such opportunities.
While I have not gathered leaders like The Pope or the Saudi King, I have engaged people like Ross, a 13 year old from the Marcus Jewish Community Center in Atlanta. When I asked him why he chooses to serve, he said, “I want to make a big difference in the world, and I can do that by doing the little things.”
While Interfaith Harmony Week is the product of a massive international gathering of major world leaders, it is truly the microcosms of that movement that sparked in local communities that make this movement real, and ultimately something the world cannot ignore.
Sana Rahim, Faiths Act Fellow