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International Seminar on “Islam and Pluralism: An Indian Perspective” generated concrete points!

This virtual international seminar highlighted the concrete points of reconciliation and common grounds between Islam and other Indian religions, and the possibility of dialogue between the Semitic and non-Semitic faith traditions in general.

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Two-day international seminar titled as, “Islam and Pluralism: An Indian Perspective” organized by the Department of Islamic Studies, Jamia Hamdard concluded with a stimulating valedictory session on 20th January, 2022.

A total of eight technical sessions running in parallel during the seminar highlighted the concrete points of reconciliation and common grounds between Islam and other Indian religions, and the possibility of dialogue between the Semitic and non-Semitic faith traditions in general.

Dr Ahmad Abdur Rahman Al Banna (Ambassador of UAE to India), the chief guest of the seminar gave crucial remarks in the opening ceremony. He greatly appreciated the initiative by the Department of Islamic studies of Jamia Hamdard in its bid to foster interfaith understanding and respect for different ways of worship.

Furthermore, he congratulated the organizers of the Seminar and lauded their concerted intellectual efforts towards interreligious dialogue. Dr Al Banna also dwelt on the ambitions and efforts of UAE in promoting pluralism and progressive values in the Gulf countries, which he says, are a glaring example.

Maulana Khalid Saifullah RahmaniGeneral Secretary of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, another distinguished guest in the opening ceremony, remarked: “Pluralism and acceptance of diversity are well exemplified by the Qur’anic verse of “Lakum Deenukum Wa Li Yadeen” (for you, your deen (religion/path) and for me mine)“. Islam propounded a diverse society both in Makka and Madina, Maulana Rahmani averred.

Other noted speakers in the opening ceremony included prominent Indian Islamic scholars like Prof. Abdul Ali (former HoD of the Islamic studies department of Aligarh Muslim University), Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani (General Secretary, All India Muslim Personal Law Board) and Dr. Arshad Hussain (HoD of the department of Islamic studies, Jamia Hamdard) along with Prof. Syed Mehartaj Begum, Dean, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Jamia Hamdard and Prof. M. Afshar Alam, Vice Chancellor of Jamia Hamdard who delivered the Special Address and Presidential Address respectively.

Not less than 60 papers were presented in different technical sessions running on parallel for two days in which different aspects of the subject were concisely covered. The papers presented in the seminar will be published by the department of Islamic studies of Jamia Hamdard, according to the seminar convenor, Dr Waris Mateen Mazhari, Assistant Professor of Islamic studies, Jamia Hamdard.

Apart from a considerable number of distinguished paper presenters from within the country, a gamut of scholars and ulema from abroad also took part in the various sessions of the seminar. These included Dr. Omair Anas (Turkey) on “Islam and Plural Societies”, Dr. SherAli Tareen (USA) on “Political sovereignty and interreligious relations”, Shaykh Dr. Fakhruddin Owaisi (South Africa) on “Islamic Pluralism in India: Motivations and Background”, Mr. Mohammad Afzal (London) on “Relations between Muslims and Non-Muslims in the Prophetic Era and the Rightly Guided Caliphate Period”, Mr. Mohammad Seraj Ahsan (Turkey) on “Significance of MultiCulturalism in Peace Building and Conflict Resolution in Globalized World: An Analytical Study of Islamic Perspective”, Dr.Talha Rehman (UAE) on “Democracy, Pluralism and the Role of Islam in India”.
A set of selected papers in this international seminar which were presented in Urdu and English in five parallel sessions, were titled as follows: “Pluralism in Islam and the Philosophy of Coexistence” by Dr. Sumaiyah Ahmed (Jamia Hamdard), Maulana Qasim Nanautavi and Inter-religious Dialogue: A Critical Study” by Dr. Mohamamd Ajmal (JNU), “The Concept of Islamic Pluralism from the Indian Perspective” by Dr. Waris Matin Mazhari (Jamia Hamdard), Half-widows: Shifting Identities of Kashmiri women “Islamic Pluralism in context of the principles of Jurisprudence for minorities” by Miss. Nida Fatima (Jamia Hamdard), “Hindu-Muslim Religious Commonalities: A Study of Gilani’s Treatise Islam aur Hindumat ki b‘az Mushtarika T‘alimāt” by Mr. Abdussalam Nadir (AMU), “The role of Muslim scholars and intellectuals in strengthening multi-religious society” by Maulana Manzar Imam (JMI), “Democratic Pluralism in India: Past and Present” by Ms. Quratul Aein (Kashmir University), “Security and Peace in Multicultural Society: The Islamic Perspective” by Dr. Abdur Rahman (JNU), “Plural Society of Mecca: A Study of the Biography of the Prophet of Islam” by Mr. Mohd. Abdul Bari (AMU), “Safeguarding Human Dignity & Rights in Indian Pluralistic Society: An Islamic Perspective” by Mr. Mohammad Furqan (JMI), “A Comparative Study of Sufism and Bhakti Movement with Special Reference to Moinuddin Chishti and Kabir Das” by Ms. Rukhshanda Shaheen (AMU), “An Analytical Study of Jalaluddin Akbar’s Policy of Pluralism” by Ms. Darakhshan (Jamia Hamdard), “The possibility and impossibility of religious pluralism in Islam: A Study of Nizamuddin Auliya and Ahmad Raza Khan” by Mr. Mohammad Ali (Jamia Millia Islamia), The Millet System: Pluralistic Approach of the Ottoman Caliphate” by Dr. Saifudheen Kunjus (Univ.of Madras), “Islam and United Nations on Universal Declaration on Human Dignity: A Comparative Study” by Dr. Tanjeel Ahmed (AMU), “Muslim Understanding of Indian Religions—Academic Approaches!” by Prof. Hamidullah Marazi (Kashmir University), “Migration to Abyssinia: A Role Model for Muslims in the Multi-religious Societies” by Dr. Mohd Arshad (Jamia Millia Islamia) and “The Theological Pluralism in India: A Perspective of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad” by Mr. Ghulam Rasool (Jamia Millia Islamia University).

A few of the above paper presenters have also expressed their views and reflections on the conclusion of the seminar, as follows:
Dr. SherAli Tareen (Associate Professor, Religious Studies, Franklin and Marshall College) who recently authored “Defending Muḥammad in Modernity”, sent across his feedback in these words: “Many congratulations to all organizers and presenters for a wonderful conference on an urgently important topic……”

Dr. Ziauddin Falahi (Aligarh Muslim University),  another scholar and participant in the seminar,who presented his paper on “Relevance of Interfaith Dialogue: A Study of Tabeenul Kalam” expressed his appreciation of the initiative in these words: “Congratulations to all the Islamic Studies fraternity. The Department of Islamic Studies Jamia Hamdard, Delhi deserves our special thanks that led our attention to a very timely foundation of the thought process of Pluralism. As sincere citizens, we should perspire ourselves to save the country on research grounds…..”

Several paper presenters like Dr. Sumaiyah Ahmed (Jamia Hamdard) stressed the need to compile all the presidential addresses along with the observations and comments on the seminar. According to Dr. Najmus Sahar, the seminar coordinator, the papers of the seminar will be published in a book at the earliest possible.

Prof. Iqtdar Muhammad Khan (Jamia Millia Islamia), who addressed the valedictory session made a pertinent point. He said: “There is greater need for for an intra-faith dialogue and ‘pluralism within Islam’ which is more important than even the interreligious dialogue. Muslims must embrace each other regardless of their sectarian difference and schools of thought”.

Prof. Fahim Akhtar Nadvi (Maulana Azad Urdu University, Hyderabad) called this initiative an urgent need of the time and discussed various aspects of the subject. He lauded the Seminar as the glorious beginning of healthy debates and discourses on the theme. While giving a very comprehensive analytical commentary on the papers presented in the seminar, Prof Nadwi pointed out the areas which need to be the focus of attention for the Islamic scholars. He said that this seminar is an important model for other seminars organized by the departments of Islamic Studies.

Dr. Muhammad Ahmad Naeemi (Jamia Hamdrad) whose paper was presented in Urdu under the title, “An Analysis of the Common Grounds and Values between Islam and Hinduism” presented the report of the seminar. Prof. Mehrtaj Begum, Dean, School of Humanities and Social Sciences and Dr. Arshad Hussain, Head of the Department, expressed their determination to hold more seminars on such important intellectual topics.

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