As the fabric of society in Pakistan is lacerated by growing intolerance towards other religious identities, it is important to develop an understanding of the religious ‘other’ and apprehend the universal principles of love and knowledge that underlie different religious forms. This discovery of a broader sense of our humanness, while retaining the specificity of each religious form, enables us to be compassionate towards and be enriched by interaction with other human beings whatever their specific religious identity might be. Such nurturing of a person’s humanity ought to be an essential dimension of education. It is also vital for peace and social cohesion. In this article, the importance of tolerance and the pursuit of knowledge will be discussed.
In recent times, great Muslim scholars, such as Muhammad Iqbal, Martin Lings (amongst others), and currently, Reza Shah Kazemi and Suheyl Umar, have pointed out that love is a key feature of the relationship between the human being and God. Therefore, it can be argued that exercising loving care towards others is an important expression of the holy presence of God within the human heart. Suheyl Umar in a forthcoming book chapter cites Iqbal’s Javid Nama to make the point: “The slave of love who takes his path from God/ Becomes a loving friend of both believer and disbeliever.”
Reza Shah Kazemi, in his brilliant interpretation of Surah Fatiha in the Holy Quran, argues that the principle of Rehma, translated as ‘loving mercy’ is an essential message of Surah Fatiha, (which is regarded as the quintessence of the Holy Quran), and indeed “permeates the message of the whole of the Quran”. Kazemi suggests that the mercy of God is derived not from pity but love.
More Interfaith relations – The Express Tribune.