In celebrating Interfaith Harmony Week this year, City of Whittlesea, together with Darebin City Council, Whittlesea Interfaith Network, Darebin Interfaith Council, United Religions Initiative, Beacon of Hope, Al Siraat College and several others organisations worked in collaboration to host the inspiring interfaith event titled “Power of Love – Paying it Forward” on Thursday 8 February 2018 at Mill Park Library in North Melbourne.

World Interfaith Harmony Week celebrated during the 1st week of February (1-7 February 2018) offers a wonderful platform for bringing people together to celebrate the diversity of faiths that make up our community.

Several enlightening speeches were made by key speakers.  Maria Callipari City of Whittlesea Multicultural Officer presented a heartfelt speech about the importance of recognising the traditional owners of the land and the importance of reconciliation.

Councillor and Deputy Mayor of the City of Whittlesea, Cr. Sam Alessi talked about the social and economic benefits of connecting our community and fostering a harmonious community.  He encouraged the audience to reflect on the idea that when we do something for others we’re in fact doing something for the betterment of our community.

Darebin Council CEO  Sue Wilkinson talked about developing compassionate inclusive communities, reducing discrimination, connecting communities and establishing a sense of belonging in a way that is sustainable.

Al Siraat College’s very own Mufti Aasim Rashid gave a very powerful speech about using interfaith dialogue platforms to address issues facing our communities collaboratively.

As a newly arrived Canadian, he explained how his experiences in interfaith dialogue has been used to “create awareness, address issues, a platform for change, for advocacy, for justice, and for education.”

Mufti Aasim explained that he’s passionate about using education as a means of clearing up the air and resolving our differences and working together for the betterment of our communities.

Einstein’s very moving letter to his daughter was presented by Nivy Balachandran United Religions Initiative highlighting the power of love as a cosmic force which binds us all which was very relevant to the theme of this event.

The entertainment for the event included a mesmerising Oud (musical instrument) performance by Sarif Barwti and the incredibly talented engaging innovative performances by Melbourne Playback Theatre who re-enacted the stories shared by the audience.

This year for World Interfaith Harmony Week lets recognise the need to build greater social cohesion, strengthen our community ties and approach those with a different view of our own with kindness and compassion.

God bless all those who are actively contributing to the betterment of our highly diverse communities.

Please click here to view photos of the event. Photos courtesy of Mr Mohammed Yassin.