18th July 2009, 43 Lancaster Gate, London, W2 3NA.
“Promotion of stable marriages and the commitment this requires is one of the most powerful ways we can contribute, both as religious and non-religious people, to rebuilding an unbroken, positive, peaceful Britain,” stated Edward Hartley, the MC for a July 18 conference in Central London on the topic of “Commitment in Marriage in World Faiths in Modern-day Britain.” Link for Full Report
Hinduism Mr. Narattam Pandey, representing the Hindu faith, gave a moving description of the beautiful ceremonies involved in a Hindu marriage and the deep commitment to each other that is instilled at every stage. “A proper ceremony which totally prepares the couple to dedicate to each other forever takes at least five hours but people want everything done super quick these days (and miss the point of what they are entering into).” Mr. Ujjwal Banga, who had just recently got married in a traditional ceremony to his wife Sudipta, posed the question of why there are so many problems in the UK. Marriage is all about sharing one’s life with another, and entering into this wonderful relationship which helps us go further in life and gives us what we can offer to the next generation.
Sikhism “In Sikhism, marriage should create one soul in two bodies; the four vows are intended to seal the commitment between the couple," stated Mr. Jatinder Birdi of the Warwick Interfaith Forum. "Old traditions are becoming unfashionable but they should be revived. Also government, both national and local, needs to offer support.” Mr. Birdi was followed by his younger counterpart, Ms. Sarnjit Kaur, explaining how teenagers would appreciate guidance from trusted (experienced) persons but end up discussing with each other! People are scarred by the media, particularly TV.
Women's Federation for World Peace
Mrs. Taeko Duckworth, Vice President of Women's Federation for World Peace-UK commented that "A man and woman together represent the complete expression of God’s full image to this world, and they are not separable even in their origin. When a man and woman grow individually to maturity, they naturally come to seek the other half who will complete them. They want to become one in a harmonious way with love and respect, so that God can reveal Himself through their concord. Whatever school teachers, friends, and media talk about, the family is the school of love, source of wisdom, and origin of power for every one of us. The the parents are the key figures who run this particular school."
Imam Mahmadou Bocoum enlightened us by explaining that there is no society without the family. Marriage is a God-given gift and should bring tranquility and peace. Islam can offer society a solution to the self-interested, often immature, relationship choices made by young people today, by the way it brings couples together. “Generally we let young people do whatever they like in UK society,” he said, “and this leads to many social problems! They need to understand healthy limits to their behavior.
Nasrin Shah, who spoke as the young representative of Islam. She explained about how she had had many negative feelings about marriage and her possible role as a wife in an Islamic marriage but then began to read the Qur'an and found so many uplifting and encouraging passages, also for wives. She realized that she would be protected in that relationship, but could continue to fully be herself. “God wants marriages to work,” she said, “We should work together as equal partners on the level of both the head and the heart!”
The Unificationist tradition was presented by Mr. Tim Miller, who talked about striving for individual maturity as a person of integrity, then marrying and building a family which embodies God’s love, life, and lineage, thus creating a foundation for peace on all levels from the family to world affairs. In our heart of hearts we all want stable committed loving relationships; we just need to make the investment required."
A young representative of the Unificationist tradition, Jonathan Bateman, explained how he applied the teachings of his faith at university. He could see how his friends from families with good values, passed on to them by their parents, did well while those from more unstable families struggled.
Marriage and Family Initiative
Edward Hartley gave a presentation about the work which the Universal Peace Federation is doing in this field.* He started with a short description of the situation of marriage and family life in the UK today. He outlined how the relative instability of couple relationships other than marriage, the poor quality of many still intact marriages (therefore, the need for marriage enrichment education), and the costs to UK society of family breakdown which, according to the Relationships Foundation, is £37 bn. per year! "We should, therefore, do whatever we can to help solve these problems," he concluded.
The presentation finished with a list of the past and current activities of the UPF initiative and reference to the brand new report (published on 17/07/09) from the Relationships Foundation about increasing use of Couple Relationship Education to reach 50 percent of the eligible population within 10 years. He proposed a final call to action to those present, with the words, “Please consider joining us to support the promotion of appropriate education in your particular faith, or sphere of influence.”
UPF is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations
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UPF Patron: Lord Tarsem King of West Bromwich Advisers: Imam Dr A Sajid Chairman Muslim Council for Religious and Racial Harmony UK Ven. Dr. Sumana Siri, Chief Sangha Nayaka (Buddhist Cardinal) of the U.K. & Europe Bishop Riah Abu El-Assal, Former Bishop of Jerusalem Mrs K Puri FRSA - East-West Family Circle Emeritus Professor Ursula King - University of Bristol UPF Marriage and Family Committee Members: Co-Chair: Edward Hartley Co-Chair: Dr Raheem Khan, Muslim Council of Britain Lady Juliet Atacko-Gregory Keitha Browning Alex Bourchardt Suman Datta Judge Khurshid Drabu Nushrat Kassam Professor Okeem Mark Pinchin Xuan Tran Dr Carole Ulanowsky-Rose, (Retd) School of Health and Social Welfare, Open University