Organised by The Blue Ribbon Global, Singapore & Young Interfaith Peacemaker Community, Indonesia
Supported by the Harmony Centre, Singapore
About 190 people – ranging from tertiary students to professionals to retirees – gathered in the evening of Monday 1 Feb 2016 to participate in an interfaith Forum on Being a Good Neighbour in the Abrahamic Religions. The message of neighbourliness is a timeless one, but in a world increasingly torn by acts of violence, this understanding is becoming more urgently needed within our local and global communities.
This Forum was part of international commemorations of the UN World Interfaith Harmony Week, which takes place in the first week of February every year, celebrating the global diversity of faiths and building trust between them. The event, held in Singapore at the aptly-named Hall of Trust of OnePeople.sg in Toa Payoh, was organised by The Blue Ribbon Global, supported by Harmony Centre, NUS Interfaith, and the Young Interfaith Peacemaker Community.
While the place of all religions in human society was recognised, this Forum looked only at the three Abrahamic faiths, taking the common respect for the patriarch Abraham as a starting point. This focus also produced a greater depth of discourse and discussion during this event. Besides Christianity, Islam, Judaism, the three faiths represented in the panel, the audience also comprised people of different religious convictions, including Hindus and Buddhists, as well as atheists and agnostics.
The panel discussion and the subsequent spirited but civil Q&A session was moderated by Mohd Imran Mohd Taib of the Harmony Centre. Dr Hoon Chang Yau from the Singapore Management University provided opening insights to frame the discussions, and the panel comprised Rabbi Nathan Alfred of the United Hebrew Congregation, Ustaz Dr Nazirudin Mohd Nasir of the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore and Rev Malcolm Tan from Covenant Community Methodist Church.
Participants left with a deeper understanding of the three Abrahamic different faiths, and a common sense of shared humanity. It was indeed an evening well-spent.
World Interfaith Harmony Week (WIHW) dedicates the first week of February each year to provide a platform where all interfaith groups and groups of goodwill can reaffirm, in an expression of global solidarity, that mutual understanding and interreligious engagement constitute important dimensions of a culture of peace. WIHW was proposed by H.M. King Abdullah II of Jordan, and unanimously adopted as a UN General Assembly Resolution on 20 Oct 2010 (A/RES/65/5).
Global Need for Mutual Understanding. Throughout human history, many wars have been fought, and atrocities committed, on the basis of differences related to race, language and religion. Today, through the development of civilization and the work of numerous local, regional and international institutions, these have been reduced, but are by no means eradicated. In fact, a recent resurgence of violent acts has been noted.
Abrahamic Roots. Three streams among major world religions trace their roots to the patriarch Abraham. Adherents of Judaism, Christianity and Islam all recognize Abraham as a man of faith.