Promote inter-religious harmony, Masood Khan urges faith leaders

Masood Khan with Sahibzada Sultan

WASHINGTON, Aug 11 (APP): With hate speech on the rise worldwide, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States, Masood Khan, has called for collective efforts to promote inter-religious harmony when he met faith and community leaders on Thursday.

“It is our collective responsibility to combat intolerance, xenophobia, fanaticism and religious hatred worldwide,” he said at the meeting, held at the Pakistani embassy, while reaffirming Pakistan’s commitment to promote inter-faith harmony.

Representatives of various faiths and members of the Pak-American community attended the meeting, with Sahibzada Sultan Ahmad Ali, Chairman of the Muslim Institute, as the chief guest.

They included, Reverend Canon Justin Murff, Executive Director of the Anglican Office for Government & International Affairs; Muhammad Usman Noori of the Al-Mustafa Trust; Yahya Hendi, Director of the Muslim Life and Chaplaincy at Georgetown University, Dr. Maqsood Chaudhry, an interfaith activist, Imam Naeem Baig, Outreach & Interfaith Director Dar Al-Hijra Islamic Centre.

“Sufism has a great history in Pakistan and it has always worked to connect communities and integrate them as one humanity,” the Pakistani envoy told the gathering.

“A cradle of multiple civilizations for centuries, Pakistan’s respect for cultural and religious diversity is part of its national psyche and mores.
“We will continue to nurture that time-honored tradition,” he added.

Sahibzada Sultan Ahmad Ali said that Sufi saints in subcontinent had played a vital role in transformation of society.
During thousand years of Muslim rule, he said there had never been any religious conflict among Muslims, Sikhs, and Buddhists, Christians and Zoroastrians and others. Sufism had also helped protect the society from the scourge of terrorism, citing two major fatwas against suicide attacks and terrorism.

Canon Murff, who also represented Archbishop Azad Marshall of the Diocese of Raiwind thanked Pakistan for its commitment towards religious freedom and interfaith harmony.
“In Pakistan, we are aware of our role and opportunity to be good neighbours and to be a good friend,” Canon Justin Murff said.

Daniel Spiro, also an inter-faith leader said that the most important thing was to inspire the people, enabling them to recognize the beauty of the religion instead of associating it with fundamentalism and intolerance.
Waseem Naqvi, representing Shia community, appreciated the services of Sahibzada Sultan Ahmad Ali for the cause of Pakistan, unity of the Ummah and promoting interfaith harmony in the country and across the world.

Dr. Sayyid Syeed, former President of Islamic Society of North American invited Sahibzada Sultan Ahmad to their 60th annual convention in Chicago.
“Our strength in this country has been our interfaith dialogue,” he said, while condemning recurring acts of desecration of the holy Quran in Sweden and elsewhere.

Expressing deep concerns over the plight of minorities and the rising tide of religious intolerance in India, Dr. Syeed said that everything that had been achieved during last 70 years in India was being destroyed.

Yahya Hendi, Director Muslim Life and Chaplaincy, underscored the need not only to tolerate but also to celebrate the differences. He also highlighted the importance of “agree to disagree without being disagreeable” and upholding commonalities.

Muhammad Usman Noori of the Al-Mustafa Trust, drew attention to the charter of human rights given by the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H) and said that Sufi saints have been instrumental in spreading the message of Islam through their deeds.

“The world has always been in search of peace — today it is needed more than ever” he remarked.
Ambassador Masood Khan thanked Sahibzada Sultan Ahmad Ali and other religious leaders for reiterating their strong commitment towards promoting harmony among the followers of different faiths.

Recognizing Sahibzada’s services, Masood Khan said that he was a catalyst for forging better ties between adherents of different faiths.

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