A Multi Faith Service entitled, United for Peace
Birmingham’s Communities United Against Extremism at an event held at St Francis Hall Multi Faith Chaplaincy. The event encapsulated readings, reflections and prayers by a diverse range of senior faith representatives. The event was interspersed with silence and music from the choir at the University of Birmingham, Broadway Academy Singing Ensemble, Council of Sikh Gurdwaras and Birmingham’s own internationally acclaimed nasheed group, Aa’shiq Al Rasul.
The Communities United Against Extremism Service was initially launched in Oxford by The Oxford Foundation and now has rolled on to become a national initiative where the latest Service was held in Birmingham. Imam Monawar Hussain, founder of The Oxford Foundation stated that the idea underpinning this national initiative “is to affirm the core teachings of all our traditions-the teachings of love, compassion, peace, understanding and respect for each other as opposed to the ugliness of violence, division and hatred advocated by extremist of all persuasions-religious and secular.
He went on to state that “we will defeat violent extremism through our unity and through firmly holding on to and living out these core teachings.”
The victims of violent extremism were also in attendance at the Service. This included Mike Hains, the brother of David Haines who lost his life in Syria by a brutal act of inhumanity by the self-declared “Islamic State,” Muhammad Nawaz, who lost one of his sons in the Peshawar Attack and the other son who is being treated for his injuries at a UK hospital; and Tariq Jahan who is a father of one of the three young men who lost their lives during the 2011 riots.
The significance of the Service was to first show that for the families whose loved ones have been killed or are being held hostage by the terrorist group the self-declared “Islamic State” are not on their own. By the diverse communities of Birmingham coming together demonstrated that so many of us from across the city and the country have the families and the hostages in our thoughts and prayers.
The Service was graced by the presence of many senior representatives from the Muslim Faith and other traditions along with key Civic leaders from Birmingham such as Paul Sabapathy CBE-Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant for the West Midlands and the new Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Councillor Ray Hassall who both gave key note speeches emphasising how this initiative should spur us all to greater heights of working together to promote peace, harmony, mutual respect and making Birmingham and the world a better and more peaceful place for all.
The Service acknowledged the courage and support of key Muslim Faith and Civic leaders from Birmingham who have endorsed the 24 points outlined in The Open Letter to the leader, fighters and supporters of the self-declared “Islamic State,” and who have made a commitment to disseminating these 24 points to their respective communities through sermons and teachings in mosques and madrasahs.
The Service was received very favourably by all those in attendance enabling them to reflect and gain solace from the core teachings of the various faith traditions and was concluded by Tariq Jahan leading a Pledge for Peace to stand united against all forms of violent extremism and do all we can to promote understanding, respect and mutual love for all who reside in the city of Birmingham.