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Prof. M H Qureshi
Professor, Shri A M Khwaja Chair, Jamia Millia Islamia

Scholars generally start their presentations in such discussions, with the note that all religions are the same. I very humbly differ with my friends. Had all religions been the same, there would have been no conflicts in the name of religion? Unfortunately, the conflicts are still going on in spite of the fact that the cause of conflict lies somewhere outside religion. Unfortunately, religion is manipulated to justify conflicts. All religions have two aspects – spirituality and ritualism. Spirituality is inclusive and experiential. It teaches convergence. This is the reason why all human values have universality. Every religion preaches truth, love, accommodation, nonviolence, good conduct and consideration for one’s neighbours.

Prophets and reformers have been there in all parts of the world. They preached human values in languages which people of those regions could understand. Human experience in all regions of the world is similar. That’s why there is a lot of similarity in human thoughts across different languages. These reformers and prophets belong to the whole humanity.

As a child, I was told to believe in all prophets and all religious books and all guidance, which have been received. A true Muslim dare not insult any prophet, reformer or a religious book. Thus, all Prophets such as Moses, Christ, Mohammad, Buddha, Ram, Krishna and Mahavira belong to the whole human race. It has been ordained for the Muslims in the Qur’an: if any Muslim kills another person without reason, he has killed the whole humanity. And if any one saves a person, he has saved the whole humanity. The State has absolute powers to punish a murderer or a terrorist, who has created disorder on Earth.

All religions are apparently different from the rituals point of view. Rituals operate through symbols and people put their faith in these symbols which provide the basis of their identities. These identities are reflected through dress, deities and ways of worship. These symbols are used for polarizing communities in order to capture power, economic, political and social. The desire to capture power and the methods used to establish social hegemony lead to conflicts. We must realize it.
I firmly believe:

Amity is better than enmity
Conciliation is better than confrontation
Harmony is better than discord
Love is better than hatred
Understanding is better than conflict
Unity is better than division

While formulating an Interfaith Paradigm, we ought to agree on a common minimum standard of behaviour with each other, such as:

- Avoid hurting feelings of others.
- Always willing to help people in peril.
- Keeping dialogue alive to understand each other.
- Respecting each other’s views.
- Make efforts to build bridges.

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