The Words of the Samura Family
Freetown, Sierra Leone -- An interfaith event on January 13 opened with an invitation to remember those who have sacrificed for religious freedom and for liberation of nations, for political freedom. Tributes were paid to Father Sun Myung Moon, whose exemplary life demonstrates a great contribute toward world peace; Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., for his sacrifices made for humanity; and Nelson Mandela, the African hero of liberation who never took revenge for the wrongs done to his people.
The master of ceremony was the Amir of Ahmadiyya Mission Jamatt of Sierra Leone and Guinea, Mr. Saeed-u Rahman. In his welcoming statement, he spoke about the need to unify around the purpose of peace and harmony among religious leaders in the world. He spoke about the persecution of the prophets of old, but those prophets did not react in violence. He gave examples from the life of the Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him. He emphasized that "we have a choice about being in any political party and religion, but we have no choice about being brothers and sisters." He was speaking of the unity of humanity transcending the faith tradition to which one belongs.
Mr. Rahman urged participants, especially religious leaders, to give peace a chance and demonstrate that peace in relations to our fellow human beings following the motto: "Love for all and hatred for none." The Amir further highlighted the significance of World Interfaith Harmony Week as an instrument for drawing together all who believe in one God, even though each individual has his/her particular way of expressing their belief. He said, "God is the author and giver of peace; we should strive to achieve peace and harmony. Religious leaders should regard peace as a paramount instrument for a world of harmony by accepting diversity, since God is a God of diversity and diversity is the beauty of God's design."
The National President of the Peace Council, Ms. Alice M. Kamara, made a short statement emphasizing the essence of religious leaders coming together to bury their misunderstanding and provide ways for peace to take root. She appealed to everyone present to resist any religious discrimination among people.
The chair of UPF-Sierra Leone, Hon. Haja Afsatu Kabba, began with a prayer for peace and for the success in establishing the proposed inter-religious peace council. She spoke about the importance of peace, emphasizing the need for world religious leaders to respect the faith traditions of others in a positive way. She encouraged participants to look at our various scriptures, pointing out that God created humankind in his image and likeness and we need to respect one another even though we have different beliefs.
She appealed to participants to support the vision of Rev. Moon, who has been fighting for world peace and the liberation of humankind. "Let us support this noble endeavor of the UPF founders, Rev. Dr. and Mrs. Moon, who have suffered for what they stand for." She encouraged women to be involved in the UPF's efforts to influence world leaders to allow UN to include a better system of operation since women are mothers and wives who have the heart to forgive and forget and they bring unity and peace in the home, which leads stable society and a peaceful. She announced a future interfaith gathering to invite leaders of large religious bodies to become involved in bringing lasting peace not only in Sierra Leone but the world as a whole.
A presentation was given by the National Secretary General, who enlightened participants about the need for religious leaders to play a vital role in the pursuit of peace. He called participants to look at the critical issues affecting the world, which needs the involvement of faith traditions to resolve human suffering. He emphasized that religious people should acknowledge the faith traditions of others. He presented the UPF's vision of "One Family Under God" and the practice of living for the sake of others. He mentioned the positive and negative aspects of religion and called upon religious leaders to set the example of inter-religious dialogue and understanding among themselves. He said, "We are the hope and vanguard of world peace, and therefore we are acting now to prevent future conflict." He spoke of the need for religious leaders to know their role in maintaining peace, which may mean sacrificing "to save succeeding generations," as stipulated by the UN Charter.
He appealed both to religious and political leaders to understand the vision of UPF and come on board to create a forum where every stakeholder can contribute to the interfaith movement, which is a doorway for peaceful coexistence.
Plans are underway for an Interfaith Harmony Week cleaning activity next month.
Reflections from two participants:
"I feel grateful to the
organizers for inviting my church; I am here representing my Bishop.
I want to encourage this organization to collaborate with the
Inter-religious Council of Sierra Leone to help Sierra Leoneans
benefit from your materials. I promise to support your activities
here as long as you are encouraging people from different faiths to
work for a common goal. I promise to report to my Bishop what I have
heard, and I hope that we can stand with you in efforts to bring
lasting peace in our trouble world."
Rev. Moses P. Conteh, United Methodist Church, Freetown, Sierra Leone
"I want to thank Allah and the
organizers of this event today. Your organization is playing a very
important role in support of our president's vision for Attitudinal
Change. I pray that the founders of this noble institution will have
the good health and long life to see this vision through. I encourage
my colleagues to stand behind this organization in its effort to
achieve these challenges."
Sheikh Alhaji Mohamed Sallieu Jalloh, Assistant Chief Imam, Haussa Mosque, Freetown, Sierra Leone