” From Jordan: Silsilah reaffirm its commitment of Dialogue and Peace” PEACE BE WITH YOU – ASSALAMU ALAYKUM
We are honored to be here for this event not only to receive, but also to express our gratitude to Your Majesty and those who are helping you in the promotion of the World Interfaith Harmony Week. It is a pivotal initiative which gives a global platform to all those who are working for peace within a religious framework, but also including those who work outside one.
We must also thank your support of the predecessor to the WIHW, namely the open letter “A Common Word Between Us and You” which 138 Muslim Leaders of the world sent to Pope Benedict XVI and other Christian leaders of the world promoting the concept of love of God and love of neighbor in Islam and Christianity as our responsibility and highlighting the importance of dialogue and peace based on love.
I represent the Silsilah Dialogue Movement that I started with some Muslim and Christian friends in Zamboanga, Mindanao (Philippines) in 1984. The conflict in Mindanao which started in the seventies has resulted in a lot of victims, prejudices and hatred among Muslims and Christians and a lot of poverty up to now. In this context, The Silsilah Dialogue Movement was formed with the hope to build peace starting from a spiritual aspect of dialogue peace based on love.
We, the members of the Silsilah Dialogue Movement, welcomed the new initiative with great joy because we believe in this approach and since the beginning we have emphasized a dialogue and peace approach based on love of God, love of neighbor and love for the common good.
In 2012 we involved many people in Zamboanga to celebrate this special week together. We encouraged the National Ulama Council of the Philippines to take the lead and Silsilah was behind the activities. We also encouraged Mayor Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar, who, at that time, was Congresswomen to author a Senate Bill which then became a Republic Act mandating the observance of the WIHW by all the different government agencies.
Unfortunately, on September 9, 2013, Zamboanga was attacked by rebels and a lot of people have been killed, ten thousand houses were destroyed and burned and more than one hundred fifty thousand people were forced to leave their houses. Many of them are still in evacuated centers today.
However, even in this situation we continue to celebrate the World Interfaith Harmony Week to give new hope to the people. We are convinced that this is our mission. When the forces of destruction work hard, then the forces for peace and harmony must work harder.
Professor Alih Aiyub and myself are here to represent the many friends who have worked hard to make the initiative successful and especially to give hope in Zamboanga in the midst of so much division and often hatred between different groups.
We also speak on behalf of our fellow winners:
Mr Saeed Khan Falahi and Mr Nazar Abbas of India,
Mrs Eman Saddik and Mr Ashraf Godha of Egypt
Mr Michael Boyondo and Ms Irene Bulindi of Uganda
We know that they are striving equally hard to promote peace in their respective countries, and it is a great encouragement to meet them, exchange ideas and experiences, and to participate in this global solidarity of love of God and love of the neighbour.
We extend their appreciation of this recognition of their efforts, and we pray that we will all benefit from reaping the seeds of peace we are sowing.
Finally, I wish to express solidarity with our brothers and sisters of Syria and other neighboring countries of Jordan for their suffering. May peace come soon in the region and in the world. May God help us to continue to move with courage in our mission of dialogue dreaming of future peace where we can call each other brother and sisters.
Wa alaykum as-salaam – peace be with you.