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Interfaith Peacebuilding

CALENDAR OF EVENTS

February 2019
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Interfaith Programs

UPF-Canada Expands Its Interreligious Focus

Toronto, Canada - The UPF Chairman for the Central District of Canada, Dr. Hoossen Auckbaraullee, invited members of UPF from the Central District to hold a monthly session and discuss "How to expand UPF activities in the Central District." The topic was initiated by Dr. Chae Hee Lee, Chairman of UPF-Canada, in coordination with Rev. Mitch Dixon, Central District Chairman. Thirteen Ambassadors for Peace attended the session, where Rev. Stoyan Tadin was the first to comment on the topic.

Rev. Tadin mentioned the importance of interaction with other religious groups, cultural groups, and like-minded people to explore the possibilities of peacebuilding through mutual understanding. The faith-based communities are the natural foundation of peace. It is our natural instincts to visit our friends in such arenas who have a great potential for establishing and expanding peace. All faith-based groups promote principles of establishing peace, but we are shy about contacting others.

He further commented that when evil forces damage the equilibrium of peace in a region, the faith-based groups are concerned but are reluctant to oppose them effectively. Rather, we should all unite in opposing evil and not hesitate to utilize our wisdom and strength to oppose evil.

Dr. Auckbaraullee emphasized the importance of each local community being represented in the UPF Central District. The ongoing civilian distress in Sri Lanka has spilled over into the Sri Lankan Tamil community in Canada. We should find means to calm the passions and help establish peace among the various Sri Lankan communities in the Central District of Canada to help promote peace on the ground in Sri Lanka. Dr. R. Thillai Rajan was commissioned to arrange a talk on the topic.

Qamrul A. Khanson spoke of the necessity of inviting the Sinhalese and Tamil Sri Lankans of various faiths to UPF meetings to facilitate the peace process and reduce hostility. UPF can play a decisive role in narrowing the communication gap and helping establish a common understanding of peace among the opposing groups of Sri Lankans. He lauded the importance of Dr. Rajan, a Sri Lankan of Tamil ethnicity, in coordinating such a talk.

Rev. Dixon expressed appreciation for the list of topics for the coming UPF year proposed by Dr. Golam Dastagir. The topics have been selected from World Scripture. Rev. Dixon said that the philosophical understanding growing out of joint study of different holy scriptures offers a common meeting ground for people of faith.

World Scripture: A Comparative Anthology of Sacred Texts contains over 4,000 passages from 268 sacred texts and 55 oral traditions. It is organized into 164 different themes common to all religious traditions. This text is the result of a five-year collaboration of an international team of 40 recognized scholars representing all the major religions of the world. This archive contains the complete text of the original hardbound version.

Those who would like to read World Scripture can visit http://www.ucalgary.ca and search for "World Scripture"; this will lead to the Comparative Anthology of Sacred Texts. Dr. R. Thillai Rajan suggested visiting http://www.unification.net/ws/ for "World Scripture."

Rev. Dixon read selections from World Scripture to highlight the variety of scriptures in the book. Besides general ethical teachings, the scriptures contain specific guidance for building a peaceful and prosperous society. Individual citizens have responsibilities beyond their private lives to contribute to the public good. Rulers and governments are likewise encouraged to use their office and authority to promote justice and the common welfare in accordance with divine law. Public authority is not to be taken lightly; the scriptures testify to Almighty God's providential hand which controls the destinies of nations and brings them to judgment according to their ways.

Dr. Auckbaraullee drew the attention to the ongoing suppression of Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region of China. Author Qamrul A. Khanson explained that the Uyghur live primarily in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China. China has been accused of conducting a "crushing campaign of religious repression" against the Muslim Uyghur. It is being done in the name of anti-separatism and counter-terrorism. Such repression ranges from vetting imams and closing mosques to detaining or executing thousands of people every year. The recent strife is more economic rather than religious and is in protest against the massive settlement of Han Chinese in the region. Such a huge Han influx is turning local Xinjiang Uyghur into a minority with few economic opportunities.

This monthly session closed with an agenda to conduct a peace drive among the Sri Lankan communities. A group of diverse Sri Lankan leaders will convene to discuss how to build harmony among them. The session closed with supplications for peace within and among the people of the world.
 
Qamrul A. Khanson is a freelance writer and author of several books on spirituality and interfaith studies. He can be reached at www.qamrulkhanson.net.
 

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