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UN World Interfaith Harmony Week 2012 Celebration in The UK
Dr. Mozammel Haque
Media Advisor
Islamic Cultural Centre, London

Tuesday 7th February 2012

Many organisations in the United Kingdom celebrated UN World Interfaith Harmony Week on 6th and 7th of February. 2012. World Interfaith Week was proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations in a resolution: "Proclaimed the first week of February every year the World Interfaith Harmony Week between all religions, faiths and beliefs" adopted on 20 October, 2010.

In this connection, it may be pointed out that many Muslim countries sponsored the resolution to create United Nations World Interfaith Harmony Week as the first week of February each year. "The World Interfaith Harmony Week pioneered by His Majesty King Abdullah II seeks to spread the message of harmony and tolerance among the followers of all the world's religions, faiths and beliefs. It seeks to do this by promoting the common basis of "Love of God and Love of the Neighbour."

Interfaith Harmony Week at Islamic Cultural Centre
"The objectives behind the World Interfaith Harmony Week, in the words of the author of the resolution, Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad, are: To Harness and utilise the collective might of the world's second-largest infrastructure "places of worship" specifically for peace and harmony in the world

The message read out at the VIP Event at the ICC says, "The purpose of the exhibition is to educate the wider community on the Islamic culture and how the core of all mutual prophetic teachings are based on mutual respect, harmony and peace ".

The Islamic Cultural Centre, London and Exhibition Islam jointly organised the VIP Event - Islamic Cultural Exhibition which was arranged as part of the United Nations World Interfaith Harmony Week 2012, on Tuesday, 7th of February, 2012, at the Islamic Cultural Centre & The London Central Mosque. The VIP event was attended by members of Parliament, including Lord Ahmed of Rotherham, Lord Sheikh of Cornhill, Lord Adam Patel of Blackburn, Ambassadors of the Muslim Countries, representatives of embassies, members of different interfaith organisations,

Lord Sheikh of Cornhill
Lord Sheikh mentioned in his speech, "In one of my speeches in the House of Lords recently I said: "There was a survey published in the Sunday Times a few weeks ago which found that Muslims are more patriotic than the rest of the population. This shows Muslims have gone a long way towards integrating with society and shows Muslims in a different light compared with what is being portrayed in the media. Islam is a religion of peace and this philosophy is shown visually in my coat of arms." Speaking on interfaith dialogue, Lord Sheikh again quoted from his speech in the House of Lords where he stated, ""Unfortunately, there is a demonisation of Islam in certain quarters, and it is important that the media act in a responsible manner in this regard and avoid use of inflammatory language. In regard to suicide bombings, Islam forbids suicide. In the holy Koran it is written that,

"whoever kills a human being ... it as though he has killed all mankind, and whoever saves a human life, it is as though he saved all mankind".

This saying is similar to what is written in the Talmud, where it is written,

"if you save one life, it is as if you have saved the world"

Lord Sheikh also said, "I believe that there are more similarities than differences between people and we should highlight the similarities in order to establish closer links between communities."

Referring to the Exhibition Islam at the Islamic Cultural Centre, Lord Sheikh said, "At the Exhibition today we can see displays of various items which give a very brief description of achievements of the Muslims and their contributions to the world in various fields. In Islam there have been great dynasties and empires which include the Ummayads, the Abassids in Iraq, the Fatimids in Egypt, the Ottoman Empire and the Mughals in India. All these empires and dynasties have contributed a great deal to the understanding and promotion of the subjects I have described."

Referring to the Hajj Exhibition at the British Museum, Lord Sheikh said, "I am also pleased that the Hajj Exhibition is being held in the British Museum which explains one of the pillars of Islam and creates better understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims."

Lord Sheikh also said, "Mutual understanding, respect, and inter-faith dialogue are essential if we are all to coexist peacefully. Islam teaches us to celebrate the difference and diversity which God has purposefully created in our world."

Finally, Lord Sheikh said, "Islam is indeed a religion of peace and everyone one of us should therefore be an Ambassador to convey this message and help promote peace and harmony between various racial and religious groups."

Lord Ahmad of Rotherham
Lord Ahmed of Rotherham spoke about interfaith dialogue. He said, "It is important that the Islamic Cultural Centre is providing platform for dialogue but the real dialogue started 1400 years ago by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Lord Ahmed mentioned, "Even long before revelation, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) made a society Halful Fazul. The Prophet also entered into agreement with the Jewish community and people with faith or no faith.

Lord Ahmed also mentioned about Caliph Omar. He said, "When Caliph Omar (may Allah be please with him) conquered Jerusalem he allowed the Jewish community to return to Jerusalem after 300 years when they have been excluded and he included them in all the decision making process."

"So dialogue started all ago and so we have responsibility to our neighbours," said Lord Ahmad and then he quoted from the Holy Qur'an, which says, "There is no compulsion in religion."

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