Let's spread the culture of peace and tolerance

Extremists through their violent actions are tarnishing the name of a peaceful religion.

Published: Tue 16 Jan 2018, 8:00 PM

Last updated: Tue 16 Jan 2018, 10:28 PM

The Muslim Council of Elders has put Jerusalem in focus, and rightly so, but the larger issue is hatred that should be resisted at all costs, and not allowed to spread. In this context the Elders have organised an international conference to take on radicalism. They realise extremist groups are using religion as a cover to poison society. Since this group of Elders was established in 2014, it has been working tirelessly to promote tolerance and peace. Extremists through their violent actions are tarnishing the name of a peaceful religion. The message must go out loud and clear that fighting social injustice does mean a call to arms. This is what Muslim elders will emphasise during their conference to support the right of Palestinians to Jerusalem. US President Donald Trump has shown his prejudice by backing the Israelis in the dispute but Muslim scholars believe that the city is intrinsic to the Palestinian cause. The Grand Imam of Al Azhar Dr Ahmed Al Tayeb's decision not to meet US Vice-President Mike Pence (the trip was later cancelled) and his solid support to the Palestinian cause has been backed by Christian Orthodox Patriarch Jousef Al Absi.
Al Azhar is known for tolerance, and provides moral and religious clarity at a time when the world is being divided on the basis of religion and race. This seat of learning is keen to bring different viewpoints together for a common cause. It even hosted Pope Francis last year. It is important to note here that religion should bring out the best in people. Faith is based on principles, on goodness and justice for all men and women. It makes us better people. American philosopher William James said: "People will always pray for God till the end of time." He added: "God created human nature to believe in God, and his design, in spite of what science might discover." But abuse of power is rampant and civilisations have withered away because people live in fear and have been killed in the name of religion. We may worship God in different ways, but without love, we are nothing.

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