King Abdullah of Jordan was at Al Husseiniya Palace yesterday to present awards to winners of the 2018 King Abdullah II World Interfaith Harmony Week Prize. Launched in 2013 by the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, the annual prize ceremony recognises three literary works or activities which best promote the values of World Interfaith Harmony Week.
King Abdullah spearheaded the World Interfaith Harmony Week Initiative, which was unanimously adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2010, and he was praised for his efforts at this year’s event by His Royal Highness Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad, His Majesty’s chief adviser for religious and cultural affairs and personal envoy.
Referencing the 2018 recipients, Prince Ghazi said: “This year, those participating in the World Interfaith Harmony Week have once again -by the Grace of God – continued on the upward trend of holistic growth both in quantity and – if I may say so – in quality.
“I would also like to congratulate all three winners, all those who participated in the World Interfaith Harmony Week, and our esteemed judges. All are helping to make the world a slightly better place, or perhaps a slightly less bad place. May God accept and reward their good intentions and efforts.”
He added that: “The World Interfaith Harmony Week has officially been adopted and celebrated by a number of countries including Indonesia (represented here today by our second-place winners); Malaysia, the Philippines and Canada; not to mention 1,200 NGOs and other organisations worldwide.”
This year’s first place winner was the Interfaith Centre of Melbourne in Australia, for the event “Who Are We in a Changing World?” which invited seven faith leaders to gather together their community members to meet their “neighbours” from different cultures and faiths.
Reverend Helen Summers, founder and director of the Interfaith Centre of Melbourne said in her acceptance speech that since the World Interfaith Harmony Week was first announced by King Abdullah in 2010, “many thousands of events have been held around the world bringing people of good will together, acknowledging that Love of God and Love of the Neighbour, or Love of the Good and Love of the Neighbour, is what we share in common and where there are differences, we show respect.
“New relationships are formed, old misperceptions fall away, new understandings emerge, social action is undertaken, and interfaith initiatives can lead to improvements in a government’s multicultural policy.”
The second-place winner was the event “Indonesia Celebrates World Interfaith Harmony Week: Commitment of Religious Leaders on National Unity”, organised by Din Syamsuddin, Special Envoy of the President of the Republic of Indonesia for Interfaith and Inter-Civilizational Dialogue and Cooperation. The event saw 450 interfaith leaders from across Indonesia come together to discuss national issues and draft a declaration on national unity.
Third place went to the event “Friendship, Dialogue, Cooperation: Exploring Crucial Elements of Interfaith Harmony” organised by Interfaith Glasgow to promote positive engagement between people of different religious backgrounds in the diverse city.