ISLAMABAD  - Former President Asif Ali Zardari yesterday called for efforts to restore the peaceful, progressive and egalitarian image of Islam. He said: “The pristine message of Islam has been systematically distorted over the decades and we need to seek inspiration from Iqbal to correct the distortions and restore the peaceful, progressive and egalitarian image of Islam.”

In a message on the 78th death anniversary of Allama Iqbal falling on April 21, Zardari said: “This indeed is the best way to pay tributes to our poet philosopher. On his death anniversary let us reiterate our resolve not to allow anyone to exploit religion and misinterpret it for foisting their political agendas.”

He said Allama Iqbal believed that religion was a living and dynamic force that needed to be continuously interpreted, calling upon people to assert themselves in reinterpreting religious thought. “Let us on this day, in memory of Iqbal, dedicate ourselves to free inquiry, discussion and debate, as preached by him, so as to understand the true message of religion,” he added. Zardari said: “Let us on this day also refuse to blindly follow the dogmatic and archaic interpretations of religion, the former President said in his message.”