When imams and rabbis take a joint stand against terrorism, poverty and extremism.

SPECIAL REPORT

“Peace is not only the concern of Governments or political leaders. Efforts to bring about peace need active support from people around the world.”

by Alan Simons

The World Congress of Imams and Rabbis for Peace brings together imams and rabbis who formally seek to initiate rapprochement between Judaism and Islam. In January 2005, the First World Congress of Imams and Rabbis for Peace, under the High Patronage of His Majesty Albert II of Belgium and His Majesty Mohammed VI of Morocco, was held in Belgium.

At this historic meeting, which very few of us even today know about, over 100 imams and rabbis, representing communities throughout the world, united to act together and state to the world, that peace and reconciliation are at the very heart of their religions.

In the presence of international observers, experts and representatives of other religions, the imams and rabbis expressed their disagreements and their differing visions, but they also stressed their common heritage and the ethical philosophy of their respective religion. In addition, they took a strong, public stand against terrorism, poverty and extremism.

Although this dialogue was first and foremost for Jews and Muslims, it was not exclusively for them. It was open to all who wanted to build bridges and link individuals, of all religions, together.

As a result of the congress, The Advisory Committee for Jewish-Muslim Dialogue was created in order to give Jewish-Muslim dialogue a powerful institution so as to reflect and act in all of the domains and problematic issues in which Islam and Judaism are implicated. The Committee is composed of nine founder members, four international Jewish personalities, four international Muslim personalities and a neutral president. It represents more than 150 imams, rabbis and Jewish-Muslim personalities from twenty three countries, participants in the First World Congress of Imams and Rabbis for Peace.

Since that first meeting eight years ago in Belgium, congresses have also been held in Seville and Paris. These gatherings were attended by religious leaders, from over 43 countries, actively committed to the path of dialogue between their communities.

It is said that: “Religious ministers of Judaism and Islam lead great communities worldwide and have the power to influence believers. They have a responsibility concerning the marginalisation and vigorous struggle against extremists and hate-talk by people who claim to belong to their religion.  Moreover they can create awareness by preparing people to honour peace and then to act for peace by showing their indignation at any signs of hate and intolerance that may emerge in their own community.” I wholeheartedly agree!

The Fifth Congress. India, 2015:  A World Charter of Ethics for Religions.

Organised by Hommes de Parole Foundation in partnership with the International Association of Human Values, the Fifth World Congress of Imams and Rabbis for Peace will be held in Bangalore, India, during 2015, at the invitation of His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, a leader of non-violence in India.

At the conclusion of The Third Congress, decisions were taken on the promotion of a peace culture in Israel and Palestine and on the inclusion of women and young people in future meetings. The Fifth World Congress of Imams and Rabbis for Peace will implement these commitments.  In 2015, it is intended the congress will bring together representatives of the great spiritual traditions, and leave ample space for women and young people to participate in the dialogue.

In addition, humanist values from the Jewish and Muslim religions, but also from the Christian, Hindu, Jain and Buddhist religions will be studied by the participants in an effort to emphasise the unity of the actions of the religious leaders for peace. Through a World Charter of Ethics for Religions, these discussions will prepare proposals on a series of common values that can be used in conflict resolution processes.

To quote UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon at the April 2010 World Summit of Religious Leaders. “As religious leaders, you have an essential role to play in ensuring that the values of equality, tolerance and mutual respect, which lie at the core of all the world’s greatest religions, are defended, promoted and used to truly enrich our societies. You can encourage dialogue that respects the importance of tradition but also embraces change. You can foster contacts and create conditions that will lead to sustainable peace, social justice and cultural cohesion.”

If you’re interested in knowing more about The World Congress of Imams and Rabbis for Peace, contact Alain Michel at: hdp@hommesdeparole.org

Shalom. Salem. Pax.

I wish to thank the organisation Hommes de Parole for supplying through their website content and video for this article.

Since its inception, The World Congress of Imams and Rabbis for Peace has received support from the following partners:  HM Juan Carlos I, King of Spain, HM Albert II, King of the Belgians, HM Mohammed VI, King of Morocco, Accor group, Alliance of civilisation, Alliance Francophone, Education for Life, Euro Rscg Worldwide, Edmond de Rothschild Foundation, Edmond J. Safra Foundation, European UnionEvens Foundation, Ford Foundation, Guerrand-Hermès Foundation for Peace,Isesco, Kahane Foudation, King Baudouin Foundation, Kingdom Holding Company, Latet Mercy Relief, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Qatar, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Spain, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway, Muslim Scouts of France, Network of European Foundation, The Mercartor FundRed Crescent, Synergos, TV5 Monde, Unesco and University Terre du Ciel.

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