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Bahai Community Observes World Religion Day

The Independent
January 29, 2001

Nyima Fatajo

The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahai's of The Gambia sponsored a panel discussion on Sunday, January 21st, 2001, at the Atlantic Hotel, to observe World Religion day.

Representatives from different religions participated in a lively and informative discussion on "The Role of Religion in promoting Morality in the 21st Century".

Speaking at the gathering, the programme moderator Mr. Boozy Tanager said that the aim of the celebration is to foster the establishment of inter-faith understanding and harmony by emphasising the common denominators underlying all religions. "The message of World Religion Day is that, mankind which has stemmed from one origin, must now strive towards the reconciliation of that which has been split up" he said, adding that the history of man's culture and civilization is the history of his religions and that this history shows that all religions had the power to instill in the hearts and minds of their adherents the fundamental verities, the vital spiritual standards, and thus establish a unity of conscience for motivating man towards founding great cultures and civilizations.

Mr. Travanger further said that through the observance of World Religion Day, dedicated towards encouraging the leaders and followers of every religion to acknowledge the similarities in each of our sacred Faiths, it suggests a unified approach to the challenges that confront humanity.

This is the third year that the National Spiritual Assembly has sponsored World Religion Day in The Gambia.

During his remarks, the Permanent Secretary, State Department for the Interior and Religious Affairs, M.K. Jallow said humankind is undergoing an imperceptible process of change that affects his beliefs, moral attributes, social inclinations, economic values and interpersonal relationships, which in effect have sometimes positively and sometimes negatively resonated on his life. Social norms he said have also contributed significantly to morality and that each nation, society or community adheres to it as the criteria or rules which tend to influence a person's behavioral habits.

Mr. Jallow further claimed that the sins of the flesh seem to be on the increase and that the lack of morality and the non - adherence to moral values within society and within different age groups appear to be on the rise to the extent that crime and sins are now common.

He added that different people blame different phenomena for moral laxity such as aliens' cultural influence, false teachings, lack of religions and moral directions, lack of effective parental control and counseling, population explosion and conurbation among others.

He noted that religion has been working closely with governments, the mass media, local leadership, institutions and groups, non-governmental organisations and the international community to raise moral awareness and to also create the enabling atmosphere that would encourage good morality.

Rev A. Mbanefo, who represented the Catholic Church said that it's a commission for him as a Christian and that morality does not base on speculation. He emphasised that every individual should care through the instruments of love though we may not be in the same religion. Without religion he said, there is no hope for morality and with our own prejustice, we will be able to save the 21st Century. Father Mbanefa added that Christianity preaches against immorality and therefore urges other religions to carry it out.

Mr Adulate Aswan, representative of the Hindu faith said that the history of human being is the history of their religion and faith and that happiness is the most important thing in the life of a Hindu. He added that increase in religion and that with regards to the high standard of poverty in India, the country experiences less violence.

Momodou Mbye who represented the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat said Islam is a perfect religion and that it gives guidance for the righteous. Mr. Mbye said that the true purpose of a human being's life is the worship of God, the attainment of his understanding and complete devotion to him. "We shall never have peace in this world without absolute morality", he said. Mr. Mbye called on all true believers as stated in the Quran to desire for others that which they desire for themselves. He thanked the Bahai community in The Gambia for organising the symposium.

Simon Colley of the Bahai faith said Baha'u'llah, states that the best beloved of all things in the sight of God is justice. In looking at the world at large he said, we could readily discern that irreligious forces are weakening our moral fiber, and undermining the foundations of individual morality. He claimed that with all the efforts to turn this tide of moral downfall, it seems that we are just shoveling sand against the tide.

He said perhaps the single most important task that religion can play in the promotion of morality in the 21st century is to exert all of its energies and activities to the elimination of the greatest of all immoral acts. The Bahai Youth Worship concluded the programme with a performance. Bozorg Tavanger gave the vote of thanks, which was followed by a closing prayer.

©Copyright 2001, The Independent (Accra, Ghana)

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