Good stories after the Marawi Siege: Children for Peace and the Power of the Harmony Prayer

Around the world, the news of the Marawi Siege that started on May 23rd 2017 has created many alarming questions of the violent extremism that ISIS and Maute Groups justified in the name of a certain understanding of Islam. In many parts of the Philippines and in the world, Muslim religious leaders and all leaders of goodwill promote the message of peace reminding all to have an attitude of moderation. We have already presented in this Oasis News some good stories of leaders, including Muslim religious leaders, that have condemned all forms of terrorism, but the reality is that we are still victims of violence and that we are called to do all our best to counteract this violence according to our responsibility and mission. The good stories that we wish to share in this Oasis News are recent and touching.

A few weeks ago, Silsilah Dialogue Movement with the help of the Quiapo church of Manila who sponsored the activity, have been able to approach a number of Maranao Children who are victims of the war in Marawi. Thanks to the Silsilah Forum members of Iligan and Maranao friends, we have been able to gather many Maranao children to express their pains and guide them to express their wishes of peace. The activity was revealing. Even their paintings and drawings expressed well their feelings. In this process of helping the children to overcome the trauma, we have learned how to reflect on our responsibility which is to rebuild what we can do, not only on the destroyed buildings of Marawi during the five long months of war, but also to rebuild the hope and friendship among Muslims and Christians.

This activity is one of the many that Silsilah is doing and planning to do to help the people of Marawi. We have restarted in the Mindanao State University (MSU) of Marawi the Silsilah Forum with a few committed Maranao and Christian members and friends of Silsilah. MSU is a big university built on the top part of Marawi in the early seventies with the specific purpose to build up good relations among Muslims and Christians in the setup of education. Now, MSU has to restart almost from zero, but we hope that with the help of many, it is possible. For this reason, Silsilah has intensified its presence there.

Another good story as a sign of hope is the sharing of a Sister who is assigned in Malabang, a town near Marawi. In the town where Christians are a minority and now many Christians left because of fear, the sister decided to stay, telling her congregation that it is important to be there and remain there as a witness of love, despite the possible threat from the part of some radical groups, who now make the life of the Christians more difficult.

There are some Muslim families who are often protecting the Christians and helping them in that town and other places where Christians are more possible targets of violence from radical and violent groups. In this condition, the good Sister is experiencing the solidarity of some Muslim friends and when she is in panic and fear, she finds strength in prayer and she reported to us that she go to her room and sing alone the Harmony Prayer that she learned in Silsilah during the time she was in Zamboanga to attend the Silsilah Summer Course.

The Good stories of this news are for us to be signs of hope in the midst of so much fear, especially in some critical areas of Mindanao where the presence of ISIS or similar group is more visible.

Indeed this is a time to share also good stories without ignoring the reality and move together with all people of good will.

The Harmony Chain Initiative is:

  • An Inter-faith initiative of meditation and prayer for dialogue and peace
  • A spiritual chain of people of different cultures and religions
  • A response to God’s dialogue with humanity to sustain our cry for peace

This initiative is already spread in the Philippines and many other countries. You are invited!

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