On behalf of Prime Minister Dr. Omar Al-Razzaz, Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Raja’i Muasher patronized the National Islamic-Christian Feast of the Annunciation, which was organized by the Catholic Center for Studies and Media (CCSM) in Jordan in cooperation with the Council of the Heads of Churches in Jordan, on Wednesday, March 27, at the Royal Cultural Center in Amman.
The ceremony was attended by heads of Churches; sheikhs from the Ifta’ Department, the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs, and the Chief Justice Department; members of the Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament, as well as official, religious and diplomatic personnel in addition to a delegation of “the Christian-Islamic Encounter Around Virgin Mary” that came deliberately from Lebanon to take part in the celebration.
In his address, Dr. Muasher said that Jordan embodies a unique and distinguished situation of common living, understanding and fraternal interaction as the celebration of the Annunciation is considered a new cornerstone in encounter, brotherhood and harmony.
He added that Jordan has historically been a cradle of civilizations, religions and messengers. Furthermore, since King Abdullah II assumed his constitutional authorities, several lofty Hashemite-initiated initiatives were launched such as the Amman Message, the Interfaith Harmony Week, and the Common Word Initiative among others
He pointed out that despite the diversity in religions, languages and identities; we all share Arabism and humanity. We also rally behind our Hashemite leadership and have strong faith in the principles of the Great Arab Revolt.
He concluded his address by stating that ‘’our meeting today is a true expression of our conviction that our strength lies in our diversity which is the basis for achieving sustainable development and ensuring common living.
Director of Catholic Center for Studies and Media in Jordan Fr. Dr. Rif’at Bader delivered an address in which said: “We gather this evening as a family characterized by unity and cordiality, as well as in an atmosphere of harmony to confirm our historical Jordanian constants, namely that religion is in the service of peace and harmony and that it can only be used to maintain harmony among people. In this context, we highly salute all sincere Jordanian efforts conducted by official and popular sides over the past years, as the Kingdom which is a few months away from marking its centennial anniversary, particularly during the reign of His Majesty King Abdullah II.”
He added,”We meet today to mark two prizes, namely the Templeton Prize which was awarded to His Majesty King Abdullah a few weeks ago and the Lamp of Peace Prize which he will receive in Assisi shortly. The two prizes have great significances as they reflect the bright image of Jordan in the world. The first one is the Templeton Prize is the interfaith dialogue prize. The interfaith dialogue is not only flourishing in Jordan, as it conveyed messages to the entire world as it has been Hashemite in mentality, Jordanian in issuance, and global in application. The second prize is the Lamp of Peace Prize (La Lampada di Pace) is awarded because Jordan, under the leadership of His Majesty the King, opted for a peaceful path which made us thank the Almighty God day and night for the blessing of security and stability as well as the best option, namely dialogue. We also hope that Pope Francis’ visit to the Kingdom of Morocco, to take place after two days, will be successful as has been the case with his visit to the United Arab Emirates two months ago where he signed the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together.
Fr. Dr. Bader continued, “We wish the best for our country at a time when we are positive and optimistic about the future. Let us wish the best for our brethren and the entire international community. Let us renounce terror in New Zealand, Nigeria and in other countries of the world as well as seek safety for noble Jerusalem so as to remain the capital of humanity and the capital of the Arab Palestinian state. As for its holy places, they are under the protection and custodianship of His Majesty, the Hashemite, may God protect him. Any change that could be effected with regards to the status quo of the Holy City or the Hashemite custodianship impinges on red lines and we all say in concord with His Majesty the King: No.”
The CCSM director concluded his address by welcoming the delegation from Beirut to celebrate the Feast of Annunciation led by Advisor of the Lebanese President for Interfaith Affairs Mr. Naji Khoury, His Excellency Sheikh Dr. Mohamed Al-Nuqqari, Mr. Munir Jaber and journalist Amal Shalhoub of the National News Agency.
Fr. Dr. Bader also launched the Annual Annunciation Prize, which was dedicated this year to two leading institutions in the field of interfaith dialogue and for drawing the faithful closer to one another in the faith in God. The prize will awarded this year to the Ecumenical Community Center–which is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church and administered by Pastor Samer Azar– in appreciation of the blessed efforts exerted in promoting culture particularly the culture of encounter and dialogue. The second prize was awarded to the Religious Solidarity Initiative which seeks to instill sound culture among followers of religions.
Secretary General of the Council of Heads of Churches in Jordan Fr. Ibrahim Dabbour, delivered a speech in which he said that the birth of the King of Peace reconciled humans with God and reconciled humans with their brethren. The annunciation means that God’s encounter with humans has opened the way to salvation. He added, “We are privileged by the incarnated Word of God which made us celebrate the feast of salvation. This reveals the love of Lord Jesus Christ for all, Christians and Muslims, and when we love Christ, we meet Him.’’
Advisor of the Lebanese President for Interfaith Affairs and Secretary General of “the Islamic-Christian Encounter Around Virgin Mary” Mr. Naji Khoury delivered an address in which he said, “We have come from Lebanon carrying the torch of love and peace. We have come to you holding the banner of Mary that brings us together on Her Feast of the Annunciation; we have come to proceed hand-in-hand to build a culture, or rather the civilization of love and peace.
He added, “My brethren in humanity, let us be a source of openness on the days of fanaticism and extremism, let us be men of unity on the days of division, let us be a flame of brotherhood on the days of enmity, and let us love one another on the days of hostility.”
In his address, Sheikh Dr. Mohammad Al-Nuqqari said, “When we unanimously agreed in Lebanon 13 years ago to celebrate the Feast of Virgin Mary’s Annunciation, we did not realize that it would quickly turn into a new global culture that would open the horizons of Muslim-Christian relations wide. The whole idea was that we, Muslims and Christians, sought commonalities so that we would come together based on a common word and to affirm our faith in God, His prophets, messengers and His heavenly books which we believe in as well as believe in the day of judgment and good deeds.”
He added, “Let everyone be familiarized with the fact that we Muslims and Christians are not after exclusions, schisms, hypocrisy or deceits. We pledged to eliminate hatred, grudge and division. We are united by a Merciful Mother for with Her love we plan roses, sow seeds, as well as sing songs and hymns of love and peace.”
The ceremony included two recitations on the Annunciation. The first one was from the Holy Bible by Fr. Imad Bawab and the second one was from the Holy Quran by Sheikh Abdullah Abu Ghazaleh. A short film, prepared by abouna.org electronic site, titled, “Jordan the Land of Peace” was screened. Several hymns were also presented.
By: Dr. Marcelle Jwaniat