Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi, New Age Islam
Is A Spiritual Path Which Shows That There Is Not Only One Way To Eternal
of pluralism believe that all faith traditions and their various denominations
can lead one to the same Ultimate Reality….
2. Viewed from
an Indian perspective, pluralism is a spiritual path which shows that there is
not only one way to eternal salvation….
3. The question
emerges: Is Islamic theology in India ready for religious pluralism?
department of Islamic Studies in Jamia Hamdrad organized an international
seminar to address key questions on pluralism in Islam from the Indian
5. Several HoDs
of the Islamic Studies departments in various Indian universities have
expressed their determination to hold more seminars on such important topics.
Pluralism Project of Harvard University defines pluralism as “dialogue-based
and focused on the energetic engagement with diversity, an active seeking of
understanding across lines of difference, and the encounter of commitments”.
proponents of pluralism believe that all faith traditions and their various
denominations can lead one to the same Ultimate Reality—which is Unity of the
Divine and Oneness of Mankind—which is interpreted differently by diverse
religions and theological traditions, and that no single religion is the sole
proprietor of the Divine Truth. In other words, the “Truth is One, and the Wise
call it by many names”, as a famous shloka goes in Rig Veda Samhita (1.164.
an Indian perspective, pluralism is a spiritual path which shows that there is
not only one way to eternal salvation. But rather, various religions have been
revealed in various times and geographical locations as different paths to the
same Ultimate Reality. According to this definition of pluralism, Islam in
India came as one of the many, and not just one, ways to achieve eternal
salvation. It came as a spiritual path to develop close personal relationship
with the Divine, rather than an ideology of political dominion. This rendition of
pluralism also calls for an interreligious scriptural dialogue based on the
shared values, theological cooperation, and spiritual symbiosis by not just
tolerating but also respecting and accepting the ‘otherness’ of others.
religious pluralism, going by this definition, would imply an intellectual
project to bring about not just integration but also assimilation of various
faith traditions in India. It appears to be not only a matter of peaceful
coexistence and toleration but more of an amalgamation and accommodation of
each other’s traditions. Now, the question emerges: Is Islamic theology in
India ready for religious pluralism in this sense? Are the Indian Islamic
theologians open to accept and accentuate the theological pluralism which
eliminates the possibility of a specific, historical divine revelation being
the only supreme source of guidance? More fundamental question is: If pluralism
is the right way to live in the 21st century, then why can Islam not reconcile
with the primal doctrines of the major world religions—especially the
Indian-origin faith traditions?
questions become more relevant in the context of the composite culture in India
where Islam and Hinduism—the two apparently irreconcilable religions— have
lived together for almost 14 centuries, with an increasingly strained relations
recently due to a volatile political atmosphere. In a first of its kind
academic endeavor, the department of Islamic Studies in Jamia Hamdrad, a deemed
university in Delhi, organized an international seminar/webinar seeking to
address these key questions on pluralism in Islam from the prism of India.
international seminar titled as, "Islam and Pluralism: An Indian
Perspective" organized by the Department of Islamic Studies, Jamia Hamdard
concluded with a stimulating valedictory session on 20th January, 2022. Around
five technical sessions of the seminar were aimed at highlighting the common
grounds between Islam and other Indian religions in particular, and the Semitic
and non-Semitic faith traditions in general.
opening ceremony, the chief guest of the seminar, Dr Ahmad Abdur Rahman Al
Banna (Ambassador of UAE to India) greatly appreciated the initiative by the
department of Islamic studies of Jamia Hamdard and its venture to foster
interfaith harmony and understanding in the academic arena. After he extended
his congratulations to the organizers of the Seminar and his best wishes and
compliments for its future efforts towards interreligious dialogue, Dr Al Banna
shed light on the ambitions and efforts of UAE to promote pluralism and
progressive values in the Gulf countries, which he said, are setting an example
to emulate for other Muslim nations.
important speakers in the inaugural session included prominent Indian Islamic
scholars like Prof. Abdul Ali (former HoD of the Islamic studies department of
Aligarh Muslim University), Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani (General
Secretary, All India Muslim Personal Law Board) and Dr. Arshad Hussain (HoD of
the department of Islamic studies, Jamia Hamdard) along with Prof. Syed
Mehartaj Begum, Dean, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Jamia Hamdard
and Prof. M. Afshar Alam, Vice Chancellor of Jamia Hamdard who delivered the
Special Address and Presidential Address respectively.
sixty papers were presented in different technical sessions running on parallel
for two days in which different aspects of the subject were concisely covered.
The papers presented in the seminar will be published by the department of
Islamic studies of Jamia Hamdard, according to the seminar convenor, Dr Waris
Mateen Mazhari, Assistant Professor of Islamic studies, Jamia Hamdard.
a considerable number of distinguished paper presenters from within the
country, a gamut of scholars and ulema from abroad also took part in the
various sessions of the seminar. These included Dr. Omair Anas (Turkey) on
"Islam and Plural Societies", Dr. SherAli Tareen (USA) on
"Political sovereignty and interreligious relations", Shaykh Dr.
Fakhruddin Owaisi (South Africa) on "Islamic Pluralism in India:
Motivations and Background", Mr. Mohammad Afzal (London) on
"Relations between Muslims and Non-Muslims in the Prophetic Era and the
Rightly Guided Caliphate Period", Mr. Mohammad Seraj Ahsan (Turkey) on
"Significance of MultiCulturalism in Peace Building and Conflict
Resolution in Globalized World: An Analytical Study of Islamic
Perspective", Dr.Talha Rehman (UAE) on "Democracy, Pluralism and the
Role of Islam in India".
A set of
selected papers in this international seminar which were presented in Urdu and
English in five parallel sessions, were titled as follows: "Pluralism in
Islam and the Philosophy of Coexistence" by Dr. Sumaiyah Ahmed (Jamia
Hamdard), Maulana Qasim Nanautavi and Inter-religious Dialogue: A Critical
Study" by Dr. Mohamamd Ajmal (JNU), "The Concept of Islamic Pluralism
from the Indian Perspective" by Dr. Waris Matin Mazhari (Jamia Hamdard),
Half-widows: Shifting Identities of Kashmiri women “Islamic Pluralism in
context of the principles of Jurisprudence for minorities” by Miss. Nida Fatima
(Jamia Hamdard), "Hindu-Muslim Religious Commonalities: A Study of Gilani’s
Treatise Islam aur Hindumat ki b‘az Mushtarika T‘alimāt" by Mr. Abdussalam
Nadir (AMU), "The role of Muslim scholars and intellectuals in
strengthening multi-religious society" by Maulana Manzar Imam (JMI),
"Democratic Pluralism in India: Past and Present" by Ms. Quratul Aein
(Kashmir University), "Security and Peace in Multicultural Society: The
Islamic Perspective" by Dr. Abdur Rahman (JNU), "Plural Society of
Mecca: A Study of the Biography of the Prophet of Islam" by Mr. Mohd.
Abdul Bari (AMU), "Safeguarding Human Dignity & Rights in Indian
Pluralistic Society: An Islamic Perspective" by Mr. Mohammad Furqan (JMI),
"A Comparative Study of Sufism and Bhakti Movement with Special Reference
to Moinuddin Chishti and Kabir Das" by Ms. Rukhshanda Shaheen (AMU),
"An Analytical Study of Jalaluddin Akbar’s Policy of Pluralism" by
Ms. Darakhshan (Jamia Hamdard), "The possibility and impossibility of
religious pluralism in Islam: A Study of Nizamuddin Auliya and Ahmad Raza
Khan" by Mr. Mohammad Ali (Jamia Millia Islamia), The Millet System:
Pluralistic Approach of the Ottoman Caliphate" by Dr. Saifudheen Kunjus
(Univ.of Madras), "Islam and United Nations on Universal Declaration on
Human Dignity: A Comparative Study" by Dr. Tanjeel Ahmed (AMU), “Muslim
Understanding of Indian Religions—Academic Approaches!” by Prof. Hamidullah
Marazi (Kashmir University), “Migration to Abyssinia: A Role Model for Muslims
in the Multi-religious Societies” by Dr. Mohd Arshad (Jamia Millia Islamia) and
“The Theological Pluralism in India: A Perspective of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad”
by Mr. Ghulam Rasool (Jamia Millia Islamia University).
A few of
the above paper presenters have also expressed their views and reflections on
the conclusion of the seminar, as follows:
Tareen (Associate Professor, Religious Studies, Franklin and Marshall College)
who recently authored "Defending Muḥammad in Modernity", sent
across his feedback in these words: "Many congratulations to all
organizers and presenters for a wonderful conference on an urgently important
scholar and participant in the seminar, Dr. Ziauddin Falahi (Aligarh Muslim
University) who presented his paper on "Relevance of Interfaith Dialogue:
A Study of Tabeenul Kalam" appreciated the initiative as below:
to all the Islamic Studies fraternity. The Department of Islamic Studies Jamia
Hamdard, Delhi deserves our special thanks that led our attention to a very
timely foundation of the thought process of Pluralism. As sincere citizens, we
should perspire ourselves to save the country on research grounds....."
participants and paper presenters like Dr. Sumaiyah Ahmed (Jamia Hamdard)
stressed the need to compile all the presidential addresses along with the
observations and comments on the seminar. According to Dr. Najmus Sahar, the
seminar coordinator, the papers of the seminar will be published in a book at
the earliest possible.
valedictory session was addressed by Prof. Iqtdar Muhammad Khan (Jamia Millia
Islamia) and Prof. Fahim Akhtar Nadvi (Maulana Azad Urdu University,
Hyderabad). Prof. Iqtdar Mohammad Khan termed this initiative as the urgent
need of the time and discussed various aspects of the subject. He lauded the
Seminar as the glorious beginning of healthy debates and discourses on the
theme, and laid greater emphasis on the need for an intra-faith dialogue for
‘pluralism within Islam’ which he said, is more crucial at the moment.
Faheem Akhtar, while giving a very comprehensive analytical commentary on the
papers presented in the seminar, pointed out the areas which need to be the
focus of attention for the Islamic scholars. He said that this seminar is an
important model for other seminars organized by the departments of Islamic
Studies. Dr. Muhammad Ahmad Naeemi (Jamia Hamdrad) whose paper was presented in
Urdu under the title, “An Analysis of the Common Grounds and Values between
Islam and Hinduism” presented the report of the seminar. Prof. Mehrtaj Begum,
Dean, School of Humanities and Social Sciences and Dr. Arshad Hussain, Head of
the Department, expressed their determination to hold more seminars on such
important intellectual topics.
A regular columnist with NewAgeIslam.com Ghulam
Rasool Dehlvi is an Alim and Fazil (a classical Islamic scholar). Having
graduated from a leading Islamic seminary of India, Jamia Amjadia Rizvia (Mau,
U.P.), he is now pursuing his PhD from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.
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