The first week of February each year sees a week of observance, interaction, dialogue and discourse with World Interfaith Harmony Week. This year, World Interfaith Harmony Week will take place from February 1-7, and will see all interfaith groups coming together with various other groups of goodwill, comprising of faith based and non-faith based organisations, to discuss and demonstrate the work each group is undertaking in their respective communities to build harmony and peace.
World Interfaith Harmony Week is based on The Common Word Initiative which began in 2007. The Common Word Initiative saw Christian and Muslim leaders come together to share a dialogue regarding love and god, two fundamental tenets of both religions. This initiative was prompted by an open letter penned by leaders of Islam, and directed at leaders in the Christian community. The opening paragraph of this letter, know as ‘A Common Word Between Us and You’, ultimately sums up the necessity of The Common Word Initiative and World Interfaith Harmony Week:
“Muslims and Christians together make up well over half of the world’s population. Without peace and justice between these two religious communities, there can be no meaningful peace in the world. The future of the world depends on peace between Muslims and Christians.”
Following this, World Interfaith Harmony Week was launched in 2011, and expanded to welcome other religious groups, together with NGOs, including those with no religious affiliation. It has also followed its goal to become a decentralised occasion, with events happening globally, organised at grassroots and community levels by anyone seeking to organise an interfaith event and promote global harmony in their community.
In 2017, World Interfaith Harmony Week will see thousands of events take place all around the world. To find the closest event to you, or to organise your own event for your community, please click here. Each year, King Abdullah II of Jordan, the man responsible for the creation of World Interfaith Harmony Week, awards prizes for the three best events held during the week. The events are judged on the promotion of interfaith harmony, and also the impact the event has on religious understanding. The prize for 1st place is (US)$25,000, a gold medal, and flights and accommodation for the prize-giving ceremony in Jordan.
With such division and violence around the world, the promotion of harmony is always imperative. As King Abdullah II stated to the UN General Assembly upon the founding of World Interfaith Harmony Week in 2010, “It is essential to resist forces of division that spread misunderstanding and mistrust especially among peoples of different religions. The fact is, humanity everywhere is bound together, not only by mutual interests, but by shared commandments to love God and neighbour; to love the good and neighbour”.