Distinguished Lecture by Professor Alwi Shihab, Indonesian President’s special envoy to the Middle East and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, at the 4th SRP Distinguished Lecture and Symposium
Distinguished Lecture by Professor Alwi Shihab, Indonesian President’s special envoy to the Middle East and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, at the 4th SRP Distinguished Lecture and Symposium on “Establishing Positive Interreligious Relations in Plural Societies through Dialogue”
22 September 2018, 0910hrs
Grand Copthorne Waterfront, Singapore
Establishing Positive Interreligious Relations in Plural Societies through Dialogue
It is indeed, a great honour for me to address this forum, where academicians, scholars, as well activists on inter-religious dialogue, are present to explore the positive inter-religious relations in Plural Societies.
In our everyday lives there are many objects which possess two sides of the same coin such as water, fire and knives which could yield different consequences, positive or negative, depending on their uses. The same could be said for what goes on in our heterogeneous society today which is filled with diversity in all strata of the society ranging from ethnicity, social classes all the way to religious faiths. Such differences and varieties could be metaphorically compared to the objects of water, fire and knives mentioned above. If these differences are cultivated, appreciated and utilized properly, a common good for all would be achieved. However, if these differences are used and abused for the purpose of division, intentionally or not, they could lead to horrific consequences and even the rotting of a specific culture or nation as we have seen recently throughout the world.
In reality, diversity is an undeniable part of life and one of God’s designs that needs to be appreciated and accepted. Diversity and harmony in a country or society is a sign of a country’s maturity in its thinking and its civil society. The same could be said for Islam and its principles. The further away a brand of Islam is from acceptance of diversity, the closer it is to the unwanted cancer of religious extremism, which has been proven time and time again to be so toxic that its values could corrupt and denigrate not only the society, but also the pure and peace-loving teachings of Islam through the Prophet Muhammad SAW.
Qur’an[Al Maidah] 5:48
Translation[Shakir]: And We have revealed to you the Book with the truth, verifying what is before it of the Book and a guardian over it, therefore judge between them by what Allah has revealed, and do not follow their low desires (to turn away) from the truth that has come to you; for every one of you did We appoint a law and a way, and if Allah had pleased He would have made you (all) a single people, but that He might try you in what He gave you, therefore strive with one another to hasten to virtuous deeds; to Allah is your return, of all (of you), so He will let you know that in which you differed;
This verse reminds us that differences are a reality of life and should be managed through tolerance. In daily life, encounters of diversity should be resolved with a systematic approach that benefits everyone. Most importantly, it is to plant the basic code of religious humility in each member of society. Humility grows harmony and that is why humility is the most basic, yet more pure form of piousness. I signifies one’s whole complete submission to God. Through humility alone, we are able to accept our differences and let God have his sole prerogative to judge all humankind in the Hereafter.
Tolerance in Islam
A fact that has been established is that God has created His people in all shapes, sizes, color and faiths. And through these differences, people are to be evaluated in their Godliness by how civil and courteous they act towards people of differing characteristics. However, recently, this fact has been ardently challenged by a small sector of Muslims who ironically view themselves as pious and pure. They see themselves, not only as the most correct, but the only correct Muslims in God’s eyes. In contrast to these rigid and narrow views, a calm and clear mind is needed to navigate through the pitfalls and traps of religious arrogance. To accept and practice that tolerance, acceptance and general love for all humankind, is what God desires for all His creation.
This work will primarily use the Holy Qur’an’s verses to illuminate God’s specific teachings on the tolerance of other faiths and its necessity to build harmony and peace for all. This concept should be the main focus of the most active missionaries, the common individual and even the governments. Without religious harmony, precious time is lost in taxing, horizontal conflict, that cripples the most solid foundations of a nation including its people, on a grass roots level.
References of tolerance in the Holy Qur’an
Before we dissect the true meaning of tolerance in Islam, we must refer to Qur’anic verses that serve as its conceptual basis and demonstrates its practical applications, both explicitly and implicitly. It is not a matter of coincidence or unrealized ideas, the concept of diversity in Islam has been so profoundly stressed as a “general plan of God, not Humans“ (sunnatullah).
In the Qur’an, you will find references to diversity in many forms, including peoples, groups, religions, cultures, socioeconomic status and more. All signs point to an intended effort by God to create these differences among all levels of society for a greater purpose of fostering harmony, and must be unequivocally accepted as His design. This then becomes a tool for a society to measure its maturity in embracing differences within its own communities. This embrace becomes easier as a society advances in their understanding of religion and God’s true intentions.
Qur’an[Al Nahl] 16:125
Translation[Shakir]: Call to the way of your Lord with wisdom and goodly exhortation, and have disputations with them in the best manner; surely your Lord best knows those who go astray from His path, and He knows best those who follow the right way.
However, we don’t live in a utopian society where all functions as intended, thus when conflicts do arise, whether verbal, physical or ideological, the Qur’an has given us a guideline on how to handle these challenges with etiquette. In one example, the Qur’an clearly states that an individual or group, who remains steadfast in their high horses, despite all logic and arguments against their favour, are deemed to be narrow-minded and will be a detriment to society in general. When faced with such individuals, the Qur’an also explicitly tells its followers to keep their tongues and to avoid such confrontations or debates when the only foreseeable result is further conflict.
Qur’an[Al Furqan] 25:63
Translation[Shakir]: And the servants of the Beneficent Allah are they who walk on the earth in humbleness, and when the ignorant address them, they say: Peace.
The Qur’an rather, teaches its followers how to cultivate these differences with goodness and an open heart, which will ultimately lead to a sense of unity between various members of society. In essence, God intends differences in his people as a reason to unite, not separate. Implementing this concept requires a clear heart and an understanding of His design. God could have made all races, religions and socio economic levels the same, if He pleased. However it is His intention to use these differences to add richness to society and have his followers achieve goodness through diversity while fulfilling His test and to evaluate each God fearing follower on his loyalty to his individual religion. It is natural that each person believes that his/her religion is the most perfect. However what is needed is an understanding and an appreciation for these differences. And most important is that all people will return to their Creator and then, and only then, God will give his judgement for all to hear.
All world religions deliver a consistent and unchanging message: Harmony is paramount to an ideal society which needs to be established in order to maximise the essence of life on earth. Christians are taught to turn the other cheek. Buddhists are reminded to forego violence and replace it with kindness. The same is true with Islam with its repeated messages of peace and the imperativeness to maintain it. However, in practical terms, this utopian society where each inhabitant is surrounded by peace and goodness is far from reality and begs the question why. Obvious reasons include a lack of understanding of one’s own religion, a lack of knowledge to properly interpret the substance one’s religion and in some cases, political agendas which override these peaceful teachings. However, the most ironic and destructive reason is the abuse, of holy books to attempt to destroy the idea and benefits of a pluralistic society and in actuality promote rigidness and intolerance, which in some cases inevitably turn into sectarian violence.
The classic and current example of blatant abuse of religion, is the case of ISIS in Syria/Iraq, where radicals are abusing the Qur’an to support and execute their senseless agenda. The killings and bloody murders on their hands are devastating. This has resulted in the misrepresentation of the Qur’an, leading others to believe that Islam is a religion of brutality. It is not only the Qur’an and Islam that have been abused, as we have seen similar examples peppered throughout world history with examples from all faiths. The Christian wars in Ireland, the Muslim genocide by Buddhist monks in Rohingya and even Hindu radicals in India all which go against the basic spirit of each religion.
Today, there is even a large Christian contingent who deplores the actions of the Pope during the crusades. The same can be seen by orthodox Jews of Israel who are strongly against the Israeli government in its treatment against the Palestinians.
It has been seen repeatedly that religions’ grand message of peace of harmony is easily corrupted and the abuse of religions themselves could be the actual driving force of these examples of disharmony throughout the world.
All of these negative and unfortunate consequences in the name of religion is due to one simple fact: the intentional and/or unintentional shift of focus and importance away from primary sources, God’s actual words through the holy books, towards secondary sources, opinions and interpretations of Muslim scholars, ranging from good to insane. There is a harrowing need to reset and to refocus religious groups to go back to the original message and follow the clear examples set during the lives of the purest times in each of these religions’ histories.
There is a current propaganda that Muslims are taught to avoid befriending “non believers” and even alienate or make enemies of them. However, it was very clear that during Prophet Muhammad’s life, there were numerous examples showing his respect and affection to different religious adherents. It is interesting to trace back the position of early Islam with regard to the Jews and Christian. The Prophet Muhammad and his immediate successors did not require Jews and Christians to abandon their religions as a price for living amity with Muslims. The Prophet Muhammad regarded Islam to be consonant with and complimentary to teachings from the Torah and Bible. In many occasions, the Qur’an refers to the People of the Book (Jews and Christians) as witnesses to the authenticity of the Qur’an.
Translation[Shakir]: But if you are in doubt as to what We have revealed to you, ask those who read the Book before you; certainly the truth has come to you from your Lord, therefore you should not be of the disputers.
Furthermore, the Qur’an removes two important social barriers separating the three communities, namely the marriage and dietary restriction; allowing unrestricted social intercourse among the three religious communities.
Qur’an[Al Maidah] 5:5
Translation[Shakir]: This day (all) the good things are allowed to you; and the food of those who have been given the Book is lawful for you and your food is lawful for them; and the chaste from among the believing women and the chaste from among those who have been given the Book before you (are lawful for you); when you have given them their dowries, taking (them) in marriage, not fornicating nor taking them for paramours in secret; and whoever denies faith, his work indeed is of no account, and in the hereafter he shall be one of the losers.
The ideal relations expected by the Qur’an between Muslims and the People of the Book is beyond accommodation and tolerance, but amity and mutual respect. In addition, the Qur’an regards the Torah and the Bible as sources of guidance and light. Unfortunately, many Muslims and Christians, as time progresses, turned into mutual exclusivism and rejection. They ignore the real meaning of their faith of creating harmonious interactions.
A great example demonstrated by the Prophet Muhammad was the “Charter of Madinah”. It was the first Islamic political constitution document, written and promulgated for a plural society of Madinah, giving equal rights to every citizen as well as giving them a say in governmental matters. The Charter ordained freedom for each community (Arab, Jews and Pagan) to practice its own religion. This important constitutional document of Islam does not include, in any form, the term Islamic State or Islamic Society. What matters is that its major principles governing society, are present. Namely justice, unity of believers, brotherhood, freedom of religion and cooperation among citizen of the state.
Along with the above Charter, the Prophet also presented important actions to be followed, including:
- A treaty signed to protect all Christians while living in a predominantly Muslim land in terms of property, rights and religious freedom.
- Issuing clear statements for his Islamic followers that it was forbidden to alienate and attack people of different faiths, if they were not initiating any attack and not forcing Muslims out of their land, which is consistent of the Qur’anic principles in violence/war, where there is no violence/war that could be condoned unless it was purely and 100 percent in self defence.
- Prophet Muhammad started the tradition of providing protection to non-Islamic religious houses during the times of their religious holidays.
There are many other examples which were exhibited by the Prophet Muhammad, but by mentioning the above examples alone, the spirit of his attitude on how to treat others of different faiths, which was governed by the Qur’an, and its original source, is evident.
Qur’an[Al Furqan] 60:8
Translation[Shakir]: Allah does not forbid you respecting those who have not made war against you on account of (your) religion, and have not driven you forth from your homes, that you show them kindness and deal with them justly; surely Allah loves the doers of justice.
Translation[Shakir]: For this reason did We prescribe to the children of Israel that whoever slays a soul, unless it be for manslaughter or for mischief in the land, it is as though he slew all men; and whoever keeps it alive, it is as though he kept alive all men; and certainly Our messengers came to them with clear arguments, but even after that many of them certainly act extravagantly in the land.
Conversely, during these current times, there are direct summons by some rogue Islamic scholars, to actively seek out nonbelievers and destroy their places of worship and drive them out of their land. Further, it is now not uncommon for some Islamic clerics to issue statements that the blood of nonbelievers is a blessing and to deliver death with no provocation. All of these are surely from the secondary sources and clearly oppose the examples set forth by Islam’s most perfect and humane example, Prophet Muhammad. Thus it is ironic that when some well meaning Muslims do decide on Christmas day to greet their Christian compatriots on their religious holiday, they are heavily criticised by members of the secondary sources. Prophet Muhammad went further than that with the physical protection of churches on Christmas day, an act well known up to this day in many parts of Indonesia and other Muslim countries across the globe.
Example in Indonesia
These sick, twisted ideologies, masquerading as true religion, have infested all corners of the world. One interesting example lies in Indonesia, a country known for its moderate version of Islam, with contemporary features of pluralistic views and societal tolerances. After its independence from the Dutch in 1945, the nation’s leaders, and founding father and mothers, formed a national ideology based on the 5 pillars called Pancasila. Some Islamic factions at that time, vied for an exclusively Islamic national ideology, which was contested by some nationalists who were also Muslim and of other faiths. Thus, the compromise was made to forge the Pancasila, a clearly religious national etiquette, that at the same time was able to encompass all of the major religions of Indonesia such as Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and also Islam. One of the major tenets of Pancasila is the belief in the one-ness of God, which in itself is the fundamental principle of Islam. Due to the inclusive nature of Pancasila, it was embraced by all of the Indonesian populace and has produced one of the beaming examples of what Islam was truly intended for: the foundation of a God fearing nation which holds the belief that all men and women within the nation are deemed siblings in which a common goal of prosperity and harmony is to be strived for.
Historically, mainstream Islam in Indonesia has been characterised by inclusiveness and tolerance in Pluralistic society. Indonesia, and most East Asian countries do not have historical grievances and racial clashes that prevent dialogue and interaction among the communities of faith. This advantage greatly increases the possibility of diverse communities living together in peace, harmony and cooperation.
In fact, since the 19th century, different strands of Islam had been vying against one another for dominance. However, the majority of Indonesian Muslims have always rejected religious extremism, particularly those of transnational groups. Given that fact, it does not mean that Indonesia is absent of radical and intolerant forms of Islam. Religious radical orientation has tried to penetrate the Muslim community from certain middle east countries and presented certain schools of thought with an exclusive and rigid understanding of Islam.
Thanks to the classic example of the Wasatiyah concept, a Qur’anic term of moderation, which stresses the middle path between two extremes: religious rigidity and secularism, theocracy and the lack of any religious influence for the government; And between the rigid and textual interpretation vis-avi the liberal interpretation. Middle path, being at the centre, away from two extremes. Stand in the middle, between spiritualism and rationalism, between blind faith and excessive intellect. Through the Wasatiyah model of approach, the religious community can overcome the growing tendency of fanaticism and intolerance.
With this innovative yet stable national ideology (Pancasila or the five pillars), Indonesia has enjoyed years upon years of moderate societies blooming with pluralistic realities. Through these years, two large exclusively Indonesian Islamic organizations were born. Nahdhlatul Ulama, established in 1926, currently the largest Islamic organization in the world and the Muhamadiyah, established in 1912, a forward thinking group full of technocrats. Both organisations are home-grown, with much respect for the local cultures and traditions.
With these two main Islamic organizations, along with others of the same spirit, at the helm of the religious movement in Indonesia, an idealistic pluralistic society was established. In a pluralistic country of Indonesia, in terms of religion, ethnicity and socioeconomic levels, the tenets of Pancasila, which stresses the importance of a just and civilised humanity, unity, democracy and social justice for all, were guarded and applied, resulting in a more unified Indonesia.
However, lately, a new dissenting voice has arrived and has threatened the very existence of Indonesia’s well-known moderate religious society. The root of these voices are found yet again from the secondary sources of Islam and has abandoned and ignored the clear directions from the Qur’an and its last Prophet, Muhammad. Some wonder if there is another aim or target for this blatant disregard of the primary source of religion. The answer to this question is undoubtedly, political.
This phenomenon is linked politically, whether international or local, where an agenda is masked with the veil of religion. It has been seen time and time again, not only in Indonesia, but also other countries rife with conflict and violence.
Religion is commonly used and abused during elections to slander, corner and eliminate candidates. A combination of misinterpreting religious texts together with carefully crafted media headlines can destroy the image and misrepresent intentions of an individual. Once the masses are sufficiently riled up, there is hardly room for discourse and absolute religious conformity is demanded. These examples can be found throughout the globe where religious teachings are manipulated to achieve political victory.
Each nation in the world faces many challenges in its inter-religious life but some are able to develop successfully and meaningfully. Others tried ambitiously to establish inter-religious order and harmony, unsuccessfully. It is indeed difficult to draw a line on the level of tolerance between one plural nation to another. There are many factors which influence the acceptance of religious tolerance amongst believers in a certain country and yet are absent in another, such as cultural characteristics, historical civilization and religious tradition. All these factors contribute to the level of tolerance among a people. And the greatest challenge to establishing tolerance among a people is the growing presence of radical views, which is sometimes triggered by politics.
One phenomenon apparent in the history of civilization is radicalism which causes schism, conflict and violence. The presence of radical views brings about extremism both in attitude and thought which in turn nurtures the seeds of conflict. These seeds of conflict disturbs the harmonious interaction within and among religious groups.
The uncontrolled and overwhelming ambitions of radical segments of Muslims that claim absolute truth, has caused not only disharmony but conflict and bloodshed. This clearly deviates from the main values presented by the Qur’an and the exemplary life of the Prophet; Namely to espouse peace and harmonious relations in daily interaction among Muslims and other religious communities.
To all Muslims, Al Qur’an reminds repeatedly to maintain unity and good relations with one another because all believers are brothers. As brothers, they must work hand in hand to achieve the good in life.
As Muslims, we are reminded not to enter into conflict with another Muslim as a result of differing interpretation of School of Thought or orientation, particularly if the differences do not touch the foundation of faith and violate the religion’s principles and guidelines.
The Qur’an also reminds the people of faith to maintain proper and good relations by not creating suspicion and cultivating negative views of others or to insult. The Qur’an stresses that such suspicious views are part of a sin.
Consequently, if a negative view is expressed, that view should be verified to avoid misperception based on questionable facts. And the overriding theme is to try to find a common ground between differing beliefs and sects.
Al Qur’an elaborates the above reminders in the following verses;
Qur’an[Al Hujarat] 49:10
Translation[Shakir]: The believers are but brethren, therefore make peace between your brethren and be careful of (your duty to) Allah that mercy may be had on you.
Qur’an[Al Hujarat] 49:11
Translation[Shakir]: O you who believe! let not (one) people laugh at (another) people perchance they may be better than they, nor let women (laugh) at (other) women, perchance they may be better than they; and do not find fault with your own people nor call one another by nicknames; evil is a bad name after faith, and whoever does not turn, these it is that are the unjust.
Qur’an[Al Hujarat] 49:12
Translation[Shakir]: O you who believe! avoid most of suspicion, for surely suspicion in some cases is a sin, and do not spy nor let some of you backbite others. Does one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? But you abhor it; and be careful of (your duty to) Allah, surely Allah is Oft-returning (to mercy), Merciful.
The Qur’anic reminder of the need for unity in this volatile world is a great challenge for humanity. In today’s world of Islam, we are witnessing events that are despicable. There are instances where Muslims are prone to argue, insult, express hate, and blame those they differ with. They go further, pronouncing other Muslims as kafir (unbeliever) only due to different religious interpretation and orientation. They claim to be the righteous group and disqualify others. They pursue an attitude of hatred instead of finding ways of compromise and mutual understanding. To make matter worse, we see group leaders proclaim that they are the only eligible group to carry the torch of Islam, while discrediting others.
This is contrary to what the Qur’an repeatedly suggests, that every Muslim must help each other and do together what is right. The Qur’an also emphasises the need for harmony and to avoid resentment, for such discord will lead them to weakness.
Translation[Shakir]: And obey Allah and His Messenger and do not quarrel for then you will be weak in hearts and your power will depart, and be patient; surely Allah is with the patient.
The Qur’an also reminds Muslims that they must see how people of other faiths are united, which Muslims must emulate or else it may result in a disorder and damage for them.
Translation[Shakir]: And (as for) those who disbelieve, some of them are the guardians of others; if you will not do it, there will be in the land persecution and great mischief.
It is indeed regrettable that the warnings from the Qur’an are manifesting right before us in the form of disorder, disaster and damage to the life of many Muslim countries.
While Islam is known to be a religion of peace, and most Muslims try to convince others that Islam promotes love and harmony with other communities, we find a segment of Muslims show the contrary by demonstrating hostility, violence, and killing one another. And hating other communities of faith. It is very hard to fathom such acts in Islam.
The absence of unity and connectivity among Muslims puzzling, considering the strong bond of faith, that is Islam. Muslims share the commitment to bear witness to the oneness of God, and that Muhammad is His Prophet; belief in the Book, and direction of worship to Kaaba in Mecca. Yet, all of these principles are not enough to unite the body and soul of those radical Muslims.
Radical Muslims portrays Islam of the day as far removed from the Qur’anic instruction for unity and tolerance. Consequently, Islam is looked upon as a religion that teaches violence, hatred, and extremism. In most part, these radical groups ignore the teaching of Islam to create peace on earth and obliterates the beauty of Islam.
Sometimes it is due to worldly greed and political power and sometimes through genuine lack of a proper understanding of the religion of Islam.
Plural societies in South East Asia
Unlike most parts of the Middle East and some parts of western countries, the region of Southeast Asia does not have bloody historical grievances and racial clashes that prevent healthy interaction within the diverse community of faith. Muslims, Christians and Buddhists are the dominant faith communities in the region. Although, it is widely known that Muslim-Christian relations has largely been a story of mistrust and misunderstanding, however genuine efforts based on mutual goodwill and healthy dialogue have been demonstrated by the state and religious leaders.
The fact that Muslims and Christians make up over 50% of the world population, and the Buddhist consists of almost 10% of the world population, makes dialogue and cooperation imperative.
These three religious communities form a plural society that has succeeded in co-existing harmoniously. Buddhism, Christianity and Islam, have demonstrated the content of their teachings and those values are instrumental in brushing aside differences and creating mutual understanding and trust. Inter-religious and inter-cultural harmony cannot be reduced to an optional extra. It a vital necessity, that is in large, a measure of the success of a pluralistic society.
Islam makes clear that all humankind shares the same sanctity of life and honour. This tradition has been practised since its early time. The Church has profoundly enlightened its followers to promote love and affection to other communities. Buddha had strongly emphasised that his religion must not be spread by means of violence of all kinds. All three religions are religions of dialogue and compassion.
With so many commonalities among the three great religions, hence their communities of faith can embrace each other. Therefore, there is no reason not to have healthy dialogue to establish peace on earth.
However, it is not a mere display of tolerance that we are after. But an aspiration to understand and respect our differences. There can be an exchange of criticism but not a nuance to others that may lead to heated tension and conflict.
Nations in most of Southeast Asia are seen as an example of pluralistic society. But we cannot take this for granted as certain groups face growing alienation.
Crucial Challenges ahead
South East Asia’s diverse countries have co-existed peacefully for centuries, using traditional form of cultural accommodation. This type of interaction was described as a form of pluralism. It characterises the ability of different communities and ethnic groups and faiths to co-exist harmoniously. These established patterns of accommodation and tolerance along with social stability have dramatically changed. Conflicts between different groups with long traditions of peaceful co-existence started to appear on the horizon.
In other words, South East Asia is recently forced to confront the old question of race and religion. Many examples can be presented here;
- Growing sectarian violence between religious groups sparked by rumours.
- Deep rooted negative sentiments of natives vs non-natives
- Economically successful ethnic groups put on the defensive
- Accusations of unfounded religious affiliations
These events may appear disparate and strange but they reflect a common thread running through the history of race and religion in the region.
Indeed, the concept of plural society is more relevant than ever for understanding the course of events in South East Asia. The imposition of plural society by colonial rule turned to be lacking the local wisdom.
In certain regions throughout the world, we find that wealth came at the cost of natives in those regions. Marginalised groups felt elbowed aside by incoming foreigners who were mostly under colonial protection.
The interaction between the native and the foreigner lacked a shared sense of community. Indeed, the colonial protection and favouritism to the foreigner was the main reason for the resentment felt by indigenous inhabitants.
To address these issues, some governments would provide natives, additional support. The sense of resentment against the plural society could also be in play for electoral gain. And while some governments try to play down the tensions between those groups, deep rooted negative sentiments tend to arise whenever certain sensitive key issues hits the psychology of the people. Be it religious, economic or political issues, that can easily add fuel to the fire.
No one denies that our world is rife with religious tension, mistrust and hatred. These tension can easily erupt into communal violence as we have witnessed in many part of our globe.
The remedy for this predicament can only come from world religions themselves. In other words, religion should be part of the solution not part of the problem.
Therefore, using religious references is meaningful when we seek peace between religious groups, considering that 85% of the world population belongs to a religion.
Without reference to religious texts as a remedy, most devout Muslims, Christians, and Jews, along with Buddhist and others will not fully support each other. Let us look for reference in the religious text which could be used to make our world more pleasant and liveable.
In the Bible, Jesus Christ said: Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.
Similar meanings are stated in the Qur’an; No act is rewarded save for seeking the countenance of God. (Al-Lail 92:19-20)
Buddha said: Conquer anger by love, evil by good and conquer liar by Truth
In fact, Jesus Christ’s commandment of “Love your neighbour and love your God “and also said: No one is Good but God is a language that excludes no one. It is, indeed, the essence of Good Will. The Qur’an also echoes that the Good is one of God’s name (Altur; 52;28) So speaking of Good is an inclusive formula.
I will conclude by quoting one of UN Resolution for interfaith Harmony as follows;
“Encourages all States to support, on a voluntary basis, the spread of the message of interfaith harmony and goodwill in the world’s Churches, Mosques, Synagogues, Temples and other places of Worship during that week based on Love of God and Love of the Neighbour, or based on Love of the Good and Love of the Neighbour, each according to their own religious traditions or convictions”
It is a simple yet quite a powerful and unifying statement. Our world desperately needs it.
Last updated on 24/09/2018