By Naseer Ahmed, New Age Islam
29 September 2017
A national seminar on “The Idea of Peace, Humanism and Tolerance in Islam” was convened by Dr, Nasir Raza Khan, Director, India-Arab Cultural Centre, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, and was held on the 25th and 26th September 2017,.
The seminar attracted participation in the form of papers and presentations from 35 professors and scholars from ten universities spread across the country, the CSDS, and an Islamic seminary. The participants were social scientists drawn from different disciplines such as history, sociology, political science, anthropology, and philosophy besides Professors of Arabic and Islamic studies.
The deliberations and interactions were organized in seven sessions covering the following themes:
The Concept of Unity in the Holy Quran while Celebrating Diversity of Faiths
Humanistic Principles of Islam
Human Rights in Islam and the Rights of Others in Interpersonal Relationships
The Importance of Secular Justice in Islam
The Rights of Women and Gender Justice
Political Islam and its Deleterious Effect on Society
Reponses to the Emerging Trends among the Muslim
The presentations in the seminar covered interesting perspectives about Islam’s universalism, pluralism, tolerance, emphasis on human rights and individual freedoms, secular justice, social security through religiously mandated charity, emphasis on education for all, concern for environmental protection, and emphasis on the moral way of living. The developments in political Islam and their effect on Muslim society were also deliberated upon.
The seminar also covered the factors that led to a decline in the emphasis on the humanitarian, tolerant and inclusive aspects of Islam in Islamic ideology which has made the religion ‘dogmatic’ in place of rational and parochial in place of Universal and inclusive and patriarchal in place of protective and supportive of women.
The seminar was inaugurated by the Vice Chancellor, Professor Talat Ahmad. The keynote speakers were Professor Akhtar ul Wasey, Vice Chancellor, Maulana Azad University Jodhpur, and Professor A K Ramakrishnan from JNU. The Valedictory address was given by Pushpesh Pant, a noted Indian academic and historian and retired Professor of International relations from the Jawaharlal Nehru University.
The sessions were chaired by prominent academic luminaries such as Dipti Tripathi, Professor at Dept. of Sanskrit Delhi University, Professor Iqtidar Mohammed Khan Nazim-e-Diniyat, JMI and other senior Professors. Professor Wasey’s key message was that the Muslims believe in the Quran but do not follow it – “Quran Ko To Maante Hain, Lekin Quran Ki Nahin Sunte” and the fact that while the Prophet formed an Ummat-e-Wahida with people of all faiths in a common cause, the Muslims of later times failed to do so. Professor Pant said that the Hindus remember their history only from the days of partition and have forgotten earlier history. He said that Islamic influence has permeated all aspects of the life of Hindus from their food and the Halwa which has become the standard offering to the deity and distributed as “Prasad”, the dress, the language, the architecture, the classical music in which many of the forms are kept alive by the Muslim artists, the arts, poetry and the culture. Professor Iqtedar Mohammed Khan, in his valedictory address said that the source of all the problems lie in injustice and the solution is in creating an environment conducive to justice and hostile to injustice.
Prof. Farhat Nasreen (JMI) spoke about how well the Prophet combined in his personality both power and piety in perfect balance in complete submission to Allah and became an exemplar of morality beyond compare and became Khuluq Azeem.
Dr Arshi Shoaib (AMU) dealt on the theme of Tawhid and integration. Prof Javed Ahmad Khan (JMI) covered Islamic Finance practices and how these promote human welfare. Prof. Zafar Nomani (AMU) presented a very learned and interesting paper explaining the names or attributes of Allah and the verses which cover the Quranic principles on environmental sustainability and equity.
Mohammed Salman Naseem (Nadwat ul Ulema) brought out beautifully how the Prophet was a personification of peace, nobility, tolerance and reconciliation. Dr Mohammad Ajmal (JNU) covered the pioneering role of Islam in defining human rights comprehensively based on the fundamental principles of dignity and equality.Dr. Nafees Ahmad(Delhi) covered Islamic States Practices in implementing International Law on human rights.
Dr. Amalaesh Pradhan (Sidho-Kano-Birsha University) dealt on the subject of political Islam and Jihad and what the reality is and the illusion created by those who perpetrate their own agenda. He argued that the activities of a fringe should not be allowed to tarnish the image of Islam.
Dr. Balram Shukla (DU) presented an excellent paper demonstrating a flawless understanding of Islam and the Quran. He was completely at ease quoting Quranic verses in Arabic, verses from the Bhagwad Gita in Sanskrit and mixing flawless Urdu with Shudh Hindi in his beautiful presentation. He once again showed that there are more non-Muslims, who are completely at ease reading and understanding the Quran proving that it is Kitabum Mubeen, while for the Muslims, it is all confusion!
Prof. Musheer Husain Siddiqui (Lucknow) spoke on the emphasis in Islam on secular justice which does not allow discrimination on any grounds whatsoever. Prof. G. N. Khaki(University of Kashmir) spoke on the heritage of Islam in India which is both syncretic and pluralist. Prof. Naseem Ahmad Shah(University of Kashmir) spoke on the interfaith relations between Islam and Christianity.
Dr. Hilal Ahmad (CSDS) spoke on the issue of azan. Dr Ahmad Raza (Hyderabad) gave us a perspective of the Turkish model of democracy. Dr Anisur Rahman (WB) spoke on the stringent conditions for war in Islam. Dr. Aftab Ahmad (JMI) covered Morality and Humanism in the Writings of Ali Miyan Nadwi.
Ms Farah Shahin (JNU), challenged the stereotypes about faith and gender in the context of the position and rights of women in Islam. Dr. Ashfaq Zafar (MHA) dwelt on the topic of moderateness in everything as an essential quality in Islam.
Dr. Hemayun Akhtar Nazmi(JMI) spoke on the influence of external variables. Dr. Rafiullah Azmi (JMI) explained the paradox of extremism in a religion of peace through the politics of Islamophobia. Dr. Suhaib Ahmad (JMI) argued that Islam is undeniably a religion of peace and not a supporter of terrorism. Prof. Nishat Manzar (JMI) talked about the constant efforts for peace and reconciliation even in war as proof that even war is only to achieve peace. Dr. Syed Mohammad Amir (JMI) spoke on the subject of how conflict was used only as a means to achieve peace. Dr. Gulfishan Khan (AMU) spoke on the principle of peace with all or Sulh e Kul in 18th century Iran.
I represented New Age Islam and presented a paper titled “Islam's Relationship With The Rest Of The Word - The Source Of Current Problems Of Extremism In A False Ideology And The Antidote From An Authentic Understanding Of The Truly Humanistic Message Of The Quran”.The paper ended with the following conclusion:
The “other’ in the Islam of the Quran is the “Kafir”, but they are not the “disbelievers” and the “non-Muslim”as incorrectly made out in Islamic theology, but the unjust and the oppressors irrespective of the faith they profess. The cause of Allah is to end all injustice and oppression and those who help in this form the “community of Allah” irrespective of the faith they profess. The Quran expects the Muslims to belong to such a “community of Allah” and make common cause with them forming an Ummat-e-Wahida, to stand up and fight against all wrongs, injustices and oppression. This is the authentic message of the Quran. It is both rational and humanistic as may be expected from the God of all people. The message went down very well with the audience. Coincidentally, the message of my paper is the same as Professor Wasey’s in his keynote address, and Professor Iqtedar’s in his valedictory address. I thank Professor Wasey for the key phrases which I used to adorn my paper.
I thank Dr Nasir Raza Khan for inviting me and Professor Iqtedar Mohammed Khan for his unbelievable warmth, hospitality and friendliness. He took me around to show the beautiful campus spread over 200 acres although it was late in the night and had their world class sports complex in which the CWG were held opened, so that I could see their excellent facilities. I haven’t come across a person with greater warmth and friendliness! I thank Professor Naseem for introducing me to Prof. Iqtedar and for speaking highly about my paper to everyone he introduced me to. The experience of speaking to such an august audience who both understood and appreciated the paper was most heartening and encouraging. It gives me hope that not all is lost in the Muslim world. I also thank Shahin Sb for suggesting my name to Dr Nasir Khan and introducing me to him. I owe him this rare opportunity.
Naseer Ahmed is an Engineering graduate from IIT Kanpur and is an independent IT consultant after having served in both the Public and Private sector in responsible positions for over three decades. He is a frequent contributor to http://www.NewAgeIslam.com
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