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:

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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

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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:

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Sikh spiritual leader honoured in Queen’s New Year list

BMS Portait 2 edited smallBhai Sahib Dr. Mohinder Singh, Chairman of the Nishkam group of charitable organisations based in Birmingham has been appointed Officer of British Empire (OBE) in recognition of his unstinting and inexorable work over forty years to promote peace and coexistence by bringing people of different faiths together to contribute to the common good of humanity.

Dr Mohinder Singh is the first British Sikh to receive the official title of “Bhai Sahib” from the highest religious Ministers (Jathedars) of the Sikhs’ spiritual and temporal seats of authority in India. Bhai Sahib means ‘a brotherly leader or one worthy of respect amongst the larger family of Sikhs’.

On the award in the Queen’s 2015 New Year Honours list, Bhai Sahib said, “It is a great personal honour to receive this prestigious award from Her Majesty the Queen, by the grace of God, the Defender of the Faith. All accolades are attributed to God Almighty who facilitates human puppets to perform. I have accepted this appointment on behalf of the founders and members of Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha (GNNSJ) and the wider communities that I am privileged to serve here in the UK and internationally.”

Bhai Sahib is a selfless religious visionary leader propagating peace, serving society through spiritual inspiration, infrastructure creation, heritage conservation, interfaith engagement and promoting values-led education. As Chairperson of GNNSJ, one of the UK’s largest Sikh faith registered charities, he is engaged in an astounding range of civic and spiritual initiatives. He is respected as a bridge-builder within communities in the local and global, secular and spiritual, intra and interfaith contexts.

From 1999, Bhai Sahib began to channel his energy into the growing area of global interfaith dialogue and cooperation to pursue the objective of global peace building. He is the founding convener of the proposed international Charter for Forgiveness and Reconciliation, which aims to provide a framework for communities, organisations and Governments to promote forgiveness around the globe. He, along with other prominent international trustees, is actively involved in establishing the unique Museum of World Religions (MWR) in Birmingham, estimated to cost around £60m, to create cohesion amongst people of different faiths and none. The MWR will bring together youth and adults from different faiths to promote mutual respect and peace building. In 2013, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI bestowed a Papal Knighthood of ‘Saint Gregory the Great’ upon Bhai Sahib for his interfaith work in the UK and around the world.

Bhai Sahib chairs the Boards of the Nishkam Gurudwara, established in 1977; Nishkam Community Cooperative (MSS Manufacturers Ltd) established in 1980; Nishkam Civic Association (NCA), a Centre for personal, community and sustainable development that is open to all communities established in 2006; and the Nishkam Healthcare Centre established in 2012 that provides a range of health care services and advice to hard to reach groups. He has been awarded Honorary Doctorates from Birmingham City University in 2002, the University of Birmingham in 2006 and the University of Aston in 2014 for services to religious faith propagation, community service, education and research.

Bhai Sahib embraces the concepts of values driven education on one hand and interfaith cooperation on the other as tools to forge lasting and sustainable peace. Propelling this forward is the Sikh Gurus’ teaching to consider humanity as one family with the same light of the Creator in all. He is an international trustee of Religions for Peace International (RPI), which works in some 90 countries. He is also one of RPI’s 50 Co-presidents around the world. He is a senior member of the Elijah Board of World Religious Leaders and a Senior Ambassador of the Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative, which in 2014 bestowed upon him the annual award for embracing the concept of education for the common good by building schools and colleges essential for a sustainable world. In 2014, he was also awarded the highly coveted Guru Nanak Interfaith Peace prize by Hofstra University, New York.

Bhai Sahib is Patron of the Nishkam School Trust that has successfully established Nishkam nurseries, primary and secondary schools with a multi-faith ethos in Birmingham, Wolverhampton and London. Nishkam High School and Sixth Form in Newtown was judged as ‘Outstanding’ by OFSTED in its very first inspection in 2014.

His greatest legacies will be the transformation of many lives across faiths; the restoration and conservation of the sacred historical Sikh shrines, including Darbar Sahib (Golden Temple) in India; construction and management of outstanding quality Sikh places of worship – Gurudwaras – in England, India, Kenya and Zambia; and the ingenious conservation of listed buildings on Soho Road in Birmingham that now house the Nishkam Nursery, Nishkam Primary School and the Nishkam Healthcare Centre.

Under his leadership over the span of some twenty-five years, the Nishkam Group has become a major player in the social and economic development of Handsworth in the city of Birmingham, UK and a number of other cities internationally, investing over £50m. He believes in the policy of “service delayed is a service denied” which demands great speed to complete whatever he undertakes to do.

As a highly respected spiritual and community leader, he propagates the deeper Sikh sacred teachings that demand the practice of values in everyday life such as humility, compassion, selflessness and courage. As a role model, he generates in others a tremendous capacity for undertaking selfless voluntary service to improve the wellbeing of all communities.

 ENDS

For more details please contact:

Amrick Singh Ubhi

Director

Nishkam Civic Association.

Tel: 0121 515 4229

Mobile: 07771 817484

Email: amrick.ubhi@ncauk.org

 

 

 

 

Nishkam Centre mentioned in House of Lords

 debate took place yesterday in House of Lords on the role of faith communities in the UK.  Initiated by the Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks, many different aspects of the role of faith communities in British society was debated, including the significance of A Year of Service.

See below for what Baroness Hanham had to say about the role of faith in the community and A Year of Service:

“As well as providing spiritual succour to their followers, religions inspire great numbers of people to offer service to their own communities and more widely. A number of contributions made that clear today. Tens of thousands of faith-based charities and community groups work tirelessly either in international development such as Islamic Relief or Christian Aid, or in providing homeless shelters, support for young mothers or care for the elderly in their local neighbourhoods.
[…]
Care of the elderly in local neighbourhoods is part of the support given by faith groups, and annual projects such as the Hindu-led Sewa Day and the Jewish-led Mitzvah Day motivate thousands to perform acts of selfless service. Sikh gurdwaras not only provide free food to all, but run community centres such as the Nishkam Centre in Birmingham, which I visited. Black-majority churches offer free health advice and counselling as well as religious support.
[…]
This jubilee year, the Government are facilitating a programme-A Year of Service-to celebrate and link-up social action, and I am grateful to noble Lords for mentioning that. Every month, each of nine faith communities in turn is hosting a day of volunteering around the country and inviting people of other faiths and beliefs to join in. Each Day of Service is linked to either a religious festival or an existing volunteering day and each has a theme, such as visiting the elderly, feeding the hungry or planting trees. In addition to that, we might also say that they are sharing their faith with others and making connections between one faith and another. For example, this March, the Zoroastrian community marked the Iranian new year by bringing music and laughter to old people’s homes and hospices in different parts of London. We should urge all faith communities to take advantage of the opportunities offered by A Year of Service.”

Read the full transcript here