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Scholars from Several Religions Explore the Idea of Religious Freedom

Mumbai, October 14, 2023: The Interfaith Solidarity Council organized a significant discussion on “Faith Reflections on meeting challenges to freedom of religion” at Anjuman E Islam here today. Scholars and participants from diverse religious backgrounds gathered to explore the concept of freedom of religion and its relevance in today’s society.

The discussion focused on examining and affirming the various traditions and messages associated with freedom of religion as understood within different faiths. Distinguished scholars representing Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Jainism, Zoroastrianism, Sikhism, Baha’i faith and Buddhism shared their perspectives, each shaped by the teachings and beliefs of their respective religions. The event attracted over 70 participants from various faith communities who joined the dialogue.

Irfan Engineer, Director of CSSS, who served as the moderator, set the tone for the discussion by emphasizing the imperative need to collectively explore the pluralistic traditions inherent in our own religions and derive inspiration from them to foster peaceful coexistence. This line of thought was further elaborated upon by the esteemed panel of speakers.

Sadguru Dr. Mangeshda underscored the values of critical thinking and love, drawing on the teachings of Swami Vivekananda as a source of inspiration. Dr. Salim Khan provided insights from the Quran to address the coexistence of different faiths within our society and the divine intention behind this diversity.

Fr. SM Michael emphasized the belief that God created humans in His own likeness and image, granting them the freedom to choose their spiritual paths. Roshni Shenazz highlighted the Zoroastrian faith’s promotion of freedom and responsibility, allowing for the dynamic interpretation of religious principles according to the need of the times. Seema Indorewala highlighted that Baha’i faith propounds oneness of God, religion and mankind. Its founder, Baha’u’llah, said that the earth is one country and mankind its citizens.

Gurjinder Singh conveyed the profound message of Sikhism, where truth is paramount, but the virtue of humanity and service to all, regardless of religious affiliation, takes precedence. Manish Modi expounded on Jainism’s core belief in the universal law of receiving what one gives. Sunil Kamble shed light on Buddhism’s principles of equality and non-discrimination, firmly grounded in the concept of liberty.

Unanimously, the participants stressed the critical importance of safeguarding freedom of religion for all citizens without discrimination. They strongly reiterated that violence has no place within any religion. They collectively affirmed their commitment to the principles of freedom and inclusivity within their respective religious traditions. All the participants unambiguously condemned any act of terror under the name of religion. They also strongly affirmed its commitment and the need to stand in solidarity with any individual or religious groups which face violations of their freedom of religion.

This event served as a platform for fostering interfaith dialogue, celebrating shared values of freedom, love, and mutual respect, and advocating for harmonious relations among diverse religious communities. It reinforced the idea that, regardless of our individual beliefs, we can coexist peacefully and embrace the principles of freedom of religion for all.

One of the solutions proposed towards a peaceful society was to disseminate the teachings of liberal traditions within each religion. One of the suggestions was to explore ways to engage with school textbooks to promote freedom of religion.

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