Charles calls for interfaith understanding, harmony

November 01, 2006

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RAWALPINDI, Oct 31: The Prince of Wales here on Tuesday refuted the notion that the conflict between different faiths and civilisations was inevitable. There was an urgent need to acknowledge the importance of understanding among faiths, drawing out the central truth that “Religion does not teach us to harbour enmity amongst us,” Prince Charles said during his address at the Fatima Jinnah Women University (FJWU).

He said that there has always been the temptation in the suggestion that the clash between different faiths was unavoidable but it was not obligatory to succumb to it.

Prince Charles said that he always wanted to experience and understand the depth of historic ties between Pakistan and UK, adding that the understanding requires willing partners and also knowledge and a lack of prejudice.

“We are linked by our history, by our communities and by our common interests in this region and more broadly across the world,” the Prince said.

He said that the two countries enjoyed enduring relationship founded on mutual trust and respect and added that it was not a relationship between the leaders but an unusually strong partnership between the people strengthened by ties of trade, family and faith.

“The relationship between the two countries is also reinforced by the outstanding contribution made to the UK by those who have come from Pakistan to make their home with us; those who came all the way from Mirpur and Jhelum and Gujrat and who found themselves settling in Bradford, Leicester, Manchester and London,” Prince Charles said.

He said that the support of British public led by those of Pakistani descent through the remarkable effectiveness of the Islamic Relief and other humanitarian agencies together with the British government in response to last year’s earthquake was nothing short of magnificent.

Prince Charles said educated women have great role to play in Pakistan’s future. The world is in desperate need of people who have moral courage and who are not afraid of standing up for truth and fairness and civilised values and the need for that has assumed great importance when ignorance and prejudice are so prevalent and so dangerous, he added.

He said that religion has once again become a source of conflict and intolerance but the medium of education must be used to engender the acquisition of wisdom and wisdom tells us that all the great religions provide a different path to ultimate source of truth.

The Prince said that he had greatest respect for the inner meaning of Islam and other religions too, adding that understanding the outward forms of each religion, although very different, could lead to the sacred centre.

Religion itself is not a problem, contrary to the oft- repeated mantra that religion is the cause of much misery and strife in the world, the Prince said adding that the it is the human misinterpretation of the sacred texts that could lead to such appalling misunderstanding and hatred.

He urged the students to employ education as the tool to detect truth and develop the moral courage to stand up against the mistaken and misguided leadership.

The British Prince asked the students to equip themselves with the wisdom to rediscover the universal message contained in all great religions that could help to lead us out of the overwhelming environmental crisis that threatens to engulf our world.

On the occasion, FJWU Vice Chancellor Prof Najma Najam termed the visit of the Prince of Wales historic and said that FJWU had strong ties with various British universities, and it was helping in enhancing the standard of knowledge in the university.

Earlier, the Prince with his wife Camila Parker, the Duchess of Cornwall, visited class rooms where they interacted with the students of various departments.