First of all I am thankful to the blessing of Almighty Allah that my mission “to contribute for the good” is due to His kindness and blessings. Secondly, I on behalf of Pakistan, very thankful to the management and leadership of the Community of St Egidio for holding this conference and making it possible, which we see today in shape of this beautiful bouquet; surely it is the sign of sincere leadership. I salute to its leadership.
The day is historic and blessed one that many leaders from different countries and representatives of the world religions are here with their great ideas and thoughts focused on one theme how to make this world a better place.
The topic of my discussion is “The Spirit of Assisi facing Conflicts”.
Yes, I am agree with the title/topic of the panel that the Spirit of Assisi facing conflicts; rather, I would add that the spirit of Assisi facing conflicts and is in pain, trouble and disappointed. And this is because of the reasons that the civilized world has ushered and witnessed such unprecedented events that were unimaginable in the chronicles of the uncivilized history and people.
The Spirit of Assisi is not only facing conflicts; it’s in pain, trouble and disappointed when it sees the clouds of the nuclear, biological chemical wars lead by developed states on one side and drought and famine in the African continent on other side; aimed at killing and destroying the human beings and all living organisms. The spirit of Assisi is in pain when it sees a young boy body’s blown in the air by a drone and only the hand of boy remains in the hand of his mother. The spirit of Assisi cries when it sees the body of a 7years old boy at the shore of river Tigris. The spirit of Assisi become restless when it hears a 5years old daughter of a police constable being blown in a suicide attack in CID building Lahore, Pakistan by saying, “when my father will come and bring bangles for me”. The spirit of Assisi cries when it sees hundreds of people were killed in the name of religion in Munchin- Germany, and France. The spirit of Assisi is in conflict when it sees killings of hundreds of people in Indian occupied Kashmir, Libya, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Palestine and Syria.
The spirit of Assisi shed tears of blood when it witnesses the collective killings of hundreds innocents like angles student of APS- Pakistan, and when a student writes his final words addressing his mom,” Mom, If today my books and clothes are red with my blood instead of blue ink, don’t weep and be patient as our blood will add colors to the joys of the other children by our sacrifice.”
By narrating these tragic facts, I never mean to hurt this distinguished gathering, however, this would defiantly wound and upset one’s soul and spirit. When all the religious scriptures of the world are of the single opinion that Killing of one individual is the killing of the whole humanity. Then why it happens in this civilized and modern era. The 7.5 billion religious population of world with a slight portion being non religious is an eye opening fact. This is a big question and thoughts provoking dilemma that how the whole of the world is lead by a slight portion towards wars, injustices, cruelty, terrorisms, violence, and unrest. This in reality hurts the soul and spirit of Assisi and our as wells; the spirit of Assisi facing conflicts.
The Holy Quran clearly says,
Chapter No. 30 Verse No. 41;
Mischief has appeared on land and sea because of the meet that the hands of men have earned, that Allah may give them a taste of some of their deeds: in order that they may turn back from evil.
"The whole human race faces a moment of supreme crisis in its advance toward maturity." Apprehension about nuclear war is almost tangible and visible today. As Pope John Paul II said in his message to the United Nations concerning disarmament: "Currently, the fear and preoccupation of so many groups in various parts of the world reveals that people are more frightened about what would happen if irresponsible parties unleash some nuclear war we have encountered this terror in the minds and hearts of our people - indeed, we share it. We agree that the world is at a moment of crisis, the effects of which are evident in people's lives- the miseries of people and indeed the Spirit of Assisi facing conflicts.
We are religious people and faith based community. It is not our intent to play on fears, however, but to speak words of hope and encouragement in time of fear. Faith does not isolate us from the challenges of life; rather, it intensifies our desire to help solve them precisely in light of the good news which has come to us in form of Holy scriptures and in persons of Holy Prophets (Peace be upon them).
What we see today is because of the two major reasons
Either, we the faith leaders are silent spectators or we don’t accept the responsibilities, and indeed the Spirit of Assisi facing conflicts.
Coming to the remedy, I would like to quote my own example; wherever and whenever, in Pakistan the spirit of Assisi was challenged, hurt, or upset through any unwanted situation or tragedy, whether it was the tragedy of Joseph Colony, Sangala Hill, Kot Radha Kishan, Youhanna Abad Church attack, Gujra or Peshawar Church Attack; I along with my close allies and friends reached there to help the effected. This is the way to console the spirit of great individuals. This is the teachings of my Holy Book Quran and the teachings of Muhammad (BPUH).
Being panic with these unwanted developments, I launched a campaign of meetings, dialogues, conferences and seminars on regional, provincial, and national level. The journey was full of challenges, barriers and complex issues like intolerance, social injustice, ignorance, religious dichotomy, deep rooted social evils, gender discrimination and violation of the basic human rights. I thoroughly analyzed the complex situation and made myself determined to take some bold steps. All these initiatives resulted in cordial working relationships with Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Parsi and Bahai’s in Pakistan and elsewhere in the world. On the other side we, appreciated and supported the government, Pak armed forces and security agencies in combating terrorism and terrorists.
And when, I visited Rome-Italy and met with Pope in the Vatican City-he appreciated our work in Pakistan and prayed for us and our peace work as well.
Today the world is faced problems and challenges and heading towards collective destruction. We need to focus on the causes, factors and remedies as well.
My thesis very clear about consoling the spirit of Assisi; we need to focus on Dialogue instead of other options. Why not we work on those fronts to create the environment that help in building the peace in the world.
Today we are in need to focus on the teachings of our religions and religious values.
If we work and practice in accordance with our teachings we can have the solutions of our many problems and challenges and can bring a positive change in the 21st century.
From the resources of our faith, we the faith based and religious community wish to provide hope and strength to all who seek a world free of these issues, challenges and problems. Religion sustains one's capacity to live with danger without being overwhelmed by it; Religion is the will to struggle against obstacles even when they appear insuperable. Ultimately our hope rests in God who gave us life, sustains the world by His power, and has called us to revere the lives of every person and all peoples.
We propose, therefore, to discuss both the religious vision of peace among peoples and nations and the problems associated with realizing this vision in a world of sovereign states, devoid of any central authority and divided by ideology, geography, and competing claims. We believe the religious vision has an objective basis and is capable of progressive realization. Building peace within and among nations is the work of many individuals and institutions; it is the fruit of ideas and decisions taken in the political, cultural, economic, social, military, and legal sectors of life, We believe that the Community of St Egidio, as a community of faith and social institution, has a proper, necessary, and distinctive part to play in the pursuit of peace. This is the true spirit of Assisi and these initiatives will console the Assisi spirit.
I, in the capacity of representative of the Muslims, religious scholars and President of the Interfaith Council for Peace and Harmony Pakistan suggest this distinguished and esteemed forum with two recommendations.
1- I offer my services voluntarily for this noble cause unconditionally wherever this forum consider necessary and vital to be utilized for it.
2- The interfaith Council for Peace and Harmony can hold Conferences, Workshops, and Seminars of the religious seminaries of all religions on national and international level.
Thank you very much.