“A significant experience in our country”: Religious leaders in the United Arab Emirates promote coexistence, build a unified vision

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – A unique forum initiated by the Baha’is of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) enables religious leaders in the country to move beyond mutual respect to foster coexistence and unity of vision on matters of common interest.

The forum was created at the start of the pandemic as a space for representatives of the various religious communities in the UAE to pray for the welfare of the people of their country, but quickly evolved into a medium for religious leaders to explore the role of religion in the concrete contribution to the material and spiritual progress of society.

“What made these gatherings remarkable is that participants consult each other on how they can stimulate further discussion within their religious communities to build unity of thought and support collective efforts that contribute to the improving our society, ”said Roeia Thabet, Bahá’í representative in the country.

She continues, “We also explore deep concepts and themes related to social transformation and reflect on how religion can inspire action among larger groups of people. “

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The national conversation on coexistence has grown in importance in recent years, not only in the UAE but throughout the Arab region. An officially sponsored book titled Celebrating Tolerance: Religious Diversity in the United Arab Emirates was published in 2019 on the occasion of “The Year of Tolerance”. This collection contains the experiences of various religious communities in the United Arab Emirates and their contributions to peaceful coexistence in Emirati society.

At a recent rally focused on the Bahá’í principle of equality between women and men, one participant said: “All of us, as religious leaders, have an important role to play in shaping the culture. a genuine understanding of equality between men and women. “

In a document prepared for discussion and distributed to participants, the Bahá’ís of the United Arab Emirates stressed that equality between women and men is an aspect of human reality and not just a condition to be achieved for the common good. .

The article reads in part: “The search for meaning, purpose, community; the capacity to love, to create, to persevere, has no gender. Such a statement has profound implications for the organization of every aspect of human society. What makes human beings human – their inherent dignity and nobility – is neither masculine nor feminine. “

This theme and others explored over the past year are part of a global conversation about coexistence in Emirati society, a discourse that has grown in importance in recent years not only in the United Arab Emirates but across the country. Arab region.

Representatives from the <a class=Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish Muslim, Sikh and Baha’i communities of the UAE to explore deep concepts and themes related to social transformation, such as gender equality.”/> Slideshow
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Representatives from the Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish Muslim, Sikh and Baha’i communities of the UAE to explore deep concepts and themes related to social transformation, such as gender equality.

“This group has raised the bar for coexistence and tolerance by bringing together all different religions and starting interesting discussions,” said Ashis Barua, representative of the Buddhist community in the country. Referring to the unified spirit of the gatherings, Mr. Barua continues: “It’s really rare… in our lifetime.

Dr. Thabet from the Bahá’í community describes the strong bonds of friendship that developed between the participants: the well-being of communities. This type of dialogue between leaders of different faiths is a significant experience in our country. “

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