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Towards A Global Ethic: Reaffirming Our Commitment to Interfaith Harmony on Parliament Anniversary

A Preface by Imam Dr. Abdul Malik Mujahid, Chair of the Board of Trustees

Human interconnectedness has been transformed dramatically by technology. However, our hearts and our minds are yet to be aligned with the God-given ideals of sharing more and consuming less to achieve better results for the humanity.

In a world where more than a billion people live under two dollars a day; where 45 million people are fleeing conflict and persecution; where fear, hate, and anger are rising, we have a responsibility to be good neighbors, to be compassionate, and to live by the Golden Rule.

The Parliament of the World’s Religions has been ahead of its time in envisioning a better future. Almost a century before the word “global village” was introduced in 1962, the Parliament literally invented the gift of interfaith for our world.

It was also well ahead of its time when the Declaration Toward a Global Ethic was issued at the 1993 Parliament. For the first time in history, representatives of all of the world’s religions agreed on the shared ethics that are grounded in their own religions and traditions:

• The principle of shared humanity

• The Golden Rule of reciprocity

• A commitment to peace and justice

In the last 20 years since the signing of this declaration, people have collected more than 700,000 pieces of content on this topic. There are organizations that have been established based on its theme. Some of these include the Global Ethic Foundation, the Institute for Global Ethics, and the Global Ethics Network. We have also seen the development of campaigns based on topics we advanced, such as the Charter of Compassion, a Charter of Forgiveness, A Common Word Between Us and You, and campaigns to promote the Golden Rule.

So at this juncture, on the 20th anniversary of the 1993 Parliament, we at the Parliament reaffirm our commitment to interfaith harmony by reissuing the Global Ethics and by reasserting our mission: to cultivate harmony among the world’s religious and spiritual communities, and to foster their engagement with the world and its guiding institutions in order to achieve a just, peaceful and sustainable world.

We must learn the forgotten lesson that “None of you has faith until you love for your neighbor what you love for yourself.”

Let us, then, friends, share more and consume less!

Let us work hand in hand to change ourselves while saving the only planet we have.

May God open our hearts toward our neighbors. May our Creator open the hearts of our neighbors toward us. Amen.

This preface leads the 2013 reaffirmation of the vision of the Global Ethic penned by Parliament Chair, Imam Dr. Abdul Malik Mujahid on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the document. Join Imam Mujahid, the Parliament, and this generation’s voices for peace by signing the 2013 Call to Live Out the Vision Toward a Global Ethic! 

Voices of the Next Generation: Maryem Abdullah

Thinking on the future of interfaith, the Parliament of the World’s Religions invited several interns to share on the topic of the next generation of the movement and living out the vision of those pioneers celebrated this important anniversary year. On November 16, 2013, four young adults spoke their hearts and minds to a welcoming crowd of 180 Parliament supporters.

The following interview reflects the vision of Parliament intern in communications and outreach, Maryem Abdullah, a student in the Honors College at University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC) and premier student leader of the UIC Model United Nations. 

What do you consider to be your identity as an young adult joining the Interfaith movement?  

Personally, I identify as a Muslim-American. I was born and raised in Chicago, and so the United States is all I know, and which is why I identify as such. I do hold my Arab heritage close and it will always be a part of me. While I love the fact that I am Arab, I have a hard time [personally] identifying as such because of where I grew up and what surrounded me as a child and young adult. Above all that, however, Islam is near and dear to my heart. No matter where I am, how long I’ve lived there, and with whom I surround myself, I will always have my Muslim identity.

What are some common misconceptions of young Muslim and Arab women you encounter- having grown up in the United States?

Something I face often is the misconception that all Arabs are Muslims and all Muslims are Arab. However, they are not the same or, in my opinion, even similar. Being Arab or from the Middle East is a culture and Islam is a religion. While the two can coincide, they do not have much of a relation to one another.

What is the role of religion in your life?

Having a sense of religion helps me with difficulties I face on a day-to-day basis, and I am thankful to my parents who raised me in a household that incorporated religion in most aspects of my life. While I will be the first to admit that I am no model Muslim, my relationship with the God I believe in is the most important thing to me. I don’t think that the black and white version of a faith is what defines a person—their spirituality and connection with their God is what matters. It is a shame that these misconceptions and prejudices leads people to commit hateful crimes against those who look, speak, or dress a certain way. While it saddens me to see such hate in the world, it lifts my spirits to know that the interfaith movement is widespread and that there is hope to end hate and intolerance.

How does being both Muslim and American inform your perspective of the Interfaith movement?

I think the combination of being American and Muslim has helped me become more optimistic about the interfaith movement. I think the interfaith movement will have more of an impact because this generation is more inclusive. Generations only become more tolerant, so it fosters a positive place for the coming together of various faiths, religions, and cultures. In my opinion, we are less clingy to traditional views, and more open to new people, traditions, and ideas. I believe the younger generation sees the world through a different lens than those who raised us. Our previous generation paved the pathway for change, and with the current generation’s open-mindedness, I think greatness can happen.

What evidence of change and greatness do you see happening?

I have my mother to largely thank for my understanding of how much a group of people can impact a community. She was one of the five founding partners of an all female Muslim law firm. At the time I was in 9th grade and I couldn’t care less about anyone’s accomplishments but mine, but now that I’m older and my professional dreams have evolved from an actress to a lawyer, I have come to realize and appreciate all that she has done to further the tolerance of the Muslim community, and for women around the world.

What is your hope for the future of the interfaith movement?

As a member of a generation that is incredibly open and honest, I am happy to see a strong stance against hate and intolerance.

Who embodies the hope of a stronger interfaith movement to you?

I think Malala Yousafzai, a 15-year-old who stood up for the educational rights of women and was consequently shot by the Taliban, is an amazing example of sticking up for what you believe in, despite the hurdles that may come your way. Malala, along with countless other young women working towards common goals, teaches us what we’re up against- and how strong we can be if we come together for a common cause. We have a long way to go with countless bumps ahead of us, but I’m confident that the interfaith movement will lead to a hate-free and more tolerant world.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago Commemorates Parliament of the World’s Religions Anniversaries

Dear Members and Friends of the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions:

As Mayor and on behalf of the City of Chicago, I am pleased to welcome all of those gathered for both the 120th & 20th anniversary celebrations for the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions.

It is truly exciting to know what an important role Chicago has played in the 120 years since the inaugural Parliament of the World’s Religions was held here, and then 20 years ago in the second – the 1993 Parliament. The 1893 Chicago Parliament opened the door for the interreligious movement and that event brought together thousands of people from all over the world. It marked a pivotal moment for many different religions and spiritual communities from the east and west coming together around a common commitment to justice and peace.

In 1993, the second Parliament introduced a Global Ethics Initiative that maintains a vision of people living peacefully together and sharing responsibility for the care of the earth while identifying the common commitments that come out of different belief traditions. In Chicago, we know there’s a need for this important work. When religious and spiritual communities combine their strengths and commitments, a more just, peaceful and sustainable world is the result.

These special anniversary celebrations and benefits represent an ongoing commitment to thoughtful, enduring work. The Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions not only unites people of spirit and faith to engage with the issues of our time, but also mobilizes efforts to combat bias and hate. I offer heartfelt congratulations on this auspicious occasion and recognize all of those
involved.

I am confident that Chicago will continue to be a central meeting place for the Council for a
Parliament of the World’s Religions. Best wishes for much continued success.

Sincerely,

Rahm Emanuel

Mayor

On Sale Now: Speaker Program and Reception (Only!) Discounted Tickets for Parliament Benefit

Attention students, clergy, and compassionate Chicagoans!  Tickets are now on sale for the afternoon program and reception of Living Out the Vision,  Saturday, November 16 at the Chicago Sinai Congregation.

The 120/20-year anniversary benefit of the Parliament of the World’s Religions afternoon program has brought together a schedule of four distinguished speakers on the history of the interfaith movement and its unique Chicago roots.

Tickets to the afternoon program and reception are now $150 $50.00 and can be purchased here.

Participants will interact with speakers on the following groundbreaking areas of Interfaith:

  • The Global Ethic with Dr. Daniel Gomez-Ibáñez
  • Women of the 1893 Parliament with Dr. Allison Stokes
  • Swami Vivekananda with Swami Varadananda
  • The Impact of the Parliament of the World’s Religions with Dr. Martin E. Marty
At 5:30 p.m. we welcome all program guests to a special reception. This is a special opportunity with the Parliament’s legacy leaders to meet rising stars in the interfaith movement. College and seminary students are especially encouraged to participate. 

Thank you for your interest in the benefit dinner which has sold out.  Sponsorship and benefactor information is available through consultation with Development Associate, Brian Savage, 312 – 629 – 2990 ext. 233

Vivekananda’s Speech to 1893 Parliament

SWAMI VIVEKANANDA’s opening address to the World’s Parliament of Religions, Chicago, USA, 11 September, 1893

Sisters and Brothers of America, i
t fills my heart with joy unspeakable to rise in response to the warm and cordial welcome which you have given us. I thank you in the name of the most ancient order of monks in the world; I thank you in the name of the mother of religions; and I thank you in the name of the millions and millions of Hindu people of all classes and sects. My thanks, also, to some of the speakers on this platform who, referring to the delegates from the Orient, have told you that these men from far-off nations may well claim the honor of bearing to different lands the idea of toleration.

I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true. I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth. I am proud to tell you that we have gathered in our bosom the purest remnant of the Israelites, who came to the southern India and took refuge with us in the very year in which their holy temple was shattered to pieces by Roman tyranny. I am proud to belong to the religion which has sheltered and is still fostering the remnant of the grand Zoroastrian nation.

I will quote to you, brethren, a few lines from a hymn which I remember to have repeated from my earliest boyhood, which is every day repeated by millions of human beings:

As the different streams having there sources in different places all mingle their water in the sea, so, O Lord, the different paths which men take through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to thee.

The present convention, which is one of the most august assemblies ever held, is in itself a vindication, a declaration to the world, of the wonderful doctrine preached in the Gita:

Whosoever comes to Me, through whatsoever form, I reach him; all men are struggling through paths which in the end lead to me.

Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth. They have filled the earth with violence, drenched it often and often with human blood, destroyed civilization, and sent whole nations to despair. Had it not been for these horrible demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is now. But their time is come; and I fervently hope that the bell that tolled this morning in honor of this convention may be the death-knell of all fanaticism, of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen, and of all uncharitable feelings between persons wending their way to the same goal.

Quick Take On State’s Religious Engagement Office

CPWR Trustees consider church-state matters serious, especially as these policies can either subsume or enhance interfaith advancement in the United States and by extension, the world. On whether or not the new move by the state department upholds interfaith, CPWR Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees Rob Sellers opines,

The establishment of a new U.S. State Department “Office of Religious Engagement” and appointment of Shaun Casey, Methodist seminary ethics professor, as director is provoking a lot of mixed reactions. My own feelings are equally conflicting. Certainly, it’s crucial for those responsible for our country’s foreign policy to understand the role religion often plays in shaping the political and cultural ethos of nations around the world. Thus, a government entity whose aim is to enhance our diplomacy in a religiously plural world is a good thing. On the other hand, questions about which religions or religious followers will be “engaged,” as well as about how this new office will follow 1st Amendment provisos, are important ones. Accordingly, this well-intentioned effort guided by a Christian may inadvertently create ill will and be the wrong message for the United States—a nation that claims to practice religious freedom—to send abroad. In this case, the new organization is a bad thing. Whether this government office is a good or bad idea will only be proven in the days and years to come.

Dr. Robert P. Sellers is Connally Professor of Missions at Hardin-Simmons University in Texas. In the graduate seminary program, his classes emphasize cross-cultural living, the Global Church, Two-Thirds World and liberation theologies, world religions, and interreligious dialogue. He’s taught in Canada and Mexico, Great Britain, Eastern and Western Europe, Eastern and Southern Africa, Southeast Asia, and South America. Along with Muslim and Baptist partners, Rob plans periodic national conferences. He also is active nationally as a member of the Interfaith Relations Commission of the National Council of Churches and internationally through the Baptist-Muslim Relations Commission of the Baptist World Alliance.

Praying for Justice at Parliament’s Interfaith Anniversary Kickoff

Associate Pastor of Congressional Life Joyce Shin of Chicago’s Fourth Presbyterian Church delivers a prayer at the 20th Anniversary Celebration Kickoff of CPWR, May 11, 2013 at the Sikh Religious Society of Chicago

Taking time to mark twenty years of the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions, on May 11, the Sikh Religious Society of Chicago opened doors to the interfaith community of Chicagoland to kickoff the anniversary year’s celebrations. Speaking from a Christian community, Joyce Shin of Chicago’s Fourth Presbyterian Church offered reverence to a God whose world is failing to live up to his image, asking for strength to be stronger and to cultivate peace. Praying for justice, Shin’s words mirror the mission the Parliament follows moving forward in Presbyterian-religious terms.

Great is your Word, O God, and great are your works.  Each day we breathe in what you breathed out.

We take in the goodness and beauty of your creation, the love you have for it, and your command to care for it.

With heads bowed down and hearts broken, we confess to you, O God, the sorrow we feel for the great mistakes your world has made.

Together we bear the consequences of a creation marred by sin.  Your truth has been twisted and your providence perverted.

Anger has been sown and violence spread.  And when violence is committed in your name, we shudder with shame.

For the way things are, we are sorry, for we know your world has fallen short of your creation.  We see the scars on both friend and stranger.

We have condoned ignorance and allowed injustice, and we have made others to suffer for our mistakes.

We do not take lightly, great God, the damage done, the lives lost, and the grief immeasurable.

When we fear that the world is beyond repair, remind us that you have created us to be in your image.  We are not sure what that means.

 Compared to you we are fallen, frail in strength, and fickle in conviction.

At most, God, we hope that, if we imitate you all the days of our lives, we will come to embody what you have in mind for us:

that our bodies will bear the grooves of daily service and that our faces will reveal lines of compassion;

that our souls will be strengthened to speak out for those whose voices are ignored and to stand up against forces that keep people down.

Then when you look upon us and the world you have created, most merciful God, we pray that you will see some semblance of your image:

a world in which just priorities are pursued; the young are educated; the elderly cared for; the vulnerable protected; the hungry filled; the homeless safe.

Do not let the needs of your creation overwhelm us, Lord.  Though the world’s needs are great, your power is greater.  Amen.

 

NAIN Connects Continent of Faiths August in Toronto

Young adults take note that the North American Interfaith Network’s annual Connect conference offers substantial discounts when registering by June 15. This year’s events mark the 25th anniversary of the North American* organization planning on August 11 – 14 dates in Toronto with the banner “In Diversity is our Strength.”. Read more…

*This article has been updated from a previous version which incorrectly stated that NAIN is a Canada-based organization. The Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions congratulates the North American Interfaith Network on its rich 25-year history of engagement across the continent. We apologize for the error and are pleased to promote this important work.  

INTERFAITH EVENT FRIDAY: Solidarity Circle for Father Solalinde and the Caravan Opening Doors to Hope

The Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions in partnership with the DePaul University Office of Religious Diversity is convening a special one hour solidarity circle for interfaith leaders to meet Catholic priest, Padre Alejandro Solalinde, and his Caravan Opening Doors To Hope. 
Solalinde is traveling the U.S. with a large group of victimized migrants turned activists who have experienced human rights abuses in Mexico. The story of 70,000 Central American brothers and sisters disappearing over the last few years, while Solalinde has been imprisoned and arrested for his work operating a network of shelters is shocking. We are helping share this story and honor his bravery.

NOTE: This event is being produced to connect university-level Interfaith leaders with Padre Solalinde’s entourage, but we are inviting you as guests of CPWR.

In this hour we will…
-Hear words from Mexico’s 2012 Human Rights Award recipient
Watch a short film documenting the reality of the migrant train in Mexico
-Welcome Amnesty International to recognize the work of Padre Solalinde
-Share our blessings and offerings to the migrant activists
-Extend our wishes for peace and security to the caravan
-Personally connect Chicago’s young interfaith leaders with a hero to a humanitarian crisis

TO ATTEND: All are welcome, but for seat reservations contact molly@parliamentofreligions.org

Cost: NONE

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE WORLD’S RELIGIONS MUST GO ON

The Council that convenes the Parliament of the World’s Religions is faced with an enormous one-time financial challenge we must immediately overcome to continue to exist. By April 13, 2013, we can raise the $150,000 needed to go on. 

In just two days, generous gifts granted through our fundraising site on CauseVox and direct commitments have totaled more than $35,000.

CPWR Executive Director Dr. Mary Nelson says each Board Trustee is meeting equal fundraising goals through personal outreach. By helping us meet this challenge, the Board of Trustees can free the Parliament to carry on the mission of creating peace in the world through interfaith harmony by:

  • Convening the next Parliament event
  • Widening our connections and keep encouraging local interfaith event
  • Celebrating our deep 120 year history
  • Honoring our leaders and MOVE FORWARD TO A FUTURE WITH HOPE

“Our problem started when a bomber attacked Madrid just weeks before the 2004 Barcelona Parliament,” says Mary Nelson. To explain further why the Parliament is acting fast, Nelson continues,

A last-minute loan became necessary to carry out the event.  But a life changing Barcelona Parliament was held, bringing people together to overcome fear through interfaith action.

Why now?  A Spanish court judgment of $276,600 against the Parliament slowly came to the U.S. Courts. On March 21, 2013, the U.S. court upheld the debt against the Parliament. We were advised we had at least three months,  but court papers served last week gave us until April 17,2013.

The CPWR Board met and said we dare to do the impossible; the work of the Parliament must go on. To protect the celebration of our 120th Anniversary this year, we had raised $126,600 in our earlier efforts. The need now is $150,000 more.

In a few short days, by internet, direct solicitation, Board efforts, we have an additional $35,000 in hand. And we’ve just started. You can help make the difference.

Reasons to donate are many and personal, but the hundreds stepping in already have  shared that the Parliament:

  • “…teaches tolerance”
  • “…is a vehicle for peace in the world,”
  • “…was the highlight of my life.”
This is the hour that we must come together. If we care about the Parliament, NOW is the time. If you care about the Parliament, please give generously. Your gift of at least $100, or whatever you can give, can help build hope for the future.

PLEASE. BE A HOPE BUILDER TODAY.

www.parliamentofreligions.causevox.com

I got chatting with a rabbi who, it turned out, was good friends with some of those I’d already met … we swapped stories and experiences; the richness of conversations like these was inspiring. As the rabbi said to me, ‘It’s not about religions, it’s about relationships.’
Sean Rose, Faith Acts Fellow
Tony Blair Foundation
Melbourne Parliament, 2009