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June 2009 No 01
July-Aug 2009 No. 02
Sept.-Oct. 2009 No. 03
Nov.-Dec. 2009 No. 03
             Sept.-Oct. 2009 No. 03 A bimonthly Newsletter of InterFaith Foundation, India
Interfaith logo
The Samagam
for harmony of faiths and brotherhood
Dr M M Verma

Advisory Board
Swami Shantatmananda Secretary, Ramakrishna Mission, New Delhi
Air Chief Marshal
Dr N C Suri (Retd.)

Prof. Tahir Mahmood Former Chairman, National Minorities Commission & Vice-Chairman, Law Commission of India
M K Kaw
Fromer Education Secretory, Govt. of India
Tara Gandhi Bhattacharya
Vice-Chairperson, Gandhi Smriti & Darshan Smriti
Dr Mohini Giri
President, Guild of Service
Justice A S Qureshi
Former Judge,
Gujrat High Court
Prof M H Qureshi
Shree A M Khwaja Chair, Jamia Millia
Prof Madhu Khanna Professor of Indic Religion, Centre for the Study of Comparative Religion & Civilizations, Jamia Millia Islamia
Prof R P Singh
Head, Deptt. of Philosophy, JNU
Dr V P Vaidik
Chairman, Council for Indian Foreign Policy
Maulana Umer Ahmed Ilyasi
President, All India Organization of Imams of Mosques

Regd. Office
R-265-B, Greater Kailash -I, New Delhi- 110048 (INDIA)
The Pathway to Truth

Living with diversity is one of the greatest challenges facing societies all over the world. AII faiths of the world, while they may differ in other respects, unitedly proclaim that nothing lives in the world but truth. It is morally wrong to deny the contributions of others. Learning about other civilizations and faiths would make us understand that other people are just like us and this should lead to greater mutual respect on both sides.

All Holy Scriptures teach us that we should accept other human beings as equal manifestations of our own soul. Our shared vision includes peaceful coexistence, establishment of Justice, rule of law, elimination of poverty and discrimination, freedom of belief and the basic moral values accepted by different groups.

Let all people read a deeper meaning in their respective scriptures. They will ultimately find one God, the indivisible Lord, who is compassionate and merciful. Those who believe in one God, Allah, Ram, Rahim, Waheguru are all believers. But the religious leaders have to change their mindset. As religious people, we owe responsibility to the society. Let’s work to restore the lost image of religion. Let the enlightened ones work to reunite humanity and reduce the artificial boundaries. We should show reverence to all spiritual paths. Such a spirit is needed if we are to create a humane society. We should celebrate and honour the richness and universality of truth, found in all Holy Scriptures of different faiths. People, who have a genuine concern for a humane society should understand and respect one another. Knowledge should be acquired regardless of its source. A truth is truth regardless of whether it is discovered by an American, a Chinese, an Indian, a European or an African. We should not act from prejudice and bias. We should establish a right kind of atmosphere. If we work with dedication and commitment, we can mould things our way. If we achieve coordination and cooperation at local, national and international level, we can enhance our capabilities and implement our schemes.

We should firmly put in our minds that we are all children of the same God. That our’s is the age of globalization and we should know more about each other with a sense of appreciation.

For religious minded persons, it is time to come together, think and talk about how to save the mankind. There is need for objectivity. If we are not objective, we become objectionable. In the dialogue of civilizations, we should place alleviation of poverty and sustained development at the centre stage. And without giving primacy to it, inter civilizational dialogue will be stillborn.

Since nobody has the monopoly of truth and knowledge, all of us can and must learn from one another. It calls for a sense of reverence towards the uniqueness of people who differ from us, and a capacity to listen and understand thereby grows. Differences are there whether you like it or not. Do respect the differences and create harmony.

There is also need to harness the creative potential of religious traditions in the service of world peace and harmonious coexistence.

We must create a spiritual alliance that cuts across religious boundaries in order to construct the "global village". There is need to engage the juggernaut of globalization, bridle its insatiable thirst and its massive injustice.

Religious power like any other power can be used for a good cause or a bad one. What we need so desperately in our world today is mobilization of religious power on behalf of the world people for the creation of humane society. This power, if mobilized among the right people all over the world, will usher   in a golden period in human history.

Need for Interfaith Dialogue

Open mindedness in religion is opposed to fundamentalism. Loyalty to truth rules out fixed modes of thoughts and actions,

rigidity of attitudes and claims of finality. The truth as known to man is relative. Its seeker must be willing to learn from facts, evolve and mould his principles according to the changing circumstances and situations.
Religious tolerance and broad-mindedness are the common characteristics, reflected in abundance in the teachings of all the mystics of Muslim Sufis, protagonists of Bhakti movement, Kabir and Nanak, besides others. It is our duty to blend into our faith every acceptable feature of other faiths.

The only way to serve God is to serve his men. The only way to find God is to see Him in his creation and be one with it. We are part and parcel of the whole and we cannot find Him apart from the rest of humanity.

All men are parts of one Universal existence. All men are essentially one i.e., members of one family. So an individual who wants to realize his true self must regard the good of all as his own good and dedicate himself to the service of all.

The world is one in its deepest roots and aspirations. The historical purpose of humanity was to develop a world civilization only by exposing the darkness which is entrenched in man’s heart, replacing it by understanding and tolerance. Life is one indivisible whole. We have kinship with all God’s creation. Therefore, there is no room for castes, communities, narrow nationalism, regionalism, sectarianism, racialism or narrow religiosity in the spiritual world.

If morality is accepted as the essence of religion, it naturally follows that all religions are one, because they have the same basic moral principles. All religions at their best prescribe the same discipline for man’s fulfillment. The Vedas, the Bible, the Quran and the Guru Granth Sahib speak to us about the need for self- discipline.

Common religion of mankind at the intellectual plane is no more than a set of abstract ideas. To take a concrete form it has to cast itself into the moulds of various positive religions. The one true and perfect religion becomes many as it passes through the human medium. Every individual can look at truth only as reflected in the mirror of some particular faith, usually in that of his own traditional religion. So he should make that religion the means of realizing the common ideals of love and truth and assimilate all that is good in other religions.

In view of the principle of spiritual unity, man should fight for his spiritual freedom and also for the spiritual freedom of others, all others. No matter, whether a man is Hindu, Sikh or Christan, the way to God lies through the love and service of mankind.

Where are we today?

What are we fighting for and foolishly behaving as ignorant people of the medieval age. What are the present religious leaders doing the entire world over. They hardly think of man’s regeneration, reorientation, redefinition and spiritual growth. They only tell the people to blindly believe in what they command to become better religious persons.

It may not serve much purpose to go the populist way which may not necessarily be correct and sound.

It is a great sin and violation of the religious spirit to use religion as a tool which is being done by politicians to capture power in flagrant disregard to the messages of the Prophets. As a result, it has created mistrust for religion, which is believed to be representing politics in disguise. Beware of the tailor-made approaches of ambitious persons for whom no sacrifice of men and material is too high to capture power.

Religion cannot be a hidden agenda or a political game plan, played as a gimmick to capture and manipulate votes of the gullible, illiterate and destitute masses.

Let’s not blame any particular group of individuals or a political party. This corrupt practice is in vogue all over the world these days. Politicians of all shades in India and outside, exploit the ignorant masses in the name of God. This is an old theory which has been used differently at different times. One thing is common to all politicians   that they wish to capture and retain power in the name of God. There is nothing wrong in the name of God  or religion, but it is a great sin to manipulate religion and reduce it to the level of

a tool. Those who act in this manner are not the religious people.

One Step Forward

To just go to a temple, church or a mosque without the knowledge of moral principles and practice of the same, serves little religious purpose. That is merely a ritual and not religion. The way to God lies through the love and service of man. This idea is common to all the principal religions of the world.

A man of any religion can be called religious if he abides by the principles of truth and love. A true Hindu/Muslim/Christian /Sikh is a religious person provided he believes in truth. The individual moral regeneration should be our primary concern. The greater the spirit of truth  in us the better men and better citizens do we become.

The best way to go about religion is to abide by the principles of one’s own religion with the help of one’s own Holy Scripture.

It is the need of the hour that people understand the true meaning and significance of religion and religious exercises. It entails upon the religious gurus of all faiths to educate and show the path to the masses.
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