26 February, 2011

Endorsing Peace through Interfaith Harmony

Published in Pakistan Observer (26 Feb. 2011)
Sana Jamal

ISLAMABAD: “There will be no peace among the nations without peace among the religions and there will be no peace among the religions without dialogue among the religions.” This message was highlighted at a seminar on ‘Peace and Tolerance’ held on Friday at a local hotel in Islamabad.

Experts at the seminar showed distress over growing trends of intolerance in an Islamic state and stressed that “Islam advocates for tolerance and for settlement of issues by consultations.” Tolerance in Islam towards other religions is rooted in the Holy Quran and contrary to the perception that Islam has been spread by force, the Holy Quran asserts that: “There is no compulsion in religion. Verily, the Right Path has become distinct from the wrong path.” (2:256)

Liberal Forum Pakistan (LPF), Islamabad Chapter organized the healthy debate in which the key speakers were Aamir Rana, Dir. Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies; Prof. Mushtaq Victor, former minister for Minorities; Allama Ayaz Hasmi, chairman National Peace Commission on Interfaith harmony; Dr. Khalid Masood & Anees Jillani, Chairman LFP.

The speakers noted that, in a pluralistic society, there can always be a divergence of opinion on a number of issues, but these differences can be solved through interfaith harmony which means “a cooperative and positive interaction between people of different religions, traditions, faiths, and spiritual or humanistic beliefs,” at all levels.

Discussing ‘Religion and Secularism’, Dr. Masood said that “Islamists often describe secularism as anti-Islam and fail to recognize that attributes of Islam and secularism are somewhat similar” as both stands for individual freedom.

Prof. Mushtaq Victor said that “advocacy seminars on interfaith should include all classes of society and not only the rational-minded people.” He also gave example of King Abdullah’s historic initiative of international conference on interfaith dialogue in Makkah, Madrid and at UN headquarters in New York to boost tolerance and understanding, in particular between the Muslim, Christian and Hindu cultures to strengthening world peace and stability.

Speakers were of the view that despite worsening conditions of the country, the issue of interfaith harmony do not receive due share in national debate.


Anees Jillani in his speech told that “LPF stands for individual freedom and that can only be achieved if everyone is tolerant in society.”

The seminar highlighted the issues of interfaith harmony at policy level and to explore roles and responsibilities of various stakeholders and intended to revive the concept of peace, tolerance and dialogue in our society.