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.
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.
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.”