“There is a human impulse it seems — fed by fear — to define “identity” in negative terms. We often determine “who we are” by determining who we are against. This fragmenting impulse not only separates peoples from one another, it also subdivides communities and then it subdivides the subdivisions…. But the human inclination to divisiveness is accompanied, I deeply believe, by a profound human impulse to bridge divisions. And often the more secure we are in our own identities, the more effective we can be in reaching out to others”.
Mowlana Hazar Imam’s words at the Acceptance of The Tolerance Award from the Evangelical Academy of Tutzing in 2006 are particularly poignant in today’s unpredictable world.
These words were echoed by Rt Hon Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, at an Iftar meal at the Ismaili Centre, London. The Mayor was joined by guests from a range of backgrounds for an Iftar meal to break the Ramadan fast after sunset. The Ismaili Community Ensemble’s rendition of ‘Bismillah’ delighted the guests and followed the beautiful recitations of the Qu’ran and Du’a. The guests enjoyed a sumptuous dinner which itself was a celebration of the plurality of the Ismaili Community, including Kabuli pilau, biryani, mogo and baklava.
President Liakat Hasham of the Ismaili National Council for London welcomed the Mayor to The Ismaili Centre and offered his condolences on behalf of the Ismaili Community to all the victims of the recent tragic events in London and the rest of the United Kingdom. He spoke about the ethics of the Ismaili Community and local community cohesion.
The Mayor praised the Ismaili community’s contributions to business, as well as paid tribute to the voluntary ethic of service, describing it as inspirational. He expressed his desire to working more closely with the community in the future.
At the start of the Diamond Jubilee Year, this event echoed the Diamond Jubilee goals to engage with our local communities and continue the centuries old tradition of contributing to the communities and countries in which we live. Mowlana Hazar Imam has spoken about the importance of tolerance and pluralism in civil society, and in these unpredictable times we should aim to embody these values and that hope is a powerful tool against hatred and violence.
As poignantly expressed by the Mayor, the Ismaili Community, embraces the spirit of all Londoners who “don’t just tolerate each other, we respect, celebrate and embrace each other”.
View some photographs from the day here: