“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
It was around a century before this popular quotation was written by the French philosopher Voltaire, that the Ninth Sikh master, Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji demonstrated it literally in the Indian subcontinent by giving up his life to uphold the beliefs of others. By sacrificing himself, Guru Tegh Bahadaur ji not only put into practice the Sikh concept of “Sarbat da Bhalla” (welfare of all mankind) but ensured religious freedom of others at a time when they were being persecuted by the rulers of the day.
On the day Sikhs across the world paid tribute to Guru Tegh Bahadaur Ji on the anniversary of their Martyrdom, a group of young people from different faiths came together in Birmingham for the launch of the Catalyst Leadership programme. The programme aims to contribute to the formation of a future leadership that prioritises civic engagement and builds association between different faiths and communities.
Today it’s impossible to imagine true peace and harmony in the world, without an understanding between the adherents of the world’s religions. In an era of globalisation, in which we are far more likely to share society together because society is becoming more diverse and the Internet is creating a more global sense of community, the existence of such respect and mutual understanding becomes essential. The Catalyst programme has the potential to create that understanding. 12 young faith leaders representing the Christian, Islamic, Buddhist, and Sikh faith will now form the 2012 cohort of the Catalyst Leadership programme and meet regularly over the next few months and help realise that potential.
The Cohort will share ideas, engage in interfaith dialogue, help positively challenge each other whilst growing as individuals and young faith leaders. Andexamples such as that of Guru Tegh Bahadaur ji who gave up their life for the faith of another, will always help motivate us on our journey of interfaith.