The Need for Religious Harmony

55The Review of Religions – February 2005 This is a very crucial juncturein the history of mankind and this subject needs to be addressed and discussed repeatedly, because in the final analysis, religious animosity plays a vital role in international, racial and social clashes. It gives me immense pleasure to tell society that harmony in the religious world is very much possible by following the true teachings of Islam. It is always good to hear words of peace and harmony. People come and say good things about religion: we are heading towards the same goal, all mankind has the same common values. But allow me to put the matter in a different perspective. Every man committed to his faith must believe that his is the best. A Jew is a Jew because he believes ‘Judaism’ is the true way to reach God. A Hindu believes his version of ‘Sanatan Dharma’ is the chosen way of ‘ P a r m e s h w a r’. Similarly, a Christian believes that Jesus ( a s ) is the only Saviour of mankind. Being a Muslim, I believe that Islam is the best of all religions and presents a complete code of life. Having said this, a natural question arises as to how to create bondage of harmony and tolerance? According to me, the Holy Qur’an, the last revealed Book, clearly outlines the ways and means of creating the bondage of peace and harmony despite all differences. Jews are of the opinion that Moses( a s ) was the best of Prophets and that the Children of Israel are THE NEED FOR Based on a speech delivered at the International Seminar at the Department of World Religions, Dhaka University. Religious Harmony Meer Mobasher Ali – Bangladesh 56 The Review of Religions – February 2005 THE NEED FOR RELIGIOUS HARMONY the chosen people of God. They do not accept Jesus ( a s ) as the Messiah. On the other hand, t h e Christians believe all men are sinners; they have inherited the ancestral sin in their blood. To save them, God sent Jesus( a s ) t o love them and to die for them. In short, these beliefs are not at all s u fficient to create common grounds of peaceful co-existence. In sharp contrast to these concepts, Islam portrays a d i fferent picture altogether. Islam says that the true path of Allah is one and the same. Islam is the only religion which openly declares all the earlier Prophets of God to be true. Islam goes even further by stating that one of the basic fundamentals for a Muslim is to declare all the Prophets of God to be true in their pristine origin. The completion of religion took place with the advent of the Holy Prophet of I s l a m( s a ). He was given such a marvellous code of conduct that it ensures religious harmony. During the time of Prophet M u h a m m a d( s a ) all previously revealed faiths were in exis- tence. The Holy Qur’an amply outlines how to go about regarding other faiths and establish peace and harmony. In the Holy Qur’an, Allah has taught us how to start a dialogue between people of different beliefs. It says: Say, ‘O people of the book! Come to a word equal between us and you – that we worship none but Allah and that we associate no part n e r with Him, and that some of us take not others for Lord s beside Allah.’ But if they turn away, then say, ‘Bear w i t n e ss that We have submitted to God. (Ch.3: V.65) This verse categorically shows us the way to common values. It also says that despite sharp d i fferences and animosity, people can have peaceful co-existence. One of the major causes of conflict and animosity is speaking ill of religious founders. A person of a particular religion may hurt the feelings of a certain 57The Review of Religions – February 2005 THE NEED FOR RELIGIOUS HARMONY group by criticising their beloved prophet. Misunderstanding may erupt by under-estimating a founder of a certain faith and belief. Islam lays the very foundation to uproot this evil by s a y i n g : This Messenger of Ours believes in that which has been revealed to him fro m his Lord, and so do the believers: all of them believe in Allah and in His Angels and in His books and in His Messengers saying, ‘ We make no distinction between any of His Messengers… (Ch.2: V.286) One of the major elements of religion is life after death and eternal salvation. Usually p e o p l e start quarrelling on this issue of salvation. Islam claims that there is no monopoly in the matter of salvation. Salvation depends entirely on Allah. In this respect, the Almighty and benevolent Allah assures us by saying: Surely, the Believers, and the Jews and the Christians and the Sabians – w h i c h e v e r p a rty from among these t ruly believes in Allah and the Last Day, and does g o o d deeds – shall have their re w a rd with their Lord and no fear shall come upon them nor shall they grieve. (Ch.2: V. 63) The Holy Prophet of Islam( s a ), lived a holy life according to the Qur’anic teachings. During his lifetime he practised total religious harmony. The historic ‘ Treaty of Madinah’ amply demonstrates his attitude towards people of other faiths especially Christians, Jews and idolators. As far as the present world scenario is concerned, the world has only one way to attain peace by ensuring absolute justice to all people. Unfortunately, those who claim to be the custodians of human rights and freedom are themselves violating the golden principles of absolute justice by not insisting that the resolutions 58 The Review of Religions – February 2005 THE NEED FOR RELIGIOUS HARMONY passed by the body of nations must be upheld by the relevant defaulting nations. This absur- dity and injustice leads to intolerance and destruction. On one hand superpowers them- selves claim to be democratic and on the other hand they keep the right to veto intact under their disposal. The judgment of the International Court of Justice cannot be made binding even with the support of an overwhelming majority of nations. The Holy Qur’an totally rejects injustice and teaches us to guarantee justice to all, even to enemies! Addressing the believers, Allah says: … and let not a people’s enmity incite you to act otherwise than with justice. Be always just, that is nearer to righteousness. (Ch.5: V. 9 ) What a wonderful guidance to establish peace in the world! I n t e r-religious peace and harmony is a pre-requisite for social, national and international s t a b i l i t y. From the Islamic principles mentioned above, it seems very obvious that Islam sets the correct way of achieving it. The only thing required is to understand and practically demonstrate the true teaching of all religions. These golden principles should be followed by the leaders of different faiths to establish peace and harmony in the society. There is a sect in Islam which is practising and demonstrating these golden principles under divine leadership. This sect is known as the Ahmadiyya Muslim C o m m u n i t y. Those interested in going into details of Islamic teachings on peace and harmony are referred to the book Islam’s Response to Contemporary Issues by Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad. Before I finish, I will q u o t e a small extract from the writings of the Holy Founder of Ahmadiyya C o m m u n i t y, Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad( a s ). He wrote: ‘It is our principle to be sympathetic towards the 59The Review of Religions – February 2005 THE NEED FOR RELIGIOUS HARMONY whole of mankind. If a person finds his Hindu neighbour’s house burning and he does not get up to extinguish the fire, then let me assure you, he does not belong to me. And if a person amongst m y followers sees that someone is about to kill a Christian and he does not help to save him then let me tell you with certainty that he is not one of us.’ (Siraj-e-Muneer, Pg.28) May Allah enable us to follow His choicest path and attain peace and harmony in all spheres of life. Advertise your business in The Review of Religions and see sales scale to new heights. Existing adverts can be placed and sponsorship on regular features is available in this longest running worldwide Muslim monthly magazine in the English language. Rates available on request from the Manager at: The Review of Religions 16 Gressenhall Road London SW18 5QL