Continuing with the conclusions on inter-religious peace (which we began in Issue 10), we would like to conclude this section with the Islamic point of view on how the above-mentioned problems should be solved.
1) All religions of the world, whether they believe in Islam or not, must accept the Islamic principle of not allowing the use of force and coercion in any way as an instrument to resolve inter-sectarian and inter-religious strife. Freedom of religion and the freedom to profess, propagate, practise and exercise it, or to abandon it, cease to believe or change one's belief, must be absolutely protected.
2) Even if other religions cannot agree with the Islamic concept of the universality of truth and think like Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Confucianism or Zoroastrianism etc., that other religions are false and have nothing to do with God; however, despite this denial of universal truth, all religions must accept the Islamic principle of respect and reverence for the Founders and religious figures of other faiths. In this application they would not compromise their principles. This is a matter of fundamental human rights: the right of every human being not to have his or her religious sensitivities and feelings violated or offended must be recognised.
3) It should be remembered that the above principle cannot be enforced by any national or international law. It should be understood together with the principle that blasphemy does not carry human punishment but should be discouraged and reprobated, encouraging public opinion to condemn such acts as indecent, unwise and abhorrent.
4) Frequent Interfaith Conferences should be promoted on the pattern introduced by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in the early part of this century. The spirit of such conferences can be summed up in the following characteristics:
(a) All speakers should highlight the positive and attractive points of the various aspects of their faiths, without attacking other faiths.
b) Speakers belonging to one faith should genuinely try to discover the positive aspects of other faiths by talking about them and explaining why they are attractive to them.
c) Speakers belonging to other faiths should pay tribute to the nobility and character of the leaders of the other faiths. For example, the Jewish speaker could talk about the highlights of the Holy Prophet Mohammad (lpbD), which can be appreciated by all human beings, without compromising their religious dogmas. Similarly, a Muslim speaker could talk about Krishna (lpD), a Hindu speaker about Jesus Christ, a Buddhist about Moses (peace and blessings of God be upon them all), and so on. During the third decade of the last century, such conferences, promoted by the Ahmadiyya Community, took place in India in order to improve Hindu-Muslim relations, with great success and growing popularity.
d) Without prejudice to (c), the sanctity of religious dialogue between sects and faiths must be preserved. The exchange of inter-religious views should not be condemned as an attempt to sabotage religious peace. It is the form of dialogue that, if inappropriate, should be condemned, not the dialogue itself. The free flow of ideas is the most important of fundamental human rights, and is essential to the survival of the fittest. It must not be compromised at any cost.
e) To lessen areas of divergence and increase the possibility of agreement, it is essential that all religions accept the principle of limiting discussions with followers of other faiths to the sources of their respective religions. The Quranic statement that all religions were equal in origin should not be taken lightly. It contains great wisdom that should be studied and examined by all religions for their own benefit and for the benefit of humanity as a whole.
5) Cooperation should be promoted in all plans and programmes for the mutual benefit of humanity. For example, philanthropic projects could be undertaken jointly between Christians and Muslims, Hindus and Jews etc.
Only then could we hope to realise the utopian dream of all ages, of uniting man under one banner in all fields of human activity, religious, social, economic, political, and all that is important.
(lpbD) - Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.
(To be continued in the next installment - the 12th - with the next section: Social Peace).