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Religious Leaders; Enhancing National Cohesion Through Interfaith Harmony

Religious Leaders; Enhancing National Cohesion Through Interfaith Harmony

The night is alive, it is a Saturday evening at Serena Hotel in Nairobi and one by one, the invited guests are streaming in. It is the month of Ramadhan, a few days just before the holy month comes to an end and this particular night different stakeholders have come together to break the fast with the Muslim community.

The Inter-Religious Council of Kenya (IRCK) recognizing the imperative need for dialogue among different faiths and religions to enhance mutual understanding, harmony and cooperation among people collaborated with different stakeholders including the Diamond Trust Bank and Harmony Institute to host an Iftar dinner. The Iftar dinner hosted in partnership with Diamond Trust was under the theme ‘Interfaith Harmony for National Cohesion’; it brought together different faiths, business communities, government institutions, diplomatic corps, media and other stakeholders as a way of enhancing and strengthening interfaith harmony to enhancing peace and national cohesion.

“As we break bread together tonight, let us celebrate our diversity and unity as Kenyans. Let us renew our commitment to building a more harmonious pluralistic and cohesive society, where people of all faiths and beliefs can thrive.” – Nasim Devji, Group CEO, DTB during the Interfaith Iftar

At the core of all the faith systems and traditions is the recognition that we are all in this together and that we need to love and support one another to live in harmony and peace in an environmentally sustainable world. Our nation continues to be beset by conflicts and intolerance with the rising number of tribal and political conflicts and disputes; this has been amplified through messages of hate spreading discord among people. The need for spiritual guidance has never been greater. It is imperative that we double our efforts to spread the message of peace, cohesion, and good neighbourliness based on our common humanity, a core message shared by all faith traditions.

IRCK has been involved in interfaith dialogue, aims to increase tolerance and harmony among different faith in Kenya, and has had an impressive and impeccable record and history in the country. It has mobilized different faith communities to come together for a common action such as various critical national discourses, including constitutionalism, political and democratic governance. Nevertheless, most importantly Religious Leader’s role in ensuring peaceful elections and transition during the 2022 General Elections is a monumental achievement. They put the nation of Kenya in peace prayer mode. The icing on the cake in the peace endeavour was the shuttle diplomacy with the three actors’ H.E President William Ruto, Former President H.E Uhuru Kenyatta and Rt. Hon. Raila Odinga. As well as former IEBC Wafula Chebukati and the four commissioners. In the social and well-being sphere, IRCK has led Religious Leaders in a game-changing endeavour to address the COVID vaccination campaign after opening spaces of worship to be used as vaccination centres across the country. This led to the suspension of the COVID mandates (compulsory vaccinations) by the government, increased vaccine uptake and reduction of COVID cases. Religious Leaders have been involved in the conservation of the environment by planting trees and encouraging their congregants to care for the environment.

All this has been done by different faiths coming together, putting their strengths and working together for the benefit of the nation and this year’s Iftar dinner – breaking the fast dinner – was no different.  Different faiths broke bread together and shared a meal – a symbol of our unity as a people. The interfaith communities will continue working in harmony, and in cohesion to ensure the interests of each Kenyan.

“The breaking of the fast together seeks to celebrate our diversity as people of all faiths and beliefs; and a commitment as Kenyans to strengthen our unity for a cohesive society.” – Dr F.S. Abdalla, IRCK Vice Chairman

By Mary N.

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