Global Peace Foundation (GPF) Nigeria organized an inter-religious dialogue for community and faith leaders in Kaduna on June 24, 2023. The forum provided a platform for constructive dialogue and allowed prominent leaders to seek common ground and promote peaceful coexistence across the state.
The interfaith conference was organized in partnership with Kukah Centre and the Justice, Development, and Peace Initiative to encourage dialogue among various religious groups in order to foster peace and harmony in the state.
In his remarks delivered by GPF Nigeria Program Manager, Mr. Abdul Ahmed, GPF Nigeria Director Rev. John Joseph Hayab stressed that interfaith dialogue is insightful and essential in promoting peace and understanding within religiously diverse communities. He highlighted the significance of interfaith dialogue in building bridges and fostering a sense of unity by engaging in open and respectful conversations. With this approach, individuals from different faith backgrounds can overcome misconceptions, stereotypes, and prejudices. This dialogue becomes a catalyst for mutual learning and allows collaboration based on shared values and common goals. Additionally, Rev. Hayab emphasized the role of empathy and understanding in interfaith dialogue. Genuine dialogue requires individuals to step out of their comfort zones and truly listen to the experiences, beliefs, and perspectives of others. By cultivating empathy, participants can create an atmosphere of trust and respect, which is instrumental in forging lasting relationships and promoting societal harmony.
Religious leaders play a significant role in promoting peace within communities, using their influence to disseminate messages of tolerance and coexistence.
Sheikh Haliru Maraya, the Northern Coordinator of GPF Nigeria, called inter-religious dialogue an “instrument of peace” for society. He described how religion and politics are often used to manipulate young people, but the best of society and the nation is fostered through “positive and cooperative interactions between people of different religions at both the individual and institutional levels.” He quoted a proverb saying there would be ‘no peace among nations without peace among the religions.’
An official of Kukah Centre, Fr. Onuh Sixtus, offered his continuous support to partner with GPF Nigeria in strengthening the skills and capacity of people living in the Kaduna metropolis to contribute to peace building. “Let’s find a way to make the society livelier and accessible, where people can live peacefully,” he told participants.
Joshua Achir, the director of the Justice, Development, and Peace Initiative, called peacebuilding a civic responsibility. “We must always look for a way to avert crisis and solve it through dialogue instead of resorting to violence.”
Imam Nurudeen Ashafa and Rev. James Wuye, affectionately known as “the Pastor and Imam,” further emphasized the importance of inter-religious cooperation in a joint presentation on interfaith dialogue as the best form of conflict mitigation in Northern Nigeria. While very distinct in their religious beliefs, they shared that there are also many similarities in the teachings of Islam and Christianity that encourage peaceful coexistence among people from different religions. They challenged participants to emulate their friendship, reach across religious divides, and form genuine relationships with the people in their society no matter their faith traditions.
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