The Oxford Foundation in partnership with The Edward Cadbury Centre for the Public Understanding of Religion at the University of Birmingham hosted an inspiring evening at St Francis Hall Chaplaincy at the University of Birmingham titled “United for Peace-Unity through Poetry.” Beautiful poetry and hymns from across the faith, cultural, and non-faith traditions from around the world were read, chanted and sung interspersed with moments of silent reflection. The poetry and hymns focused on the universal messages of peace, love, wisdom, unity and harmony. An actress from The Royal Shakespeare Company recited poems from Shakespeare’s Sonnets, the poetry of Iqbal, Milton, Wasif Ali Wasif, Mian Muhammad Bhaksh were recited by leading luminaries who were well versed in the works of these poetic giants. Spiritually uplifting chants of remembering the Divine were recited based on tenets of the Sufi tradition and practice within in Islam. Hymns from the Sikh, Hindu and Buddhist traditions were recited by senior faith leaders along with peace & love songs by senior representatives from the Jewish and Christian traditions. Songs from the Sudanese Nubian heritage culture were sung by a leading Sudanese singer along with poetic contributions from young students; including a poetic eulogy for the victims of terrorism in the UK and abroad. The evenings proceedings were concluded by poetry from Rumi accompanied by a visual presentation of whirling by a whirling dervish.
“United for Peace” is a national initiative by The Oxford Foundation that draws United Kingdom’s diverse communities together to affirm the values that unite us. The values of respect, love, peace, compassion and understanding as opposed to the narratives that extremists advocate of ugliness, division, hatred, and violence.
“United for Peace, Unity through Poetry” is an additional chapter to the “United for Peace” national initiative that seeks to draw upon the rich poetic heritage that is encapsulated across our diverse communities and traditions by extrapolating poetry which focuses on the core values of unity, peace, love, wisdom and harmony.
The evening enabled participants and all in attendance to draw on their diverse and individual cultural expressions to remind themselves of their communal experiences of humanity and of divinity, and how we should all seek to find peace, reconciliation and healing in the sharing of our diverse offerings based on unified ideals and values.
The inspirational and spiritually uplifting evening was concluded by all participants and attendees being presented with a red rose as a symbolic gesture of gratitude for their contributions and attendance and to further blossom the unifying experience that the “United for Peace, Unity through Poetry” event created.
Written By: Kaleem Hussain
The Oxford Foundation Representative for the West Midlands and Buckinghamshire.