What is interfaith?

Imagine you had just two sentences to describe to a relative or friend what you think interfaith is and what it does. Write those two sentences now and keep them in mind as you read through this Unit.

Jill Gant and Ibrahim Mogra at IIC event on Karma

In 2001, Marcus Braybrooke wrote:

The true teaching of each religion is a message of peace, unity and love…The sacred heritage of the great faiths is a rich resource for all people in the search for a more fair and harmonious world…The first step in ending religious hostility is to dispel prejudice and ignorance by teaching about the religious beliefs and practices of other people and by providing opportunities for members of different religions, especially young people, to meet and get to know each other. Only then can religions unite in service.

Here are some further affirmations of interfaith:

Only when we work together as a global family, instead of concentrating on belonging to a particular race, religion or nation, will peace and happiness prevail on this earth”

Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, World renowned Hindu Teacher, Mystic and Philanthropist www.ammachi.org

The strength of interreligious solidarity in action against apartheid, rather than mere harmony or co-existence, was crucial in bringing that evil system to an end”

Nelson Mandela, Former President, African National Congress, and Former President of South Africa www.anc.org.za

When every soul will rise above petty divisions in true spiritual understanding, world misery will be consumed in the fire of the realisation of the universality of God and the fellowship of humanity”

Paramahansa Yogananda, Founder of Self-Realization Fellowship and Yogoda Satsanga Society. Author of Autobiography of a Yogi and many other publications. Renowned teacher of Kriya Yoga. www.yogananda-srf.org

We need to pursue peace even when we are grossly provoked; in the end people die, not Catholics or Hindus or Muslims”

Yasmin Sooka, Commissioner, Truth and Reconciliation Commission, South Africa, addressing the IIC Religion, Community and Conflict conference in Northern Ireland www.africaaction.org

Men and women of faith are a strong influence on group and individual conduct. As teachers and guides, you can be powerful agents for change. You can inspire people to new levels of commitment and public service. You can help bridge the chasms of ignorance, fear and misunderstanding. You can set an example of interfaith dialogue and co-operation”

Kofi Annan, Secretary General, United Nations www.un.org

In all work in the interfaith movement we must never forget the importance of our own individual inner aspirations. We have to move through prayer, through meditation, through study, through devoted work, towards the true centres of our being.”

Dr. Karan Singh, Founder of the International Centre of Science, Culture and Consciousness and the India Forum, Chair of Temple of Understanding, member of the Rajya Sabha (Upper House of Parliament) www.karansingh.com

The essential aspiration of religions is for reconciliation, human fellowship and peace. By awakening the spiritual consciousness of humanity, we can establish moral order in human society. Spiritual traditions of the world should, therefore, stand together and work for the greater glory of God and the greater happiness of humankind.”

Dr. Seshagiri Rao, Chief Editor, Encyclopaedia of Hinduism project, University of South Carolina, author and contributor to Hindu and interfaith studies. www.eh.sc.edu

Would you revise your two sentences after reading these quotes? If so, what would they read like now?