DELIVERING IN FAITH Dr Hany El-Banna, The Humanitarian Forum, UNFPA, June 2010 TREE Harmonising relationships further through a TREE The relationship between different sides, be it man and woman, faith and non–faith based organizations and all other actors in society, should be based on an apparatus known as the TREE. What is the TREE? Trust Respect Engagement Empowerment This TREE is workable and should be God is always ever-present. workable in all social situations and Man on the other hand comes and goes. contexts. Without one or the other of the Will God question man or man question God? factors, this could lead to collapse of long Who is behind the creation? term objectives. Is God touchable or untouchable There are two concepts here: the presence of God and the creation of man. SHARED VALUES 1. Man was created from an ovum and sperm. Shared values reinforce cooperation. There 2. When created man became different and adopted different are more similarities between humans then physical characteristics i.e. gender, pigmentation, strength. Differences in character and personality also occur. there are differences. The most obvious of these is the value people attribute to their lives. These different stages of development can cause division From this comes the value in basic rights such amongst humans. How can we overcome this? as food and shelter. HUMANISING FAITH How can we humanise our faith and instil kindness, mercy and Who has the right to make human interpretation of the sympathy into our everyday text of God? Is it the layperson, secularist, feminist, interactions with others? sociologist, or even the capitalist? Over time, the interpretation of religion has gradually We can do this in various ways: developed. This is clear in the development of both Remember that it is not an contemporary Christianity and Islam. In the case of Islam exclusive club that only you for instance we see the development of the following belong to strands: Have your beliefs but do not Societal Islam force your views on others Political Islam Translate the values of your Economic Islam faith into workable actions Geographical Islam Historical Islam Religious Islam Whose role is it to humanise faith? Contemporary Islam This role is not the exclusive domain of religious figureheads. Rather, the With such differences in approach to Islam today this has responsibility lies with everybody who reduced a unified religious institution. has a faith. Faith is humanised How can text be made easy so that all can understand through gestures big and small and is and be informed of scriptures like the Qur’an, Bible, and therefore something which can be Torah? Should we: translated into everyday actions. Go back to the basics and learn the original language of the Qur’an, Bible and Torah? Translate scriptures into digestible language and formats Engage in greater discussion of content? Refer to scholars for religious opinion and perspectives Socialising Religious places FAITH LEADERS How can we socialise places of worship, and change them it into places for education, health, and social How can we create intra-faith discussion? (ie. meetings? between Sunni and Shiites, protestants and Do not make it the exclusive domain of those Catholics?) who worship faith, open invitation to others Focus on the larger objectives and aim for the bigger picture. There will always be small Do not keep them specifically for worship differences but these should be practiced in private. purposes, utilise them for motivating social interaction and engagement What is the importance of inter and intra-faith? Intra-faith is required to unite the various Offer other services fragmented sects in society. Fragmentation at the grassroots level will otherwise cause fragmentation at the top level. The key point here is that success of intra-faith will lead to success of inter-faith discussion. This is the bigger picture. AND.... FAITH-BASED ORGANISATIONS: PART OF THE Will governments and/or the United Nations be PROBLEM OR A SOLUTION? able to fund these activities? They are the SOLUTION. Faith-based organisations promote values of compassion and These activities provide an excellent means by which humanity far more than most other systems in the communities can gather and build on their community world. They are an institution in their own right, spirit. Few public spaces offer this unique selling point. and as they have large followings, they are often Furthermore these places of worship are normally regarded as a beacon of society. This gives them empty outside of times of prayer. The buildings are great potential in bringing about a wave of positive therefore not being fully utilised during these times social change in different communities. which opens up the possibility of other community activities that could take place. Governments and bodies such as the United Nations should fund such WHY ARE FAITH-BASED ORGANISATIONS NOT out-of-hours prayer activities. This could also open up INVITED FOR POLICY DISCUSSIONS? possibilities of other types of services to be based They are not officially recognised as agents of within these places of worship, such as health centres change, even though they are the agents who and clinics. make the major changes in society. To be recognised for this importance in role, faith-based organisations need to fight their case more on why they should be involved in the policy arena. ROLE OF WOMEN: ‘’Man is a child of a woman?’’ The best ones who can lead a man is a woman, if she knows how to tame and not how to confront. The characteristic differences of each sex vary enormously. The man traditionally leads as the public face whilst the woman leads as the private face. But this balance can be transformed by taming the man through dialogue, reasoning and rationalisation.