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Interfaith Dialogue

My “Walaikum Salam” has barely left my lips when the officer springs up from his chair, breaks into a wide smile, grasps my hand warmly and says, welcome to Pakistan!

The bonds of blood, language and culture that bind us are thousands of years old. The boundaries are only decades old. Insha’Allah, one day, they will be effaced....

The inter-faith ceremony, consisted of traditional Hindu-style “Hawan” and chants of Sikh “Kirtan”, followed by reading out the Preamble of the Constitution and taking an oath to preserve its “socialist, secular” values. Portions from the Gita, the Bible and the Quran were read and Gurbani held….

In the early 1940s, Morocco was still a French protectorate controlled by the pro-Vichy government. When, in 1941, the occupying forces attempted to enact legislation discriminating against Jews, the king — only 32 at the time — refused. ...

 

Each violent Surah of the Quran, she argues, was written during the early Muslims’ struggle for survival, and they were mostly ignored until the modern era, when colonialism provoked a violent backlash that needed religious justification....

Qutubuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki had a tremendous influence on Islam in India. As he continued, and developed the traditional ideas of Monism (non-dualism, Wahdat ul-Wujood, Advaita Vedanta), universal brotherhood and generosity....

In Islam, the figures of Christ and his mother Mary appear endearingly in the Quran, where a whole chapter is named after her. But their presence in the Islamic culture goes beyond their mention in the Quran....

“I’m not a Muslim. Here’s my janeo. Hit me too since I’m protesting.” The image trumped the visual chaos of violence, and shored up hope with more self-assuredness. From Kerala, a report spoke of a Christian church that gave space to Muslims to offer prayers as they both linked up in a march against a communally divisive new law imparting citizenship to everyone except Muslims from three chosen countries....

So why don’t we hear more Muslims making this case – that there is no religious, cultural or doctrinal reasons why Jews should not be the allies of Muslims – as is now being advocated in Jerusalem and Abu Dhabi?...

In the modern Middle East, intermarriage has become uncommon. One reason for this is the long-term success of Islamisation, such that there are simply fewer Jews and Christians around to marry....

 

Very rarely do we find brothers like Ram and Bharat who are willing to give each other their throne. Or Krishna, the cowherd, and Balaram, the farmer, who enjoy each other’s company as they go around the world in fabulous adventures....

Few Muslims celebrate the Merry Christmas today, especially in the contemporary Indian Muslim society plagued with Wahhabism, but nearly all Muslims believe Hazrat Eisa Alaihis Salaam (Jesus Christ PBUH) not only as a Prophet (Nabi) but also an Apostle of God (Rasool Allah). Most of them also know of the numerous holy verses of Qur'an and authentic Hadith texts which speak so highly of Jesus' sanctity and his message's historicity....

Reading Maulana Rumi’s numerous passages about the holiness and reverence given to Mary and Jesus in Islam, and the beautiful way he describes how we can all embody an aspect of these Prophets within ourselves, made Christmas even sweeter for me...

Guru Nanak was born in a society sharply divided, based on religion, caste, and gender. Those labeled “upper caste” grossly mistreated and abused those labeled “lower caste.”...

“It is urgently needed,” he said, “to tackle the world's single most important threat, the attack on interfaith harmony, mutual respect, and trust … Every global challenge in this 21st century demands that we resist hatred and exclusion …

 With a sense of trepidation, when I requested him to exempt me from this rigmarole of religiosity, he was surprised. ‘Why didn’t you tell me this in the beginning? Had I been aware that you were an atheist, I’d have asked your religion teacher to exempt you from class....

More than 500 religious and political leaders, academics and civil society activists from over 80 countries gathered in Abu Dhabi last week to launch a set of principles that champion the shared values of different religions...

 

This is especially so today when a majority of Muslim countries and their cities are flocked with non-Muslim visitors and tourists (guests), so much so that there are mosques that are visited more by non-Muslims than Muslims....

 

And, of course, both the communities have been victims of communal violence. I recall that after the horrifying anti-Sikh riots in 1984, many of my Sikhs friends told me that they could visualise what the Muslims go through each time they are attacked and targeted during communal rioting....

 

The relentless attacks on Khan call to mind a very different era in Benares over three-and-a-half centuries ago. In early 1657, a group of Brahmin Pandits travelled from Benares to Delhi so that they could join a Muslim prince in his spiritual quest....

God, Buddha, a cyclopean Jehovah and Allah were all fair game, as were corpulent priests, bearded Mullahs and ignorant peasants (although interestingly artists tended to avoid drawing Mohammed)....

 

Even in the darkest times, there are heroes—though sometimes they may be the people we least expect. That’s the message a global non-profit group hopes to spread Friday on Holocaust Remembrance Day, when it displays a small exhibit in a New York synagogue highlighting the little-known stories of Muslims who risked their lives to rescue Jewish people from persecution during World War II...

They come from within Pakistan, from the Middle East, Europe, the United States and Canada, but the majority arrive from neighbouring India. This year - on his 550th birthday - the numbers are likely to be even greater....

Even as congregants recite evening prayers at Temple Beth El, the Muslim call to prayer rings out from minarets across the city and into the courtyard, a mix of Arabic and Hebrew filling the dusk sky with praises to God....

He also talks of two different interpretations of Islam: one by the Ulama or the Qazi, and the other by the ­Shaikhs or the Pirs. He refers to some of their most important practices, and shows a comprehensive understanding of their beliefs....

Among the non-Sikhs who have revered Nanak are great Muslim poets. Nazeer Akbarabadi among them (1740-1830) in a paean to the Guru celebrated him for the succour he brought to those who embraced his message of human fellowship before one God....

 
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