2018 World Interfaith Harmony Week

Event:   Who and Where Are We in a Changing World?

Faith Leaders speak on Creation Stories and the Meaning of Life in Our Universe.

Saturday 24th February, 1.30 pm – 5.00 pm, Deakin Edge, Federation Square.

Corner of Swanston and Flinders Streets, Melbourne.

World Interfaith Harmony Week

In 2010, HM King Abdullah II addressed the 65th UN General Assembly and proposed the idea for a ‘World Interfaith Harmony Week’ to further broaden his goals of faith-driven world harmony by extending his call beyond the Muslim and Christian community to include people of all beliefs, those with no set religious beliefs as well. A few weeks later, HRH Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad presented the proposal to the UN General Assembly, where it was adopted unanimously as a UN Observance Event.

The World Interfaith Harmony Week, like all the previous endeavors of HM King Abdullah, is not a call to water down one’s faith, but rather it’s a call to respect our differences and personal beliefs and to unite around the basic principles that people of all beliefs agree upon and to understand that harmony can only come if we build upon a solid foundation of dialogue that has “Love of God and love of the neighbor or, love of Good and love of the neighbor” as its core principle for engagement.

Why choose a theme of cross cultural understandings of creation of how the universe came to be for this year’s World Interfaith Harmony Week? 

The State of Victoria is known as the most successful multicultural State in Australia. But over the past year we have experienced attacks on civilians (eg. Bourke Street incident, Flinders Street incident), rising Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and racism.  Refugees and the homeless in our State need more help.

The South Sudanese community has been stigmatised and stereotyped as the wider community has been fed a negative stereotype by politicians and the media, about dysfunctionality, violence, and criminal activity attributed to some young Africans.

The First Australians, Aboriginal and Torres Islander peoples, have a unique relationship with the land and water and their rights and obligations as custodians should be respected. Community awareness and appreciation of Aboriginal history and culture needs to be increased to ensure that a Treaty and Constitutional recognition can be achieved. There are issues regarding Aboriginal health, Closing the Gap, and how we involve ourselves in Reconciliation.

In addition, the daily news programs show us violence, disease and disasters that are currently occurring around the world.  We can feel overwhelmed when we are faced with so much negativity and perceived lack of concern for the ‘other’.

These issues raise questions about the meaning of life, about Love of God and love of the neighbour or love of the Good and love of the neighbour.

When we look up to the stars the mind readily turns to think about the meaning of life and the origin of existence. Virtually all religions have Origin Stories that, while differing importantly from each other, agree that the existence of the universe as a whole and of our individual lives is due to a creative divine will, rather than a lucky accident.

Prof. Brian Cox started a recent series on ABC TV by saying he would explain the meaning of life in the universe in scientific terms, but he ended by saying that science can’t tell us the meaning of our lives, we must work it out for ourselves.

To celebrate the World Interfaith Harmony Week, Indigenous, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh faith leaders will speak about Creation Stories in their traditions, perhaps drawing from the literal, moral, symbolic and spiritual levels of understanding. They will explain how these Origin Myths give meaning to life, our place in the Universe and the role of human beings in the natural world.

Turning our focus from the Universe to our local multicultural communities and the problems we face, the faith leaders will put forward practical ways in which we can experience more meaning in our lives and ‘Love of the Neighbour’.

The faith leaders have been invited to bring community members with them to meet their ‘neighbours’ who come from diverse faiths, philosophies and cultures.

The wider community of Melbourne, people of faith and no faith, are invited to participate in this interfaith event. The audience will ask questions and participate in activities.

Following the seminar the audience will be invited to walk together on the sacred path of the Labyrinth, with Celtic Harp by Cath Connelly.