A key project of HWPL is the WARP office, which carries out comparative studies on the scriptures of different religions to promote better understanding and true religious harmony among religions based on the shared knowledge. In particular, religious leaders from various countries gathered with the WARP offices in different parts of the world as the platform to hold “HWPL WARP Office’s Joint Prayer Against COVID-19,” to support the regional society and the people suffering from one of the gravest crisis in modern history called the COVID-19 outbreak.
The number of coronavirus cases accumulated up to 39.96 million globally and the death toll is estimated to be around 1.12 million (CoronaBoard, as of 18 October). People are living in fear as no one knows how long the pandemic will last and how many more will have to suffer before vaccines are developed and the pandemic ends. Although it is high time everyone gathered as one to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic, we are witnessing secondary damage such as human rights violations of minority groups and racial discrimination.
In times leading up to the prayers, leaders of various religions conveyed the message that in order to surmount the crisis of the era, we need to gather our hearts rather than blaming and berating each other. The leaders offered prayers keeping in mind the roles they have as believers, and asked the Creator for forgiveness on all the sins of humanity. Also, they confessed how helpless we are before natural disasters and pleaded with humble and earnest hearts to God to heal the pain rampant in the world with His almighty force. Although religion and culture may vary in type, loving mankind and wishing for peace and stability on earth was the same for all.
During the event, prayers include the followings : prayers for fast recovery of people suffering from the coronavirus, health and safety of medical staff, comforting the heart of those who lost their loved ones to COVID-19, and development of the epidemic’s vaccine and the virus to come to an end.
The joint prayer for peace and the epidemic’s end are taking place in various corners of the world through the concerted efforts of people transcending national borders. When the events are held, not only representatives of religions but also people from all walks of life join to gather their hearts as well. While showing respect for each other regardless of whether they practice religion or what religion they believe in, the participants pray together following the lead prayers.
– India and Sri Lanka, HWPL World Alliance of Religions’ Peace Prayer Meeting for Overcoming COVID-19
At the event for prayer, religious leaders introduced the meaning of prayer in their respective religious groups and read aloud the prayers for a quick end to the outbreak of COVID-19.
Allama Syed Abdullah Tariq (President of the World Organization of Religions and Knowledge) “When we take someone with us, fear is lessened. What about if you take God along with you all-powerful and everything is in his hand, that is the essence of all religion. The protect when you have that confidence, the main thing is the faith. Today when we gather for contact with him, you have to feel that he is with us and he will protect you. That’s the gist of what the scripture says. I sincerely hope and pray that every word of the prayer becomes meaningful for you.”
Dr. Avtar Singh Sethi (Society Advisor of the Kalgidhar Trust) “Before we do anything, we pray to God, we make several prayers in a day, before we start a new journey or business we pray, and after finishing we also pray. We also make prayer to make us humble make us do our duties toward humanity and everybody who needs us. We also make a prayer, we can still reach to the people who need us. Like that, we make prayer for everything.”
After sharing the prayer out loud, a youth member of the World Organization of Religions and Knowledge sang “A Song of Peace.” Also, Rachna Hiran, the vice president of the Jain Shwetambar Terapanth Women’s Wing, and a member of the IPYG showed their paintings and explained how they were drawn with the hope for the virus to end.
– Prayer for Safety Against COVID-19 and Prosperity in Africa
382 people from five African countries (Namibia, eSwatini, Mozambique, South Africa, and Zimbabwe) and the UK, Ireland, and New Zealand took part in the joint prayer for safety from COVID-19 and prosperity in Africa. In a specially prepared event, a poem for peace was read aloud, and representatives of seven religions led prayers following their respective prayer methods against COVID-19 and for the peace on the continent of Africa.
Pastor Pardon Chiwa, the president of the Youth and Psycho-social Affairs of Zimbabwe prayed as follows for African nations wounded by violent extremism such as terrorism: “We are in dire need of the intervention of God when it comes to the brutality and issues happening in our African continent,” “I pray that the hand of God, the Supreme Father, would intervene and put a sense in the mindsets of our leaders, military, and every sector that has to do with peace in Africa.”
Also, another participant, Reverend Berry Behr, the Chairperson of the Cape Town Interfaith Initiative, stated, “When we work together like that, it takes away any thought of disagreement, warfare, and the violence that can become endemic when we are so afraid.”
Stories of the joint prayer were covered and broadcast via national news, newspapers, and the Internet over 13 times in the UK, Ireland, and some African countries.
– Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan’s Joint Prayer, Pray for World Pandemic
The joint prayer was held with 13 representatives of four religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam. Manu Singh, the Chairperson of Sarva Dharma Samvaad (Organization for the harmony of various religions in India), who was the moderator at the event, explained regarding the COVID-19 crisis, “Because of our greed, we inflicted so much suffering on nature, we have a virus which is more like an anti-body which is trying to tell us where we went wrong. So when we are suffering, it’s just a mild push from nature trying to tell us how we went wrong. So let’s try and go to the foundations of peace.”
Hyacinth Peter, who is the Group Director of the Justice and Peace Commission-MSLCP and a Catholic priest, gave the following prayer while confessing the sin of humanity before the Creator and pleading for a quick recovery from the coronavirus situation as everyone solemnly prayed together: “Heavenly father, I’m thankful for all you gifts and life which you have given me. I bow down and request you heavenly father, please have mercy on the world, please forgive our sins. I ask you mercy on the people where there is war and conflict God give wisdom so they may know the importance of peace and harmony and stop the bloodshed. Father I ask you mercy on all the sick people specially the people those are suffering with COVID 19 may your healing hands teach them and they may receive complete recovery. Lord have mercy on your people and forgive their mistakes and sins and remove this pandemic from the world.”
The joint prayer for the world’s pandemic was aired on national and public broadcasting channels of Bangladesh as well as the Internet news over 12 times, spreading the prayers of the religious leaders and hope across the globe.
– 2020 Religious Gathering for the End of Covid-19 and Sustainable Peace
In the prayer gathering with participants from the US, Uganda, and Kenya, the active engagement of the youth members of the IPYG was especially notable. Toward the end of the event, a member of the IPYG read a letter expressing gratitude for the endeavors of heads of religions to achieve peace and harmony while saying that they served as an exemplary model to the younger generation. Also, the young adults put on a picket performance displaying messages of hope for peace and an end to the pandemic, and of the gratitude for the efforts made by religious figures, moving the heart of many at the scene.
The prayers hosted by WARP Offices of HWPL had approximately 800 participants thus far, and the spark kindled in the events will continue until the day the COVID-19 pandemic comes to an end. We sincerely ask that you join the prayers of people worldwide to successfully overcome the difficulty we face today.
Peace does not take place on its own. It is something we need plans and efforts to achieve, and it is indeed a practical matter. Currently, we are facing an invisible enemy called COVID-19, and overcoming and resolving the issue at hand depends on our engagement—our practical efforts to gather our heart, and to care for and love each other.
The WARP offices of HWPL will continue to take part in addressing diverse issues related to attaining world peace, and pour further efforts into gathering the heart of religious believers, and bringing humanity under the truth to achieve a true peace that will last.