Interfaith harmony urged

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Federal Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Sardar Mohammad Yousaf Tuesday that in prevailing circumstances when unnecessary bloodshed in the name of religion is causing chaos around the world there is need to make concerted efforts to unite faiths and cultures on a platform and interfaith harmony is the best possible solution to address global issues, says a press release.

Addressing the Interfaith Harmony Conference, organised by the Universal Interfaith Peace Mission, the federal minister who was the chief guest of the conference said that government is making concerted efforts for peace in the country and if we are able to establish peace, then the whole world will see that Islam is actually a religion of peace. He also called upon the elements creating unrest in the country to change their stance for showing the world the true colours of Islam.

Malik Amjad Hussain Alvi who presided over the ceremony felt disappointment over the strife in the country in the name of religion. He said sectarianism has damaged the true image of Islam. He praised the efforts of Universal Interfaith Peace Mission for interfaith harmony.

Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Zafar Bakhtawari, Advocate Zubair Ahmed Farooq, Advocate Kokab Iqbal and Hafsa Saeed also spoke on the occasion. Passages from the Holy Quran, Bible, Granth Sahib and Geeta were also recited on the occasion.

Earlier delivering the key-note address, Universal Interfaith Peace Mission founder and Global Chairman Dr Allama Abul Fateh G R Chishti said that needless bloodshed in the name of religion is inflicting harm to peace around the world and there is dire need to follow the path of interfaith harmony, which is the best possible solution to address the issue.

He said unrest and chaos in the world in only because people and groups instead of following the actual teachings of their respective religions have formulated their own perceptions about religion. “It is because of such unfortunate circumstances, the people are parting their ways from religion instead of following it and the major sufferer in prevailing circumstances is our religion, Islam, which is suffering due to irresponsible attitude of few elements from within our own fabric but also from the intransigence of external forces,” he added.

Dispelling the misconceptions about interfaith harmony, he said around the world, particularly in Asia, most people consider interfaith harmony as a movement, which interferes in religions. Every religion has reservations about it therefore, I would like to clarify that major objective behind commemorating World Interfaith Harmony Week is that the movement is not against ethos or principles of any religion. In reality, the movement preaches every religion to follow the path and teachings of their respective religions. This movement is only aimed at addressing the problems faced by the entire humanity particularly the issues related to ozone depletion, deforestation and climate changes that are devastating the world. Therefore, global scientists have clearly stated that until and unless spiritual and religious leaders from across the world will not come onboard and work harmoniously, these issues could not be settled.” “The vast majority of people of faith live in harmony with their neighbours, whatever their creed, but each religion also harbours a strident minority prepared to assert fundamentalist doctrines through bigotry and extreme violence and this is issue we have address collectively,” he added.

He said in these circumstances celebrating World Interfaith Harmony Week is a step in the right direction, he said adding although this week is celebrated under United Nations, however, the movement was first proposed at the UN General Assembly on September 23, 2010 by H.M. King Abdullah II of Jordan and on his insistence, Prince Ghazi Bin Mohammad bin Talal, who is also the founder of a movement, ‘A Common Word between Us and You’, which got credence from different religious personalities from around the world as well.

Universal Interfaith Peace Mission will organise different functions in connection with World Interfaith Week. On February 1st a ceremony was held at Balmak Temple, Lalkurti with Hindu community members; on February 2, a ceremony was held at the Conference Hall of the Jamia Masjid Mai Saleem Akhtar, New Sohan, Islamabad; on February 3, a mass prayer was held at Christian Church, Chashma Town; an interfaith harmony meeting will be held at Sir Syed Grammar College, Rawalpindi on February 6; on February 7, Allama G R Chishti will shed light on interfaith harmony in connection with teachings of the Holy Quran and Sunnah at Jumma congregation at Jamia Masjid Mai Saleem Akhtar, New Sohan, Islamabad whereas on February 10, Interfaith Conference is going to take place at the Islamia University Bahawalpur, Bhawalnagar Campus.