Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence
Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence Image Credit: WAM

Abu Dhabi: Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence, opened the 7th Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies, which was held virtually on Monday under the patronage of Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

In his opening remarks, Sheikh Nahyan welcomed the participants, saying that the event shows how the Forum is playing a major role in helping the world become more developed.

“The UAE is looking to the future and always working to deal with different parameters. We are a country where people are closely connected to their leaders. They love their leaders and enjoy peace, security and stability. We are working together to achieve our leadership’s vision for a bright future of our region and our world,” he said.

It is very important, Sheikh Nahyan continued, to understand the challenges before us, especially those facing the world in the post-corona era. Some of them are directly linked to the pandemic and some others are linked to different areas that may hamper our progress. We need to focus on deepening international cooperation in this field.

“We are convinced that containing the pandemic is a shared responsibility. All of us have a duty to fulfil and a responsibility to bear. We need to help those who are most vulnerable and we need to do that in a manner that puts aside discrimination. We should work to make everyone feels hopeful and optimistic about the future. There are important calls which we support vehemently for fair and equitable distribution of the vaccine and other medicines that can treat this virus. We are working to ensure fair distribution, regardless of any differences.”

Sheikh Nahyan noted that during post-corona era, the world will continue to face other common challenges, be it economic, technological, educational, climate changes, etc. “They are all linked to shaping our future.”

“I hope this forum is going to be a platform for meaningful initiatives to foster peace. Muslims societies are capable of contributing to the world and interact positively. Our rich history testifies to that. Islam has always been a religion that respects the mind and will always be connected with virtues, human values that aim to achieve justice, freedom and prosperity to all. Islam is a religion that aims to empower human beings to be stewards of earth.”

Sheikh Nahyan concluded by saying that as it prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary, the UAE sets eyes on important goals for the next 50 years, including sustaining values of tolerance, co-existence, solidarity, justice and the good for all.

Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah, Head of the Forum and President of the Higher Academic Council at the Mohammed bin Zayed University for Humanities, said: “The crisis offers us the possibility of a new beginning, calls for the birth of a new human being with a new vision of the world by reconstructing our values and our relationships with others - not just human beings - but the natural world also.” “Will this crisis be the occasion for a new start, and an opportunity for the birth of a new human being , with a new vision of the world that is based on virtue, a human being who reconstructs himself and his relations with his fellow man and other creatures besides him,” he asked.

“This crisis has fueled the flame of solidarity. We have witnessed many inspiring examples of individuals who looked beyond themselves to spread love. We have witnessed states that were able to transcend concerns of politics and international relations to demonstrate ideals of sympathy, cooperation and association,” he added.

He continued: “We must build societies founded upon tranquility, societies in which security prevails, in which man feels safe with his neighbours and in which intolerance and sectarianism no longer exist.”

Addressing the event, Mr. Miguel Angel Moratinos, the High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilisations, said the overarching theme of this year’s forum and the panel discussions are very apt considering the socio-economic, political and psychological ramifications of the COVID19 pandemic. The pandemic has been and still is a litmus test for political leaders as well as individuals’ empathy and resilience.

“It’s a test of our commitment to common human values and the overall concept of “we are all in this together.”

“The central notion here is that this global crisis is a human crisis with the human being at the epicenter of it. Crises as such demand coordinated, inclusive, and results-oriented responses based on unity and solidarity and most importantly compassion,” he noted.

Today’s human crisis, he added, has proven beyond doubt that an All-Of-Society approach is imperative to overcome the challenges posed by COVID19. Civil Society, grassroots, women and youth-led organisations as well as community-based organisation play a vital role.

“The changing nature of the global challenges we face today requires global responses. One that is anchored in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and rule of law. At the same time, we need to develop and strengthen new forms of cooperation with other international and regional organisations – a networked multilateralism – as well as closer contacts with businesses, civil society and other stakeholders – an inclusive multilateralism,” he stressed.

“Optimists like myself, always see a light even in the darkest tunnels. This crisis provides an opportunity to renew our commitment to fulfilling Goal 16 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to “Promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies.” “Showing compassion and kindness to the most vulnerable nations and people is what makes us all human belonging to “One Humanity” despite our many cultures and identities,” he concluded.

Themed “Human Values After Corona: Reviving Virtue in Times of Crisis”, the forum will discuss how the pandemic creates opportunities for economic and social unity across the world. Held virtually over three days, the event brings together leading Islamic scholars, religious leaders and advocates of peace, in line with Abu Dhabi’s commitment to promoting global harmony, peace and tolerance.

It will examine how cooperation between nations, their people, and followers of the world religions can promote global peace and the welfare of all. The conference will emphasise the commonality or shared nature of humankind’s destiny at this crucial time. The conference will be unparalleled in its breadth this year hosting the most diverse panel of speakers spanning cultural, academic, governmental, and civic society fields in open conversation and with a shared commitment to positively influence the crisis’ present unfolding and alleviation.

The Forum will also discuss the healthcare dimensions of this pandemic and its effects upon mental health, especially given that the preservation of the human intellect is one of the overarching concerns of Islamic sacred law.

Moreover, the guests will discuss how humanity may join hands across cultures and religions to create a new world that is human-centric and which prioritises humanity’s wellbeing over other interests. Participants will also discuss the present economic crisis and the ethics of solidarity.

Dr. Mohammad bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, Secretary General of the Muslim World League, Sam Brownback, United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, and Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, also spoke at the event.