By Naomi Yakawich
There is something in the stillness of a quiet morning among the trees, in the echoes of an empty cathedral, in the chanting of a monastery and in every place we call our own refuge of spiritual meditation. No matter where we come from, in every corner of our planet, we share an invisible bond that draws us to each other and to something greater than ourselves. We come from different backgrounds, different languages and expressions that define our faith and yet, when it comes down to our desire for a world of peace, respect and dignity for all people, we are the same.
Forged in the spiritual training grounds of worship houses everywhere, people of faith discover the power of fundamental truths, universal principles and values that are at the core of who we are as humanity.
Stronger than any prayer uttered in the refuge of a temple, church, synagogue or mosque, is a single hand extended in love to a brother or sister.
A Christian reverend and a Muslim cleric from Kaduna State in Nigeria are living examples of this familial bond that goes beyond religion. Affectionately known as the “Kaduna Twins,” Rev. Joseph Hayab and Sheik Abdulahi Maraya are co-facilitators for the One Family under God Campaign, a program moderating peaceful meetings between tribal and traditional rulers whose people face violent extremism in their daily lives.
The campaign initiated by Global Peace Foundation is made possible because of spiritual leaders like Rev. Hayab and Sheik Maraya who embrace each other as brothers, as family. This vision for peace is a unique but essential component to peacebuilding.
“We chose to use our God-given position to influence our community for good,” said Rev. Hayab. “I find in Maraya a man who loves God and I love him and am proud of him. Saying negative things about Christians or Muslims is not an education; it is an incitement. How can you win people [over] when you don’t respect them – when you don’t trust, tolerate and appreciate them?”
“When I first met Rev. Hayab,” reflected Sheik Maraya, “my first thought was that I have met someone from my original family, the family of Adam and Eve. The first thing expected as a Muslim is that whenever you meet another human, if younger than you, you consider him a younger brother or sister.”
For the common vision and understanding of One Family Under God to truly take root, we need partners and models of this vision. The GPF approach essentially seeks to create relationships that model the ideal of One Family Under God. Relationships such as the one between Sheik Maraya and Reverend Hayab are key to building peace between groups of different backgrounds and religions.