John R. Houk
© February 6, 2017
My Brother in Christ Shamim Mahmood was involved in the Pakistan version of the World Interfaith Harmony Week is a feel-good annual global event instituted by the United Nations in 2011:
World Interfaith Harmony Week is an annual event to be observed during the first week of February starting in 2011.
World Interfaith Harmony Week was proclaimed by the General Assembly in resolution A/RES/65/5 adopted on 20 October 2010. In the resolution, the General Assembly, points out that mutual understanding and interreligious dialogue constitute important dimensions of a culture of peace and establishes World Interfaith Harmony Week as a way to promote harmony between all people regardless of their faith.
Recognizing the imperative need for dialogue among different faiths and religions to enhance mutual understanding, harmony and cooperation among people, the General Assembly encourages all States to support during that week the spread of the message of interfaith harmony and goodwill in the world’s churches, mosques, synagogues, temples and other places of worship, on a voluntary basis and according to their own religious traditions or convictions. (World Interfaith Harmony Week; United Nations)
It is my opinion most of the world’s religions can have a cooperative dialogue; however once one or more religions become upset with one or more other religions proselytizing among adherents, then I suspect the cooperation will come to a screaming halt. And yet if competition halts cooperation, most religions are tolerant enough in their belief systems to not erupt into riotous violence in these modern days of the 21st century – THAT IS except one religion in particular. ISLAM!
Let’s look at the significant religious tenets of some major religions in relation to dealing with hostile people against a particular faith.
Much like Christianity Buddhism has various sects that I am not going to examine. There is a central belief among all Buddhists on violence even there is doctrinal disagreement on other issues.
The Buddhist tradition is most clearly associated with non-violence and the principle of ahimsa (“no harm”). By eliminating their attachments to material things, Buddhists try to combat covetousness, which in itself has the potential to become a source of anger and violence against others. … Some Buddhist texts do sanction taking human lives in exceptional cases to protect the sangha or defend the innocent. However, most Theravada and Mahayana Buddhists today reject even these exceptional justifications of killing. … (Buddhism on Peace and Violence; Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs – Georgetown University)
The subject of violence has engaged the best minds in India’s religious history. Although Mohandas K. Gandhi has made non-violence synonymous with Hinduism, the tradition has long recognized legitimacy of violence under some circumstances. The dominant, pragmatic approach has endorsed violence when necessary to protect one’s state or people from external or internal attacks. A divergent tradition, insisting on the complete renunciation of violence, was ascendant during the period of the Upanishads. It asserted that violent action must, by the law of karma, produce a violent reaction, and that any action that promotes the interest of one at the expense of another individual is rooted in spiritual delusion that obscures the single spiritual reality—Brahman. The conflict between these competing approaches to force constitutes the heart of the Bhagavad Gita, a dialogue between the god Krishna and the mighty warrior Arjuna, who refused to fight in a righteous cause. Krishna explains that violence is not only necessary for the defense of justice, but that such violence need not conflict with spiritual life. The contradiction between the two values is resolved by disciplined action (action without regard for its fruit), insightful action (recognizing the true nature of the self), and complete devotion to Krishna. (Hinduism on Peace and Violence; Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs – Georgetown University)
Most Americans think of Hinduism as a non-violent faith. Compared to Islam it is true but compared to the central tenets of Christianity (not often observed by history’s Christian rulers), Hinduism can have a violent side. Read these cherrypicked excerpts from the essay entitled “The Co-Existence of Violence and Non-Violence in Hinduism”:
The most famous Hindu of all times, Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) is widely perceived, especially in the West, as embodying the Hindu worldview and ethos. Gandhi made ahimsa (non-violence) the cornerstone of his philosophy and practice and spoke of it as constituting the essence of Hinduism. …
n recent years, several Hindu organizations have become aggressive and militant in rhetoric and method, reminding us that while Gandhi championed the ethic of ahimsa, there are ancient traditions within Hinduism which sanction violence under certain circumstances and that ahuimsa and himsa (violence) have coexisted uneasily in Hinduism for centuries. The relationship between violence and non-violence is a complex one and Gandhi’s representation of Hinduism must be properly contextualized.
Vedic society in ancient India did not scrupulously adhere to ahimsa as its highest value. Sacrificial rites involved the slaying of animals and Indra, one of most popular deities of the Vedic period has many warrior-like attributes. While Manu (ca.200 B.C.E.-100 C.E.), ancient India’s influential lawgiver, lists ahimsa among the general human virtues, the ksatriyas are exempt. He permits killing in self-defence and for implementing the injunctions of the Vedas. Two of the most popular epics in the Hindu tradition, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata culminate in lengthy and violent battles.
… We see quite clearly from the Bhagavadgita that while the tradition upholds the ultimacy of non-violence, exceptions are made for the use of violence. The Mahabharata war is referred to, in the Bhagavadgita, as a dharma yuddha. A dharma yuddha is a war fought in defence of justice and righteousness and for the security and well being of the community (lokasamgraha). …
The final characteristic of a dharma yuddha that I want to mention is that violence is justified as a last resort and only after peaceful methods of conflict resolution are exhausted. …
It is clear, therefore, that there are influential traditions within Hinduism which justify the use of violence under certain circumstances and which understand the use of violence to be consistent with the Hindu world-view. While it is true that ancient texts, such as the Upanisads, refer frequently to ahimsa, these texts were traditionally meant for seekers of liberation (moksa) who had entered the last of the four stages of life (samnyasa). Such persons were ritually freed from social and familial obligations and dedicated to the quest for liberation. … READ ENTIRETY (The Co-Existence of Violence and Non-Violence in Hinduism; By Anantanand Rambachan; World Council of Churches)
The practice of Christianity as embraced by varying nations that would define themselves as Christian have not followed the tenets set down during the earthly walk of Jesus Christ and the Christ’s amplifications as placed into words by direct followers of Jesus Christ. Many atrocities have occurred in history by Christian rulers in the name of Christianity that I am certain the Lord Jesus would have rebuked them:
51 Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him [i.e. Jesus] to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, 52 and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. 53 But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. 54 And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?”[a]
55 But He [i.e. Jesus] turned and rebuked them,[b] and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. 56 For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.”[c] And they went to another village. (Bold text Editor’s – Luke 9: 51-56 NKJV)
Insulting Jesus was not lead to riotous violence. The Beatitudes sums up how Christians should act on a personal level:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
For they shall be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall obtain mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
For they shall see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5: 3-10 NKJV)
The Lord Jesus Christ continues with the Sermon on the Mount (excerpted for the point):
11 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.
21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder,[a] and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause[b] shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,[b] 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matthew 5: 11, 21-25, 43-45 NKJV)
The New Testament is full of the sentiment of DO NO HARM. As an individual, this is a journey to ever closed to the paradigm of Jesus Christ. Don’t abandon the paradigm because of other’s actions, rather stay on your journey. If you slip into a ditch. GET UP! And crawl out of the ditch to get back onto the journey of the Christ paradigm.
Christians are to defend themselves though. The defense should not be acted out of hate or revenge. Rather the defense is to protect the community. Protection does not mean pillaging and raping. It means protection.
In full disclosure and if you haven’t figured it out, I am a Christian. I am definitely not a perfect Christian and yet I am devoted to Truth as presented in the Word of God, especially in the New Testament. One standard of trust in of whose I am is John 14:6:
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. (Bold Text Editor’s NKJV)
I have to guess all religions believe they hold the keys of Truth. I don’t have a problem with that until anyone representing a different faith or secular ideology tries to force me to think divergently from the Truth I trust. One such religion targeting the belief system of Christianity are the writings revered by Muslims in the Islam way.
Christian Truth: Jesus Christ is the Son of God:
13 When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”
14 So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. (Bold Text Editor’s NKJV)
17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.”
18 Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God. 19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. 20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will. 22 For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, 23 that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. (Bold Text Editor’s NKJV)
Quran 19: 88-95
88. And they say, “The Most Merciful has taken [for Himself] a son.”
89. You have done an atrocious thing.
90. The heavens almost rupture therefrom and the earth splits open and the mountains collapse in devastation
91. That they attribute to the Most Merciful a son.
92. And it is not appropriate for the Most Merciful that He should take a son.
93. There is no one in the heavens and earth but that he comes to the Most Merciful as a servant.
94. He has enumerated them and counted them a [full] counting.
95. And all of them are coming to Him on the Day of Resurrection alone. (SAHIH INTERNATIONAL)
This Quranic section is a mere tip of the iceberg in the anti-Christian writings inherent in Islam. And I am not even going into the anti-Jewish sections and the violence that ordered upon Christians, Jews and all non-Muslims who do not bow in submission to Islam’s moon god allah and its pseudo-prophet Muhammad.
A website that provides a brief of more anti-Christian surahs can be located here: “Does Jesus ever claim to be God, or the son of God?”
Keep this in mind my fellow believers in Christ Jesus the Son of God, Lord and Savior:
1 John 2: 18-19, 22-23; 4: 13-15; 5: 19-20
18 Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the[a] Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.
22 Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. 23 Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.
13 By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.
19 We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.
20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. (NKJV)
My above thoughts are a demonstration of skepticism that the government of the Islamic Republic is serious about ending Islamic Supremacism in the Pakistan Constitution. If Pakistan amends their Constitution to deliver the same Religious Freedom – including the Free Speech to share a non-Muslim faith without fear of retribution – that Sunni Islam enjoys, then I will be less skeptical.
At any rate, below is Shamim Mahmood’s participation and hope of the success of interfaith harmony between religious faiths in Pakistan.
World Interfaith Harmony Week
Sent By Shamim Mahmood
Sent: 2/4/2017 7:21 AM
Power of interfaith transforms fear, anger & hatred into positive human relationship: Diplomats
Islamabad, February 04: Diplomats based in the federal capital have highlighted the fact that prevailing world security situation has necessitated need of interfaith harmony to convert the world into a better living place. It is high time for power of interfaith to work effectively to transform fear, anger and hatred into positive human relationship”.
Addressing a seminar titled “World Interfaith Harmony Week 2017” organized under the banner of “Parliament of the World’s Religions” [Blog Editor: The Parliament is an international organization. My antivirus software flags its website as a yellow risk. Wikipedia has a good history.] the Ambassador of Poland H.E Piotr Opalinski said that every person reserved the very right to manifest his religion or belief either individually or in community, with others and in public or private in worship, observance, practice and teaching without fear of intimidation, discrimination, violence or attack.
Piotr Opalinski reiterated that freedom of religion or belief was fundamental right of every human being.
H.E Ms. Marshal Anne, deputy head of European Delegation said that in the line with universal and EU human rights are committed to respecting, protecting and promoting freedom of religion or belief within their borders.
While speaking at the occasion H.E Joao Paulo Sabido Costa, Charge d’Affaires of Portugal proclaimed that States have a duty to protect all persons within their jurisdiction from direct and indirect discrimination on grounds of religion o belief, whatever the reason advanced for such discrimination.
Ambassador of “Parliament of the World’s Religion” Mr. Shamim said that limitations to this freedom have to be strictly interpreted. He said that minorities have been increasingly targeted in hate in the country. Faiths do not bind in limits but allows social harmony and mutual tolerance for a better and progressive society. It is need of the day to enhance mutual understanding, harmony and cooperation among people from all faiths, he added.
Reference to the General Assembly resolution adopted on 20th October, 2010, the Parliament of the World’s Religions has organized “World Interfaith Harmony Week” to promote mutual understanding and inter-religious dialogue to establish interfaith harmony.
Members of civil society, religious leadership, media personal and diplomats have attended the event.
SUPPORT Shamim’s Christian advocacy in Pakistan. First contact Shamim in case he has found an easy way to donate. I like to use Western Union sending money with this LINK to the destination of Islamabad (Contact Shamim in case he has changed cities). Shamim’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org, Western Union may ask for Shamim’s phone – +92-300-642-4560
Interfaith Harmony between Islam and Other Religions?
John R. Houk
© February 6, 2017
World Interfaith Harmony Week
Edited by John R. Houk
Text embraced by brackets and source links are by the Editor.
Journalist, Blogger and Social Reformer