Interfaith Conference on “Promoting Culture of Peaceful Coexistence in Pakistan: Issues, concerns and way forwards”

On 4th of December 2014, Interfaith Conference on “Promoting Culture of Peaceful Coexistence in Pakistan: Issues, concerns and way forwards”was held on

the Opening Ceremony of the “Participatory Course on Peace and Tolerance”

The Interfaith Conference was held at Shah Jamal Darbar Lahore, one of the famour Sufi Shrine. This venue was selected purposely to highlight the value of the teachings of Suif Saints who had played a great contribution in the sub-continent for promoting religious tolerance and respect of religious diversity.
Approximately 250 People participated in this Conference who  were from different walk of life, having different religions; Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians.

The Speakers were also of different religions and faiths including Christian, Muslim, Hindus and Sikh. The Sufi Music was also part of Conference agenda items which  added to the color and impact of the conference.
This interfaith conference aimed to develop interfaith harmony and to raise awareness among the people, thatreligious intolerance is paying irreparable loss not only to Pakistan but also to humanity and to build peaceful atmosphere we need to tolerate and respect one another faith. Practice of dialogue and respect of one another religion can be serve as basis of serene and tranquil Society. Pakistan is standing now on the verge of most critical time of its history due to intolerant and extremists trends and prevalence of peace and tolerance is an urgent need of time.

The Speakers and Guest of Honors were Religious Scholars, Political and Social Leadership. The Religious Leadership while addressing the participants of the conference gave several references from the Holy Books to highlight the value of peace and tolerance. The political leadership also highlighted the importance of peace and tolerance

Following is the list of the Speakers:

  • Samson Salamat: (Director Centre for Human Rights Education)
  • Amina Malik: (Human Rights Activist)
  • Pandit Bhaghat Lal: Pandit (Hindu Priest)
  • Allama Mushtaq Hussain Jafferri  (Chairman World Peace Council)
  • Kiran Zahra Karbaliae: (Shia Muslim Scholar)
  • Salman Abid: (Regional Head SPO- Lahore)
  • Allama Syed Ali Zaghem Rizvi ( Shia Muslim Scholar)
  • Sohail Ahmad Raza (Director Interfaith Relation, Minhaj ul Quran)
  • Younis Bhatti (Representative Christian Community)
  • Amar Nath Randhawa (President, Hindu Sudhar Sabha)
  • Bishop Akram Gill (Bishop of Pakistan Emmanuel Church Founder & Secretary General Supreme Council of The Bishops Pakistan(R)
  • Abdullah Malik  (President  Civil Society Network)

Conference proceedings:
The Conference started with the Recitation of The Holy Quran, The Holy Bible and The Holy Geeta.
Samson Salamat, Director, Centre for Human Rights Education in his keynote speech explained the aims and objectives of the conference and also explained the reason of the selection of the Shrine for this interfaith conference.

Mr. Samson Salamat said that the Sufi shrines give the message of humanity, non discrimination love and peace and are free from hatred and biases and welcome everyone without considering cast, creed or religion or sect of any Individual. 

Mr. Samson Salamat stressed upon the need of building a tolerant society and said that “Pakistan and intolerance cannot move together and in order to go ahead peacefully it is the greatest need of the hour to establish peaceful society by respecting others rights and then religions rather than to impose our views on others.

Mr. Salamat further said that Pakistan is a land of Sufis who spread message of peace and love but we are unfortunate for not being able to avail the teachings and preaching of these saints”.  

Syed Sakandar Rizvi said that “whoever has saved a life of a single person has saved humanity and further expressed his views that Allah talked about human being not only about Muslim and humanity is a priority for Allah because Allah had made human being first and then Religion. If we want to serve religion, then we have to serve humanity”. 

Amina Malik said that nature is kind enough to serve each and every being without discrimination. If there is no discrimination in nature then why we human being are practicing it. God is a God of whole universe and is not only the God of Muslims and has created people on equal basis. It is we who discriminate on the basis of nationality, sects, cast, and creed etc.

Pandit Bhaghat Lalthanked CHRE for bringing together the different religious leaders  and share thoughts which can be helpful in prevalence of peace and harmony.

He further said that “no religion in this world instigates hatred, murder and heinous crimes and terrorism but unfortunately we have decreased ourselves to the level of vultures by shunning off the message of peace, love and harmony. Therefore until and unless we come back to the real message of religion, destruction would be inevitable for us”.

Allama Mushtaq Hussain Jafferrisaid that “peace belongs to faith and a faithful person reduces distances between human beings”.

He further said that “sufis welcomd all human being regardless of any sort of discrimination and they love human being only on the bases of humanity. The greatest prayer is to sit together and work for peace. Hatred cannot be the characteristic of God’s people and rather It is a satanic instinct to hate and destroy”.

“Today Pakistan is on the verge of destruction only because of inhumane attitude of hate and discrimination. Therefore understanding the need of hour, we have to work with great zeal and enthusiasm for peace and love – the true teaching of religion” Allama Jafferri added.

Kiran Zahra Karbaliaeadded that “the true spirit of every religion is to serve and love humanity and therefore we have to develop a spirit of tolerance in ourselves for the prevalence of peace and love. We should listen and respect others views and stop imposing our thoughts on others because everyone has a right of opinion”.

“To build a tolerant society we need to start it from our homes and should teach our children respecting others and should produce tolerant generation” She added.

Bishop Akram Gill said that we need to respect diversity of religions and diversity of thoughts. It is diversity in Nature which has made this world beautiful and the only way to save our spirit is to love humanity and human beings.
 He said that no one has a right to impose his ideas on others. He criticized the idea of attaining heaven after destroying lives or killing someone. He said that God is benevolent and the only way to achieve his will is to love and serve humanity.
Salman AbidSalman Abid while expressing his views said that if we are still non-serious toward resolving our political, religious and social contradiction then we won’t be able to save our country. Instead of creating more problems we should pay our attention toward solution of the problem”.  
The conference ended with Qwalies (sufi music) and a performance by famour Drum player Papu Sain.

This Conference was generally very much appreciated by the participants who were of the view it is a very bold step to talk about religious tolerance in the presence of religious leadership of different Religions.  This conference has created a different impact on public because they got the message from their Religious Leadership that to win the world, war is not the only way but to get long lasting impact our loving and peaceful attitude is essential.