Mumbai: At a meeting held by the Interfaith Solidarity Council organised at the Anjuman E Islam in the city last week, representatives of various religions explored the idea of freedom of religion and its relevance in today’s society.
The speakers agreed that it was critical to safeguard freedom of religion for all citizens without discrimination. They said that violence has no place in any religion, before affirming their commitment to the principles of freedom and inclusivity. Condemning acts of terror committed under the name of religion, participants said they were committed to support individuals or religious groups facing violations of their freedom of religion.
At the discussion, titled "Faith Reflections on meeting challenges to freedom of religion", over 70 scholars from diverse religious traditions like Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Jainism, Zoroastrianism, Sikhism, Baha’i faith and Buddhism shared perspectives that were influenced by the teachings and beliefs of their respective religions.
Irfan Engineer, director of the Centre for Study of Society and Secularism, the moderator at the event, emphasised the need to collectively explore the pluralistic traditions in each religion to encourage peaceful coexistence. Father S M Michael, who represented Christianity, said that God created humans in his own image and granted them the freedom to choose their spiritual paths. Roshni Shenazz described how her Zoroastrian faith promoted freedom and responsibility, allowing for the interpretation of religious principles for the contemporary era. Seema Indorewala, who is a Baha’i, said that her faith propounded the oneness of God, religion and humankind. Indorewala said the faith's founder, Baha’u’llah, said that the earth is one country and mankind its citizens.
Value of critical thinking and love
Sadguru Dr Mangeshda, who represented Hindus, stressed on the value of critical thinking and love, drawing on the teachings of Swami Vivekananda as a source of inspiration. Dr. Salim Khan provided insights from the Quran to explain the diversity of faiths.
Gurjinder Singh, a Sikh, said that his faith considered truth as paramount and required believers to provide service to all, regardless of religious affiliation. Another speaker, Manish Modi explained Jainism's core beliefs. Sunil Kamble, a Buddhist, talked about his faith's principles of equality, non-discrimination and liberty.