Religious leaders mark International Day of Prayer

Pray for Humanity takes place as world seeks solution to coronavirus pandemic

The world must work towards peaceful co-existence in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, the Grand Imam of Al Azhar said on Thursday.

Dr Ahmed Al Tayeb, head of the leading Sunni seat of learning, sent his message to mark an international day of prayer for a solution to the health crisis that has affected most of humanity.

The Pray for Humanity initiative was organised by the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity.

It should be used to promote a world "where amicability and diversity values prevail instead of fanaticism, bigotry, hate of the other and discrimination among people on the basis of faith, colour, race and wealth", Dr Al Tayeb said.

He said it should be observed every year.

The committee was formed as an initiative of the UAE after a meeting in Abu Dhabi between Dr Al Tayeb and Pope Francis, head of the Roman Catholic Church, in February 2019.

Pope Francis shakes hands with Grand Sheik Ahmed al Tayeb as he arrives for a meeting with members of Muslim Council of Elders at Grand Mosque of Sheik Zayed in Abu Dhabi. EPA/VATICAN MEDIA HANDOUT 
Pope Francis shakes hands with Grand Sheik Ahmed al Tayeb as he arrives for a meeting with members of Muslim Council of Elders at Grand Mosque of Sheik Zayed in Abu Dhabi. EPA/VATICAN MEDIA HANDOUT 

"Today, the Higher Committee for Human Fraternity has called for a day of prayer and fasting to ask the merciful God for an end to this tragic moment of the pandemic," Pope Francis said during a Mass at the Vatican on Thursday.

"We are all brothers and sisters. Everyone prays as they know how, as they can, according to what they have received from their culture.

"We aren’t praying against each other. We are united in humanity as brothers and sisters."

Pope Francis said that as the coronavirus killed more than 400,000 people this year, more than 3.7 million people died from hunger.

“This day of prayer against the pandemic must make us think also of many other pandemics – the pandemics of war, of hunger," he said.

Dr Al Tayeb called for the day of prayer to be the first step "on a new track abounding in love, respect and co-operation among all fellow humans".

"Let May 14 mark the beginning of a new world where peacemaking overcomes the industry of weapons, showing evidence of our ability to create a common environment where we can all live together as fellow brothers and sisters enjoying mutual love," he said.

The Higher Committee of Human Fraternity's initiative received wide support.

It was backed by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres; the African Union; President Joko Widodo of Indonesia; the World Council of Churches; and Imam Mohamad Arafat, founder and president of the Civilisations Exchange and Co-operation Foundation.

The committee, which includes representatives of the three Abrahamic faiths, was founded to implement the objectives of the Document on Human Fraternity, signed by Dr Al Tayeb and Pope Francis in Abu Dhabi.

Updated: May 15, 2020 12:13 AM

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