Cross-cultural dialogue stressed for mutual understanding, to curb extremism

November 28, 2019

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PROF Dr Humayun Abbas Shams delivers his keynote address at the conference on Wednesday.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
PROF Dr Humayun Abbas Shams delivers his keynote address at the conference on Wednesday.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

KARACHI: A professor of Islamic Studies at a German university stressed here on Wednesday the need for a cross-border and cross-cultural dialogue to promote religious and cultural understanding between the Muslim and non-Muslim societies to effectively deal with the issue of extremism and intolerance on both sides of the divide.

Prof Dr Jamal Malik, who teaches at the University of Erfurt, Germany, was speaking at the annual national Seerat conference held at Karachi University. The theme of the moot was ‘Principles of governance in the backdrop of the State of Madina’.

Referring to the recent incident of Norway, where copies of the Holy Quran were burnt in public to ignite hatred against the Muslim diaspora in the West, he said the Holy Prophet (PBUH) was “very important” to the Muslims and this fact could be better conveyed through a “meaningful dialogue” and interaction between the Islamic and Western societies.

“As Muslims we in Germany, too, face issues like that of [Norway]. And using this forum, we should raise the voice for a meaningful dialogue between the Muslims and non-Muslims in an effort to prevent repeated display of intolerance and hatred,” the professor said.

‘Rulers should first acquire character to establish a state like that of Madina’

Welcoming the proposal, Dr Prof Khalid Mahmood Iraqi, the acting vice chancellor of Karachi University, said that at next year’s Seerat conference Christian and Jewish religious scholars would also be invited to have a dialogue with their Muslim counterparts here.

“People criticise me when I say ‘If you want to the see the State of Madina, go and see the Western states’,” Prof Iraqi said. “The difference is that we only speak about the State of Madina and the West practises the teachings of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and the Holy Quran.”

He said Islam is a religion of peace and an Islamic state was bound to protect its subjects’ rights without the discrimination of Muslim and non-Muslim. He said he hoped that the event would help guide the rulers on how to run the state in an appropriate way. He also said we as individuals and a nation could regain our past glory by following the example of the Holy Prophet (PBUH).

Keynote speaker Prof Dr Humayun Abbas Shams from a Faisalabad university quoted from the Quran that an office should be granted only to those who merited it. He said the Holy Prophet rejected the request of a close companion for an office saying that the responsibility could not be entrusted to a weak person.

The speaker said the Prophet (PBUH) selected 39 envoys for different regions on the bases of their abilities and equipped them with the necessary training and skills such as that of the relevant language for the task before sending them out. The officials were clearly advised, among other things, not to put to hardship the populations in their charge and not to be too harsh on the people.

Sahibzada Muazzam Qureshi, a member of the KU syndicate, said the Prophet (PBUH) not only established the supremacy of Islam, justice and high moral characteristics, but also promoted religious tolerance and safeguarded the basic human rights of the people without discrimination of caste and creed.

He said the local government system was first introduced by the Prophet (PBUH), who stressed that the cities should not be too congested and that streets should be wide enough through which two loaded camels could cross each other easily.

Mr Qureshi lamented that we have forgotten the lesson of conquering the universe and the West learned this from our books and achieved wonders.

Noted religious scholar Dr Allama Kaukab Noorani said that in the past there was no distinction between religious and temporal scholars as it’s made now. He deplored that extremely high fees were being charged to impart education to children. He said education should be widespread, cheap with good quality.

“Most people here can’t even distinguish between ‘mazhab’ and ‘deen’; the former is ‘the path’ and the latter, law.”

He said leaders seeking to set up a state like that of Madina must first develop a sublime character.

Published in Dawn, November 28th, 2019