Declaration of the 10th World Assembly of Religions for Peace

Preamble

We – 900 women, men, and youth – have gathered in Lindau, Germany, coming from 125 countries for the 10th World Assembly of Religions for Peace. We are grateful for 49 years of determined focus on building peace and on speaking for those most in need. We are an alliance of care, of compassion, of love. We represent a far greater, ever growing, and ever-radiating alliance of “common action” that Religions for Peace gladly serves. In that light we acknowledge with sorrow the ways – subtle and gross – that we and our religious communities have fallen-short. Our hearts grieve over the misuse of our faiths, especially the ways they have been twisted to fuel violence and hate. Our alliance honors our religious differences, even as it serves the peace for which the human heart hungers. We gather in hope, convinced that the sacred calls all humanity into shared responsibility for our common good, care for one another, the earth, and its entire web of life.

The burdens of the human family are well-known to us. We know too well war, how it kills, maims, and destroys the lives of the innocent. We know the crushing weight of extreme poverty, how it stunts, humiliates, and plunders. Ten percent of our human family is desperately poor. We know that more than 70 million of us no longer find shelter in the sanctuary of their homes. They are refugees, internally displaced, and persons forced to be on the move. We know we have entered a terrifying new arms race, one that includes modernizing nuclear arms, weaponizing space and artificial intelligence, and new energy weapons. These burdens are profoundly exacerbated by the cataclysmic heating of the earth, decimation of the rainforests, poisoning of the seas, and choking of the web of life.

We are also experiencing what we call a “meta-crisis” of our modern order, which lies behind the United Nations and the agreements our states have made on human rights, the rule of law, and international trade. Freedoms of all kinds, the protections of minorities, and the fabric of our connection have come under attack around the world. On the economic front, a meager handful of the richest persons have more wealth than four billion persons. Adding to the political and economic dimensions of this meta-crisis of modern order, there is today a “meta-crisis” of truth, which challenges the notion of “truth,” while “fake news” is tailored for political or commercial gain. Today, we are buffeted between inconvenient truths and convenient fabrications. The hour is late: we are called to urgent action.

Caring for our Common Future: Advancing Shared Well-Being

Our heart’s inner-most experiences of the sacred and our outer-most social lives cry out to be connected in a state of positive peace that Religions for Peace calls, “shared well-being.” Our different experiences of the sacred make clear that we are, at root, relational: radically related to the sacred and to all that is caused or embraced by the sacred. As fundamentally relational, our

well-being is intrinsically shared. Helping the other, we are helped; injuring the other, we wound ourselves. We fully acknowledge the invaluable roles of women and youth among us and will continually mainstream their irreplaceable contributions. Our different traditions make clear that the sacred establishes us as both responsible for and dependent upon each other and the earth that sustains us. Shared well-being calls us to commit to all the ways the modern order supports our human dignity. It also calls us to offer in a constructive spirit any complementary contributions from our religions. We affirm the modern order’s recognition of the foundational importance of freedom. At the same time, we are called to show by example the sacred grounding of freedom. It leads through the despair of nihilism, rejects the narcissism of mindless consumerism, and expresses itself as radical care for all.

To our commitment to the importance of human rights, we add our foundational concern for the cultivation of virtues, those habitual orientations to value that sculpt our human potentials. These include our potentials for the most elevated states of mercy, compassion, and love. For us, the labor to become virtuous is not a solitary act; rather, it is an act of “solidarity;” one that can only be achieved by generosity and mutual love. The cultivation of virtue tackles the ignorance, individual egoism, and group egoism that mutilate authentic community.

Shared well-being also calls for a robust notion of the “common good” that can serve all of us in our efforts to virtuously unfold our rights-protected human dignity. The supreme good for us is the sacred, even as we understand it differently. The common good includes the earth with its air, water, soil, and web of life. The common good also includes just institutions that help each to develop her or his human dignity. These call all of us to a shared and grateful responsibility. Each person is to draw from the common good; each is to help build it up.

Advancing shared well-being is concrete. We commit to advancing shared well-being by preventing and transforming violent conflicts, promoting just and harmonious societies, nurturing sustainable and integral human development, and protecting the earth.

Preventing and Transforming Violent Conflicts

We commit to preventing violent conflicts by advancing peace education – from early childhood to adults across our religious communities – focusing on shared values, religious literacy, and narratives of peace. We will build skills in conflict management that address the drivers of conflicts non-violently. Our commitments to transforming violent conflicts are actualized in our Assembly by the religious leaders from Myanmar, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic, Nigeria, and South Sudan. Our commitment is also expressed in the religious women represented by those from the Middle East and North African Region in the Assembly plenary. Here, also, religious persons from North and South Korea have worked to construct conditions for peace on the Korean Peninsula. These religious leaders have convened privately in the Assembly to strengthen one another as partners, peacemakers, and healers. We commit to supporting their efforts in their respective countries and regions. We adopt The Peace Charter for Forgiveness and Reconciliation, convinced that transforming violent conflicts requires the healing of historical wounds and painful memories, forgiveness, and reconciliation. We commit to integrating efforts for healing into all our conflict resolution work.

To renew our commitment to nuclear disarmament, we pledge to be a full partner of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. We condemn the existence of nuclear weapons, affirm our support for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and will educate, mobilize, and engage religious communities toward these ends. We also call for immediate steps toward general disarmament including all weapons of destruction – conventional, nuclear, chemical, biological, and those newly emerging.

Promoting Just and Harmonious Societies

We take heart that multi-religious actors and institutions are working to build just and harmonious societies with a vibrant spirit of care and commitment to justice. We commit to continued common action to tackle injustices, including the large scale displacement of persons, and resulting challenges from the migration crises – both for refugees and migrants and the societies where they settle. We will make the global forced migration crisis a priority for action. We will lead by example in “welcoming the other.” We commit to instilling the respect, mutuality, and solidarity that are essential to promote, build, and sustain just, harmonious, and diverse communities. A cross-cutting commitment can be education, including religious literacy, from early childhood to adults, that focuses on shared civic virtues and appreciation for social diversity. We will develop an Alliance of Virtue based on a declaration of virtues widely shared across religious traditions and other virtue heritages.

We pledge to protect children, vulnerable individuals and communities and advocate for their human rights and well-being in the face of grave suffering. We will speak up forcefully and take action against corruption and for good governance. We commit ourselves to caring and determined effort to address the causes and reality of widespread abuses and violence, especially against women and children. We also commit to common efforts within our communities, with civil society partners and governments to ensure principled freedom of religion worldwide. We, persons of faith, yearn to protect holy sites and feel safe within them. We will preserve and protect holy sites against violence and desecration, partnering with the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations to form living rings for peace around them.

Sustainable and Integral Human Development and Protecting the Earth

We commit to human development as set forth in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We will foster sustainable and integral human development by promoting the justice, inclusive citizenship, and equal opportunities interwoven through the SDGs. We will champion personal accountability for sustainable consumption, the dignity of labor, and equitable distribution of wealth. We will honor the insights of science and steward progress in digital technology toward the good of all. We will advance universal access to education. We will continue to promote the role of women and youth in society and their leadership in institutions at the local, national, regional, and global levels.

We commit to urgent action against the climate crisis. We will mobilize religious communities to protect the earth – including the promotion of “green congregations.” Leaders and partners in the fight against environmental degradation, our Indigenous brothers and sisters remind us, “when

Mother Earth suffers, human beings suffer; when human beings suffer, Mother Earth suffers.” We, guardians and caretakers of earth, endorse the Faiths for Forests Declaration. We commit to raise awareness about tropical deforestation and to educate our religious communities about the dire spiritual and sustainability crisis. We will take action to live ecologically balanced and sustainable lifestyles and advocate for government policies to protect rainforests, defend the rights of Indigenous peoples, and fulfill their pledges to the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Call-To-Common-Action

Guided by the principles of our own religious traditions, and respectful of religious differences, we personally commit to fostering positive peace as shared well-being. We will be partners with sincere believers of other religions and all women and men of goodwill to:

  • produce positive peace materials and workshops for multi-religious contexts with the Institute for Economics and Peace;
  • develop tools and training on the positive roles of women in preventing and transforming conflicts, and on the issue of violence against them;
  • acknowledge past hurts – including across religious traditions – and foster public acts of forgiveness and reconciliation;
  • work for the well-being of refugees and migrants and develop programs of accompaniment and support;
  • urge religious communities to invest their resources in alignment with achieving the SDGs;
  • raise public awareness about deforestation with the Interfaith Rainforest Initiative and through the acceptance and promotion of the Faith for Forests Declaration, take action against climate change in general, and advocate for policies that protect the earth;
  • advance reconciliation as a vital dimension of positive Peace within persons and among communities and nations as per The Peace Charter for Forgiveness and Reconciliation;
  • commit to being a full-partner to support the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons;
  • forge an Alliance of Virtue based on a declaration of virtues widely shared across religious traditions and other virtue heritages.

We speak with humility, asking for support and blessings.

Peace Charter for Forgiveness and Reconciliation adopted by 10th World Assembly of Religions for Peace in Lindau, Germany

The Peace Charter for Forgiveness and Reconciliation was adopted by the 10th World Assembly of Religions for Peace(RfP) which convened from 20-23 August 2019 in Lindau, Germany. The World Assembly, opened by the President of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier on 20 August 2019, was
attended by some 900 global religious leaders and delegates. Religions for Peace International is the world’s largest and most representative coalition of religious and indigenous communities and operates in over 90 countries.

The concluding declaration of the World Assembly stated, “We are grateful for 49 years of determined focus on building peace and on speaking for those most in need. We are an alliance of care, of compassion, of love … We adopt The Peace Charter for Forgiveness and Reconciliation, convinced that transforming violent conflicts requires the healing of historical wounds and painful memories, forgiveness, and reconciliation. We commit to integrating efforts for healing into all our conflict resolution work.” The Peace Charter was presented to the 10th World Assembly by the co-convenors Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh Ahluwalia (Chairman of Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha, UK, and Co-President of Religions for Peace) and Dr William F. Vendley (outgoing Secretary-General of Religions for Peace), and by the Peace Charter’s Director Dr Josef Boehle (University of Birmingham, UK). The Peace
Charter’s organisational development began in 2011 and has received support from a wide range of religious, political, academic and civil society leaders.

The Guerrand-Hermes Foundation for Peace (UK), the Fetzer Institute (USA), Religions for Peace International, the Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha (GNNSJ), UK, and the Nishkam Centre, Birmingham (UK) were amongst the early core group of supporting organisations.

The Preamble of the Peace Charter begins with the following introduction:

“The vision of the Peace Charter for Forgiveness and Reconciliation is that the process of forgiving is vital if healing and reconciliation are to take place, as part of our collective efforts to seek justice, harmony and sustainable peace. Fostering and practising forgiveness has the power to transform memories and deep-seated responses to legacies of injustice, conflict and war. It can liberate people from being imprisoned in their pasts and long ingrained mental and emotional conditions. Faith and spiritual traditions guide and inspire us to awaken the best of our human potential, by practising compassion, mercy, kindness, love, forgiveness and reconciliation, and to positively reshape our
destinies.”

Ends

For more information please visit:

Peace Charter for Forgiveness and Reconciliation
Religions for Peace International

Creating a Movement for a Peaceful World

A Seminar on the Charter for Forgiveness and Reconciliation was held on the 2nd November 2018 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, Canada

TORONTO, ON (November 1, 2018) – The Parliament of the World’s Religions (PWR) – the single largest interfaith gathering in the world – commenced its seven-day programme today in Toronto, drawing an enthusiastic audience interested in learning more about interreligious harmony. It was created to cultivate harmony among the world’s religious and spiritual communities and foster their engagement with the world and its guiding institutions to achieve a just, peaceful and sustainable world. The themes for this year’s Parliament are: The Promise of Inclusion, the Power of Love: Pursuing Global Understanding, Reconciliation and Change.

Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh OBE KSG, the Co-convenor and Co-chair of the Charter for Forgiveness and Reconciliation addressed the opening plenary at the Parliament. He reflected: “Humanity’s journey with the interfaith movement has been long and arduous. The world is still in agony and the learning continues. Peace eludes us.”

He expressed continuing support of his organisation, Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha (UK), for the work of the Parliament. He also highlighted a proposal for advancing and accelerating the work of the interfaith movement, to achieve harmony and peace. “However, before we seek peace outside, we have to generate peace within ourselves. To create and sustain peace, we must reconcile. But to reconcile we must forgive. This is why in a humble effort we are proposing together, with committed friends, a Charter for Forgiveness and Reconciliation. The love in our hearts has to be stronger than the disagreements in our minds.”

Having heard other faith leaders share their commitments to reconciliation, Bhai Sahib finished his address with a prayer for the days ahead, “May the promise of oneness of humanity guide us as this Parliament begins.”

The Preamble of the Charter states:

“The vision of the Charter for Forgiveness and Reconciliation is that the process of forgiving is vital if healing and reconciliation are to take place, as part of our collective efforts to seek justice, harmony and sustainable peace.”

A Seminar on Forgiveness and Reconciliation: Perspectives from the World’s Religions, hosted by the Charter project, took place on 2 November 2018 and was very well attended by 140 participants. They listened to the highly informative presentations of the world class speakers on the panel. Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh (Sikh), Rabbi David Rosen (Jewish), Prof Mohammed Abu-Nimer (Muslim) and Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati (Hindu) spoke with great passion about forgiveness and reconciliation in the context of their respective faith traditions. The panel was moderated by Dr Josef Boehle, the Director of the Charter for Forgiveness and Reconciliation.

With over 6000 participants attending the Parliament, with dozens of high-profile guest speakers and more than 1000 spiritual programs, lectures, and interactive cultural experiences, the event offers an opportunity to advance interreligious dialogue and cooperation, responding to the critical issues of our times. The initiators of the Charter for Forgiveness and Reconciliation sincerely hope that the Charter will be embraced and acted upon, to foster forgiveness, reconciliation and peacebuilding worldwide.

The Charter for Forgiveness and Reconciliation

For more information about the Charter for Forgiveness and Reconciliation, and a copy of the text please visit: http://www.charterforforgiveness.org

Follow the charter on Twitter: @charterforgive or using the hashtag: #charterforgive #forgiveall

The full opening plenary speech can be viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfSQIpwLlKg&t=1s

For more information please contact Dr Josef Boehle at: office@charterforforgiveness.org

 

World’s largest interfaith gathering begins in Toronto

Parliament of the World’s Religions runs from Nov. 1 -7 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre 

TORONTO, ON (November 1, 2018) – The Parliament of the World’s Religions – the single largest interfaith gathering in the world – kicked off its seven-day run today in Toronto, drawing an enthusiastic audience interested in learning more about interreligious harmony.

Opening Ceremonies began with a spiritual ceremony from the Indigenous Nations on Turtle Island with greetings from the host First Nations, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and the Mississaugas of the Credit, and special addresses from local and international leaders. Following this ceremony, the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, The Honourable Ahmed D. Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Chief Ava Hill, Chief of the 56th Elected Council of the Six Nations of the Grand River and Chief Stacey Laforme, Chief of the Mississaguas of the New Credit First Nation joined Parliament leaders to officially welcome delegates to the 2018 Parliament of the World’s Religions.

Nearly 10,000 participants are expected to attend Parliament from Nov. 1-7 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Featuring dozens of high-profile guest speakers and more than 1000 spiritual programs, lectures and interactive cultural experiences, the event offers programming for all, from scholars and activists to families and children. Participants can be individuals whose profession or personal interests lead them to the Parliament or delegations from the guiding institutions, such as states, universities or religious organizations.

The Toronto Parliament will explore three themes: The Promise of Inclusion, the Power of Love: Pursuing Global Understanding, Reconciliation and Change.

Highlights of the 2018 Parliament of the World’s Religions include:

Film Festival

A collection of ground-breaking movies and documentaries will play throughout the week including Indian Horse, The Gate: Dawn of the Bahá’í Faith and Radical Grace. Attendees are encouraged to attend various screenings and take part in Q and A sessions after select screenings.

Sacred Music Night – Nov. 4, 6 – 8 p.m. – Exhibit Hall ABC, Level 300.

On Sunday, Nov. 4, Parliament will host a Sacred Music Night that will inspire, uplift and create a feeling of awe through the music of the world’s religions. The night will feature musicians and performers including Jack Lenz, John Anderson, lead singer of the band Yes, Red Sky: First Nations Contemporary Dance Ensemble and Aviva Chernick.

Margaret Atwood

On Monday, Nov. 5, Canadian poet, novelist, literary critic, essayist, inventor, teacher and environmental activist Margaret Atwood will join Parliament for an exciting session titled Women and Climate Change: A Conversation Between Margaret Atwood & Lucy Cummings. This conversation will explore the intertwined nature of climate change, conflict, and violence against women. The event begins at 4:15 p.m. in room 106.

A Dynamic Dialogue with the Right Honourable Kim Campbell

The Right Honourable Kim Campbell has served Canada as Prime Minister, Minister of Justice, Attorney General and Minister of Defence. She is the first woman to lead a government in North America and is a global thought leader of the highest order. This session will feature a lively dialogue with Jonathan Granoff and Audrey Kitagawa, Chair of the Parliament’s United Nations Task Force and President of the Light of Awareness Spiritual Family, followed by responses from retired Lieutenant-General Romeo Dallaire and Senator Douglas Roche. This session on Tuesday, Nov. 6 at 4:15 p.m. in room 106 will delve into what wise leadership, values, vision and politics look like on the personal, national and global level.

For more information about the seventh Parliament of the World’s Religions and all events, please visit www.parliamentofreligions.org

Follow them on twitter @InterfaithWorld and Instagram @InterfaithWorld and like them on Facebook

About Parliament of the World’s Religions

The Parliament of the World’s Religions was created to cultivate harmony among the world’s religious and spiritual communities and foster their engagement with the world and its guiding institutions to achieve a just, peaceful and sustainable world.

The 2018 Parliament of the World’s Religions is being hosted by the city of Toronto from November 1 – 7, 2018 at The Metro Toronto Convention Centre (MTCC). In its distinction as the world’s most diverse city, Toronto will showcase its unique values, achievements, and aspirations as the 7th host of the Parliament of the World’s Religions.

Birmingham Faith Leaders remember 9/11 and bless the Charter for Forgiveness and Reconciliation

Members of the Birmingham Faith Leaders Group read the ‘Charter For Forgiveness & Reconciliation’ Scroll

The Birmingham Faith Leaders Group (BFLG) met on the 17th anniversary of the shocking events of September 2011. The Group is composed of the principal leaders of Birmingham’s six major faith communities – Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhists and Jews. The Group grew out of the immediate aftermath of the tragedy of 9/11 and the threats made to the Muslim community at that time. An initial gathering of faith leaders on the steps of Birmingham Central Mosque on 12th September 2001 led to the formation of the Group. During the subsequent years the group’s members have worked together to generate understanding between communities and to develop a diverse, faith-based vision for the city.

Manar Morzouk from Reset addresses the Faith Leaders

The meeting was held at Birmingham Progressive Synagogue and opened with a reflection from the host, Rabbi Margaret Jacobi.

The first order of the day was to hear from Manar Marzouk from the Charity Reset. Reset is a new charity partnering with leading refugee, faith and community charities to promote community sponsorship across the UK. It is working closely with a range of organisations to shape the UK’s community response to the Syrian crisis by building on the existing goodwill and compassion of people across the country. They encourage communities to come together to welcome, support and help refugee families as they rebuild their lives in the UK.

Bhai Sahib, Bhai Mohinder Singh presents the Charter Scroll to His Holiness Pope Francis to get it blessed

The BFLG then carried on with its busy agenda of business covering various upcoming events, project updates, and other faith business. One agenda item was the updating on the Museum of World’s Religions and the Charter for Forgiveness & Reconciliation (CfFR). As part of the update Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh OBE KSG, reported that excellent progress had been made with Patrons and supporters. He shared that His Holiness Pope Francis had recently blessed the CfFR scroll and Bhai Sahib Ji invited the Birmingham Faith Leaders to do the same.

After the event, Dr Josef Boehle, Director of the Charter for Forgiveness and Reconciliation, said, “The recent events including the appreciation and blessings of His Holiness Pope Francis are wonderful. The fact that the Faith Leaders regularly review and update each other on the Charter’s progress is excellent. Their blessing of the Charter on this auspicious date is even more poignant. The work on the Charter is going from strength to strength and we are planning a major event to launch the Charter next year. The vision of the Charter is to make a contribution to processes of forgiveness, reconciliation and sustainable peace, not only between individuals, communities and states, but also between faith traditions”.

Birmingham Lord Mayor, Cllr Yvonne Mosquito with the
Birmingham Faith Leaders Group at the Peace Garden

Following the reading and blessing of the Charter for Forgiveness & Reconciliation scroll, the faith leaders made their way to the multi-faith Peace Service held at the Peace Gardens in Birmingham. The aim of the service was to bring the city’s major religions even closer together. The Birmingham Faith Leaders group, which was created in the wake of the 9/11 atrocities, held its annual Inter Faith Service for Peace at the St Thomas Peace Garden in Bath Row.

The service originally began in response to hate attacks against Muslims following the Twin Towers attacks. The park itself is a tribute to those who have come to pass during times of unrest, who have suffered loss through terrorism, conflict and social upheaval. We have all experienced loss at some point in our lives and will continue to do so. Though grief is inevitable, it is important to remember those who have perished and to celebrate new life. This concept was clearly represented in the symbolic watering of a rose bush the Faith Leaders had planted in commemoration of the victims of the 9/11 attack. The coming together of humanity to prosper in troubling times and to triumph over strife in hopeful aspiration of the future.

Bhai Sahib, Bhai Mohinder Singh and the Lord Mayor
have a quick catch-up and discuss a visit to Soho Road Gurdwara

The Peace Garden event was attended by a diverse audience with people from many different faith groups coming together to have a minute of silence and pray together. The Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Cllr Yvonne Mosquito, also attended the event.

Jonathan Gurling, Executive Secretary of the Birmingham Faith Leaders Group, said: “We try to keep the event very simple and short so more people will attend and stay for it. The Faith Leaders Group was formed when the then Chief Minister at Singers Hill Synagogue, Rabbi Tann, was so incensed by the attacks on Muslims post 9/11, he telephoned Dr Naseem, the then Chairman of the Central Mosque, and asked to visit on September 12th when community prayers were being held. He was joined by Christian and Sikh leaders and the Faith Leaders Group grew out of this simple act of brotherhood”.

Bhai Sahib, Bhai (Dr) Mohinder Singh OBE KSG, Chairman of the Nishkam Civic Association and Co-Convenor of the Charter, later said, “Forgiveness originates from the Divine and forgiveness is essential in a fractured world. The whole of humanity is one family and we are all interconnected and interdependent. The root cause of conflict is the mind; everything starts in the human mind. It is great to have the Faith Leaders bless the Charter”.

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

For more information:

Takhat Sri Harmandir Ji, Patna Sahib delegation meets Prime Minister Narendra Modi regarding 350th Prakash Purb of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji taking place in January 2017

delegation-with-prime-minister-1A delegation from Takhat Sri Harmandir Ji, Patna Sahib met with the Honourable Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi today at Parliament House, to invite him to attend the 350th Prakash Purb of Guru Gobind Singh Ji at the Takhat Sahib, during the first week of January 2017. The Prime Minister gladly accepted the invite to attend.

The Prime Minister mentioned that the Central Government would look to work with the Bihar State Government regarding long term development plans beneficial to Patna City residents.

The delegation included President of the Takhat Prabhandak Committee, Avtar Singh
Makkar; General Secretary of the Takhat Prabhandak Committee, Sarjinder Singh; Chairman of the Takhat Celebration Committee, Gurinder Pal Singh; Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh Ahluwalia, Religious Leader of Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha (GNNSJ); and Inderjit Singh, Projects Director of GNNSJ India, the charitable organisation responsible for the major beautification, restoration and conservation work taking place to prepare the Takaht for the sacred celebrations.delegation-with-prime-minister-2

delegation-with-prime-minister-3

Paris terror attacks – A message from Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh OBE

Press Release: Statement by Bhai Sahib, Bhai (Dr) Mohinder Singh OBE

Spiritual Leader and Chair of Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha (UK) regarding the recent attacks in Paris

As the horrific events of Friday 13th November in Paris unfold and we get more information about the tragic occurrence, our thoughts and prayers go out to all the loved ones of all who have lost lives and suffered. The incident has demonstrated the carnage that senseless individuals determined to take human life can cause.

We should also remember those around the world be it Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey, Egypt, India, Bagdad,

Bhai Sahib Ji address Vigil for Paris at outside Cathedral

Bhai Sahib Ji address Vigil for Paris at outside Cathedral

Syria or any other place. Such atrocities are becoming all too familiar reports on our daily news. We should not forget the value of life. It is not about the number of lives lost; one life lost is one too many. We need more faith and community solidarity. People of all faiths and none, and generally good human beings, need to come together and unite. Our planet’s peace has been disturbed through violence, exploitation, conflict and insecurity. It is not religion that is in crisis but rather those who hijack faith to suit their own merciless agenda. We should all condemn the inhumane, barbaric acts that threaten the very sanctity of our society; evil cannot and will not prevail.

People of faith are the conscience of the world. We have a duty to speak up and a duty to rally around during times of crisis. We cannot stand by and let the sanctity and value of human life be eroded. We must never forget, as people of faith, that the power of prayer is infinite. It is our shield; it is our saviour; it is our guardian in good times and bad.

As stated by the InterAction Council (1st Sept 1997) ‘every person has a responsibility to respect life. No one has the right to injure, to torture or to kill another human’.

Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 853 (Sikh’s Revered Eternal Guru) states,

“The whole world is suffering: engulfed in flames of many

destructive forces, primarily violent extremism, lust, revenge, greed, and ego.

We plead to you God, through your mercy, please protect and save us,

no matter which door or sanctuary or place of worship we come from,

take us into your fold and refuge. Pray, shelter and protect us”.

As we mourn the loss of loved ones around the world, we pray that God grants us all the strength to deal with the calamity that faces us. May the many faiths of the world come together in times of crises and stand together united in the face of adversity. There is no challenge that humanity cannot endure when united for the common good and when helping fellow humans. We call on all people of faith to look to your faith; pray for all those caught up in these atrocities and reach out to our fellow human beings.

May peace be with you all.

Bhai Sahib, Bhai (Dr) Mohinder Singh OBE

 

I Am Birmingham – Birmingham unites for victims of terror attacks

The people of Birmingham paid their respects to the innocent lives lost in recent terrorist attacks, at a candlelight vigil in St Philips Square.

The Birmingham branch of national charity Citizens UK held a vigil last night to remember the 129 people who died in Paris on Friday, following a terrorist attack on the city; and also for the hundreds who were murdered in Beirut, Baghdad and Kenya recently.

Candles, banners and posters were placed together at the peace vigil in Birmingham (Photograph: Paul Stringer)

Hundreds of people took part in a minute’s silence, laid flowers and candles; and heard speeches from leaders of different faith groups. Posters and placards featuring peace signs and the hashtags #Solidarity and #NoToTheRacistBacklash were also held aloft during the vigil before being placed beside a French flag and tea-lights.

Makhdoom Chisti from Birmingham Central Mosque described the murderous tirade in Paris, led by terror group Daesh (ISIL/ISIS), as “senseless and did not represent Islam”. He fears Muslims are facing a backlash in this difficult time for all.

Makhdoom Chishti from the Birmingham Central Mosque attends the peace vigil in Birmingham (Photograph: Paul Stringer)

He said: “Islam does not allow any Muslims to take the lives of innocent people regardless of their beliefs. We strongly condemn this incident.

“The killing of one innocent person is a murder of an entire humanity.”

Bishop of Birmingham David Urquhart addressed the crowd at the peace vigil in Birmingham (Photograph: Paul Stringer)

A blessing was led by the Bishop of Birmingham David Urquhart.

He said: “This is a very solemn evening. We have gathered from all of our communities, traditions and backgrounds in our grief and in our dismay that there has been even more killing.”

“Terrorists seek to cause division and hatred and when we stand in peace and unity we refuse to let them win.”

Around 200 people attended the peace vigil 'for Paris' in Birmingham (Photograph: Paul Stringer)

An interfaith statement was read aloud by attendees at the peace vigil in Birmingham (Photograph: Paul Stringer)

The peace vigil was organised Lozells resident Saidul Haque Saeed, of Citizens UK Birmingham (Photograph: Paul Stringer)

The flag of France was surrounded by candles and messages as a mark of respect following the Paris terror attacks (Photograph: Paul Stringer)

Former Lord Mayor and current Labour councillor Shafique Shah attended the vigil to show solidarity.

He said: “The most important thing is today we have people from all faiths here and everyone is condemning these acts of terrorism.

Mr Shah does not believe the recent terrorist attacks have changed public opinion of refugees and states Birmingham City Council is committed to housing 50 Syrian refugees in the upcoming months.

He said: “In Birmingham we have a strong history of offering sanctuary to people looking for a better way of life.”

Former city council leader Sir Albert Bore attended the candle-lit vigil for peace in Birmingham (Photograph: Paul Stringer)

Chairman of the Nishkam group, Bhai Sahib Dr. Mohinder Singh, shares a message of peace for the victims of the Paris and Beirut attacks (Photograph: Paul Stringer)

The following statement was read out by all those who had attended the vigil:

“As citizens of Birmingham and as people from all faiths and none we have been horrified by the terrorist attacks in Paris. Our thoughts and prayers are with all the victims and families at this traumatic and difficult time.

Knowing that this comes soon after the tragedies of the Russia airline, the bombing in Beirut and the ongoing conflicts in many countries including Iraq, Syria and Yemen deepens our grief.

We are gathered this evening to grieve and to show our compassion and solidarity with those innocent victims of the attacks.

We stand together for peace in our city, not allowing these events to drive us apart. We will not hold people here to account for the actions of others but commit to continuing our work to make Birmingham a place of safety and welcome for all.”

Candles were lit outside the Birmingham Cathedral as part of the peace vigil following international terrorist attacks (Photograph: Paul Stringer)

Anti-war, anti-racism and pro-refugee banners made up part of the tribute to the victims of the recent attacks (Photograph: Paul Stringer)

Rabbi Margaret Jacobi shares a moment with a Salvation Army volunteer at the peace vigil in Birmingham (Photograph: Paul Stringer)

Geoff Dexter and Adam Yosef of Stand Up To Racism Birmingham hold signs at the peace vigil in Birmingham (Photograph: Paul Stringer)

Also in attendance were representatives from the Jewish community including Ruth Jacobs and Rabbi Margaret Jacobi, Chairman of the Nishkam group Bhai Sahib Dr. Mohinder Singh, prominent anti-war campaigner Salma Yaqoob, Dean of Birmingham Cathedral Catherine Ogle, former city council leader Sir Albert Bore and members of Stand Up To Racism Birmingham, a group promoting community cohesion and solidarity with refugees.

Maz Saleem, daughter of the late Mohammed Saleem who was murdered in an Islamophobic attack in the city two years ago, said in a Stand Up To Racism statement:

“My deepest sympathies and condolences go to all those that lost loved ones and were injured in the attacks in Paris and Beirut. I feel very strongly about such incidents because my father was murdered by a Ukrainian fascist terrorist and I am still struggling to cope with this tragic loss in my family.

“I also feel strongly about these events because my father was a Muslim and he was murdered by a fascist terrorist who bombed mosques in the West Midlands. Quite rightly, we do not equate all white people with this terrorist, but why are all Muslims treated as potential terrorists?

“My father and my family are Muslims and the victims of terrorism. In August Mushin Ahmed an 81 year old Muslim pensioner was murdered in Rotherham. I fear there could be more similar attacks if the approach of depicting all Muslims as terrorists continues.

“We must stand up to such attacks and also the racism and Islamophobia that follows. Don’t let the racists divide us.”

The Library of Birmingham was lit up in French tricolore following attacks in paris (Photograph: Adam Yosef)

A peace poster displayed outside the Birmingham Central Mosque today, a day after the terrorist attacks in Paris, Beirut and Baghdad (Photograph: Adam Yosef)

On Saturday, a day after the wave of attacks in Paris, the Library of Birmingham was lit up in the French Tricolore. The Guru Nanak Sikh Temple in Smethwick also paid tribute to the resilience of the French people by being lit up in red, white and blue. While in Highgate, condolences were shared at the Birmingham Central Mosque and at the Sultan Bahu Trust in Balsall Heath.

The Guru Nanak Sikh Temple in Smethwick, Birmingham, changed its lights to the French Tricolore

“We wish to share our sincere condolences, thoughts and prayers, to the families and friends of those killed and injured in the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris last night.

“We also stand in solidarity with the people of France and the world, who have been affected and are in mourning,” mosque Chairman Muhammad Afzal stated at an official press conference.

(Source: iambirmingham.co.uk)

Click here to read a message from Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh Ji

European Council of Religious Leaders: Our heart goes out to the people of France

European Couencil of Religious Leaders Media Release


Muslim, Jewish, Christian and European Religious Leaders of all traditions stand united in grief and anger about the terrible attacks in Paris.

Upon witnessing the unfolding violence in Paris the Moderator of the European Council of Religious Leaders (ECRL) Revd. Dr. Thomas Wipf stated: “We, people of all religious traditions in Europe are united in our grief and anger about the terrible terrorist attacks in Paris. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and all those affected. We strongly condemn all acts of violence and terrorism which can never be just justified on religious grounds. We want to commit ourselves even more intensively for peace and security wherever we live.”

He further added: “As members of different faiths and from different countries we stand in solidarity and pray for the victims killed, the injured and their nearest and dearest. Our heart goes out to the people of France for once again they been targeted and their peace shattered.”

French ECRL Council member H.E Metropolitan Emmanuel called “for national unity, strengthening of coexistence and protection of the fundamental values of our Republic.”

The Grand Mufti of the Republic of Slovenia added: “We are very shocked and deeply sad by the massacre of the innocent people in Paris. Terrorism is the evil and we must together condemn and combat any violence. We express our deepest condolences to the families of the victims and to the French people.”

The Secretary-General of ECRL, the Zoroastrian Jehangir Sarosh, urged all faith communities to “reinforce our resolve to stand in solidarity to strengthen our work for liberty, equality and fraternity”.

Speaking at a Birmingham vigil, Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh, Chairman of Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha said:

On Friday in Paris we saw 129 people killed and many injured.Over
the last weeks we have seen many atrocities carried out in Lebanon, Syria, India – the list is endless. It is not about the number of lives lost – one life lost is one too many.

We need more faith in Solidarity. People of all faiths and none – good human beings need to come together and unite. People of faith are the conscience of the world – we have a duty to speak up and a duty to rally around during times of crisis.

“Every person has a responsibility to respect life. No one has the right to injure, to torture or to kill another human”

(Interaction Council, 1st September 1997)

Allow me to share a Prayer with you:

“The whole world is suffering: engulfed in flames of many destructive forces, primarily violent extremism, lust, revenge, greed, and ego. We plead to you God, through your mercy, please protect and save us, no matter which door or sanctuary or place of worship we come from, take us into your fold and refuge. Pray, shelter and protect us” (Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 853)

ENDS

The European Council of Religious Leaders – Religions for Peace (ECRL) brings together senior religious leaders from Europe’s historical religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam together with Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs and Zoroastrians. ECRL has participatory status with the Council of Europe. ECRL is one of five regional Interreligious Councils with the Religions for Peace network. Religions for Peace – accredited to the United Nations – is the world’s largest and most representative multi-religious coalition advancing common action for peace since 1970. 

 

Dalai Lama hosts interfaith meeting ‘The Preservation of Religious Culture and the Cohesion of Faiths’

His Holiness the Dalai Lama and fellow participants during an interfaith meeting. Photo by Ian Cumming

His Holiness the Dalai Lama and fellow participants during an interfaith meeting. Photo by Ian Cumming

The 21st September 2015 saw dignitaries and distinguished guests invited to the House of Lords for a meeting organised by the Buddhist Society of which His Holiness the Dalai Lama is Patron. Bhai Sahib Bhai (Dr) Mohinder Singh OBE was the Sikh representative at the prestigious meeting entitled ‘The Preservation of Religious Culture and the Cohesion of Faiths’.

Bhai Sahib Bhai (Dr) Mohinder Singh, Chairman of Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha and Nishkam Civic Association, was honoured to be part of the meeting. The meeting was followed by a Celebration Lunch to mark a double celebration firstly, the 80th birthday of His Holiness The Dalai Lama and also the Buddhist Society celebrating its 90th Anniversary.

On arrival to the House of Lords, Baroness Caroline Cox and Desmond Biddulph, the Buddhist Society’s

The Dalai Lama speaking at the House of Lords. Photo Ian Cumming

The Dalai Lama speaking at the House of Lords. Photo Ian Cumming

President, received the Dalai Lama. They escorted him through the grand halls to the meeting, which was attended by Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and Bhai Sahib Ji, the Sikh representative. Prior to the event, the Dalai Lama gave an interview to Christiane Amanpour of CNN where he said, “What’s important is that all human beings, wherever they are, whether they are rich or poor, educated or uneducated, have a right to live a happy life. Many think that happiness is to be found outside ourselves in material things, but actually happiness is something that comes from within. So I try to present the importance of inner values not on the basis of religious quotations, but by taking a secular approach based on scientific findings and common sense.”

Sikhs understand the values that His Holiness referred to as Guru Granth Sahib Ji, The Sikhs eternal Living Guru has always said, ‘Man Jeetay Jag Jeet’ (by winning over your mind, you have won over the world).  For many years Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh has worked on education and later with SACRE in Birmingham facilitated and developed the 24 Moral and Spiritual Dispositions (disposition in Punjabi is ‘bhavna’)

“Education is the answer to many of society’s problems. We must educate children with good values and virtues. Good role models enable them to be good human beings”, said Bhai Sahib Ji.

Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh Ji & Dali Lama, “ Being happy is not a matter of destiny. It is a matter of options. "Take care of your thoughts because they become words, Take care of your words because they will become actions, Take care of your actions. Painting by GNNSJ volunteer, Charan Singh.

Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh Ji & Dali Lama, “ Being happy is not a matter of destiny. It is a matter of options. “Take care of your thoughts because they become words, Take care of your words because they will become actions, Take care of your actions. Painting by GNNSJ volunteer, Charan Singh.

He went on, “The Dalai Lama is a very wise and humble man, he speaks from the heart and his message is delivered directly to the heart; that’s what makes it powerful. He is not saying anything alien or bizarre, he is giving us simple messages that all people of faith and those of no faith will recognise as good human values. That is the answer; good human values, not rhetoric but lived values, shared values, values that we are all proud of to embrace.”

His Holiness addressed the gathering of distinguished guests. He said it was a great honour for him to sit with spiritual brothers and sisters of various traditions. He went on, “In too many places today it seems religious and nationalistic feelings are giving rise to terrible conflicts. We have to find ways to bring peace. This is something that those of us who are religious have to do. Meetings like this are an opportunity to build and nurture friendship and trust among us. There is an impression in many people’s minds these days that Muslims are especially militant. However, we have to remember that there are militant Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Jews and Buddhists too.”

“Muslim friends have told me that if you shed blood you are no longer a genuine Muslim and that Muslims have a commitment to respect all the creatures of Allah. They also tell me that the word ‘jihad’ is misunderstood. It doesn’t have anything to do with fighting other people, but refers to combating disturbing emotions within yourself.”

Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, recalled growing up in Uganda with two Muslim children from Zanzibar and concluded by saying that we should all remember, “I am not my brother’s keeper; I am my brother’s brother.”

Archbishop Kevin McDonald conveyed greetings to His Holiness and members of the gathering from Cardinal Vincent Nichols, leader of the Roman Catholic Church in the UK. He also recalled serving in the Vatican when Pope John Paul II convened the ground-breaking interfaith gathering in Assisi in 1986 that His Holiness had attended. Baroness Berridge, Chair of the All Party Group on International Religious Freedom, raised concerns for atrocities against Muslims and Christians in Burma and elsewhere. She eloquently said that those in public life had a responsibility to work for the rights of all. Her sentiments were taken further by the Bishop of Coventry, Christopher Cocksworth, who iterated that violence has never helped and religious leaders needed to make this clear to their various governments. He said there was still too great a sense that military force was the way to solve problems, but in fact in the long run words are more effective than bullets.

The Dalai Lama repeated that love and compassion are what bring people together, while anger and suspicion push them apart. He drew attention to three aspects of religious tradition. The religious aspect concerns the common practice of love and compassion, tolerance and self-discipline. While philosophical views may be quite different, they are all dedicated to the same goal of reinforcing the practice of love. However, he said, there may also be cultural aspects of religious tradition, like caste discrimination, which the Sikhs do not subscribe to, that are no longer relevant and should be changed. He said he encourages religious leaders to speak out about these things whenever they can. The meeting concluded with the guests making their way for lunch in the Strangers’ Dining Room of the House of Commons.

 

END

Notes to Editors:

For more information: