'Creation of more peaceful world': Religious leaders hail UAE's Abrahamic Family House as model of coexistence

The facility, which features a mosque, church, and synagogue, opens its doors on March 1 for visitors

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Ashwani Kumar

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Published: Fri 17 Feb 2023, 4:31 PM

Eminent scholars, religious and community leaders and have hailed the Abrahamic Family House in Abu Dhabi as an epitome of peaceful coexistence.

Featuring three separate houses of worship – a mosque, church, and synagogue – as well as shared spaces for gathering and dialogue, the new centre is located in Saadiyat Cultural District in Abu Dhabi.

The remarkable monument was inaugurated by Lieutenant General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, and Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence on Thursday.

Rooted in the UAE’s values of bringing people and cultures together, the Abrahamic Family House embodies the diversity of Abu Dhabi and the wider UAE, home to vibrant multicultural communities of various faiths. The project was inspired by the principles in the Document on Human Fraternity, signed by Pope Francis and Grand Imam Dr Ahmed El-Tayeb in Abu Dhabi in 2019.

“The Abrahamic Family House is symbolic of the UAE’s long-standing values of mutual respect and peaceful coexistence – values embodied by our Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed,” said Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, President, Abrahamic Family House.

“The centre will be a platform for learning and dialogue, a model of coexistence set against the backdrop of the multiculturalism and diversity of our nation, where more than 200 nationalities live peacefully side-by-side. We hope that the Abrahamic Family House will inspire youth everywhere, as we highlight our common humanity and work towards the creation of a more peaceful world for generations to come,” Al Mubarak noted.

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At the Abrahamic Family House visitors are invited to participate in religious services, guided tours, celebrations, and opportunities to explore faith. Each of the dedicated houses of worship, Ahmed El-Tayeb Mosque, St Francis Church, and Moses Ben Maimon Synagogue, has space for observers, and daily guided tours will show visitors features of the design pertinent to the practices and traditions of each faith.

Professor Mohammed Al Mahrasawi, Co-Chair of Higher Committee for Human Fraternity, and former President of Al-Azhar University, said: “The Abrahamic Family House is a true reflection of the provisions of the Document on Human Fraternity, which calls for ensuring peaceful coexistence. It is a testament to the vision of the UAE and its leaders towards promoting interfaith dialogue and peace among all. The Abrahamic Family House is a model of coexistence, reconciliation, and mutual respect for the sake of mankind.”

The complex’s central forum functions as a visitor experience centre, where an immersive exhibition will introduce visitors to the Abrahamic Family House and invite reflection on the three faiths. The space will host discussions, forums, and conferences that promote understanding, dialogue and peaceful coexistence. The shared garden is another space for gathering, learning and conversation for members of diverse faith communities and visitors of all beliefs.

Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue of the Holy See, said: “The Abrahamic Family House is a concrete example for people of different religions, cultures, traditions, and beliefs to return to the essential: love of neighbour. This will be a place which promotes dialogue and mutual respect, and acts in the service of human fraternity as we walk the paths of peace together.”

The three houses of worship are of equal stature and share external dimensions, and have been designed by Sir David Adjaye, of Adjaye Associates, to respect the architectural codes and individualism of each faith. Each takes the form of a cube that is 30m deep, 30m wide and 30m tall. The mosque, church and synagogue will provide faith communities with an environment of profound beauty and tranquillity in which to participate in religious services, listen to recitals of holy scripture and prayers, and experience sacred rituals.

Sir Ephraim Mirvis, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, said: “Let us use this extraordinary sacred site to promote harmony and peace. In a world in which differences can separate us, let us say here that our shared values shall exist for the sake of our universal aspirations.”

The Abrahamic Family House will also offer a dynamic series of educational and faith-based programmes and events, as well as initiatives for young people, that promote the exchange of knowledge and interfaith collaboration. Following an inauguration ceremony on Thursday, the houses will be consecrated, after which worshippers will be welcome to come and practice their faith. Access to the forum and guided tours will be available to visitors from March 1.


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