This past weekend marked the first sabbath that the Abrahamic Family House was open in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
On Thursday 16 February, the president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot spoke, as well as the chief rabbi of the United Kingdom, Ephraim Mirvis, and the president of the center, Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak.
Then, from Friday to Sunday, religious worship ensued.
The Abrahamic Family House featured Friday Prayer at Ahmed El Tayeb Mosque, mass at Saint Francis Church on Sunday held by Cardinal Michael Fitzgerald, and a Sunday afternoon prayer service at Moses Ben Maimon Synagogue.
The events were praised by Christians, Muslims, and Jews the world over, and the international community was very excited to see the three Abrahamic religions coexisting.
The Abrahamic Family House represents the goal of the leadership in Abu Dhabi under the Emir of Abu Dhabi and President of the UAE, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Grand Imam of Al-Anzhur, Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, and Pope Francis which is to decrease religious hate and spread religious cooperation and brotherhood.
In order to do this, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan created the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity in 2019 after Pope Francis traveled to Abu Dhabi on an apostolic journey where he signed the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together (Abu Dhabi Declaration) with Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb that stated mutual understandings and goals to create a more peaceful world.
The Higher Committee of Human Fraternity then formed with nine members representing the Christian, Muslim, and Jewish faiths, as well as the UN and international community, and the UAE with the goals of implementing the Abu Dhabi Declaration. The Committee has met in New York City at the UN as well as in the Vatican City and Abu Dhabi. Their work strives to promote tolerance and peace in line with the Abu Dhabi Declaration, and in 2021, they were successful in getting the UN to approve of the International Day of Human Fraternity with support from US President Joe Biden, Pope Francis, and Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb. The day is now an annual celebration held every year on 4 February, the date Pope Francis and Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb signed the Abu Dhabi Declaration.
In addition to the Committee, it was former US President, President Donald Trump, and former UAE President and Emir of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, that led the Abraham Accords that created official diplomatic relations between Israel, the UAE, and Bahrain, and then later more Muslim nations have since joined. Many organizations and initiatives have been created since such as The Abrahamic Business Circle to connect Israeli, American, and Emirati business people together to promote further religious tolerance with the rest of the world included too.
The Abrahamic Family House represents another one of the Abrahamic initiatives which seeks to present a new home for our religions that are the most numerous around the world.
While Sunni Islam and Catholicism have been the key components to these initiatives, more denominations will be present which is evident from the designs of the church, mosque, and temple at the complex. Pope Francis specifically asked for the church to be designed in this way to make sure other Christians felt welcomed to worship there.
The hope is to have services that connect all of our faiths together.
Tourism to the sites will begin on 1 March with guided tours.