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Dharmshala Hosts Muslim Youth Meet

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Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, (Himachal Pradesh): The Dalai Lama hosted a meeting of the youth from the trouble-torn Middle East here on May 3 under the Youth Leaders’ Exchange Programme sponsored by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP).
Inaugurating the meeting, the Dalai Lama said: “All seven billion human beings have a common experience in that we all appreciate love. We all have a seed of love and affection within us and the potential to cultivate greater love and compassion. If we want to create peace in the world it has to start with the heart, with inner peace.” He further said he was happy to meet so many young people. He noted that India is a living example that all religious traditions can live together in peace and friendship.
He regards the criticism that Islam is naturally militant and the suggestion that we are facing a clash of civilizations, as misunderstanding the real situation. He quoted Muslim friends who have told him that someone who sheds another’s blood is not a genuine Muslim and that jihad is not about combat with others so much as a struggle with your disturbing emotions. He thanked the delegates and organizers for coming and making the meeting possible.
Two prominent Indian Muslims, Dr. Zafar Mahmood, President of the Zakat Foundation of India, Delhi and a retired civil servant and Dewan Syed Zainul Abedin, a sufi and spiritual head of the Ajmer Dargah also were invited to address the youth. Youth Leaders who attended the workshop included: Ahmed from Uganda, Amule from South Sudan, Doaa from Egypt, Didas from Kenya, Harry from Myanmar, Hassan from Somalia, Hastiar from Iraq, Ikhlas from Sudan, Imrana from Nigeria, Issa from Iraq, Khadija from Somalia, Mariam from Afghanistan, Miriam from Nigeria, Mahamed from Sudan, Mouad from Morocco, Nasro from Somalia, Nadia from Tunisia, Noria from Afghanistan, Rebecca from Nigeria, Scofield from Kenya, Shubey from Uganda, Silvio from South Sudan, Souhir from Tunisia, Soukaina from Morocco, Qutaiba from Syria, Thet from Myanmar, Victoria from Nigeria, Ye Htut from Myanmar and Younes from Libya.
The Dalai Lama talked about the three aspects of religious traditions, the religious aspect, such as the practice of love; the philosophical aspect, such as whether or not there is a creator God; and a cultural aspect, suggesting that when such cultural aspects are no longer appropriate, they should be changed.
Nancy Lindborg of USIP welcomed the youth leaders and the special invitees. Dewan Zainul Abedin also exhorted the youth to emulate India where people of diverse faith shared the common space and culture.
(Excerpted and edited from www.dalailama.com)