Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan
Visionary leaders of UAE have made the country the forefront of love and sponsor of global peace and security in a time when the world is boiling in waves of intolerance, lawlessness and sectarian tensions. UAE has been maintaining its interfaith harmony sky high since independence. It has been forefront country in promoting cross culture better understanding through pursuing interfaith dialogue among the different religions. Now UAE is the home of more than 200 nationalities all from diversified cultures, colors, castes and religious backgrounds. They have been living free from any fear or exploitation. They are free to worship. They have equal rights of association and means of survival. Due to which UAE has become of model of interfaith harmony. Its generous global humanitarian assistance campaigns and huge foreign aid programs, all speak about its simple but pure interfaith harmony policy. It has won unlimited hearts of the people around the world. Now UAE is a leader of interfaith tolerance, peaceful coexistence.
Recently, the Vatican’s Foreign Minister, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, lauded UAE uniformed interfaith harmony policy which has successfully promoted the concept of the many shared values in the country. He highly appreciated its religious tolerance and freedom of worship enjoyed by Christians throughout the Emirates. Now, two new churches have been approved by UAE authorities. He said “We do appreciate the freedom of worship, the opportunity to gather here to pray and run schools for children. “There are so many people who come to St. Mary’s Church, Dubai to get spiritual guidance he added. Moreover, he appreciated the freedom, the atmosphere of tolerance and coexistence in the UAE.
UAE has been trying to build a better world by practicing co-existence spirits. Interfaith harmony policy makes life easy and comfortable. It stimulates healthy competition in the society. It upholds fair and free spirits of a dynamic society and a progressive economy. It reduces confusions and celebrates shared values of pure and simple humanity and caring. It eliminates inter and intra-societal tensions. It abridges widening gaps within the society. It curtails spirits of intolerance, indecency and use of power in the society. It highlights the spirits of togetherness. Last but not the least, it supports community development.
Abu Dhabi-based Bishop Paul Hinder, the Vicar Apostolic of Southern Arabia confirmed the approval of the two new churches in Abu Dhabi, Mussaffah and Ruwais. A new church is also under construction in Ras Al Khaimah. “The new church in Ras Al Khaimah will be inaugurated on the June 14, 2013, he added.
The UAE Minister of Culture Abdul Rahman Al Owais emphasised the importance of interfaith harmony in the country due to which all religious communities are treated with uttermost respect by the UAE leadership and people. He also lauded the religious tolerance that characterises the country, stressing that the UAE is promoting principles of moderation and easiness. There is no policy hurdle or legal constraints to practice religion or rituals throughout the country. Even no policy has been introduced to discriminate any religious affiliation, caste, creed or colour since its inception. Everyone is equal before the law.
UAE allows the Christian communities to build their churches to exercise their religious rituals freely similar to Muslims. The Coptic Orthodox Church underscored that the religious tolerance set by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan “made UAE the forefront of love and sponsor of global peace and security. Undoubtedly, UAE represents a society of people of over 200 different nationalities. They live co-exist in a friendly and tolerant atmosphere. State policies are helpful to promote interfaith harmony.
UAE always pays due respect for other religions and residents can freely pray at a Hindu temple, a Christian Church or a Sikh Gurudwara. Amazingly, most non-Muslim worshippers hold their main mass or services on Fridays. Non-Muslims can enter mosques throughout the country but are advised to wear modest clothing and women must cover their head.
It is indeed the message of respect, decency, love and peace. It fosters the spirit of brotherhood and unity. Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research said that the UAE has set a model of interfaith tolerance and peaceful coexistence under the leadership of President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
The tolerant interfaith policy decreed by the UAE under the visionary leadership of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has been praised from the Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt. In the name of Pope Shenouda III of Alexandria and Patriarch of Saint Mark, Ishaq Al Anba Bishoy, Pastor of Al Anba Antonio Orthodox Coptic Cathedral Church in Abu Dhabi, spoke highly to interfaith harmony of Sheikh Khalifa, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Their Highnesses Rulers of Emirates, His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, government and people of the UAE, for the continuous support and help granted to Christians throughout the country to offer their religious prays.
There are six different churches situated in capital, Abu Dhabi. Dubai has ten churches. Jebel Ali has four churches whereas; Sharjah (5), Fujairah (1), Umm Al Quwain (1), Ras Al Khaimah (1) and Al Ain have 3 churches. It endorses, UAE vision and policy towards interfaith harmony
It is crystal clear that UAE achieves unshakable social tolerance, sustainable peace and matured co-existence only because of its perpetual interfaith harmony policy. It stands for better understanding associated with culture sensitivity. It is cornerstone of otherness and inseparableness. It reverences different people. It cares other religion, rituals and customs.
UAE is a vigorous country based on a tolerant society. Spirits of pure humanity has been ruined by world power politics and hot pursuits of vested interests of movers and shakers have also been multiplied. In the time of cheerlessness and distress, UAE postulates an ideal platform for achieving sustainable interfaith harmony. It stands beacon of light in the siege of darkness.