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MBABANE – “It doesn’t matter where you fellowship, what matters most is that we must live peacefully with each other.”

This was said by Saheed Matsebula from the Muslim community during the Interfaith Fellowship Gathering held at Bahái Centre on Saturday afternoon. It was held under the theme ‘My faith, my community’. Matsebula said he had observed conflict in different faiths, which needed to be addressed as soon as possible. He said this had resulted in people not being bothered what the next person was going through in life. He said there was no Muslim without a community. “The disunity in our society due to religion has resulted in the abandonment of responsibility that we should be doing as a community. We are seeing the young generation killing themselves. I am very passionate about the youth. Why is this happening in our communities? Let’s stop being self-centred,” he emphasised.

Matsebula further pleaded with the other faiths to join hands in coming up with strategies to solve the current political situation in Eswatini. He said failure to do that would result in the upcoming generation bearing the consequences of things they knew nothing about. “Let us sit down as different faith denominations and come up with strategies on how we can change the unfavourable situation on the ground. It doesn’t matter whether I am a Christian, Jew, Muslim or from Baha’i faith, let the fighting stop. If we fail to accommodate each other and make our communities a better place, our children will suffer for things we should have resolved while we were still alive,” he narrated.

Matsebula emphasised on the importance of doing good to all mankind. He said all people belonged to one God who would  judge them based on things done while on earth.
“On the day of judgment, you will be alone and without your mother or anyone. You will be judged based on what you would have done on earth,” he said. Yael Uzan representing the Jewish faith, was all about charity. She said it was the responsibility of each one of them to take care of each other. She said man should understand the importance of living as one in a community as it helped to identify one’s needs. “Man cannot live alone on this planet and that is why we are talking about the importance of being in a community. In a community we take care of each other, help the poor and visit widows. All this has keeps a nation and community strong,” said Uzan.

She said the Jewish faith was all about bringing God into the community. She said taking care of each other was one way of showing that people belonged to the same God, who created them in the beginning. Reverend Solomon Nxumalo from the Christian faith spoke about the invisible and visible community, where he said God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit represented the community, while mankind was the visible community. He said a community was important because it was where people were living and could be found in the four corners of the world (north, south, east and west). Nxumalo said a community was important as it was where struggling people were easily identified and then assisted. He then made reference to yesterday’s church, which took care of each other.  

“In the year 313, the church offered assistance to each other. They used to come together and share what they had. It was not easy to differentiate between the poor and the rich. In a community, there is power despite being a Christian or not. That is why it is important to do things together,” said Nxumalo. He said the coming of Jesus Christ on earth broke the curtain which prevented different faiths from fellowshiping together. He said what was happening today, where people from various faiths came together, was a sign that they truly belonged to the same community. “Faith has done a tremendous job as now we can mix with other religions. We now even come together and discuss the same subjects that affect our society at large. We are now united. Faith can move mountains,” said the reverend.


Dr Irman Allen from the Bahái faith said their mandate was to raise vibrant and outward looking communities. She said this meant that the communities must learn how to bring about spiritual and material progress and above all, learn how to contribute to the discourses that influence the direction of the progress. “The vision which inspires this is the Baha’i vision for humanity. Baha’u’lah states that, ‘the purpose for which mortal men have, from utter nothingness , stepped into a realm of being is that they may work for the betterment of the world and live together  in concord and harmony’,” said Allen. She further said a rising spirit in community building entailed families and working together and making conscious decisions to see themselves belonging to an expanding nucleus. She stated that those groups set about widening the circle of participation in their activities by engaging with the networks to which they belong.

She further stated that opportunities  sought out to share the perspective of the faith with community leaders and figures  in authority, and spaces were created in which representatives  of various groups and interests could be assisted to reach  a common point  of view  through consultation. “In a nutshell, this is what my faith is trying to achieve in my community, so I think that I can confidently say that. This is what we, all here, will work to promote in our communities,” she concluded. Some of the attendees asked the panelists why they were concerned about rebuilding the community which would be destroyed. One argued that some preachers had declared that Jesus Christ was coming very soon. “Why are we talking about the community while others are talking about the world coming to an end? Why are we concerned about building our communities?” asked one attendee.

In response to the question, Azan said no one could survive by himself or herself. Nxumalo said it was important to do good to mankind, while Allen encouraged people to abide by God’s will. Rejoice, another attendee, said religion was the cause of the chaos happening around the world. She said communities were in crisis, conflicted because of religion. “The people of God are lost. Community is in crisis, conflicted in core because religion is the major contributor of how the community looked like. How can religion take us back to our original community?” she asked. All speakers said religion was promoting peace in the lives of mankind. They said they needed to find common ground as different faiths and work together.

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