By Tacie Holyoak
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday March 27, 2003
Yesterday at noon, religious representatives from around campus gathered at the Memorial Fountain near Old Main for an inter-faith service.
The service, sponsored by the University Religious Council, brought university religious leaders together to speak out about the war in the Middle East.
Representatives from Ba'hai, Buddhist, Christian, Jewish and Muslim religions each spoke of their individual desires for peace and unity throughout the world. Some said prayers and sung for those affected by the war; others spoke of their hope for a peaceful end to the war.
The day's events were significant, said Iman Omar Shahin, president of the University Religious Council and director of the Islamic Center, because they demonstrated the ability of people from diverse backgrounds to come together for a unified cause: Peace.
"We need to search for commonality," said Rev. Dan Hurlburd of the Methodist Center. "There is a sameness amongst us all that is greater than any difference."
The service was also attended by UA President Pete Likins, who spoke of the importance of coming together in peaceful assembly.
"We come from many lands, cultures and religions, but we are all members of the community," he said, adding that there is a need to listen to others and seek to heal and understand.
Hurlburd, who represented Christian religions, said that people throughout the denomination are divided by their feelings about the conflict. He also is uncertain where he stands, not wanting war but believing that being critical of our troops and our nation is not supportive.
Shahim encouraged attendants to be sympathetic to others' views.
"To get angry, it is very easy," he said. "To be angry with the right person, at the right degree, at the right time, is not always easy."
Shahim spoke out, saying he did not support a war against countries, but did support a war against violence.
Yesterday's service was also an opportunity to display a newly completed mural, "Hope Beyond Conflict," a project co-sponsored by the University Religious Council.
Students from Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faiths, in cooperation with Michael Schwartz, a commissioned artist from the Tucson Arts Brigade, worked for over 12 hours painting a representation of unity between religions and cultures throughout the world.
"I am hoping this event is going to break down walls and show the world that we can work together in ways for peace by focusing on our commonalities," said Jen Levine, co-chair of the diversity council of the Hillel Foundation.
The mural will be displayed around campus beginning April 15 at the Jewish Community Center in remembrance of the Holocaust.
It's really beautiful to come and see this mural here today," said Eugen Yazdani, an international relations sophomore and member of the Ba'hai Association. He said he believes that any problem can be remedied if given the effort.
"If we really want to accomplish something, we need unity and the understanding that we all come from God," he said.