Religious coexistence needs strengthening

New Delhi, (IANS) Highlighting challenges faced by Indian democracy because of growing fundamentalism, speakers at a seminar here have emphasised the need to consolidate the complete culture and diversity of India.

Religions need to be understood and promoted through their core values of compassion, mercy, charity, peace and harmony rather than customs, traditions and rituals, it was stressed at the seminar on “Religious Tolerance: Need of the Hour” organised by Sanatan Sanskriti Sansthan here on Saturday.

The speakers included former union minister Arif Mohammad Khan, member of the Delhi Minority Commission H.S. Sarna and eminent journalist John Dayal.

Khan said religion was a matter of conviction and only when it is used as a profession does its core values get distorted and misinterpreted. Quoting various verses from the Quran, he said Islam does not distinguish between religions or communities and conveys the message of universal love and service. “Unfortunately, religion is being use by politicians and those socially powerful to perpetuate their power.”

Sarna also highlighted the universal message of peace, harmony and equality among all in all religions. He quoted from the Guru Granth Sahib to stress the importance of dialogue and talk to achieve consensus and harmony among different faiths.

John Dayal said religion has to be a personal affair of each and state should not distinguish between one and another on that basis. Every Indian has an equal right to be a dignified citizen irrespective of his or her belief. He hoped that present environment of polarisation will not continue and future generations will live in an atmosphere of equality and dignity for all.

Jagjiwan Bakhshi, general secretary of the Sanatan Sanskriti Sansthan said the seminar was organised to highlight the challenges being faced by Indian democracy through growing fundamentalism. These were not only negation of pluralism but also opposed to the processes of development and modernity, he added.

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