Haven’t experienced anywhere the kind of peaceful coexistence seen in India: Muslim World League chief

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa

Muslim World League secretary general Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa on Wednesday said the diversity of thought in India has impressed him a lot and asserted that he has not experienced anywhere else the kind of peaceful coexistence he has witnessed in the country.

Addressing a gathering at the Vivekananda International Foundation here, Al-Issa also stressed the importance of interfaith dialogue to combat misconceptions and said there is a need to protect and guide the next generation right from early childhood in order to prevent a clash of civilisations.

Al-Issa, who is on a visit to India, has met President Droupadi Murmu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Speaking in Arabic, he said Indian philosophy has been instrumental in the progress of humankind.

“The diversity of thought in India has impressed me a lot…. The world can benefit from India’s wisdom,” Al-Issa said.

Talking about promoting peaceful coexistence globally, he said there is a need to celebrate differences and be united.

“We believe that we are different parts of the same tree. Our religion is humanity. All of us are from the same genealogy. We need to find a remedy for the misconceptions that are being spread,” Al-Issa said.

He also stressed the need to work on two fronts — education and protecting youngsters from propaganda.

He asserted that interfaith dialogue is the only path for the future as it could help deal with the challenges of the time.

The irony is that books that promote hatred are more widespread than books that promote positive, pluralistic and constructive messages, Al-Issa said.

“To prevent a civilisational clash, we need to protect and guide the next generation from childhood…. Misconceptions, hate theories and wrong perceptions have expedited the journey from radicalisation to terrorism,” he said.

The other problem is that some organisations are promoting this supremacy, which claims that “if someone has ruled globally, it is us”, Al-Issa said, adding that this approach is wrong.

“When I met religious leaders here — Hindus or others — they spoke of brotherhood, dialogue, cooperation and peaceful coexistence. They never said anything like that they rule over others. The example of a peaceful coexistence of civilisations and cultures that I witnessed in this country, I have not seen anywhere,” Al-Issa said.

The Muslim World League secretary general also stressed the importance of promoting dialogue globally, but added that the basis should be good faith as if the intentions are political, the dialogue will not succeed.

Al-Issa noted that in order to entrench power, many leaders had in the past used hate narratives to ensure control.

“Brute power does not lead to civilisational supremacism. It is love, humanity and coexistence that win hearts,” he said.

“We have sought to engage the religious leadership in different countries right up till the level of the United Nations to deal with the current deteriorating situation…. We have engaged the UN secretary general for bridge building. But we need everyone’s participation and partnership,” he said.

“We need to stand against narratives about clash of civilisations and religious hatred,” Al-Issa added.

In his remarks, Vivekananda International Foundation chairman S Gurumurthy said the absence of dialogue is promoting conflict.

But that dialogue has to be sincere and based on truth, he added.

“Only the rise of India, which is the birthplace of the message of harmony, can bring peace in the world. Indian and Arabic civilisations have cooperated since millennia in transmitting knowledge,” Gurumurthy said.

The MWL is an international NGO headquartered in Mecca, with members from all Islamic countries and sects.

It aims to present Islam and its tolerant principles, provide humanitarian aid, extend bridges of dialogue and cooperation with all, engage in positive openness to all cultures and civilisations, follow the path of centrism and moderation, and ward off movements calling for extremism, violence and exclusion. 

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