United for Peace – Unity through Poetry took place on 10 May 2017 in the Multi Faith Chaplaincy at the University of Birmingham.
It was an evening of poetry, music and silent reflection that had been conceived by the Oxford Foundation and was supported by The Edward Cadbury Centre for the Public Understanding of Religion. The event celebrated, through the medium of poetry, the common values of respect, love, peace, compassion and understanding as opposed to extremist narratives of ugliness, division, hatred, and violence.
Imam Monawar Hussain DL, Founder of the Oxford Foundation and Cadbury Centre Honorary Fellow, welcomes the audience
More than 30 performers from various faith and non-faith traditions came together to chant, sing, dance, and recite poetry in front of a packed audience drawn from the local community and University of Birmingham.
The Sufi Way Zawiya, Birmingham Ensemble
Among the performers who read poetry were Eloise Secker from the Royal Shakespeare Company, Muhammad Ali from the International Alama Iqbal Society, Hafsa Rehman and Aisha Bibi from the City Hasanat College, Birmingham, Mrs Violet Owen (Baha’i), Dr Sharada Sughirtharajah (Hindu chaplain at the University of Birmingham), Dr Islam Issa from Birmingham City University, as well as Ahmad Nawaz (APS victim), who held a poetic eulogy for the victims of terrorism around the world.
Alexander Massey performs 'Shalom Aleichem, Aleichem Shalom' (new chant - composed especially for this occasion)
Peace and love songs were performed by Alexander Massey (Jewish tradition), Sam Anthony Kucheri Clement (Christian tradition) and Dr Andrew Davies (Christian tradition). Spiritually uplifting chants came from The Sufi Way Zawiya, Birmingham Ensemble, the University of Birmingham’s Buddhist chaplains, and Lala Abdul Qadeer, a classical spiritual folk singer.
A group introduced by Dr Piyara Singh Boghal performs a Shabad (hymn) from the Sikh tradition
A performer from the Rumi Circle recited the poetry of Rumi and his message of unity and peace while accompanied by a Whirling Dervish.
Daniel Dyer, Whirling Dervish from the Rumi Circle during their performance
The evening was followed by a reception were performers and audience members had a chance to mingle.