Term 3 – 2018 Religious Diversity classes (Selected Topics) begin the first few days of August 2018. Registration is now open. Registration and payment for all RDC classes can be made directly on our website using your credit card, debit card, or PayPal account. More information on the Religious Diversity Classes for 2018 can be found on our ‘Courses’ ➔ ‘Classes’ link above, or click here for more information and to register and pay.
Upcoming: National Interfaith Forum, Wellington, 28-30 July
14 May 2018: Ramadan Advisory:
RAMADAN: A Month for Spiritual Reflection
RAMADAN is the 9th month of the Islamic lunar calendar and is observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of daily fasting from sunrise to sunset to commemorate the first revelation of the Qur’ān to the Prophet Muhammad. This annual observance is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. The appearance of the Ramadan crescent moon will be a much anticipated event as moon-sighters begin to gather at sunset on Wednesday 16th May. Depending on when the first glimpse of the crescent moon appears, Ramadan will begin on either Thursday 17th or Friday 18th May.
Ramadan is a month of spiritual renewal and individual transformation, which adherents strive to maintain throughout the year; an annual refresher in self-restraint and discipline, strengthening relationships through fostering one’s personal relationship with the Divine. During Ramadan, Muslims reset their priorities and reflect on the Qur’ānic question: “Where, then, are you going?”. It is a time to review one’s direction in life in a state of self-discipline, inward calm and clarity, and heightened mindfulness of God—as well as in selfless dedication to others.
Fasting, a central feature of Ramadan, is the religious obligation of all healthy adult Muslims, and is similar to the fasting traditions of many other faiths. It seeks to substitute consumption for deeper self-discipline and gratitude to God for the abundance of His blessings; for providing long life and good health, and for helping us to provide for those in need. It fosters empathy and compassion for those requiring food, clothing and shelter, and helps us foster generosity and solidarity with the most vulnerable and deprived.
Fasting involves abstaining from eating, drinking, and sexual activity from dawn until sunset, which in New Zealand this year lasts about 12 hours from approximately 5:30am to about 5:30pm (days will shorten as the month progresses). Night prayers, reading and reflecting on the Holy Qur’ān, and an increase in the practice of one’s faith are features of the holy month of Ramadan. Physical restraint complements a mental and spiritual reset—a ‘detox’ of mind, body and soul. Ultimately, fasting is the fasting of the heart from all inward ills: from arrogance and envy to slander and selfishness. Divine reward is reserved for each individual’s Divinely-witnessed sacrifice. The ultimate aim is an intimate relationship with the Divine.
Employers may consider working arrangements for their Muslim employees, such as an early start to work and early finish, or other easily implemented practices such as working through the lunch break in order to be able to return home in time for the evening’s breaking of the daily fast, known as iftār.
Colleagues may trial abstinence for individual benefit, give generously in solidarity to particular causes that aim to provide for those in need, or consider fasting for the health and spiritual benefits it provides.
Workplaces may hold a shared break-the-fast event (iftār). Fast-breaking time is the culmination of the spiritual day. The few minutes before breaking the fast are for reflection and supplication to God. Water, dates, nuts and fruits are commonly used to break the fast.
Ramadan ends with the annual festival of Eid, which includes prayers and a sermon followed by celebrations. As with the start of Ramadan, the day of Eid depends on the sighting of the new crescent, which will be sought at sunset on 14th June and, if sighted, Eid will occur on Friday 15th June. If the crescent moon is sighted on the evening of 15th June, then Eid will be celebrated on Saturday 16th June. Eid lasts for three days and celebrations will continue over the weekend. Ramadan is a season of commitment, compassion, sharing and celebration.
23 April 2018: The Wellington Interfaith Council is pleased to announce the upcoming 2018 National Interfaith Forum (NIFF) to be held in Wellington from 28th through 30th July 2018. Further details will be announced in early May 2018. For more information, contact <email@example.com> or check out their Facebook page at <www.facebook.com/Wellington-Interfaith>.
11 April 2018: RDC appoints new Board Members to the RDC Trust. At our recent AGM in March, new members Selva Ramasami (Hindu, Wellington) and Sensei Amala Wrightson (Buddhist, Auckland) were welcomed as new members of the Religious Diversity Centre Trust. Both have been exceptionally busy members of their respective communities and we look forward to their involvement in the activities and programmes of the RDC.
March 2018: A Historic Event in Vienna :
Jocelyn Armstrong, RDC Trust Chairperson, was in Vienna on 26 February 2018 at the launch of the first “Interreligious Platform for Dialogue and Cooperation in the Arab World.”
A formal body will be formed to enable Muslim and Christian leaders to meet with policy makers, to advocate for the rights and inclusion of all communities in the Arab World, to combat ideologies that exploit anxiety and instigate hatred, and sectarianism, and to jointly address the toughest challenges their communities face. The agreement signed by 23 high level religious leaders from the Arab region, Muslim and Christian, Grand Muftis and Grand Imams, Archbishops and Patriarchs, and supported by KAICIID, was hailed as a historic event. Jocelyn and her husband, the Rev Dr George Armstrong – a member of KAICIID Advisory Forum – were impressed by the sense of commitment and hope expressed by the leaders as they spoke of the past two decades of violence and conflict and of the role their religious communities could play to reduce tension and strengthen social cohesion in the region.
KAICIID Secretary General spoke of the years of preparation for this momentous event and stated: “Religion, especially in the Arab world, is a powerful motivating force, and a source of shared identity for millions of people. For too long, we have allowed religion to be hijacked and used as justification for causing pain and suffering. With the launch of this platform, the leaders of religious communities say ‘enough’ to this manipulation and misuse. There has been enough talk, and not enough action. Through this platform, we will set a visible, tangible example of interreligious cooperation. People need to see that religious communities, working together, are much stronger than any extremists, and that cooperation brings concrete benefits to everyone.”
KAICIID is the only intergovernmental organisation governed by religious representatives and the only intergovernmental organisation dedicated to facilitating dialogue between different cultures and faiths. The large February gathering was welcomed by the Foreign Affairs Ministers of Austria, Spain and Saudi Arabia whose governments together with the Vatican are the foundation of the King Abdullah Centre for Inter-religious and Inter-cultural Dialogue. This pioneering effort in the Arab World stands in line with the KAICIID ‘peace and reconciliation through interreligious dialogue’ programmes in Nigeria, the Central African Republic and Myanmar, and the ‘Social Inclusion of People Seeking Refuge programme’ in Europe. A strong component of KAICIID’s programmes is working in partnership with a wide range of international partners that include religious institutions, intergovernmental organisations such as the European Commission and the United Nations, and civil society.
As the February meetings reviewed Kaiciid’s strategy for the next three years, the presentations and discussions focused on three areas – education at all levels – from the international Scout movement to a network for Muslims and Christian seminaries and institutes in the Arab world, social media as a space for dialogue – with training programmes underway, and partnerships with policy makers. “These three – education, social media and partnerships with policy makers – at this international level parallel our own RDC objectives at our national level. We are assured of mutual support and inspiration!” was Jocelyn’s comment on her return home.
For further information see: www.kaiciid.org.
page last updated 19 June 2018.