News Release

Church Invited to Historic Muslim Interfaith Event

Celebrating the United Nations Interfaith Week 2015, representatives from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were personally invited by Mr Saleem Kidwai OBE, KFO, FRSA and General Secretary of the Muslim Council of Wales to an historic multi-faith dinner in Cardiff on Wednesday 4th February 2015.

Guest speakers at the event were Shaykh Dr. Asim Yusuf, a Muslim, and Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, Ephraim Mirvis. He is believed to be the highest ranking Jewish leader to attend a Muslim sponsored event in the United Kingdom.

Also in attendance were Ms. Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty of the Welsh Government, along with a number of other distinguished guests.

Speaking on the subject, “The need for faith in the 21st Century”, Shayk Dr. Yusuf commented, ‘”We all want to be happy. The purpose of life is to acquire that which brings comfort and satisfaction, and we are created to desire that which is infinite.” Talking of the need to overcome selfish desires, he went on to say that the natural thought is often, ‘the things I want for myself I should also want for you, but the things I want are of limited resource and I would rather I have them than you.” Shayk Dr. Yusuf  emphasized the need to overcome this inclination and reach out to others.

Mentioning that [Jews and Muslims] are all descendants of Abraham and Sarah, Chief Rabbi Mirvis identified that we all, ‘share faith in God, cherish family values, recognize the sacred nature of marriage and the sacred nature of the Sabbath. We need to celebrate what we have in common, and respect with dignity our differences. The path of Abraham is ours, we should reach out with tolerance and compassion to one and all.”

The host, Dr. Saleem Kidwai stated that with freedom of speech, also comes the need for a maturity to respect that which is held sacred by others.

Representing the Church were, Martin Cook, National Director of Public Affairs with his wife, Judith, Martin Turvey, Multi-stake Director of Public Affairs for the South-west and Wales, Julie Jones, the Church’s representative on the Wales Interfaith Council, Keith and Valerie Bishop with Julie Harrald, National Public Affairs Council Interfaith specialists.

Speaking after the event, Julie Jones remarked, “Tonight has been a wonderful evening, it was a privilege to attend and see so many people from different religions engaging with each other.  We need more defining moments like these that look at the common good we have together and build upon them. There is enough opposition out there and we need to show the world that religion is a commitment to peace, love and harmony and this outweighs the different beliefs we have.”

Martin Turvey related that he spent a large part of the evening talking to a number of Muslims seated at his table. He commented, “What became so completely clear was that while we have some obvious differences, there is so much more that we have in common in terms of shared beliefs and values. The evening significantly increased my respect and understanding for Islam.”

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