SHAFAQNA – THEY may differ in religion.
But Christians and Muslims in Cebu set aside religious differences and came together for one purpose — peace.
About 200 persons from different religions gathered at the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño’s open-air Pilgrim Center at past 4 p.m. on Tuesday to pray for peace in the country, particularly in Mindanao.
They uttered prayers, sang chants and rang the bells to extol peace and unity among all Filipinos regardless of culture, race and religion.
“In the midst of war and distress, our ultimate refuge is prayer. We succumb to unity rather than diversity. No religion wants war, terrorism and violence. What we want is peace,” said Fr. Pacifico “Jun” Nohara, OSA, rector of the centuries-old basilica.
“And if there is one more gift we ask from God, that would be peace. It is time for humanity to live in peace, harmony and love,” he added.
Ustadz Rasul Najib, president of the Voice of Islam Foundation in Cebu and chairman of the Council of Elders in the Visayas, said Muslims also long for peace.
Terrorists who sow terror in the name of Islam, Najib said, are misguided extremists who need to revisit their beliefs.
“Islam is a religion of peace. It is not a religion of violence as some people think. It teaches us that all human beings are brothers. We need to respect each other. We need to protect each other. We need to love each other. We need to build tranquility and peace among us,” said Najib.
Violence today, he stressed, is perpetrated by a few radicals who he said deviated from the teachings of Islam.
“They contextualize Islam in their own understanding. They have deviated from the right path. These extremists are condemned by Muslims in general.”
Of about two billion Muslims around the world, Najib said about 50,000 are involved in terror groups.
“What they are doing is not only against Christianity and other religions. It is against the law of God and humanity. We abhor what they do. They do not belong to our community. They are not part of us, and we are not part of them. They are misguided individuals,” he stressed.
Najib expressed hopes that Muslims who take part in terrorism will be enlightened and will return to the right path.
“We ask God to unite our hearts with the rest of humanity. May the Lord open our hearts so we may share among ourselves as one people — Muslims and Christians — and as Filipinos in this country. Give us the chance to work for peace in our country,” Najib said.
The “Interfaith Prayer for Peace” was organized by the Commission on Social Advocacies of the Archdiocese of Cebu.
Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, who was in Manila on Tuesday, was represented by Msgr. Daniel Sanico, the vicar general of the archdiocese.