World Interfaith Harmony Week

World Interfaith Harmony Week is an official observance of the United Nations which is held during the first week of February.

World Interfaith Harmony Week was proclaimed by the General Assembly in resolution A/RES/65/5 adopted on 20 October 2010. In the resolution, the General Assembly, points out that mutual understanding and interreligious dialogue constitute important dimensions of a culture of peace and establishes World Interfaith Harmony Week as a way to promote harmony between all people regardless of their faith.

Recognising the imperative need for dialogue among different faiths and religions to enhance mutual understanding, harmony and cooperation among people, the General Assembly encourages all States to support during that week the spread of the message of interfaith harmony and goodwill in the world’s churches, mosques, synagogues, temples and other places of worship, on a voluntary basis and according to their own religious traditions or convictions.

In conjunction with this year’s World Interfaith Harmony Week, His Grace Most Reverend Julian Leow Beng Kim, Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur is inviting the faithful and people of all faiths to set aside some quiet time for prayer and reflection. Do make an effort to stop whatever you are doing at 12 noon and spend some time in prayer either individually or with your friends/family who are with you during this time. You are encouraged to do this for seven (7) consecutive days, beginning from 1st February 2018.

 

InterFaith Day1DAY ONE: Thursday, 1st Feb
Focus: WORLD PEACE

We pray for peace in our world: that all people may live free from violence, in safety and security, and with hope for the future.

Prayer: We pause in quiet reflection to offer this prayer for a peaceful world. We pray that we may be filled with a spirit of compassion, kindness and peace. We ask for daily guidance in all of our personal relationships; in our work and play, and in our community involvement that we might model the possibilities of peace in everything we say and in everything we do. We pray for wisdom and compassion within the hearts and minds of all world leaders who have the power and the responsibility of making decisions that impact the presence of peace. We pray for courage, dedication, and integrity within the spirits of all those who work for peace around the world. We ask for Your blessing as we try to live peaceful lives and seek ways for all people to live in harmony and peace.

Reflection: If violence begins with stressful thoughts in the mind, then peace begins with silence in the mind. The message of non-violence can be lived and demonstrated through our presence and actions. It’s easy for the mind to get fixated on negative news; but in reality acts of love, kindness and generosity far exceed acts borne of misunderstanding and distrust.

 

InterFaith Day2DAY TWO: Friday, 2nd Feb
Focus: JUSTICE

We pray for justice and peace in our world. We pray especially for those developing countries where law and order is abused by those who are in powerful positions.

Prayer: Grant us God, a vision of Your world as Your love would have it; a world where the weak are protected, and none go hungry or poor; a world where the riches of creation are shared, and everyone can enjoy them; a world where different races and cultures live in harmony and mutual respect; a world where peace is built with justice, and justice is guided by love. Give us the inspiration and courage to build a world where justice prevails.

Reflection: The task to stand up for justice belongs to every individual and every faith community. It cannot be assigned to a few or simply delegated to a structured body or organization. Our faith and traditions must stand in marked contrast to the grim realities that surround us. At a time of rampant individualism, we must stand for family and community. At a time of intense consumerism, we must insist it is not what we have, but how we treat one another that counts. At a time of growing isolation, we remind our nation of its responsibility to the broader world, to pursue peace, to welcome immigrants, to protect the lives of hurting children and refugees. At a time when the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, we must insist the moral test of our society is how we treat and care for the weakest among us.

 

InterFaith Day3DAY THREE: Saturday, 3rd Feb
Focus: INTERRELIGIOUS HARMONY

We pray that people of different faiths can dialogue with one another to promote understanding, seek commonalities, and celebrate differences.

Prayer: Eternal God, Creator of the universe, there is no God but You. Great and wonderful are Your works, wondrous are Your ways. Thank You for the many splendoured variety of Your creation. Thank You for the many ways we affirm Your presence and purpose, and the freedom to do so. Forgive our violation of Your creation. Forgive our violence toward each other. We stand in awe and gratitude for Your persistent love for each and all of Your children of all faiths. Grant to all and our faith leaders attributes of the strong; mutual respect in words and deed, restraint in the exercise of power, and the will for peace with justice, for all.

Reflection: There is a lot of richness that all of us carry within us and it increases manifold when it is shared. We can all add to the beauty in our lives, if only we come together. There is a need in society for people of all faiths to come together and celebrate values like togetherness and service from time to time, for it uplifts the human spirit.

 

InterFaith Day4DAY FOUR: Sunday, 4th Feb
Focus: ENVIRONMENT

We pray for all human beings, that we will be filled with a spirit of concern for the future of our environment; bring an end to the exploitation of the earth's scarce resources; and live as responsible stewards protecting and respecting this gift of creation God has placed in our hands.

Prayer: Creator Spirit, we thank You for the beautiful world with its amazing variety of animals and plants. May we never forget that we are stewards of Your creation and that we hold it in trust for future generations. Help us to respect the earth's rich diversity and to share with each other and all living creatures in responsible ways.

Reflection: The earth is our home and we have the duty to take care of it for ourselves and for our later generations. Thus, for the sustainability of our planet, we should fulfill our responsibilities towards Mother Nature as a global citizen so as to protect our living planet from deterioration and that we may be able to handover a clean and green planet to our future generations. Maybe our single efforts may seem small but if we all unite together towards nature conservation then one day our efforts will be a drastic step to protect our motherland Earth from destruction.

 

InterFaith Day5DAY FIVE: Monday, 5th Feb
Focus: HUMAN RIGHTS

We pray for those people all over the world, whose human rights are disrespected, denigrated, and left undefended.

Prayer: Merciful God, listen to us as we pray for a world that will respect the God-given rights of all. We dedicate ourselves to work for the rights of each human person, especially for those who find life burdensome, and who know the suffering of hatred, poverty and war. We ask that Your grace and strength would be with those men, women and children. And empower those of us who have these same basic liberties and freedoms to stand up and speak out for those whose voices are stifled or ignored. May we remember that all are made in Your image, that every person was created by You and worthy of dignity and honour, and that every person is worth defending.

Reflection: Many note that in order to truly address human rights violations, we must strive to understand the underlying causes of these breaches. These causes have to do with underdevelopment, economic pressures, social problems and international conditions. Indeed, the roots of repression, discrimination and other denials of human rights stem from deeper and more complex political, social and economic problems. It is only by understanding and ameliorating these root causes and strengthening both democracy and civil society that we can truly protect human rights.

 

InterFaith Day6DAY SIX: Tuesday, 6th Feb
Focus: MIGRANTS/DISPLACED PERSONS/REFUGEES

We pray and remember our migrant and refugee brothers and sisters living in our country, our state, in our neighbourhood and especially those who have fallen victim to human trafficking.

Prayer: Bless all who have nowhere to lay their head today, who find themselves strangers on earth, pilgrims to they know not where, facing rejection, closed doors, suspicion and fear. Give them companions in their distress, hope in their wandering, and safe lodging at their journey’s end. Guide political leaders to act generously and work towards lasting and meaningful peace in those areas affected by violence and conflict. And make us a people of grace, wisdom and hospitality, who will open our arms and hearts in welcome to those most in need of safety, shelter and compassion.

Reflection: We live in a world of immediate access to information on global events. We sit comfortably in our homes and in our meeting rooms as passive perpetrators to the turmoils of the world: forced mass migrations, wars, riots, bombings, terrorism and human misery. We watch and we talk. We feel a warm fuzzy emphatic feeling and a desire to change things for the unfortunate ones. We cheer and rally behind the tireless efforts of those who take risks putting compassion to action. Then we switch off, because we have our own personal problems too. Fair enough. We experience a ‘compassion overload’. We become desensitised. We become indifferent. We need to see the migrants and refugees as human beings rather than a political security risk. We need to show a more human side in reaching out to them and welcoming them in our community, in our society, in our country.

 

InterFaith Day7DAY SEVEN: Wednesday 7th Feb
Focus: Families

We pray that parents put their hearts, mind and soul into bringing up a family united in love, peace and harmony and strong for one another, in all afflictions and circumstances.

Prayer: Bless all the families. The fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, and all who belong to them. We ask Your blessings for this family that we love and cherish. Protect us from harm, shelter us from evil. Teach us kindness. Show us compassion. Guide our steps and we will follow the path of goodness and light forever more.

Reflection: The family is not only the first, but is called to be the privileged place, where individuals learn to love and receive love, and to come to know God and be formed in the faith. Our families are where we experience our biggest triumphs and our deepest vulnerabilities—and they are where we have the greatest potential to do good. The family is the fundamental building block of society. It is where we learn the social graces of loyalty, cooperation, and trust. It is where we learn to love ourselves and each other, to bear one another’s burdens, to find meaning in our life and to give purpose to others’ lives, and to feel the value of being part of something greater than ourselves.