Coalition for Peace (ICP) and Islamic Studies Association (ISA) jointly
organized a meeting to reflect on Peace initiatives from Islamic and Christian
perspectives at the India Islamic Cultural Center on 12 February 2012. Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, a well known Qur’anic scholar and a spiritual leader from Center for
Peace and Spirituality (CPS) and Prof Leo D Lefebure, Professor and
the Matteo Ricci Chair, Department of Theology, Georgetown University,
Washington, were principal speakers.
Prof Lefebure at
the outset of his talk briefly noted the bitter animosity as well as harmony
that existed between Christians and Muslims in the early centuries of
Christian-Muslim relations. The animosity peaked during the Crusades and
harmony sparkled while Christians, Muslims and Jews, worked jointly translating
and commenting upon Greek treatises into Arabic and later re-translating the
Arabic corpus into Latin.
focused mainly on the teaching of Jesus Christ as found in the gospels for
forgiveness, reconciliation and also a way to build relations with Muslims. His expose was sprinkled with a
luminous chain of texts from the gospels. He insisted polemics and ‘name
calling’ is contradictory to the spirit of Christ. He called upon the attention
of his listeners to the teaching of the Vatican Council II that proposed a new
approach towards people of other religions especially Muslims in her various
documents and to the words of Blessed John Paul II that called for mutual
understanding between Muslim and Christian believers in order to remain
committed to God and to work for peace and harmony.
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan in his talk stressed that
the spirit of Islam is peace. He quoted a number of texts from the Qur’an and
also the teachings of the prophet Muhammad that unambiguously argued for peace.
“After studying and reflecting upon the original sources of Islam: the Qur’an
and Hadith for many years, I say with conviction that all that creates
hostility and hatred are contradictory to the spirit of Islam”, he said. He explained
that Islam has come to convey the proper understanding of the link between God
and humanity. Man and woman are servants of God and consequently fear and love
should mark their relationship with God. Islam prepares them for the last day,
the Day of Judgment. According to Maulana Khan, this
understanding is the essence of Islam. He points out that the political
discourse about the establishment of the Islamic State based on Qur’anic
injunctions does not form the central message of Islam.
There were a few
questions raised and clarification sought from the speakers that provided
opportunity for dialogue. Victor Edwin, a member of ISA and a PhD student at Jamia Millia Islamia moderated event and
Rev Dr Samuel Packiam, the secretary of ICP proposed vote of thanks. The
meeting ended with sumptuous meals.