Let all re­vealed re­li­gions em­brace each other

Pakistan Observer - - EDITORIALS & COMMENTS -

POPE Fran­cis and Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Mosque Sheikh Ah­mad AlTayyeb met at Vat­i­can City on Mon­day call­ing upon the faith­ful of all re­li­gions to show a com­mon com­mit­ment to peace in the world. While bid­ding each other adieu with an em­brace, the two re­li­gious fig­ures of Is­lam and Chris­tian­ity gave an im­por­tant mes­sage of unity and in­ter­faith har­mony - the one that is vi­tal for peace­ful coex­is­tence.

To achieve that ob­jec­tive, di­a­logue and greater in­ter­ac­tion amongst the schol­ars and fol­low­ers of dif­fer­ent re­li­gions is very im­por­tant in or­der to re­move all the mis­un­der­stand­ings and ap­pre­hen­sions against each other. There­fore, the meet­ing be­tween Fran­cis and the grand Imam of Al-Azhar — the pres­ti­gious Mus­lim cen­tre of learn­ing — is a wel­come and im­por­tant devel­op­ment and this di­a­logue process should not stop here rather con­tinue with much more vigour and vi­tal­ity while ex­pand­ing its scope also by in­clud­ing the schol­ars of other re­li­gions. Given the mul­ti­di­men­sional chal­lenges faced by the world to­day, it has be­come im­per­a­tive for fol­low­ers of all re­li­gions to come closer and in­ter­act as through di­a­logue and ta­ble talk en­mity, an­tag­o­nis­tic think­ing and any cri­sis even se­vere in na­ture can be changed to­wards peace. In fact, all the re­vealed texts in­clud­ing Holy Qur’an and Bi­ble preach the mes­sage of love, broth­er­hood and peace­ful co-ex­is­tence but there are cer­tain vested in­ter­ests who mis­in­ter­pret the divine mes­sage to achieve their ul­te­rior mo­tives. The sor­did de­signs of these el­e­ments can only be foiled, if the faith­ful of the re­li­gions bet­ter un­der­stand the true teach­ings of their re­li­gion, which put em­pha­sis only on re­spect for hu­man­ity. We also need to re­spect re­li­gious sen­si­bil­i­ties of each and ev­ery re­li­gion to forge har­mony in the so­ci­ety. We say so as in the past the holy per­son­al­i­ties of Is­lam as well as the Holy Qur’an were des­e­crated in the name of free­dom of ex­pres­sion in the West, which greatly hurt the sen­ti­ments of Mus­lim pop­u­la­tion. Those de­spi­ca­ble in­ci­dents were in fact an at­tempt to cre­ate a di­vide amongst the peo­ple and civ­i­liza­tions. We ex­pect the re­li­gious fig­ures of Chris­tian­ity and Ju­daism to come for­ward and take steps that such in­ci­dents do not re­cur in fu­ture be­sides they also need to en­gage greatly with Mus­lims in or­der to build on con­ver­gences for peace­ful coex­is­tence.

KASH­MIR is nor­mal in the sense that there are no stonethrow­ing in­ci­dents. Mil­i­tancy, too, is on its last leg. Yet, the val­ley is seething with dis­con­tent. You can taste it once you land there. It is dif­fi­cult to as­cribe a sin­gle rea­son. Many fac­tors are re­spon­si­ble for it. The most im­por­tant one is the gen­eral feel­ing that In­dia is all over, while Kash­mir had given its con­trol only over three sub­jects: De­fence, For­eign Af­fairs and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions. The com­plaint is jus­ti­fied be­cause it is for a unit to sur­ren­der as much sovereignty as it likes. The fed­er­a­tion can­not usurp more sub­jects on its own. But New Delhi has pre­cisely done that. This is what came in the way of Prime Min­is­ter Jawa­har­lal Nehru and Shiekh Ab­dul­lah, who were close friends. Sheikh spent 12 years in con­fine­ment. Nehru re­al­ized his mis­take and had Sheikh to stay at the Prime Min­is­ter’s house to make amends.

A sim­i­lar prob­lem plagues re­la­tions be­tween New Delhi and Srinagar. How does a chief min­is­ter stay in the good book of the Cen­tre and give the val­ley a feel­ing of in­de­pen­dent iden­tity? This is the think­ing that wor­ries the po­lit­i­cal par­ties of the state all the time. Those who con­sider Kash­mir In­dia’s un­alien­able part want to undo Ar­ti­cle 370, which gives a spe­cial sta­tus to Kash­mir, are be­tray­ing the con­sti­tu­tion on the one


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