Minority Leaders Meet to Chalk Out an Alternative Path to Inter-faith Peace and Reconciliation
New Delhi, March 29—Representatives of minority communities gathered today at Delhi Minority Commission office to discuss the way forward in the light of ‘Human Fraternity For World Peace and Living Together,’ the document of peace signed jointly by The Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar Dr Ahmad Al-Tayyeb and Pope Francis during the latter’s visit to the UAE in February.
Many intellectuals and community leaders presented their thoughts and visions to find a way to establish harmony and cooperation among various faiths around the world.
Lakshmi Menon, India Director, Unity Earth and moderator of the session, said, “We have gathered here to decide on how to build upon the document and create a national discourse on oneness. We have to think about how to inculcate the common minimum programme integrated education through resources and to use the ability of all the organizations present here in order to channelize our resources. We have to think how do we have to take the message of love and brotherhood forward. We have to think about a strategy for peace and ensure that inclusive thinking in not confined to this meeting only.”
Jamaat e Islami Hind National Secretary Mohammed Iqbal praised the UAE document and said, “At a time when world peace is under peril and wars are destroying hopes of peace, the historical document, over which we gathered here, has shown us the light and the way forward. It is good that we are here to talk about peace but there many powerful people out there who are working tirelessly to challenge our endeavours for establishing a peaceful society, we will have to think about that. Some people say that religion is the root cause of all evil while the real causes are anti-human policies of those in power, who use religion to attain their evil goals.”
Syed Jamaluddin, who is associated with to the Institute of Objective Studies said, “There was a time when Spiritualism and Materialism were co-existing in equal measure so as to not to harm each other but today I see that somehow, spiritualism has taken a back seat. The reason lies in the decline in the discipline of Tasawwuf. Somewhere we have to look within our souls to redefine our pluralism through tasawwuf.”
Jamia Millia Islamia Professor Akhtarul Wasey was also present in the program. Speaking on the course of various Indian faiths included in the JMI curriculum, he said, “Jamia Millia Islamia is the only university which is having a compulsory paper for all undergraduates. Either they offer Islamiyat or Hindu Religious Studies paper or Indian Religion and Culture. Also, something which is very unique about Jamia Millia Islamia is that no student from a madrasa background can apply for Islamiyat paper, they have to choose from Hindu Religious Studies or Indian Religion and Culture. In my view other universities should include papers in their syllabus at undergraduate level so that students could be exposed to cultures different from their own.”
In the questions and answers session, a youth from Kashmir said, “We have to ensure that we have to teach the basics of love to our children without bringing in the discourse of religion. The bygone generations have seen many wars and that is why the elders in most of the societies do not want war while youngsters are unaware of the cost of war.”
Striking a positive note, Dr. Shareena Banu from Department of Sociology, Jamia Millia Islamia said, “If we are affected by the violence happening around the world. We should also appreciate and take note of the incidents ensuring peace around the world.”
“The generation which has read Premchand is far more secular and inclusive than today’s generation because we were closer to each other as a society,” said Prof. Khurshid Khan, She teaches in Delhi University.
Encouraged by the participation of thinkers from various organizations to talk on peace, Delhi Minority Commmittee Chairperson, Dr. Zafarul Islam Khan said, “We are thinking that next time we will organize this meeting on a bigger and better level, inviting representatives all faiths. The idea is to co-exist while following our own path. It is organizations like ISIS, Daesh which give a bad name to faith and we have fight against such narrow thnking. The basic objective behind this meeting was to resolve to stand for the sake of goodness and peace and bring about an inclusive change in the society.”
Answering to the question about the relevance of the meet, Fr. Thomas V Kunnunkal SJ, who is the President of the Delhi-based Islamic Studies Association, said, “We have gathered here to build a connecting vision. Where there is a conflict, where is strife, the onus is upon us to strive towards peace, reconciliation and a holistic understanding between all the faiths. Along with Pope Francis and Shaikh of Al-Azhar University, we join our hands with goodwill and solidarity so that an alternative vision becomes clear to us and it becomes a vision for all people.”