A UAE-based initiative is calling on the power of prayer to lift up spirits around the world during this difficult time.
The 'Pray for Humanity' initiative has made May 14 the designated day to reach out to people across the globe, in 14 languages, to fast, pray, and express themselves spiritually.
The goal is to change the mood in the face of the far-reaching coronavirus outbreak, which has seen many people become affected by isolation and fear.
The organisers are hoping that a unified movement will connect and uplift, people emotionally when they are otherwise feeling the impact of social distancing.
The initiative was founded by the UAE’s Higher Committee for Human Fraternity (HCHF), a diverse group of international religious and cultural leaders.
“The pandemic has caused new bridges to be built,” says Dr. Sultan Al Remeithi, an HCHF member, and secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Elders.
He told Euronews that Pray for Humanity has positively impacted the bond between European countries, and those of the Middle East.
“This initiative has strengthened this idea of fraternity between the two.”
Watch religious leaders and practitioners encourage global prayer day by clicking on the video in the media player at the top
Across faiths, and platforms
May 14 date is situated within a holy time for a variety of faiths, including Islam under which worshipers fast from dawn until dusk during the month Ramadan- especially towards the end of the holy month, which is believed to be especially blessed.
The day before, many Christians celebrated the anniversary of the apparition of Lady of Fatima. There’s also Lag B’Omer earlier this week, a special day in Jewish faith which commemorates the second-century Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai.
The global gathering has seen pre-arranged virtual prayer sessions, an all-day live stream of global prayer, and also other participants showing their devotion by sharing photos, videos, or their words of support through social media, using the initiative’s hashtag.
An English teacher in Tunisia tweeted her support for the initiative, asking people of all faiths to “stand together in this situation,” writes Feten Melliti.
On Twitter, user scott853 created a digital map where people can share the geolocation of their prayers, with submissions entered from the US, South Africa, the Philippines, and countries in Europe.
Support across belief systems
Pope Francis, Head of the Catholic Church, and Ahmed Al Tayeb, Grand Imam of the Al Azhar Mosque, in Egypt, and other prominent religious and community leaders, have pledged their support.
“God knows that we need it,” says Rabbi Yehuda Sarna, Chief Rabbi of the Jewish Community of the Emirates, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“After having undergone so many weeks and months of anxiety, isolation, and quarantine. It’s time to slowly come back together,” he says in a video shared by the HCHF on Twitter.
In Abu Dhabi, Hindu communities have rallied behind the call to join in religious prayer. Indonesian president Joko Widodo says his country’s ministers and religious leaders will also join.
Chechen Republic president Ramzan Kadyrov joined the spiritual call, along with Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee.
The influence of prayer
Regional celebrities and social media influencers are also joining the online gathering.
Emirati singer Ahlam shared her participation on social media and says that she and her family, will pray together in support.
“With the whole world, for the sake of humanity,” she says, in a video message for the HCHF.
The former director-general of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, showed her support, saying that everyone around the world should take this step, in solidarity.
Egyptian actress, and former UN Goodwill Ambassador, Safia El Emari, also joined the ranks, saying that she will pray for the whole world, and for humanity.
Last year in February, the UAE hosted Pope Francis to celebrate Holy Mass at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi, marking the first papal visit of the Roman Catholic Church to the Arabian Peninsula.
He delivered a Papal Mass to about 180,000 Catholics in the UAE, where there is an estimated one million Catholics residing, according to the country’s official news agency.
During the Pope’s three-day visit, he signed a joint statement, with Al Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al Azhar Mosque, which was named the ‘Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together’.
The agreement, fostered from an open discussion between the two leaders, about how to advance the ‘culture of human respect’ globally, and has led to a number of initiatives taking place since February of 2019, including the Pray for Humanity initiative.
There are also plans to build the Abrahamic Family House, a complex in the UAE capital that will house a synagogue, mosque, and church, which will stand side by side, for worship, and also to encourage inter-faith dialogue.
These initiatives and others, are gearing to provide support to international communities of all religions, as the World Health Organization reports that more than four million cases of COVID-19 have been identified globally.
Below are the prayers issued in twelve different languages by the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity: