National seminar on interfaith dialogue organized at AMU

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ALIGARH, Dec 23-Shri Dev Narayan Bhardwaj. The national seminar on “Commonalities among Religions” organized by the Department of Sunni Theology, Aligarh Muslim University drew a resolution inviting people of all faith to unite and work for strengthening the pluralistic society.

The resolution stated that if peace is to be restored in today’s troubled world, then the Indian subcontinent, which is home to almost all religious faiths in the world, “would have to take the lead in ensuring justice to all sections of their respective populations”.

The seminar also made a strong call “for protecting the Indian constitution under which every individual has the right to propagate his or her religion and also follow the religion of their choice”.

The resolution further stated that the proposal to “bring in a new law for preventing religious conversion would strike at the very roots of the Indian constitution. There are enough existing provisions in the country’s laws on the subject of conversion to prevent conversion through inducements, fear or any other type of pressure. Any attempt to bring a new law should therefore be terminated before it spread further mistrust between different sections of society”.

The seminar also passed a third resolution urging the central government to provide an opportunity both at the graduate and postgraduate levels for pupils to study “religious ideas of two different religions apart from their own religion. This move had now become necessary in view of the rising religious intolerance in the country”.

Delivering the keynote address at the seminar, Dr. Aslam Abdullah, noted Islamic scholar and Director of the Muslim Electorate Council of America, said that history had recorded that more than three billion people had been killed in the name of religion in different parts of the world during the span of recorded history. The major responsibility for spilling of human blood however lied on the heads of religious leaders belonging to all religions.

Dr. Abdullah said, “The feeling of self righteousness and false superiority promoted by religious clerics of all religions was responsible for people betraying the core of their own religious faith and indulging in wanton destruction of those belonging to different faith”.

Dr. Abdullah said, “As a true follower of Islam, I must confess that religious leaders belonging to my faith are as guilty of this sin of betraying the core beliefs of Islam and instead choosing to spill blood in the name of religion, sect and gender”.

Representing Hinduism at the seminar, Guest of Honour, Mr Dev Narain Bhardawaj said: “God has placed us in the world, in this nation and calls us to seek Shanti (Peace) together and I don’t understand why we cannot work together for peace.” He also said that our faiths are often at odds with each other through the years over doctrinal disparities and we need to find ways to work together”.

Guest of Honour and Director, ‘Sadbhavna’, Father Varghese Kunnath who represented Christianity told that people of different religions have a lot to share about the hope that lies within each of us. “We need to work together, learning from each other and bearing witness to the hope that shines within us.”

Dr Abdul Khalique of the Department of Sunni Theology spoke about similarities that Judaism shares with Semitic and non-Semitic faiths. “We should talk about profound teachings of various religious scriptures rather than shouting at each other and demonizing fellow human beings,” said Dr Khalique.

Presiding over the seminar, the Aligarh Muslim University, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Brigadier Syed Ahmad Ali (retd) said that it is important in a pluralistic society to know about all faiths and customs. “Let us try to understand each other and read about different faiths to find commonalities,” said Brigadier Ali.

The Pro-Vice Chancellor said, “The AMU is ready to play its due role in promoting the cause of interfaith dialogue and thus spreading peace and goodwill in today’s troubled world”.

Mufti Zahid Ali Khan, Convener of the Seminar said that the purpose of holding the present seminar at AMU was to help religious scholars from narrowing down differences between different faiths and instead understanding the true path of love which was “the essence of all religions”.

The Seminar was also attended by Giyani Gur Mukh Singh, Parcharak, SGPC, Amritsar; Mr Jai Singh Suman, VC, Budh Society, UP and Prof P K Jain, D S College. Aligarh. Dr Mufti Zahid Ali Khan inaugurated the programme. While Dr Muhamamad Saleem proposed the vote of thanks, Maulana Habibullah conducted the symposium.


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