Indian Muslim Scholar Underscores Importance of Interfaith Dialogue

June 13, 2008

Author: P.K. Abdul Ghafour, Arab News

Friday 13 June 2008

JEDDAH, 13 June 2008 — Syed Jalaluddin Umari, president of the All-India Jamaat-e-Islami, has emphasized the significance of the interfaith dialogue called for by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, saying it would promote mutual understanding among people of different faiths and help them work together for world peace.

Speaking to Arab News, he said Muslims should make thorough preparations for interfaith dialogue in order to present the divine message of Islam to leaders of other faiths in an effective and convincing manner. “Dialogue does not mean we accept other religions’ viewpoints. But it’s essential to foster communal harmony,” he pointed out.

Umari, a leading Islamic scholar in India and author of 45 books mostly in Urdu, came to the Kingdom to take part in the international conference on interfaith dialogue in Makkah. The conference brought together prominent Muslims from around the world to exchange views and ideas on interfaith dialogue.

“I believe that dialogue between Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus and followers of other religions will help remove prejudices and misunderstandings about one another and help us work together to realize common objectives such as the establishment of justice and world peace, the protection of families from disintegration, the protection of human rights and the promotion of moral values,” he said.

Umari also said that the organizers of the world interfaith conference should use experiments conducted by Muslim groups in different parts of the world in order to make the interfaith dialogue successful. “We have to understand what people of other faiths think about Islam and Muslims. Participants should also have a thorough knowledge of Islam and other faiths,” he insisted.

In order to solve the shortage of such scholars, the Jamaat leader called for starting courses on comparative religion at Muslim colleges and universities. Students joining such courses should also be taught major languages, including English, Arabic, French, Russian and Japanese in order to help them converse effectively with people of other faiths.

Umari spoke about Jamaat’s efforts to spread the divine message of Islam in India, publishing translation of the Holy Qur’an and Islamic books in different languages, holding dialogue with people of other faiths and conducting one-to-one meetings with them, and carrying out relief works among victims of natural calamities without differentiating between Muslims and non-Muslims.

The Jamaat president blamed US foreign policies and actions for the emergence of small terrorist groups in different parts of the world. “We are against terrorists, whether they are individuals, groups and states. The United States is the No. 1 terrorist as it has killed thousands of innocent people in Afghanistan, Iraq and other parts of the world. If it stops terrorism, all other terrorist groups will vanish,” he said.

Umari urged Muslims to be proud of their Islamic faith. “We have guidance from Allah on how to live peacefully in this world. It is our duty to convey its message to other people. We should set an example to other communities by living according to Islamic teachings in all aspects of our life,” he added.

Umari’s books deal with different topics, including human rights, women in Islam and the rights of non-Muslims in an Islamic state.

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