Baabul Ilm Education Society organized a half day conference on “Inter-faith Harmony: Conference on Jesus” on Saturday January 10, 2015. The conference was very well attended and more than 140 people from all walks of life and different religious background attended the program.
The objective of this event was to demonstrate that Muslims or Islam has nothing against any other religion. Muslims believe in interfaith harmony and peaceful coexistence. The overall goal was to try and contribute towards dispelling the negative propaganda, especially in the Canadian media, against Islam and Muslims. This was first of what can hopefully become a regular series of seminars.
On behalf of Baabul Ilm Education Society Dr. Mohammad Akbar welcomed the audience to this unique, auspicious, and first of its kind occasion. He highlighted the goals and objectives of the Society and the purpose of organizing this conference. He mentioned that the objective of the Society is to help and encourage youth to go for good quality higher education. In this regard the Society, over the past two years has given away more than C$12000 worth of scholarships and awards to the most deserving and outstanding students of senior high school grades with the hope that this will help them achieve better grades so that they can go to higher education institutions. In addition the Society also organizes lectures, seminars and conferences on a variety of topics mainly related to education, literature, and on great events and personalities in the history. The idea is to enhance knowledge and awareness among the community.
Dr. Akbar said that the Society strive to promote a platform for interfaith dialogue and discussion, like the one today. Our aim is to promote respect and understanding between people of different cultures so that we develop strong communities in this beautiful part of Canada, Dr. Akbar Added.
Commenting on the recent violent events in Canada and France Dr. Akbar condemned the publications of cartoons but he also emphasized that violence is not the answer. It will only aggravate the dispute and widen the divide. We must find common grounds, and there are plenty of them, for our peaceful and respectful coexistence. We cannot eliminate each other. We can only wound each other. Now it is our choice whether we want to live a wounded and bleeding life or a peaceful, happy, and healthy life, Dr. Akbar concluded.
Dean School of Business, Wayne Tebb welcomed the audience on behalf of Kwantlen Polytechnic University. He mentioned that Kwantlen University give very high importance and priority to interfaith harmony and strive to promote it. School of Business at KPU has always been at the forefront to sponsor such events. He said that the root cause of recent violent events is not religious conflicts or disagreements but it is an economic issue. Whenever and wherever economic inequalities rise these types of rifts will surface. We may want to label them differently and create more controversies and fan hatred but the fact remains that economic inequalities are at work behind such violence and conflicts. His argument was very well recieved by the audience. Ms. Laya Behbahani spoke about Bibi Marriam.
Ms. Laya gave very good arguments about how Muslims and Islam view Bibi Marriam and Jesus and why and what is their importance in the eyes of Islam. Pastor Tim Kuepfer from Peace Mennonite Church gave a wonderful presentation on the life and times of Jesus. Similarly, Balwant Sanghera representing Sikh community talked about their perspective on Jesus. He said we see the spirit of Jesus in Guru Nanak. Mr. Sanghera said that all the great personalities have given one same message - a message of peace, love, and harmony.
Dr. Syed Nasir Zaidi spoke on the status of Jesus Christ in the view of the Qur'an. He said that Jesus has been described in the Qur'an as a word of God (Qur'an, 3:45) which means he speaks on behalf of God. As, in our conversation, our words implies on their meanings and reveal our inner self, similarly Jesus as a word of God reflects God's personality and His attributes. Being the word of God, Jesus was also creation of God but Qur'an does not consider his creation as an ordinary creation rather Qur'an considers his creation as an extraordinary creation which refers to his birth from a virgin mother, a unique distinction, because he was born at the command of God. Jesus birth in the view of Qur'an was also miracle.
Dr. Zaidi compared this Qur'anic view point with biblical approach and said bible also describes Jesus as a word of God. The exact wording of the Bible is: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God (John:1:1). Dr. Zaidi said that an important part of establishing interfaith harmony for us should be to know the common grounds of the Qur'an and Bible or Torah. Although common issues may have different interpretations and explanations from both sides but it will also help us to add new perspectives and dimensions in our own interpretations.
Dr. Mohammad Tariq, Consul General of Pakistan presented official view of Pakistan on Inter-faith Harmony. He highlighted the efforts that the govt. of Pakistan has made in promoting inter-faith harmony over the years. He also listed the achievements of the govt. is this regard. At the end of the presentations a message from the Mayor or Surrey was read out as she was not able to attend the program.
After the presentations a very lively Q and A session ensued. Audience from different backgrounds acknowledged that this event was very useful and timely. They said that this type of events is very helpful in understanding each other’s points of views and beliefs. Audience were of the view that in such events at least we can agree to disagree in a more civilized manner and in a more peaceful and educative environment. They expressed their gratitude for Baabul Ilm Education Society’s welcome and hospitality on Saturday afternoon. They also admired the graciousness in which Mahmood Jaffer conducted and MC’ed this event, particularly the lively question and answer session. The program ended with Namaz-e-Magrib and refreshments.