With the support of European Union (EU), Peace and Education Foundation (PEF) has successfully implemented a 30-month project “Engaging diverse religious leaders to promote culture of tolerance, reconciliation and peace” from January 20, 2016 to July 19, 2018.The project goals were to: Trigger and nurture a process of social change for peace, reconciliation and dialogue between Muslim sectarian and non-Muslim religious communities in Pakistan to build culture of tolerance and coexistence‘. The project was aimed in engaging multi-layered religious engagement includes imams, madrasah faculty and interfaith leaders and their preachers ‘, community members and opinion leaders to maximize support and cooperation for peaceful co-existence in diverse communities.
Through this European Union funded project, PEF has developed and mobilized diverse religious leaders, and their communities in key vulnerable districts of Punjab, KPK and Islamabad to build tolerance, reconciliation and peace-making potential of religious leaders, their institutions and their communities for years to come. Under this project, 985 Mosque Imams, Madrasah teachers and interfaith religious leaders were capacitated and then equipped with specialized skills and resources to amplify the peace building messages to some 29,506 people within their communities. Further through media project goals and messages were disseminated to more than three million people.
‘The Imam training program was designed according to the acute community demand, as there exist no standardized Imam development programs in Pakistan. The proposed Imam engagement initiative will utilize the grassroots reach of the mosque and the systemic messages of media to enhance peace building by reducing intolerance in Pakistani society and potentially curb ethnic and religious violence. For more details click here
‘Peace Education and Islam’ textbook was introduced by Peace and Education Foundation in 2014. Introducing peace textbook program for madrasahs aims at making teachers and students as an integral contributor in peace-building process, spreading tolerance, respecting diversity and democracy to bring about behavioral change in their communities. The methodology of peace textbook specifically designed to cater the need of peace education for young students also encourages critical thinking and community leadership. The specialized activities and programs provide new dimensions of thinking for peace-building and conflict resolution through educational means. click here
The project seeks to address the vulnerability and pervasiveness of religious narratives based on violence and intolerance at the community level. The project is targeting 18 districts of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) including Islamabad. Under this project, 200 interfaith leaders representing Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and all Muslim schools of thought will be engaged within span of January, 2016 to July, 2018. The training action will be followed by an extensive community outreach campaign to promote local buy-in, an environment of openness to messages of peace and tolerance, and nurture a broader positive social change. click here click here
Community Engagement programs (CEPs)
Community Engagement programs (CEPs) by Faith Peace Champions
PEF faith Peace Champions have initiated a number of community engagement programs to promote tolerance, coexistence and culture of peace and harmony among different sects and religions at local level. PEF fully provided its support to the religious leaders in the implementation of community engagements programs. Through these CEPs, peace champions have provided a platform to diverse local communities where they meet and develop a better understanding about each other. As a result, formation of diverse religious networks in districts of both provinces of Punjab & KPK including capital Islamabad.
Under this project, a total of 29,506 people from different walks of life were engaged (male 27,030-female 2,476) through 747 follow up Community Engagement Programs (CEPs) within defined districts both provinces of Punjab & KPK including capital Islamabad.
Project has created unprecedented commitment from the targeted communities and religious leaders to continue to work for religious freedom for all faiths and halt and prevent violent-extremism within their communities. Recognizing the importance and necessity to sustain such efforts, diverse networks of faith leaders were formed and a cadre of religious champions capacitated to counter religious-based narratives of violence and oppression at the community level.
Over 29,000 people representing local faith-based communities including women have participated in community-based initiative Community Engagement Programs (CEPs) that promoted peace, reconciliation and dialogue among Muslim sectarian and non-Muslim religious communities.
PEF model for religious engagement ascertained its effectiveness by creating a specialized model of capacity building thru intensive professional and personal development and graduated specially selected religious leaders called Peace Champions.
These Peace Champions with specialized skills mobilize other religious leaders, civic communities and youth at their communities in the targeted districts of Punjab, Islamabad and KPK to sustain tolerance, reconciliation, religious freedom and peacemaking efforts. As a result of their continuous efforts at the community level, local awareness and acceptance among diverse faith-based communities have been increased as they created supportive environment and built trust among diverse faith communities.
The participants and communities engaged thru this project recognized the need to sustain efforts in building-tolerance, reconciliation and peace-making within their respective communities for years to come. Under this project, diverse networks of faith leaders were formed at district level and many organizations were established by Peace Champions such as Society for Peace & Interfaith Harmony in Faisalabad, Punjab province, Jeevan Foundation in Bahawalpur, Punjab province, Ibn Rushd Foundation in Mansehra, KPK province, Interfaith Commission for Peace & Harmony in Karachi, Sindh province that will constantly counter religious-based narratives of violence and oppression based on bigotry, rumour, and collective punishment at the community level.
PEF ‘s madrasah partners have taken ownership of such initiatives now, they are in communication with the relevant ministries to contribute for peace, reconciliation and coexistence and improve madrasah education system at a policy level as well as they are collaborating with the other civil society networks.
Recognizing the effectiveness of this extensive multi-layered religious engagement model, PEF was awarded third times by DAI- USAID in a project ―Engaging Religious Leaders as Community Leaders in South Punjab to Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) that developed synergies with the EU funded project. Under this project, imams and interfaith leaders are engaged and prepared cadre of Peace Champions from both groups in three districts of South Punjab to promote a message of peace and tolerance at the community level.
We see a social change as snowball effect at the community level through capacity building programs for faith leaders. The religious community recognized the importance of such initiative at district and community level. The demand for religious engagement through such initiatives now constantly increasing and PEF has been received many requests from different religious networks and individuals for collaboration.