Nigeria Commemorates Interfaith Harmony Week 2024

Naomi MacMurdie
February 14, 2024

In commemoration of World Interfaith Harmony Week 2024, the Global Peace Foundation (GPF) Nigeria brought together over 56 Religious leaders from diverse faith backgrounds in Kaduna State. Held on February 6, 2024, at Hotel Seventeen Kaduna, the event aimed to strengthen interfaith collaboration and promote peaceful coexistence in the state and beyond.

A man speaks at a podium during Nigeria Interfaith Harmony Week 2024, emphasizing unity and peace, with attendees listening in the background.

Faith leaders gather in Kaduna State for World Interfaith Harmony Week.

Esteemed guests, including the newly elected Chairman of the Kaduna State branch of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the Secretary of the Jamatul Nasril Islam (JNI), and the Director General of the Kaduna State Bureau for Interfaith, highlighted the importance of celebrating religious diversity while fostering dialogue and respect among faiths.

Rev. Fr. Sixtus from The Church and Society opened the event, emphasizing the need for religious leaders to collaborate in addressing societal challenges and promoting peace, highlighting the common unfortunate misuse of religion as a tool for promoting crime.

World Interfaith Harmony Week is observed the first week of February. According to the United Nations, the underlying objective of World Interfaith Harmony Week is to promote dialogue, understanding, and cooperation across different religious traditions, thereby nurturing peace and social cohesion.

At Global Peace Foundation, we envision a world where individuals, regardless of race, nationality, religion, or culture, are embraced as part of One Family under God. This vision guides peacebuilding through an innovative, values-based approach, uniting a global network to develop models for cohesive societies. Central to this mission are universal principles and shared values, including the recognition of intrinsic human worth, spiritual essence, interconnectedness, and the relationship between freedom and responsibility. These values serve as the foundation for nurturing harmonious relationships within families, communities, nations, and the global community, reflecting a commitment to the common humanity shared by all.

A man in traditional Nigerian attire speaking at a microphone with a banner in the background announcing Interfaith Harmony Week 2024.

Sheikh Halliru Abdullahi Maraya speaks to faith leaders during World Interfaith Harmony Week.

Sheikh Halliru Abdullahi Maraya, the Northern Coordinator of GPF Nigeria, called on religious leaders to be sincere in their dialogue and promote peaceful coexistence in their societies. He reminded them that their congregation mirrors them to learn how to coexist with people from other faith traditions. He challenged them to use this World Interfaith Harmony Week occasion to rekindle the new spirit of interfaith collaboration from Kaduna State to the entire nation.

Keynote addresses by Rev. Caleb Ma’aji and Mallam Abdullahi Kufena, the CAN Chairman and JNI Secretary, underscored the importance of collaboration and harmony between religious bodies in addressing societal issues. They emphasized the shared challenges faced by all, irrespective of religion, calling for unity and cooperation.

Barrister Tahir Umar Tahir, representing the Kaduna State Bureau for Interfaith, commended the efforts of GPF Nigeria in promoting peaceful coexistence and religious harmony. He emphasized the importance of engagements like the World Interfaith Week event in fostering understanding and cooperation among religious leaders.

A clergyman addressing an audience during Interfaith Harmony Week in Nigeria, 2024, with banners promoting human unity and diversity in the background.

Rev. John Joseph Hayab giving remarks.

Rev. John Joseph Hayab, Country Director of GPF Nigeria, reaffirmed the critical significance of fostering respect among diverse faiths and bridging divides as religious leaders. Emphasizing the imperative for tangible demonstrations of love and tolerance towards individuals of differing religious affiliations, Rev. Hayab underscored the potency of intentional interactions and communal gatherings, including shared meals, in cultivating understanding and harmony. By advocating for practical actions grounded in empathy and compassion, Rev. Hayab highlights the transformative potential of interpersonal engagement in dismantling barriers and nurturing inclusive communities. In a world often fragmented by religious discord, his call to action resonates as a beacon of hope, inspiring religious leaders to transcend ideological differences and embrace the shared humanity that unites us all as members of One Family Under God. Through such concerted efforts, Rev. Hayab envisions a future where mutual respect and cooperation prevail, fostering a society characterized by unity, empathy, and enduring peace.

Two men in traditional and religious attire commemorating Interfaith Harmony Week 2024 in Nigeria, shaking hands and exchanging smiles.

Faith leaders greet each other.

During the event, Sani Suleiman, the distinguished Chief of Party for Conflict Mitigation at Mercy Corps Nigeria, delivered insightful contributions. Drawing from personal experiences, Suleiman eloquently illuminated the transformative potential inherent in interfaith dialogue and collaboration. His narratives underscored the profound impact of bridging religious divides, emphasizing the pivotal role of mutual understanding and cooperation in fostering lasting peace and reconciliation. Through his poignant reflections, Suleiman exemplified the importance of interfaith engagement and inspired attendees to embrace dialogue as a catalyst for positive societal change. His valuable insights added depth and resonance to the event, reinforcing collective efforts’ significance in building harmonious and inclusive communities.

In his contributions, Ibrahim Muhammad Mahi, the JNI Secretary of Kajuru LGA, emphasized the importance of adhering to the teachings of the holy books for both Muslims and Christians. He articulated that if individuals followed these teachings faithfully, conflicts would cease. Mahi expressed gratitude towards GPF Nigeria for providing a platform for religious leaders to engage in crucial discussions. He commended the organization for facilitating dialogue on pressing issues and organizing the event, acknowledging its role in fostering unity and understanding among diverse religious communities.

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