Archives for November 2015

National Bahá’í Centre hosts interfaith evening to explore the role of religion in building social cohesion

As part of Interfaith Week 2015, the UK Bahá’í community hosted an evening of stories, reflections and music from the different world religions on the theme, “What is the role of religion in building a cohesive society?” This gathering brought together members of different faith groups, interfaith networks and civil society.

The programme consisted of representatives from each faith sharing thoughts – through stories, anecdotes, holy writings, and songs – exploring the role that religion can play in building a harmonious society. Reflections were shared from representatives of Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, Sufism, Sikhism and the Bahá’í Faith.

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Reem Shaheed shares a song from the Baha’i Holy writings about living together in harmony and unity.

In her welcoming remarks, Ferishteh Mazkoori of the Bahá’í community highlighted how religion is the motivating force for the establishment of world unity. She referred to the words of Baha’u’llah where He states that “religion is the greatest of all means for the establishment of order in the world and for the peaceful contentment of all that dwell therein”.

Many stories were recounted, both ancient and recent, which underscored not only the role religion has played in strengthening social cohesion, but also indicated consensus that religion is imperative in this universal goal. This is partly because religion, by its very nature of universal application, views humanity as one.

Ancient accounts from the time of Krishna, Zoroaster and Jesus Christ were shared to illustrate the power that religion has in bringing people together. This was complemented by more recent personal anecdotes highliging the potential that each individual can play in building unity. Reflections on the oneness of humanity were shared, illustrated through the example of Buddha and Guru Nanak. The important concept of service to others in Sufism and all faiths was highlighted as a means to an end, that end being the unity of mankind. In between reflections, music composed to various holy writings was shared, as was a song in Hebrew, which was taught to all those gathered, the words of which sang: “Behold how wonderful it is when people live together in harmony”. The gathering was characterised by loving fellowship, harmony, mutual respect and a desire to listen and learn from one another.

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Rabbi Jackie Tabick teaches the words of a Hebrew song to all gathered, “Behold how wonderful it is when people live together in harmony”.

The evening came to a close with all those gathered singing together the words of Abdu’l-Bahá, the eldest son of the founder of the Bahá’í faith: “Unite and bind together the hearts, join in accord all the souls, and exhilarate the spirits through the signs of Thy sanctity and oneness.”

 

 

Commemoration of Twin Holy Days in Westminster Central Hall

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Friends gather during official programme to commemorate Twin Holy Days Celebration.

 

LONDON, 17 November 2015 – UK Members of Parliament and the House of Lords joined a diverse range of civil society and inter-faith representatives to celebrate the Bahá’í Twin Holy Days, commemorating the births of the twin Founders of the Bahá’í Faith, The Báb and Bahá’u’lláh.

Louise Ellman MP, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Friends of the Bahá’ís Group, welcomed all those gathered and highlighted that the “special” celebration of the Twin Holy Days, which was celebrated in over 200 communities around the world, coincided with the launch of the Badí calendar.

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Louise Ellman MP welcomes all those gathered.

The launch of a new Bahá’í calendar represents a new chapter in the development of the Bahá’í Faith. Each month in the Bahá’í calendar is named after an attribute or quality of God. These attributes include, among others, Beauty, Splendour, Honour, and also a month of Questions. Mindful of the power of questions posed in a loving spirit of enquiry, Bahá’ís around the world are striving to explore with like minded others, how to align one’s inner life with these attributes, in order to contribute towards the betterment of neighbourhoods and communities.

In a message addressed to all those gathered at the celebration, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon acknowledged the efforts of Bahá’ís in working to strengthen and reinforce bonds of unity within communities, stating that, “The Baha’i community’s contribution to building stronger and cohesive nations are reflective of the words of Baha’u’llah when he said ‘the earth is but one country and mankind its citizens…These are sentiments which resonate with people of all faiths and none, and underline the shared values of humanity”.

Referring to the various conflicts and distressing events occurring around the world, Annabel Djalili, speaking on behalf of the Bahá’í community, acknowledged the many disintegrating forces that are challenging our society today, whilst at the same time asked how we can empower ourselves and other to be forces of integration, contributing to the advancement of civilisation. Mrs Djalili invited the gathering to reflect upon the role religion can play in unlocking the potential in people to become positive agents of change at the heart of society.

Luke Slott performs music composed to Baha'i Writings

Luke Slott performs music composed to Baha’i Writings.

The programme for this momentous occasion closed with music composed to the words of Bahá’u’lláh, “So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth”, reminding all those gathered of the powerful force of unity.

An integral part of the evening consisted of the uplifting conversations held between all those gathered, and the enriching explorations of pertinent themes relating to contributing towards social cohesion and the betterment of our society.