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Published On:22 February 2013
Posted by Indian Muslim Observer

Dialogue only way to restore world peace, speakers echo at IOS International Conference

Centre for Dialogue in Vienna by Saudi King Abdullah Lauded

By Pervez Bari

New Delhi: At the conclusion of the two-day International Conference on “India and the Muslim World in the 21st Century” which was held here in New Delhi recently has resolved that resolution of conflicts in religions and cultures through dialogue is the only instrument for the restoration and continuation of world peace.

The international conference appreciated all efforts in this direction including the establishment of the Centre for Dialogue in Vienna by Saudi Arabia’s H.M. King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, the custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. At the end of the international conference a 12-point resolution was adopted by voice vote with raising of hands by the audience present in the valedictory function held at the Constitution Club here.

The New-Delhi based Institute of Objective Studies, (IOS), which organized the conference in cooperation with the Government of Saudi Arabia, may constitute a committee to work on finding ways and means to foster meaningful cooperation and linkages of India with the Muslim world, the resolution stated.

The resolution said that the Government of India may be urged to do the needful in providing essential conditions for proper and genuine development and security to Muslims. The Sachar Committee recommendations must be implemented in letter and spirit as Muslims are an integral part of India as a nation and civilization.

The other important points of the resolutions which were adopted are: (i) The Minister of Water Resources of India has suggested to work for cooperation in areas of water resources between India and Muslim countries. The opportunity should be worked out at all possible levels; (ii) The cultural and sports sectors should be tried to create synergy for further cooperation among India and other Muslim countries. Besides, the dialogue process as a methodology may be taken up by governments and NGOs in the whole region; (iii) Co-operation in the field of education and research should be worked out in view of present needs and capabilities of India and the Muslim world; (iv) The Conference shed important light on the need of financial matters in accordance with Islamic values to be practicing by Muslims (and non-Muslims) in India; (v) India and Muslim world must work for creating peace and prosperity and (vi) It is urgent to try to make Islamic banking possible in India.

The global conference discussed various issues, including Islam’s role and relevance in India, economic and financial relations, Islamic banking and finance, scope for educational cooperation, international and diplomatic relations. The need for Saudi Arabia to invest in India’s education, healthcare, low-cost housing, public transport social and infrastructure sectors was also another area of focus at the conference.

Apart from all over India the conference was attended by more than a dozen foreign delegates, especially from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, USA, Malaysia, Indonesia etc.

Apart from the inaugural and valedictory functions the conference had five business sessions on “Islam in India: Historical Context and Cultural Heritage”; “Economic and Financial Relations”; “Islamic Banking and Finance: Global Trends and India”; “Prospects for Educational Cooperation”; “Foreign Policy and Diplomatic Issues” & “India and Saudi Arabia: World Peace through Dialogue”.

Meanwhile, Abdul Rahman Ghannam M. AlGhannam, Undersecretary, Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Da’wah and Guidance, Riyadh (KSA), who was guest of honour at the inaugural function of the International Conference applauded the role of India in fostering excellent relations with Arab world in general and specially with Saudi Arabs. This comes in the backdrop of India’s legacy in Arabic language and literature.

He recalled that the first ever doctorate holder in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had links with India as the person who was awarded Ph.D. degree had received education in India. There are wide ranging relations between the two countries through the ages in domains of culture, politics and peaceful co-existence in society. He applauded the ongoing contacts between the two in the fields of educational exchange programme, industry and technology. Large number of Indian students receiving education in Saudi universities is a factor to reckon with, he added.

Abdul Rahman Ghannam emphasized on the dialogue and harmony among individuals of human race besides the significance to fight all hues and colours of communalism, extremism and terrorism in South Asia in particular and whole world at large. The Palestinian issue comes first among global issues of peace and harmony in Saudi initiatives, he remarked.

He expressed his happiness to be part of the grand mission of IOS that aims at fostering good relations between India and the Arab-Islamic world since the modern man needs peace and tranquillity more than anything else.

RBI’s positive approach towards Islamic banking

Meanwhile, Union Minority Affairs Minister K. Rahman Khan chairing a business session on "Islamic Banking and Finance: Global Trends and India" & "Economic and Financial Relations" revealed that the Reserve Bank of India has taken a positive approach to the suggestion of an alternative banking system for Muslims, subject to certain laws being amended first.
Khan informed that he had written a letter to the RBI Governor, invoking Art. 25 of the Constitution of India, saying that it was the duty of the State to facilitate every citizen to practice and follow his/her religion. He had stated in the letter that Muslims have not been given any option except interest-based banking which amounted to obstruction in practice of their religion as Islam forbids "Ribah" (interest). As such at present, about 60-70 per cent of the 200 million Muslims in India are excluded from the conventional banking system because of lack of Shariah-compliant financial instruments, he added.

The RBI Governor wrote back to him accepting his view, but pointed out to the need for certain amendments to the laws concerned, he stated.

Continuing Khan said, in India the biggest issue was who should regulate the proposed alternative system, as it needed a strong monitoring mechanism. It could be a new law or amendments to the existing law, but he was hopeful of an outcome soon, he opined.

Khan said Islamic banking had been adopted by 75 countries, including the UK, and added that India could no longer afford to stay away from the $1.5-trillion Islamic financial market, which could even help address the country’s huge fiscal deficit.

He, however, lamented that no concrete efforts have been made by the Muslim community in this regard. He said by just raising a demand would not help at all. He advised setting up an expert committee to draw up a framework of an alternative banking system, along with a strong legal system to back it.

Earlier in the morning in the inaugural address K. Rahman Khan said: “India is a major importer of hydrocarbon energy from the Gulf countries and the six million expatriate community sends billions of dollars to India in the form of remittances. In the past the West exploited both India and the Muslim world. The time has come for both regions to work together for the prosperity of our people.” “In this era of globalisation, India has opened its doors for investment in various sectors. It is a golden opportunity for Muslim countries, especially the Arab business community, to invest heavily in this country. The future for investment is Asia as the West is in the grip of economic recession,” he added.

Union Water Resources Minister Harish Chandra Singh Rawat, who was a guest speaker, said: “We should do our part to find the reasons why the Muslim community is lagging behind. The government has taken steps to address the situation but more needs to be done”. Drawing attention to Muslim youths languishing in Indian jails without trial, he stated: “We feel for those innocent youths. The law of the land cannot have different yardsticks.”

Dr. Manzoor Alam calls for Muslim world to invest in India

IOS chairman Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam in his presidential speech said that India as a country cannot grow if Muslims and other marginalised populations are left behind. He said the benefits of education, health, employment and enterprise were yet to reach around 100 million Muslims, who should also be seen as part of India’s growth story.

Dr. Alam said in India of the 21st century, let us share the socio-political changes underway. The Constitution of India guarantees freedom of life, education, and liberty to practice and profess religions. It guarantees justice and equality for all. For Indian Muslims, the challenge is to optimize on the opportunities being provided by the Government of India.

“Our learned Justice A. M. Ahmadi has often said that the Constitution of India has all the Islamic values enshrined in it,” he remarked.

Dr. Alam called upon the developed countries of the Muslim world to invest in India’s education, healthcare, low-cost housing, public transport and social infrastructure, he said: “This long term investment will make them stakeholders in India’s success. It will also add a new dimension to the legacy of our common Islamic civilization”.

Prof. Aftab Kamal Pasha, Director, Gulf Studies Programme, Centre for West Asian & African Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, speaking on the occasion said some pessimism is growing in the Muslim world following West’s war on terror. However, there need not be any pessimism about India and the Muslim World as there have been since pre-Islamic era trade & commerce along with cultural links between the two. About 70 per cent of the energy requirement of India is coming from the Muslim world, he added.

Common Vision

Meanwhile, in the business session entitled “India and Saudi Arabia: World Peace through Dialogue” Prof. (Dr.) M.M. Verma, president, Interfaith Foundation, India, in his paper said that both India and Saudi Arabia believe in world peace, harmony and brotherhood. They share a common vision of a united and interdependent world. Both the countries believe in peaceful coexistence and resolution of the various conflicts through mutual dialogue.

Prof. (Dr.) Verma stated that both the countries believe in creating an orderly society, removing poverty, promoting brotherhood, cooperation and compassion, which are the foundations of a healthy civil society. Both the countries are aware of the fact that dialogue is one of the necessities of life and a means for coexistence. The challenges faced are due to the fact that some Muslims and some people of other faiths have taken to extremism and militancy at the expense of the culture of dialogue. Both the countries feel that there is an urgent need to study the cause of terrorism and violence. They feel that there is a need for a genuine dialogue aimed at exploring commonalities among world’s major religions for the sake of cooperation and joint action, which can help solve our contemporary problems.

Saudi Arabia’s Special Concerns

He said Saudi Arabia emphasizes on the importance of dialogue in Islam, and the revealed messages for the good of mankind, human dignity and universal ethical values. All messages of all Prophets say that the religion of God is one. Secondly, dialogue is a true Quranic method and the prophetic practice to deal with the people of other faiths, according to the principle of tolerance in Islam. It says dialogue should be conducted on the basis of the Quranic verse 109:6, “To you your religion and to me mine.” Do not differentiate between the Messengers of God (4:152). God had sent Muhammad as a Mercy to all creatures (22:107).

Prof. (Dr.) Verma concluded saying: “We should not try to divide the world into several worlds, more especially on religious grounds. We should work for reuniting the world for integrated humanity. Let the states keep in mind the national and international interests, common to them all. Religious considerations are bound to unleash fissiparous tendencies. ……Let’s join hands for creation of one wholesome world of cooperation and interdependence”.

Meanwhile, at the outset of the inaugural function of the conference Maulana Abdullah Tarique recited verses from the Holy Quran. Prof. Z.M. Khan, Secretary General, IOS, delivered welcome address. Mr. Agha Sultan, Consulting Engineer - Educationist & Former Member, Syndicate & Academic Council, Bangalore University, VTU & AICTE (SWRC), conducted the programme with aplomb while Prof. Afzal Wani, Professor of Law, GGS IP University, Delhi, proposed a vote of thanks.

[Pervez Bari is a senior Journalist based at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Bureau Chief (Madhya Pradesh). He can be contacted at pervezbari@eth.net]

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