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Abu Dhabi Hosts the Conception of a Modern Age Alliance of Virtue among Religions

May 7, 2017
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Abu Dhabi Hosts the Conception of a Modern Age Alliance of Virtue among Religions

Abu Dhabi, the universal capital of peace and tolerance, is witnessing the birth of a modern age Hilf al-Fudul (Alliance of Virtue) among religions of the Abrahamic family. The historic discussions among representatives of the three religions representing the American Peace Caravan were hosted by H.E Shaykh Abdallah Bin Bayyah, President of Forum for Promoting Peace.  This Alliance of Virtue brought together representatives of the three Abrahamic religions, who, despite differences in doctrine and practice, are joined by a universal will, and shared values to build peace and foster virtue and co-existence.

Men of clergy from the three religions taking part in the caravan, and representing ten of the American states, have agreed to continue their discussions and studies aimed at establishing a human ethical code, as a first step towards issuing an internationally binding document that combats Anti-muslim sentiment, antisemitism, and all forms of hatred, discrimination and bigotry.

In a press conference organized by the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies, based in Abu Dhabi, following the three-day visit of the caravan to the city, caravan members highlighted their views and plans to apply the outcome of the visit via initiatives in their own states.

The outcomes from this workshop over the next 6 months included:

1) Each cleric will go to one another’s house, to have a meal and continue to strengthen relations that have been developed here in Abu Dhabi.

2) They will organise a joint event between Synagogues, mosques and churches by bringing their congregations together, to know one another and enhance relations of mutual respect.

3) They will undertake a community service project for a common goal

4) Each representative will stand up for one another against persecution or hatred

5) Each city will undertake their own retreat similar to what we have witnessed in Abu Dhabi

6) Participants will advance awareness on the importance of the Marrakesh Declaration and the Forum for Peace as an example of critical work being undertaken in the field of peace and religious freedom.

 

Pastor Bob Roberts from Texas, one of the key leaders of the Caravan, stressed that these practical plans will go a long way in developing tolerance and goodwill amongst communities across the US. Following this there will be another 10 cities identified where they will come in triads, attending further workshops in Morocco, with subsequent cities to follow, totalling 50 cities.

Culminating in January 2018, there will be a gathering in Washington D.C that will bring together religious leaders from Abrahamic faith communities, to build bridges and to send a powerful message against anti-Muslim sentiment, Anti- Semitism and any kind of religious bigotry.

The press conference was attended by Shaykh Abdallah Bin Bayyah, President of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies; Dr. Mohammed Matar Al Kaabi, Secretary General of the Forum for Peace and Sheikh Hamza Yusuf, Vice President of the Forum, and President of Zaytuna College, USA.

Participants also agreed on an action plan for the short term, based on the following principles: Mutual respect amongst different religions and their impact on peace. They will also identify the most prominent challenges facing co-existence, and opportunities to enhance common good that will foster goodwill amongst communities across the US. This initiative indicates the importance of drawing a roadmap that assures capitalizing on what have been mutually agreed and instilling in it values that were highlighted as per the Marrakesh Declaration, issued in January 2017.  This aims at instilling peace and adopting a reconciliatory approach that allows for the upbringing of new generations that overcome the feelings of hatred and discrimination that has been on the increase as in the US. The religious groups that formed the Peace Caravan, united in solidarity,  with an agreement to build bridges and send a powerful message to their respective communities.

Attendees commended the efforts of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies, chaired by His Excellency Shaykh Abdallah Bin Bayyah, as a role model for instilling peace, tolerance, and the values of co-existence.

Members of the caravan committed to working to join ten more states to these efforts, in preparation for the second convention of the caravan in Morocco next November, so members from the 20 states would work in collaboration to build a real cradle for a new model for harmony and co-existence.

Representing all caravan members, Rabbi Bruce Lustig offered an expression of gratitude on  behalf of  the caravan to the UAE, leadership and people, and to Abu Dhabi, the capital of tolerance and peace. Lustig also thanked Sheikh Abdallah Bin Bayyah for his remarkable views, wishing the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies much success.

Religion and Peace

Dr. Dr. Mohammed Matar Al Kaabi, Secretary General of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies, reaffirmed the warm welcome extended by the UAE leadership to the American peace caravan, commending its efforts in activating the historical Marrakesh Declaration.

Al Kaabi highlighted the strong emphasis on tolerance and co-existence the UAE has presented since its establishment, making it a true example of co-existence amongst diverse cultures and ethnicities, who live in peace and harmony on its land. He also highlighted the willingness and unconditional support of the UAE leadership to enhance world peace and support all peaceful efforts around the globe.

Al Kaabi also praised the efforts of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies, which has succeeded in becoming a space for tolerance and love among all people, supported by the unique views of HE Shaykh Bin Bayyah. He also commended the caravan members, representatives of the different Abrahamic religions. Al Kaabi noted that being a part of this initiative, these members have made history, and become a role model for peace seeking people around the globe. He called upon all participants to follow through with the workshops outcomes, and assure the application of the historical Marrakesh Declaration. Al Kaabi noted that this is merely a first step that needs to be followed by numerous steps, until a true international Hilf al-Fudul (Alliance of Virtue) is built.

Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, Vice President of the Forum, noted the important steps taken by the UAE to spread the culture of tolerance and co-existence, inspired by the historical views of the founding father, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan (May God have mercy on his soul). Shaykh Yusuf  reminded of a parable from the history of Sheikh Zayed, who, after a visit by one of his sons to Tanzania, asked the son: What was it that you did there?   “Nothing, they were not Muslims,” the son answered. “But weren’t they humans? Go back, build them wells, give them fresh water and serve this humanity.” His Highness answered.

Direct dialogue

Concluding the event, Shaykh Abdallah Bin Bayyah thanked God in his Greatness for this valuable opportunity to build peace and dialogue among brave peace makers, dedicated to love, fraternity, and tolerance.

His Excellency reaffirmed that civilizations do get sick, and that the cure lies in the hands of philosophers and scientists. “If others feed on war, we aim to dampen the conflagration and build peace,” Bin Bayyah said he commended the roadmap achieved by the members of the caravan, as steps towards peace and co-existence, noting that the task in hand is not easy, but also not impossible to achieve, with patience and determination. Stressing the importance of dialogue and communications, Bin Bayyah referred to an Arabic saying: “’Don’t listen to what people say about me. Listen to me and I will tell you my own story”, with the Shaykh adding that this gathering gave the opportunity for Rabbis, Pastors and Imams to do just that on behalf of themselves.

H.E stated that the blessed steps for an Alliance of Virtue first started in Abu Dhabi, but it is an imperative that it reaches the corners of our Earth. Bin Bayyah reflected on the establishment of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies in Abu Dhabi, indicating the great support it is receiving from this country, it’s leadership and people, in its quest to instil peace and co-existence.

“Peace is an innate need in all humans,” Bin Bayyah noted, highlighting the key role of men of clergy from all religions in supporting this cause, and working hand in hand with humanitarian organizations.

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