Berkeley School of Islamic Sufism celebrates UN World Interfaith Harmony Week

Photo of the Berkeley School of Islamic Sufism
Matthew Gibson/Senior Staff
United Nations Interfaith Harmony Week, which aims to foster understanding among people of various faiths, is being celebrated by the Maktab Tarighat Oveyssi Shahmaghsoudi School of Islamic Sufism with various events throughout the week.

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The Maktab Tarighat Oveyssi, or M.T.O., Shahmaghsoudi School of Islamic Sufism in Berkeley kicked off the United Nations World Interfaith Harmony Week with a donation drive to support the Women’s Daytime Drop-In Center.

According to a press release emailed from M.T.O. Media Relations volunteer Mana Nazeri, donations included more than 5,500 nonperishable food items, 945 hygiene items and 200 face masks.

Nazeri said in an email that the United Nations Interfaith Harmony Week is a time to focus on fostering understanding and harmony among people of different faiths.

Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín shared this sentiment, highlighting the diversity of faiths and religious institutions in Berkeley. Arreguín added that people must do more to move beyond religious differences and focus on their shared humanity.

Nazeri said she believes the values of service and charity are important components of Islam. She added that MTO’s mission as a global nonprofit organization is to help individuals irrespective of their religion, gender, nationality or background.

“On behalf of our students and volunteers of M.T.O. School of Islamic Sufism, we consider it our duty to provide service to the community,” Nazeri said in the email.

M.T.O. hosted several other events to celebrate. On Monday, M.T.O.’s Environmental Sustainability volunteers participated in a Bay cleanup project.

According to Nazeri, M.T.O. provides other resources to the community, including free Tarmakoz, or Sufi meditation, classes on Instagram. The classes are taught in 10 different languages and have been offered since April 2020.

Tamarkoz classes have also been offered as Decal courses at UC Berkeley for the past 10 years, Nazeri added.

“M.T.O. offers several resources not only to assist individuals with their physical needs … but to address mental, emotional, and spiritual health,” Nazeri said in the email.

In light of the pandemic, M.T.O. launched the Coping with the COVID Crisis course, available to the public for free, and the Caring 4 Our Caregivers initiative, which seeks to address health care worker burnout, according to the press release.

Arreguín, who partnered with M.T.O. to support its donations to the Women’s Daytime Drop-In Center, said in an email that he commended the organization’s efforts.

“I am happy to partner with M.T.O.,” Arreguín said in the email. “Providing donations to a nonprofit who helps assist some of our most vulnerable members of the Berkeley community is just one of many gestures of generosity that M.T.O. has done in recent years.”

Dima Aboukasm is a student life reporter. Contact her at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @DimaAboukasm.

A previous version of this article incorrectly implied M.T.O. students were unable to congregate for the United Nations Interfaith Harmony Week. In fact, M.T.O. students were unable to congregate for Sufi Master Professor Sadegh Angha’s birthday.