The Human Cohesion Project — 13 Apr 2021
The Human Cohesion Project evolved last year at the beginning of Ramadan, around what can now be described as the early weeks of the Covid-19 pandemic. My intention then was the same as it is now, in version 2 of the project: to explore, deepen and transform my relationship with faith. And if you wish to journey with me through this holy month, I extend the same invitation to you. I will post my reflection everyday of Ramadan till Eid which may be around 13 May 2021, and would love to hear how you are journeying along.
I step into this process this year keenly aware of my identities as a peacebuilder and facilitator (both chosen identities) and that of a Hindu, Brahmin (both very reluctantly inherited): I specifically name these identities among others because of the privileges and challenges they bring in the world we live in today. And while faith as an area of personal and professional exploration is an ongoing process for me (incidentally, we began The Samvaad Project today to train university educators in western India on facilitating interfaith dialogue, with the aid of the US State Department), Islam is of particular interest owing to the nature of my work as a peacebuilder, and also because of profound personal experiences around how religion can make one’s life political.
I am acutely aware of how an exploration such as this can be deeply agitating particularly as I live a country that is becoming steeply polarised in more ways than one. And yet, open engagement with faith, uncomfortable as it may be, is a critical part of the democratic process. As a citizen of the world today, if I aspire to live in a democracy, it is my duty to engage in dialogue, within and outside. Engaging with any religion opens up doorways to all other religions, for they all had the same purpose: to unite and lead to collective evolution. The word religion comes from the Latin religare (to bind).
I am anchoring this project with a personal practice of fasting and chanting the Shahada everyday. Of course, that is incidental. If you wish to journey along, you could choose your own anchors: some ideas include reading the Quran, meditating and journalling about your relationship with faith, lighting a candle, etc. The ‘what’ of the practice is immaterial. The ‘why’ is critical. I urge for your ‘why’ to be to heal your relationship with faith (even as an atheist/agnostic), and then to offer that healing to the world.
I must clarify: this is not a religious project. For me, it is a peace project. It is an opportunity to heal my relationship with religion and offer the healing towards co-creating a world that works for us all. Islam happens to be the medium.
Ramadan Kareem. Happy Gudi Padwa, Ugadi, Baisakhi (and several other local versions of the new year in India). May our collective intention for harmony guide this journey.
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