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DMC holds Colloquium on Muslim-Christian Relations

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New Delhi: The Delhi Minorities Commission held a seminar on Muslim-Christian relations in cooperation with the Islamic Studies Association. Religious leaders, scholars, intellectuals and mediapersons from both communities participated. Inaugurating the seminar, DMC Chairman Dr. Zafarul-Islam Khan said that the holy Quran holds Jesus Christ and his mother Mary in highest esteem and describes Jesus as the “Word of God”. He said Muslim-Christian relations were excellent during the first few centuries after the advent of Islam. In fact, the first two migrations of Mecca’s persecuted Muslims were to Abyssinia ruled by a Christian king. And this is the reason why even in their heyday, Muslims never attempted to conquer Abyssinia. He said it is a testimony of Muslim tolerance that seats of four churches are based in the Muslim world, viz.,Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria and All Africa, seated in Cairo; Syriac Orthodox Church, seated in Damascus; Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, seated in Istanbul and the Syriac Maronite Church of Antioch based in Bkerké, Lebanon. Dr. Khan said the immediate reason for holding this seminar is the joint document on “Human fraternity for world peace and living together” signed last February in Dubai by the leader of the Catholic Church Pope Francis and the Grand Sheikh of Al-AzharDr. Ahmad Al-Tayeb. He said although this document is about establishing good Muslim-Christian relations but, in fact, it can become a good basis of friendly relations between all religions.
Moderating the seminar, Laxmi Menon, India director of Unity Earth, shed light on Muslim-Christian relations in recent times and how they have vacillated between good and bad. She mentioned in particular how St. Francis of Assisi crossed the Crusaders’ lines to meet the Egyptian Sultan, Malik al-Kamil, in 1219 AD which paved a new beginning of good Muslim-Christian relations despite the bitterness of the Crusades.
Prof. Poulose Mangai of Vidya Jyoti College shed light on past Muslim-Christian dialogues. He said the Catholic Church was not interested in developing relationships with other religions, but this changed in 1962 when the Vatican established a department to improve relations and understanding with other faiths. Dialogues started as a result. This policy has received impetus since Pope Francis took over the reins of the Catholic Church in 2013. Pope Francis believes that religion is a strong force to change the world. He is the first Catholic head to visit the Arabian peninsula.
Prof. Shareena Bano of Jamia Millia Islamia said that the Al-Azhar-Vatican document should be used to educate the masses. If we want unity, we must think together. Textbooks of schools should be prepared on this basis. Thinker Basit Jamal, who popularises Islamic ideals through telling stories in schools, refuted the idea that Muslims do not want good relations with others and referred to Sura Al-Mumtahina (60:9) of the Quran where Allah exhorts Muslims to hold good relations with those non-Muslims who do not fight and persecute Muslims. He mentioned the document preserved in Sinai’s St. Catherine Church in which Prophet Muhammad has ordered Muslims to treat Christians well. Prof. Akhtarul Wasey, Vice Chancellor of Maulana Azad University of Jodhpur, said the joint statement of the Vatican and Al-Azhar is an important landmark for better Muslim-Christian relations which nobody can disagree with. Dr. Syed Jamaluddin of the Institute of Objective Studies and a former professor of Jamia Millia Islamia, said that the decline of tasawwuf (mysticism) resulted in the decline of human values. We should live as a spiritual family and for this, purification of the soul is necessary. Iqbal Mulla, a leader of Jamaat-e Islami Hind, said the Al-Azhar-Vatican document is based on humanity which is very much required in the current circumstances of our country and the world. These ideas should percolate to the masses and to the youth in particular. Secretary of the Islamic Fiqh Academy, Amin Usmani, said that the Al-Azhar-Vatican document is a comprehensive statement prepared by the leaders of two great religions.
(Extracted from http://www.milligazette.com)