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Bringing Together Muslims and Non-Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir

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In an unique effort, the Al-Huda Educational and Welfare Society, based in Poonch, organised a public conference with the theme, “Islam, Peace and Non-Muslims,” to convey the pluralistic message of Islam.

By Varsha Sharma

The Al-Huda Educational and Welfare Society, based in Poonch, (Jammu and Kashmir), was set up five months ago, and has emerged as a beacon of hope in the wilderness of despair prevailing in the region and excelled in its gigantic task of helping the people of the region, especially the less fortunate Muslim and non-Muslims. One of the prime causes that the organisation upholds is bringing together Muslims and non-Muslims of Jammu and creating social affinity and religious bonds among them. The two heads of this educational and welfare society, Maulana Basharat Saqafi and Maulana Sarfaraz Qadri are all set to exert every possible effort to make it happen. While they organise educational seminars, symposiums and workshops to apprise the Kashmiri Muslim community of the importance of modern sciences and secular as well as religious education, they host religious festivals, social gatherings and public events to disseminate Islam’s pluralist message, encouraging co-existence among Muslims and non-Muslims of the region. “We concern ourselves with educating both Muslims and non-Muslims about Islam’s teachings of global peace, religious harmony, inclusiveness, tolerance, Prophet Muhammad’s (Pbuh) dealings with non-Muslims and importance of modern, secular education along with religious education”, says Maulana Basharat Saqafi.
As a part of its Herculean efforts to promote inter-faith harmony in Jammu and Kashmir, Al-Huda Educational Welfare Society, recently organised a large-scale public conference on “Islam, peace and non-Muslims,” last month, with special reference to Prophet Muhammad’s dealings with non-Muslims. Majority of the leading personalities, particularly clerics and intellectuals, from both the communities were invited. The chief guest speaker of the conference was a Delhi-based writer and scholar (Alim and Fazil) Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi.
Revolving around the theme of the conference, Dehlvi dwelt on Islamic teachings of inclusiveness, Prophet Muhammad’s universal efforts of peace-making as well as deep understanding of pluralism, multiculturalism and the value of modern education in Islam. Addressing a mixed gathering of Muslims and non-Muslims, both intellectuals and common masses, Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi said that “Islam is based on the three foundational principles: love, peace and knowledge. And all other precepts and practices of Islam are just a manifestation of any of these three basic Islamic tenets.” He highlighted Prophet Muhammad’s traditions and teachings of mercy, peace, non-violence, tolerance, wisdom and love for the humanity. He shed light on the kind and humane behaviour of Prophet Muhammad towards non-Muslims and said that he was the kindest and the best of men in the entire Arabian Peninsula in morality, humanism and behaviour. Dehlvi also incorporated some related prophetic sayings and pointed out that “Prophet Muhammad was particularly compassionate towards children and women, as it is clear from his tradition: “I stand in prayer and wish to prolong it. However, I hear the cry of a child and cut the prayer short for the anxiety which the mother is feeling.” (Al-Bukhari)
Connecting his speech with the harsh realities of the present era, Dehlvi stressed that any theological propagation based on hatred and divisiveness must be categorically condemned and resisted. “Extremist literature, edicts or fatwas based on misinterpretation of the religious texts and scriptures is a serious and collective threat for the entire Ummah which causes greater defamation of Islam than even what the nefarious Islamophobic projects do. So we need to disassociate Islam and Muslims with such hate speeches that present our religion as an exclusivist, radicalised, terroristic and political ideology”, he stated.
The event was chaired and inaugurated by the State President of Muslim Personal Law Board of Jammu and Kashmir, Mufti Syed Basharat Husain Barkati, a well-renowned Islamic cleric and jurist of the region. The stage was packed with the leading Muslim clergy and intellectuals of the state including the heads of the Sufi shrines and imams of the mosques. At the end of the program, the Madrasa Board Coordination Committee of Jammu and Kashmir, along with Al-Huda Educational Welfare Society put forward a memoranda to the state government calling for the establishment of a Madrasa Board in the state, resolution of the dispute of Poonch’s Central Eidgah, restoration of the Muslim Waqf properties and establishment of the proposed Allama Dil Muhammad University in Jammu. Maulana Sarfaraz Qadri, the chairperson of the organisation presented vote of thanks with special regards for the non-Muslim audience.