Mgr Theodore Mascarenhas, secretary of the Bishops’ Conference (CBCI), sent a message to Muslims for the Shia observance in the holy month of Muharram. In India, Christians and Muslims live in peace and harmony.
ôThough we cannot share their perspective on many issues,ö the prelate noted, ôboth communities live in peace and harmony and cooperate with each other in many areas. ”
ôMuslims throughout the world on October 12 observe Muharram that commemorates the martyrdom of al-Husayn ibn Ali, grandson of Prophet Mohammad,ö the CBCI secretary said in his greetings.
Ashura falls on the 10th day of the first month in the Islamic lunar calendar, one of the most important events for Shias who remember the martyrdom of their Imam.
In several Muslim countries, the day has often been marked by acts of violence and attacks. Thus, in countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Iraq, the authorities are on high alert. However, the bishop noted that in India Muslims have good relations with other communities, including Christians.
According to the 2011 Census, “Islam is the second largest religion in India, with 14.2% of the country’s population or roughly 172 million people,ö Mgr Mascarenhas said.
Between Christians and Muslims, ôThere are possible flash points in some areas but we have not had very serious conflagrations.ö
In his message on behalf of the bishops, Mgr Mascarenhas expressed hope that such observations and celebrations surrounding the event will ôcontinue to encourage them and all in society to be willing to make sacrifices and to endure suffering, when necessary, for the sake of the common good.ö
ôThe best way to go ahead is in the spirit of the Holy Father’s speech in Assisi,ö the CBCI secretary explained.
As Pope Francis said at the recent meeting, ôOur religious traditions are diverse. But our differences are not the cause of conflict and dispute, or a cold distance between us. [. . .] From that historic event (the first Assisi meeting with Pope John Paul II in 1986), a long pilgrimage was begun which has touched many cities of the world, involving many believers in dialogue and in praying for peace.”
This “has brought people together without denying their differences, giving life to real interreligious friendships and contributing to the resolution of more than a few conflicts. This is the spirit that animates us: to bring about encounters through dialogue, and to oppose every form of violence and abuse of religion which seeks to justify war and terrorism.ö–Asia News