SEEMS world is moving towards more intolerant attitude where people generally living in any society or country are becoming blinkered towards other human species. Whether we talk about New Zealand mosque attacks or the recent mishap in Sri Lanka on the occasion of Easter, one can analyse that the purpose of such inhumane acts is to create chaos and terror among fellows as no religion, caste or creed is spared in terrorism. Obviously apart from political or socio-economic objectives behind such doings one cannot deny the fact that this leads towards mistrust and lack of tolerance on the subject of interfaith harmony. Definitely for peace in societies this matter demands for understanding this notion of interfaith dialogue with interaction and understanding.
The term interfaith dialogue refers to compliant, productive and positive interaction between people of different beliefs or religions at an individual or institutional level in order to bring peace, progressive change or harmony among masses. Harmony gives one, a right to live and let others live peacefully too, definitely based on element of coexistence. It surely paves way or directs one towards peace and prosperity. In a changing world order which is determined by world politics and economic conditions the idea of inter-faith harmony is inevitable. Interfaith harmony is a feasible condition, which suggests pacific co-existence among followers of various religious beliefs, with an objective to abolish violence. With a practical model of interfaith harmony it proposes understanding of all religions and respecting everyone’s beliefs without disturbing the surroundings. Surely this model nowadays seems fantasy where we witness disturbance among masses on the name of faith and tag it as religious intolerance. Not only we are observing impatience globally on the basis of fanatics but in every walk of life we come across such instances. All religions of the world taught peace, love, tolerance and respect for humanity and stressed the need for dialogue among different religions and civilizations for promoting harmony and tranquillity.
To have harmony and peace people should shun their differences and share their experiences. In Pakistan many communities are living and it is part of our constitution that though Pakistan is an Islamic state, yet it gives all basic human rights and freedom to minorities in Pakistan. Flag of Pakistan is not complete without these minorities. White part depicts the existence of minorities in Pakistan. Unfortunately during the past few years when religious extremism has manifolded and intolerance and terrorism increased, minorities in Pakistan were also not exempted. Their places of worship were targeted to create distrust among believers of different faiths. Similarly it wasn’t about just followers of other religions but sectarian based violence created lot of cynicism and pessimism among believers of same religion.
Sectarian violence gave new shape to terrorism and miscreants used it as an effective tool to build up chaos among government and people. Western media criticises Pakistan for ethnicity by saying that they created their homeland and did not respect the sentiments of Hindus and other minorities in Pakistan which is totally wrong as many Hindus which were already living in area which became part of Pakistan were given free choice and will either to stay in Pakistan or to go back to India. Quaid-i-Azam clearly said about rights of minorities in Pakistan and quoted “Minorities to whichever community they may belong; will be safeguarded. Their religion or faith or belief will be secure. There will be no interference of any kind with their freedom of worship. They will have their protection with regard to their religion, faith, their life, their culture. They will be, in all respects, the citizens of Pakistan without any distinction of caste or creed. They will have their rights and privileges and no doubt, along with it goes the obligation of citizenship.”
While comparing the latest two happenings in New Zealand and Sri Lanka on one side Muslims were targeted on the basis of ethnicity in certain community while on another side one witnesses that followers from other religion were victimized. Although recent reports suggest that the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the Easter Sunday bombings at churches and hotels in Sri Lanka, as the government announced that the number of people killed increased to 321 among injured crossing figures to hundreds. The group which claimed attack responsibility said that the bombings are in retaliation of New Zealand mosques attack. So generally speaking if fear of Islamophobia which exists in western societies now is going to have paradigm shift towards lack of interfaith harmony and intolerance on the basis of religion and ethnicity.
The Interfaith harmony and peace building aims to foster religious and social harmony and help develop a diverse society not only in our country but it’s the need for universal peace that world must think that how people of different beliefs can live together in peace and exercise their basic human rights. Interfaith dialogue, peace building skills and participating in different events of other religions can not only help in promoting tolerance and respecting each other’s faith but definitely it will give insights and help in building confidence and trust among citizens. It is a need of the time to develop and identify psychic understandings around the true moderate and tolerant message of Islam to be able to emerge as a meaningful voice in the Interfaith as well as Interfaith dialogues. The guiding idea is not to alter with the basic beliefs of any religion but to present them with the message of adoration, open-mindedness and balance.
— Writer works for Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies, a think-tank based in Islamabad.