On April 13-16, 2000, JWF organized an international symposium to foster interfaith dialogue about Abraham, the common ancestor of the three monotheist religions. The event began in Sanliurfa in Turkey’s Harran region and concluded in Istanbul.
Prophet Abraham was the symbol of belief for Jews, Christians, and Muslims … It is imperative on us that we carry Prophet Abraham as the foundation for religious, faith, and human values.
Fr. Thomas Michel, Vatican Jesuit Secretariat
Approximately 44 intellectuals and scholars from 15 countries participated in JWF’s historical Harran meeting, which was held in two important cities where the Abrahamic tradition is observed. The first part of the meeting took place in Sanliurfa in Turkey’s Harran region, where Abraham was believed to have been born. The second part of the meeting took place in the Firat Cultural Center in the city of Istanbul, where the three Abrahamic religions have co-existed in peace for centuries.
Pope John Paul II’s representatives, Turkey’s Deputy Chief Rabbi Izak Haleva, and JWF’s Honorary President Fethullah Gulen sent their congratulations for the meeting, which was sponsored by JWF and Turkey’s Ministry of State, Ministry of Culture, and Ministry of Tourism. Their messages, along with those of other religious leaders, emphasized Abraham’s significance as a role model for Christians, Jews, and Muslims.
The presenter for the symposium was Engin Noyan, a well-known Turkish musician. The multi-day event also included mealtime prayers from different religions and languages, as well as performances by illusionist Sermet Erkin, the Mardin Jewish Ancient Chorus, the Jewish Community Chorus, and the Ministry of Culture Turkish Folk Music Chorus.
Throughout the program, researchers and religious leaders from around the world presented their work on Abraham’s life, considering his influence as an inter-religious symbol of peace, sacrifice, and unity.
In line with Abraham’s example, the program’s final declaration called for greater cooperation and mutual understanding as a “moral and spiritual obligation” for followers of the Abrahamic faiths.