Kaduna – Ahead of the UN World Interfaith Harmony Week starting on Feb. 1, a Muslim woman has donated chairs to Church and a pastor decorated a Mosque both in Kaduna to boost inter-religious tolerance and harmony.
Hajiya Ramatu Tijjani, a peace Ambassador, told newsmen in Kaduna on Tuesday that the donation was also to promote mutual respect and better understanding between Muslims and Christians in the state and the country in general.
She said the World Interfaith Harmony Week was to promote peaceful religious co-existance and dialogue on peace, share love, unity and encourage togetherness, irrespective of faith.
The week, beginning from Feb. 1 to Feb. 7 every year extends the Two Commandments by adding “Love of the Good” and “Love of the Neighbour”, she said.
She added that “the formula includes all people of goodwill. It includes those of other faith, and those with no faith.”
According to her, the week is part of efforts to strengthen inter- and intra-religious relationship toward preventing and countering violent extremism and promoting peace building, reconciliation and conflict transformation, which is part of events of the ceremony worldwide.
She said that the week was also to celebrate the principles of tolerance and respect for one another which was deeply rooted in the world’s major religions.
Tijjani said that the impact of ethno-religious and political crisis in Kaduna State
some years ago claimed hundreds of lives and properties and damaged the hitherto
peaceful co-existance enjoyed by the people.
She then called for the creation of institutes of comparative studies in the country, saying the institutes would promote better understanding, religious tolerance, forgiveness, reduce blasphemy tendencies and continuously preach peace and harmony between Muslims and Christians.
She noted that there were more than 6,000 religions in the world, most of which were different from the literate Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) that many people think of when they hear the word “religion.”
“In order to make statements or generalisations about religion, the concept of religion, rather than a specific religion or group of religions, we need to engage in comparative study of religions so as to reduce ethno-religious attacks and blasphemy,” she added.
As part of the week celebration, she decided to also include a package of gift items to the best Church/Mosque cleaners to encourage them in the service of cleaning the environment of holy places.
Pastor Yohanna Buru, the General Overseer of the Christ Intercessory Fellowship Church, Sabon Tasha, Kaduna, who received the chairs, expressed happiness with the donation and appealed to Christians and Muslims to learn how to tolerate, accommodate and live in peace with one another to make the country great and peaceful.
Buru said that “the place of worship belongs to God; we must do everything possible to protect Mosques and Churches against destruction.”
He added that “as the interfaith and harmony week commences, we are going to organise an endurance trek for Muslim and Christian clerics to create awareness
on peaceful co-existance.
“We will also organise reading and writing competition among Muslims and Christians in schools and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to enhance understanding among youths.”
He said the Church would also donate prayer mats and plastic kettles to some Mosques to reciprocate the gesture and to foster peaceful co-existence.
The World Interfaith Harmony Week was first proposed at the UN General Assembly on Sept. 23, 2010 by King Abdullah II of Jordan and unanimously adopted by the UN on Oct. 20, 2010 and henceforth the first week of February was observed as World Interfaith Harmony Week.
The Week is based on the pioneering work of The Common Word initiative which started in 2007 and urged Muslim and Christian leaders to engage in dialogue based on two common fundamental religious Commandments; Love of God, and Love of the Neighbour, without nevertheless compromising any of their own religious tenets.
The Two commandments are at the heart of the three Monotheistic religions and therefore provide the most solid theological ground possible.
The Week provides platform for interfaith groups and other groups of goodwill to show the world what powerful movement they are as events are organised to buttress it.