All great religions preach tolerance: Karen Armstrong
* Renowned scholar says Islam only faith that emphasis pluralism
ISLAMABAD: All great religions of the universe including Islam, Judaism and Christianity preach tolerance, says Karen Armstrong, a renowned scholar of world religions.
Armstrong asserted this while delivering lectures on ‘Tolerance in Islam’ and ‘Clash of Civilisations: Myths or Reality’ at the Jinnah Convention Centre.
Armstrong has written many books including the famous ‘A history of God; 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam’ that was on the New York Times bestseller list for more than a year. In her lectures, Armstrong highlighted the issues that lie at the core of the current debate on the conflict and misunderstandings between Islamic and the Western societies and the importance of tolerance in bridging the gap between the two civilisations.
Armstrong said that intolerance led to conflicts, atrocity and disaster and appropriate knowledge of the religions could help curb these problems.
“As opposed to the historical myths of a clash, in reality various cultures share far more commonalities than differences,” she argued.
Armstrong said that in fact this issue was part of the political imbalance and is not religiously inspired. She cited how the Western world in the past had blamed Islam for its progressiveness at a time when the west itself was mired in intellectual and spiritual poverty.
Pluralism: Armstrong said among the major world beliefs, Islam was perhaps the only faith that placed an emphasis on pluralism. She said Muslims had a rich and an illustrious past from which to draw strength from when faced with adversity.
She encouraged audience members to be positive, adding, “The great test of our time is to build a global community that is tolerant and compassionate.” She concluded the lecture by proclaiming her hope that as more people in the West learned about Islam, its history and message, the clash would recede.
According to NNI, the Aga Khan Foundation (Pakistan) organised the lecture as part of a series of events, conferences and seminars being held to mark the Golden Jubilee of His Highness Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of Shia Ismaili Muslims.
Predicated on the notion of fostering an inclusive and pluralistic understanding of Islam, the Golden Jubilee year will see a number of endeavours aimed at building bridges within and outside the Muslim Ummah. The Golden Jubilee will also catalyse new socio-economic, cultural and human development initiatives to realise the social conscience of Islam and improve the quality of life of the less fortunate in society.
This Golden Jubilee year falls at a time of increasing global complexities and when the search for mutual understanding amongst nations, faiths, and cultures remains essential to assuring global peace and stability.
In the last fifty years, polarisation among nations has resulted from mutual suspicion and ignorance and the misappropriation of faith for political and ideological purposes. This then calls for values of acceptance and compassion among and between the people of the world.