City of Sanctuary is made up of people from all faiths and none. The concepts of Sanctuary and Hospitality are thousands of years old and they are evident in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, the Baha’i Faith, Sikhism and in Hinduism.
Across our network, faith groups support the City of Sanctuary movement and open their doors to sanctuary seekers, often providing significant practical support that makes a real difference to their lives.
'Hospitality and Sanctuary for All'- a resource written by City of Sanctuary founder Inderjit Bhogal, exploring the ideas of hospitality and sanctuary in Christianity
Interfaith Manifesto (2015)
Church Response for Refugees - supporting churches to take action to help refugees
Islamic Relief - international disaster and emergency response and development projects
Jewish Council for Racial Equality (JCORE) - engaging the Jewish community in social action, focusing on justice for refugees and asylum seekers
KhalsaAid - aims to provide humanitarian aid in disaster areas and civil conflict zones around the world. The organisation is based upon the Sikh principle of ‘Recognise the whole human race as one’
Muslim Aid - emergency response and international development
National Zakat Foundation - a charity that collects and distributes zakat - the alms-giving that is one of the Five Pillars of Islam
René Cassin - works to protect and promote the rights of vulnerable individuals and communities – particularly on issues that resonate with the Jewish experience
Quaker Asylum and Refugee Network - working to change the way that asylum seekers and refugees are treated
Taken from the UNHCR resource 'Welcoming the Stranger' - Affirmations for Faith Leaders
The call to “welcome the stranger,” through protection and hospitality, and to honor the stranger or those of other faiths with respect and equality, is deeply rooted in all major religions.
In the Upanishads, the mantra atithi devo bhava or “the guest is as God” expresses the fundamental importance of hospitality in Hindu culture. Central to the Hindu Dharma, or Law, are the values of karuna or compassion, ahimsa or non-violence towards all, and seva or the willingness to serve the stranger and the unknown guest. Providing food and shelter to a needy stranger was a traditional duty of the householder and is practiced by many still. More broadly, the concept of Dharma
embodies the task to do one’s duty, including an obligation to the community, which should be carried out respecting values such as non-violence and selfless service for the greater good.
The Tripitaka highlights the importance of cultivating four states of mind: metta (loving kindness), muditha (sympathetic joy), upekkha (equanimity), and karuna (compassion). There are many different traditions of Buddhism, but the concept of karuna is a fundamental tenet in all of them. It embodies the qualities of tolerance, non-discrimination, inclusion and empathy for the suffering of others, mirroring the central role which compassion plays in other religions.
The Torah makes thirty-six references to honoring the “stranger.” The book of Leviticus contains one of the most prominent tenets of the Jewish faith: “The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Leviticus 19:33-34). Further, the Torah provides that "You shall not oppress the stranger, for you know the soul of the stranger, having yourselves been strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 33:1)
In Matthew’s Gospel (32:32) we hear the call: “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me…” And in the Letter to the Hebrews (13:1-3) we read, “Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.”
When the Prophet Muhammad fled persecution in Mecca, he sought refuge in Medina, where he was hospitably welcomed. The Prophet's hijrah, or migration, symbolizes the movement from lands of oppression, and his hospitable treatment embodies the Islamic model of refugee protection. The Holy Qur’an calls for the protection of the asylum seeker, or al-mustamin, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, whose safety is irrevocably guaranteed under the institution of Aman (the provision of security and protection). As noted in the Surat Al-Anfal: “Those who give asylum and aid are in very truth the believers: for them is the forgiveness of sins and a provision most generous.” (8:43)
There are tens of millions of refugees and internally displaced people in the world. Our faiths demand that we remember we are all migrants on this earth, journeying together in hope.
The Diocese of Lichfield 'Stories of Welcome' - different ways in which refugees have been welcomed in the diocese
Following discussions at the Refugee Week conference and Churches Together conference, the Sunday of Refugee Week will be known as Sanctuary Sunday from 2018 - more info to follow!
The CAFOD website has lots of resources on refugees, including prayers, factsheets, reflections, a liturgy and resources for children and young people.
Our Sanctuary Sunday resource contains hymns, prayers and readings for you to organise a refugee themed service
There are lots of Bible readings, prayers and reflections in the resource 'Hospitality and Sanctuary for All' written by our founder Inderjit Bhogal