Aligarh, June 28: Religious scholars presented an affirming understanding and incisive analysis of religious diversity that has shaped humanity in the two-day international webinar on ‘Divine and Other Religious Books, History and Introduction’ of the Faculty of Theology, Aligarh Muslim University (AMU). The programme was organised in collaboration with the Islamic Fiqh Academy, New Delhi. “Translations of various religious scriptures and books such as the Mahabharata, Ramayan and others have been published at AMU in line with the Indian diversity of beliefs and practices,” said Prof Akhtarul Wasey (President, Maulana Azad University, Jodhpur). He was addressing the webinar as the Chief Guest. In his keynote address, Prof Wasey pointed out that religious pluralism has been practiced in the university since its inception.
AMU founder, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan had firmly believed that the study of various religions is necessary for all educational institutions, he said adding that Sir Syed wrote commentary on Bible and gave utmost importance to the study of comparative religions. In the inaugural address, AMU Vice Chancellor, Prof Tariq Mansoor highlighted, “We live in a pluralistic society and share common values. There are misconceptions about all faiths, which can only be eradicated with the knowledge of various holy books”. He urged people to acquire at least the basic understanding of various religious books to develop a better understanding among different religious communities. Prof Mansoor further said, “AMU has always stood for interfaith understanding for fostering liberal views and tolerance. We have the Dara Shikoh Centre for Interfaith Understanding and Dialogue at AMU to promote interfaith understanding, National integration and bringing religious communities closer”. “Sir Syed Ahmad Khan insisted on reading books of various faiths,” said the Vice Chancellor.
Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani (General Secretary, Islamic Fiqh Academy) emphasised that the difference between religion and belief will remain till doomsday. There is a need to understand and respect each other’s religion and culture. “We need to establish departments of religious studies, interfaith studies and research centers so that it can have a bright and positive impact in the country and society”, he added. Revd. Fr. Jonathan Lal (City Methodist Church) said that the beauty of India is that it is a land of diversity, and this diversity can be witnessed in the sphere of religions. “For centuries, there has been a prominent fusion of cultures with the presence of Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Jain, Sikh, Christian and various tribal populations in India”, he added. Dr Samdhu Chetri (Former Executive Drector, Gross National Happiness Center, Bhutan and Visiting Professor, Rekhi Centre for Science of Happiness, IIT Kharagpur) spoke on the Budhist philosophy of non-violence and unravelled his fascinating and inspiring life story.
Swami Parmanand Puri Ji Maharaj (President, Vishwa Kaliyan, Seva Sanathan, Aligarh) urged people to clear their misunderstandings on Islam. “It is sad that people ignorant about Islamic religion and scriptures view the religion as aggressive and violent,” said Swami Parmanand. Prof Bhai Baldeep Singh (Founder, Anad Foundation, New Delhi) elaborated how Sikh Gurus expressed deep spiritual mysteries through musical compositions in Channt, Var as well as the Pade or Dhurpad Gayan, inspired by India’s many spiritual traditions. In the presidential address, Prof Ali Mohammad Naqvi (Director, Sir Syed Academy, Darashikoh Centre) said that there is a global need for religious tolerance and safeguarding mutual understanding and common values shared by followers of various faiths. In the welcome address, Prof Muhammad Saud Alam Qasmi (Dean, Faculty of Theology) spoke about peaceful coexistence and understanding of sacred books. Dr Nadeem Ashraf (Coordinator International Webinar / Seminar) emphasized the usefulness of studying religions. Dr Rehan Akhtar Qasmi (Convener, Webinar) conducted the programme. Dr Safdar Zubair Nadavi (In-charge, Islamic Fiqh Academy) extended the vote of thanks.
Report by Public Relations Office, Aligarh Muslim University