Multi-faith remembrance services and activities are a key part of Inter Faith Week and help strengthen good inter faith relations at all levels
Inter Faith Week is an opportunity to strengthen good inter faith relations, highlight the positive contribution of faith communities to society, and to increase understanding between people of religious and non-religious beliefs.
Communities whose members and ancestors have served side by side during armed conflicts, live side by side in Britain today. The Week is timed to begin each year on Remembrance Sunday, to encourage people to remember together the service of people of all faiths and none and to think about peace.
Multi-faith remembrance services and activities are a key part of Inter Faith Week and help strengthen good inter faith relations at all levels, and increase understanding between people of religious and non-religious beliefs.
Civic Remembrance events and activities are typically organised by local authorities across the country, and many are run on a multi-faith basis. Local inter faith groups often play an important role in these activities.
Remembrance looks back; it is also a place from which to look forwards and to consider how best to work together for a peaceful and just world.
Remembering the contributions made by people of all faiths and beliefs
The Royal British Legion is working to ensure that Remembrance is understood and available to all, and passed on to the next generation. The Inter Faith Network helped the RBL bring together a round table of faith communities in June 2019 to discuss this and British Future is working with the RBL on a series of ‘Remembering Together’ events.
Government has also been seeking to widen the pattern of commemoration. Faith communities are represented at the Cenotaph each year and in 2018, for the first time, representatives of smaller faith communities were included.
In 2018, we marked #Armistice100, the Centenary of the end of World War I. Various commemorative services, parades and exhibitions took place to commemorate the centenary of the War. One such exhibition was an ‘Empire, Faith and War’ event which highlighted Sikh contributions to the War. Other activities included a special event at the Neasden Temple to commemorate the contribution of Indian Soldiers and an exhibition and book about the contribution of Muslim soldiers to WW1. The colonial context for the involvement of many people of different faiths from around the world was reflected and explored in a number of events that took place, while the emphasis of all was on the shared sacrifice and contribution to what it was hoped would be a safer and more peaceful world.
The success of #Armistice100 initiatives was evident in a report published by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in July 2019 entitled ‘Lessons from the First World War Centenary’. The report included findings from British Future’s research which identified that the commemorations were particularly successful at increasing public awareness of all the different communities involved in the War. For instance, they found that public awareness of the sacrifice of Indian soldiers in the First World War increased by 27% following the Centenary.
In 2019, a particular focus of remembrance was the 75th anniversary of battles and key moments of WWII, for example with commemorations of D-Day and of the battles of Kohima and Imphal. The terrible events of the Holocaust and particular dates relating to those are also being remembered. In 2020, we turned our attention to the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII.
The red poppy of the RBL is the most recognisable emblem of remembrance. A special variant of this, the ‘khadi’ poppy, was introduced with the RBL last year to commemorate the contributions and sacrifices made by British Indian soldiers. It is of a material of the kind from which Mahatma Gandhi’s clothing, was made. There are also poppies of other colours distributed by organisations other than the RBL. A black poppy is a widely used symbol of remembrance for the African, Black and Caribbean communities’ contributions. A white poppy is worn by some to symbolise remembrance for all victims of war and a commitment to pacifism.
Below are a few potentially useful resources that highlight the contributions of people of different faiths and beliefs in conflicts and the importance of multi faith remembrance:
Published 5 November 2019