ISLAMABAD - Former president Asif Ali Zardari said the best way to pay homage to Iqbal is to avoid exploiting religion to justify violence.

In a message on Iqbal's birth anniversary, Zardari said that the great philosopher believed nobody held monopoly over interpretation of religion which was dynamic and needed to be interpreted continuously. He said that no one should be allowed to exploit religion for foisting political agenda or violence.

He said that Iqbal, the poet of the east, is widely regarded as the man who gave the concept of a separate homeland for Muslims of the sub-continent.

"Let us not fear in reinterpreting religious thought in the light of Iqbal’s teachings", he said.

Zardari, the Pakistan People's Party co-chairman, also called upon the people to forge unity in their ranks and resist those who seek to foist their political agenda on the people through façade of religion.

Paying tributes he said that Allama Iqbal not only gave vision of a separate homeland but also gave courage to the people to hold free and critical inquiry to understand the true message of religion instead of blindly following the dogmas.

"On his birth anniversary today we rejoice and celebrate the life and teachings of Allama Iqbal," he said.

Zardari said that the message of Islam was distorted by extremists and militants and called for correcting it through Allama’s teachings and philosophy.