LAHORE - In what was the first of its kind of international moot on “Religious Pluralism and World Peace”, speakers from a number of countries here on Saturday asserted religions must formulate a narrative against terrorism and hate speech.

They said the world is facing various forms of extremism and violence that feed unexamined religious narrative. However, formulating such a counter-narrative is a challenge for today’s religions of the world, they said on the first day of the two-day conference held at Minhaj University, Township, with the collaboration of Punjab Higher Education Commission.

National and international scholars and religious experts in addition to a large number of students took part in the conference which will conclude on Sunday (today).

The conference was called to discuss the current major issues of the world by raising three questions: “What is connection between religions and the world peace? How can the religions contribute to the world peace? Can the religions help reduce terrorism in the world?”

At the first session, various experts, including Australia’s Dr Adrian Feldmann, Switzerland’s Dr Andre Wehrli-Allenbach, MUL’s Sabir Naz, GCU’s Prof Dr Tahir Kamran, shed light on the religions’ response to the issue of terrorism in the world.

Representing Islam’s viewpoint on the world peace, Dr Naeem Mushtaq said a true follower of a religion cannot be a terrorist. He said, “Islam needs dialogue today rather than polemic approach or way. Dialogue doesn’t mean that you should make others accept your viewpoint, but it means to hear others’ viewpoint in a peaceful manner and live together,” he said.

Dr Mushtaq also mentioned the steps taken by Minhaj University and its founder Sheikh-ul-Islam Dr Tahirul Qadri, saying he (Qadri) is the first man in Pakistan, who gave “decree” against terrorism and those who carry it out in the name of religion.

Dr Andre Wehrli Allenbach, representing Christianity, said, “Christianity wants its followers to love their enemies and be kind to all those who are cruel to them. Christianity says if anyone if someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also.” He contended all the religions want peace in the society and it were the humans who create fuss and troubles.

Representing Buddhism, Dr Adrian Feldman said this religion emphasises self-consciousness which is normal and valid. “Normally, we intend to blame the society, but primarily we need to look into ourselves to determine what the fault is and how it can be addressed,” said Dr. Feldmann.

He said: “We need to control our mind because if mind is unhappy, nothing can make you happy. Since our birth, we started thinking that everything belongs to us and when anything from the outside threatens us, we become angry and react to it.” He averred there is nothing wrong in reality. “We have to see inside ourselves so that we could find out the real problem to establish peace and it is all about Buddhism,” he claimed.

Dr Sabir Naz from Minhaj University shared his knowledge about Hinduism with the contention that it doesn’t preach violence or extremism. Defining Hinudism, he said originally it is “Sanatan” which means shanti. “Mahabharat” also means submissiveness, tolerance and peace.”

Concluding the session, Chairperson Dr Tahir Kamran said all religions spread peace, but creation of knowledge is an important thing which is being missed in Pakistani society or a society belonging to the Muslim world in the present day. “Creation of knowledge is the only thing which keeps us alive.” said Kamran. He said negation of religions is no solution to today’s challenges.

Dr Kamran asked the participants to focus on knowledge and read about impacts of colonialism to understand Hinduism’s role in peace in the region.