The House of One

The House of OneWorld Interfaith Harmony Week, observed annually on the first week of February, encourages tolerance, respect and peace between people of different faiths.

The initiative was adopted by the United Nations in 2010 and called on faith communities to engage in a dialogue based on two fundamental commandments: love of God, and love of neighbour. These two commandments lie at the heart of the three major monotheistic religions – Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

In Berlin, a pastor, a rabbi and an imam are putting interfaith harmony into practice by building ‘The House of One’ – a place of worship that houses a synagogue, a church and a mosque – all under the one roof.

The three separate sections will be linked by a large communal room in the centre of the building. This will serve as a gathering place where worshippers from different faiths can come together and learn more about each other’s religion.

The idea for The House of One was initiated by Protestant pastor Gregor Hohberg.

“It is a place for dialogue and for all people of goodwill,” he said.

“In The House of One, justice, peace and reconciliation will have a home.”

Located in the heart of Berlin, The House of One will be built on the site where the first church in Berlin was once situated. The church was heavily damaged during World War II and later destroyed by East German authorities.

It will now be transformed into a sacred space where different faith communities can co-exist peacefully.

Rabbi Tovia Ben-Chorin said The House of One is not exclusive to Christians, Jews and Muslims. It is an invitation to all people to engage in a thoughtful conversation about peace and harmony.

“The House of One is a challenge not only for people from Berlin, but for anyone who’s interested in interreligious dialogue,” he said.

Recent anti-Islam rallies organised by far right groups have threatened religious harmony in Germany. Imam Kadir Sanci hopes The House of One will counter the hatred evoked by these groups and overcome some of the prejudices faced by Muslims in Germany.

“We want our children to have a future in which diversity is the norm,” he told The Independent.

Learning about other faiths is the first step towards religious harmony. The Jewish Christian Muslim Association in Australia has created a comparative guide outlining the basic differences and similarities between the three major monotheistic religions.

It will be a handy resource for congregations to explore how they can engage in interfaith dialogue with their neighbours.

You can download and print the guide here.

Image by Stefan Lauer via Twitter.

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