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Books and Documents

Interfaith Dialogue

In this effort, the contribution of Islamic thought and belief can best be illustrated through the teachings of the Sufi Orders which found a welcome place in this great country, conveying the message of Peace and Love through the ages. The Sufis achieved results which go beyond description. Notwithstanding this basic truth, the results have yet flowed, at times, in our country in the opposite direction, presenting us with the challenge that all Faiths and Religions flourishing in this country should combine their efforts to save the country from being consumed by the flames of mutual hatred and intolerance.....

 

As I practice yoga in the crisp air of a mild Karachi winter, gazing out to the Arabian Sea, I can’t help wondering whether some of this reconnection might come from yoga. We move in unison as our teacher calls out the Sanskrit names of the poses called Asanas. Then the call to prayer begins to ring out from a nearby mosque and we fall silent, listening to the sound of our own breaths and the time-old Arabic words of the Azaan. As soon as the practice is over, I’ll roll up my yoga mat and go find my prayer mat. I’ve never felt so integrated, so connected to my Islamic heritage and my South Asian roots....

 

The other caveat to remember is that Akbar may not always have been inspired by noble impulses. There is no doubt that his liberal, secular credentials have been embellished down the centuries – his interest in the Sanskritic literary traditions may have partially stemmed from the idea that this would help him in enlisting the support of the political elite who were key to expanding as well as maintaining his empire. The same political instinct may have convinced him to appoint Hindu Brahmans to key positions in his administration....

The statements “Hinduism is an inclusive, tolerant religion” and “Islam is a religion of peace” contain much truth — but this truth has to be regularly vindicated by action. There seems to be an increasing failure to do so on the part of many Hindus and Muslims. Each one of us has to face up to this failure. Every time we use such words, we need to ask ourselves: do we really mean it, and does the evidence around us sustain such claims? We have to ask ourselves: are we using these words as ideals or as excuses?....

For example, non-Muslims may relate Islam with terrorism especially in the midst of terror attacks by radicalised groups like Daesh or ISIS; while Muslims may associate Buddhism with the persecution against Myanmar’s ethnic minority, Rohingya. Such stereotypical views occur when there is lack of knowledge and understanding, and without any effort to sought new information. As a result, some individuals tend to blindly believe what is published by the media without having any real understanding of the actual situation....

 

The Catholic church has many strengths, including in its humanitarian work – after all, it has representatives across the planet, and for all the bad apples we’ve become increasingly aware of, there are many good men and women working tirelessly to improve the living conditions of people who live in challenged situations. But it has weaknesses too, including the fact that its leader, while he might look like a world peacemaker, must look out first and foremost for his own people. And that, it seems, is what has had to happen here....

 

There are a lot of forces in the world that want us Muslims and Christians to see each other as enemies. This makes it important for us, along with our Jewish brothers and sisters, to think deeply about what it means to live together as believers who aim to love and please God....

Knowledge, Compassion and Understanding In The Synagogue
Ambassador Akbar Ahmed
Knowledge, Compassion and Understanding In The Synagogue
Patrick Burnett

If we are to save our societies, we must all make a stronger effort to reach out in friendship and open our minds to learning about the other. Until every Muslim girl can enter her classroom without fear of her hijab being torn away and every Jewish student can go to school without fear of having swastikas drawn on their arms, we will have to keep pushing forward....

Embracing Holy Envy: 'Allahu Akbar'
Robert Azzi
Embracing Holy Envy: 'Allahu Akbar'
Robert Azzi

Stendahl challenges us to be open to recognizing elements in other religions—even those that may appear foreign or threatening—and to consider how we might wish to support, embrace, emulate or further explore those elements that might help us to deepen our understanding of our own religious traditions and more deeply connect to others: to embrace ‘holy envy.’...

Tolerance and Cordiality in Muslim-Sikh Relations in Mughal India: A Historical Appraisal
Prof. Henry Francis B. Espiritu, New Age Islam
Tolerance and Cordiality in Muslim-Sikh Relations in Mughal India: A Historical Appraisal
Prof. Henry Francis B. Espiritu, New Age Islam

Warfare in the perspective of Islam and Sikhism is only utilized as the last resort for the defensive protection of the oppressed from the arrogant oppressors. Both religions believe that the sword is never intended for offensive or aggressive warfare. Defence for the rights and dignity of the human person is the only reason for drawing the sword—and only as the last recourse. Islam and Sikhism do not condone force and compulsion—both faiths stand for peace, tolerance, and amity. Islam however provides for the just defence of one’s’ faith, life, and property. In the same vein, the sixth Guru, Hargobind and tenth Guru, Gobind Singh (as the last preceptor of Sikh lineage of spiritual masters) provided for defensive struggle against oppression (but not aggressive war) in their act of arming the Sikhs with sword....

In Search of 21st century Divine Faith
Dhirendra Sharma, New Age Islam

IF the Muslims claim that Islam means Peace, the Hindu chauvinists think that all the social Evils were due to Arab-Islamic invasions of India.  Otherwise India was Heavenly abode ( Devbhumi)of the pious Souls, devoid of all evils, chanting Om Shanti, Om Shanti ,had  flourished on the banks of Ganga-Jamuna  during the pre-Islamic  Golden Age ( Sat-Yuga.) For 5000 years during the pre-Islamic world order during the Sat-Yuga when Lord Ram and Lord Krishna ruled the society, there were sectarian and tribal civil wars just as the Arabic-Islamic civil wars and social violence…..  

 

This is what Nanak wanted, humans irrespective of their religion, caste or creed, sitting together, sharing food. Any place where that became possible would become the home of god, the pathway to divinity – Gurudwara. In Pakistan, where there are now only a handful of functional Sikh Gurdwaras, this becomes possible only at Kartarpur Sahib. Muslims at all the other Gurdwaras have been disallowed because of security reasons. ....

How Interfaith Solidarity Can Help Defeat the Evil of Terrorism
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf
How Interfaith Solidarity Can Help Defeat the Evil of Terrorism
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf

Nor has genuine Islam anything to do with Sayfullo Saipov's terrorist ideology. God proclaims to Muslims, "I have made you a moderate people (ummatan wasatan)" (Quran 2:143). The Prophet himself warns against extremist religiosity. But is anyone who needs to hear this listening? All Muslims need to know, but especially those tempted by terrorism, that America is already a deeply religious country in ways that Islam unequivocally affirms....

 
A Sikh Champion of Muslims
Akbar Ahmed
A Sikh Champion of Muslims
Akbar Ahmed

I could not but think of the wisdom of the founder of his faith, Guru Nanak, who famously said, “Those that have loved are those that have found God.” While Pakistan has somewhat of a reputation as encouraging religious intolerance, in fact, the birthplace of Guru Nanak, which I visited not long ago, is in Nankana Sahib, Pakistan, and I can report that it is spotlessly clean and tended with special reverence and affection by the local administration.....

Masih is the Arabic word for messiah, a title reserved for Jesus Christ. It is a word the Christian community uses today for its self-identification in Pakistan. However, it is not the word Muslims use for the Christian community – they use Isaai, followers of Prophet Isa, the name for Jesus in the Quran. While Isaai is now popularly recognised as the word for Christians in Pakistan, it is not a title the Christians necessarily associate with. However, power relationships between the two communities have forced this identification upon them, despite their reluctance. This is similar to Muslims being referred to as Mohammadens.....

 

Some of the open-ended issues that remain after the 2015 agreement with the Palestinians are just as important as the agreement itself. Unmentioned in the agreement is the matter of conversion from Islam to Christianity, an act punishable by death by Islam. Will the PA tolerate conversion to Christianity? What if there is an Islamist shift in the PA's governmental composition, a rather realistic possibility given the rise of Hamas and other Islamist groups? Is proselytism to be tolerated?....

 

A few days ago, I stepped into a cab that was waiting outside my house. The domestic worker handed me the things I needed and in her customary way bid farewell to me by saying, “Allah Hafiz, Didi!” I reciprocated by saying the same. As I shut the car’s door, I sensed the cab driver’s body language stiffening....

The tradition of Chhappan Thal, which perhaps has its roots in the contemporaneous Krishna Bhakti practices of Braj, became a part of the Mughal cuisine. Sweets like Ghevar, Peda, Jalebi, Phirni, Kheel and Falooda were characteristic of the Diwali air. The Mughal Dastarkhwan was laden with the choicest of dishes, just like in Nauroz. The Mughal Diwali or Jashn-e-Charaghan was extensively recorded in court Muraqqas under the rule of Rangile. Fanoos or lanterns were released, and Chiraghs or lamps illuminated the urban core of Shahjahanabad....

Mughals continued celebrating Diwali with feasts and fireworks. It became a part of the cultural ethos that Mughals had developed in Hindustan. In fact, the Mughal successor states of the 18th century too continued parts of similar ideas they had built their empire on. Apart from the fireworks depicted in Mughal paintings, we hear of the Akash Diya (the lamp in the sky), which was lit on a high pole during the Jashn-e-Chiraghan (festival of lights). ....

He said that the film showed that the “other” must be respected. “What Francis had found out was that Muslims are not severe, but the contrary — they pray, fear God and are merciful, as it was clear in the scene of distributing bread to the defeated crusaders,” he said. “At the same time, the sultan saw that among the crusaders, there was a man who called for peace and dialogue.”...

 

Just as eternal salvation (Nijat-e-Abadi) in Islam is well-embedded in the “Five Pillars of Faith”, the spiritual enlightenment in Buddhism is summed up in the “Four Noble Truths” Much like the earlier were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) starting from the cave of Hira until his demise in Madina, the latter were delivered by Gautam Buddha to five monks at Isipatana in Banaras....

Space for All: Love for All Is a Formula Taught By All Religions
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, New Age Islam
Space for All: Love for All Is a Formula Taught By All Religions
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan for New Age Islam

The Quran tells us: Lakum Deenukum Waliya Deen, that is, “For you your religion, for me mine.” (109:6) It means follow one religion and respect all. Can there be a better formula for harmonious living than this? It means that if someone thinks differently from you, don’t try to eliminate or fight with him. Rather, you should respect and tolerate his difference of opinion....

But the fact that both Islam and Hinduism are based on divine revelation and in essence both worship the Supreme Being is generally ignored. The foundation of Hinduism is the Vedas comprising of different scriptures revealed to Rishis (prophets) over a long period of time. Islam is also based on the Quran which is a reminder of the messages and commandments revealed to prophet before Muhammad pbuh. The Vedas and the Upanishads sing the glory of the Supreme Being (Nirgun Brahman), the Formless God, the Creator of all. The Mundakya Upanishad VI says:

“He is the lord of all. He is the knower of al. He is the inner Controller. He is the source of everything from Him all beings originate and in the end disappear into Him.”....

The Buddhist-Muslim divide seems to be getting sharper in this part of the world. Neighbouring Bangladesh is struggling to absorb hundreds of thousands of Muslim Rohingyas, an ethnic group from Myanmar, who recently fled atrocities by Myanmar’s military and Buddhist majority....

Salam and Shanti
Rabia Ahmed
Salam and Shanti
Rabia Ahmed

I studied Surah Nisa many years later. It’s a beautiful chapter of the Holy Quran which tells you with inherent compassion and justice how one must treat women and orphans, and how to divide an inheritance amongst heirs. I still don’t understand, even if there was a Djinn possessing me, as to why it would leave upon hearing this chapter.....

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