long ago, the events at Christchurch (New Zealand) mosques and Sri Lankan
churches once again highlighted the crucial need for interfaith harmony. This
means that followers of all religions, though they belong to different parts of
the world, speak different languages, and profess different interpretations of
their faiths, should live together peacefully as good neighbours.
is a family of religions. Like in a family, its members contribute and
strengthen to make the family unit stronger. Similarly, all religions provide
inspiration to build a better world.
In order to
create interfaith harmony at the global level, it is also necessary that the
contribution of all religions to the development of a common humanity must be
recognised, highlighted and be made part of the school curriculum
internationally. All religions have made notable contributions in the areas of
spiritual enlightenment, moral inspiration and social cohesion.
has been with us since time immemorial and most people spontaneously adhere to
the religion of their forefathers. Every religion has changed the course of
history and uplifted societies. It has demonstrated its relevance and
usefulness throughout history, and the modern age is no exception.
certain areas where the contribution of religion is above board. The first such
area is that it has instilled faith in a Higher Power. Every individual is
regarded as a manifestation of divine will. We are born for a purpose and
achieving the same gives us a sense of fulfilment. Religion connects
individuals and communities to their Creator informing them about the purpose
and meaning of life.
countless different faiths, religions and schools of thought; all of them
provide an answer for how we got here, where we go when we die and why we are
here. Islam, in particular, says that humans have been created with a mission
of ibadat [worship]. Allah says “I created not the jinn and humans except they
should perform [ibadat] (51:56)”. The word ‘ibadat’ is literally translated in
English as worship but in Islamic parlance it means submission to the will of
Allah. This implies acceptance of conditions in which humans are born.
The second area
where religions’ contribution is noteworthy is highlighting the transitory
nature of physical life. The latter is limited in time but religion encourages
human beings to become immortal by contributing to their societies. Some are
lucky enough that they make contributions in uplifting their societies. In this
way, they live in the hearts and minds of people even after their physical
death. When a person dies, his actions come to an end. But religion gives him
an opportunity to earn a reward even after death for the actions done during
earthly life. Islam calls it ‘sadaqah jariyah’ which means continuous reward
for an action that someone does in his or her life.
life and death are major topics of all religions. No human is born through his
own volition or at his own behest but his life is gifted by the Divine to
perform righteous actions. All religions encourage their adherents to do good
deeds in this field of action for onward transmission to eternity; good actions
are the only ‘assets’ to be sent forth for eternal bliss. This helps change the
course of peoples’ lives by changing the shape of their character.
involves ups and downs and religion provides consolation and relief to
individuals who pass through these ups and downs. It encourages and inculcates
values of patience, tolerance and striving for self-improvement.
religions reject self-aggrandisement and warn humanity against over-involvement
in material pursuits. In other words, humans should not be living in a world of
increasing material plenty by forgetting or forsaking the spiritual side of
their existence. They have an obligation to uplift their spirit by devoting
themselves more to the cause of spirituality.
all religions state that life on earth is noble; therefore, it should not be
wasted in meaningless wrangling. Religion points out that there is an inflated
personal ego everywhere — in politics and art, in economics and business —
which needs to be subdued. Religion encourages people to strive for peace within
and peace across the earth.
the basics inherent in the teachings of most religions. Diversity in all
aspects of life is a natural phenomenon, therefore, it is incumbent upon all of
us to be broadminded and open-hearted. Governments should accord equal status
and protection to all people no matter what faith they belong to. In this way
we would make our world a citadel of peace and tranquillity.
Valliani is an educationist with an interest in religion.
Source: The Dawn, Pakistan