World Interfaith Harmony Week

World Interfaith Harmony Week (WIHW) is supported by the United Nations and features thousands of events all over the world. It provides an ideal opportunity to bring people from diverse faith and belief backgrounds together in Glasgow to recognise our interconnectedness with those facing the same challenges elsewhere; and to see our local efforts to address them within the global context, standing in solidarity with all those who seek to create a better world.

We believe that interfaith is for everyone and, like the organisers of WIHW, that tackling these global challenges requires work that “invites everyone, excludes no one, and is purely voluntary”.  We try to mark WIHW each year, and we do so with events that are open to the public and advertised widely.

In 2018, we were fortunate to win the bronze medal in the prestigious, international H.M. King Abdullah II World Interfaith Harmony Week Prize for a series of three WIHW events we delivered, exploring crucial elements of interfaith harmony (see below).

Poetry for the Soul (WIHW 2022)

At this international interfaith event, we at Interfaith Glasgow, along with Cape Town Interfaith Initiative and the Interfaith Center of New York, invited people of all faiths and none to share and reflect on poems from diverse cultures, faiths, and wisdom traditions that bring solace and joy. The program featured poetry readings from the US, Scotland, and South Africa, as well as small group discussions where participants shared their favourite poems with neighbours near and far. This event built the sense of global community which arose from our 2021 World Interfaith Harmony Week collaboration. Featuring speakers: – Elzana October, poet, native to the Western Cape of South Africa – Aminta Kilawan-Narine, co-founder of Sadhana: Coalition of Progressive Hindus, New York – Rabbi Emma Gottlieb, member of Temple Israel’s rabbinic team, Cape Town, South Africa – Trishna Singh OBE, Founder/Director of Sikh Sanjog, Edinburgh, Scotland – Ryan Hill, board member of LGBT Faith Leaders of African Descent, New York, USA – Dr Anastacia Tomson, Jewish, Johannesburg.

The Future of Religion: How has the pandemic changed the ways we practise? (WIHW 2021)

This transatlantic interfaith event featured speakers from the UK, USA, and South Africa reflecting on the ways in which coronavirus restrictions have presented extraordinary challenges and unexpected opportunities to faith communities throughout the world. Most congregations have been unable to meet safely in person, but many have developed innovative forms of religious practice online. What lessons can we draw from these experiences? What new practices will stand the test of time? What will the “new normal” look like in diverse faith communities? Featuring speakers: – Dr. Joshua Edelman, Principal Investigator for the “British Ritual Innovation Under COVID-19” research project, at Manchester Metropolitan University – Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara, Abbot of the Village Zendo, New York – Imam Dr. A. Rashied Omar, Research Scholar at the University of Notre Dame, and Imam of Claremont Main Road Mosque, Cape Town – Dr. Nontando Hadebe, Senior Lecturer, St. Augustine College, Johannesburg – Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, Executive Vice President of the New York Board of Rabbis. This was the final event in Interfaith Glasgow’s series Voices from the Portal: Re-imagining our Post-pandemic World, and it was organised in partnership with the Interfaith Center of New York and the Cape Town Interfaith Initiative.

Thinking Globally, Acting Locally (WIHW 2020)

Through dialogue and practical interfaith action, this ambitious trilogy of events marked World Interfaith Harmony Week (WIHW) 2020 by addressing three pressing global challenges: rising levels of prejudice and hate crime; climate change; and the growing need to welcome and support people displaced by conflict and poverty. WIHW provided a perfect opportunity to bring people from diverse faith and belief backgrounds together in Glasgow to recognise our interconnectedness with those facing the same challenges elsewhere; to work together to address them locally; and to see our local efforts within the global context, standing in solidarity with all those who commit themselves to the values of WIHW and seek to create a better world.

Friendship, Dialogue and Cooperation: Exploring Crucial Elements of Interfaith Harmony (WIHW 2018)

At a time when forces of prejudice and hate threaten to destabilise relationships between communities both locally and globally, World Interfaith Harmony Week (WIHW) 2018 provided a perfect opportunity for us to bring together people of goodwill from different traditions to reflect on what interfaith harmony consists in, why it matters, and how we can most effectively work towards it. To this end, Interfaith Glasgow organised a series of three events during WIHW exploring three key elements of interfaith harmony: dialogue, friendship, and cooperation. These events won Interfaith Glasgow the bronze medal in the World Interfaith Harmony Week competition.