Muslim Council of Elders Organizes a Panel Discussion as Part of the Azadi Fellowship Programme in Pakistan on the Role of Religious Institutions in Promoting and Enhancing the Culture of Tolerance and Peaceful Coexistence

The Muslim Council of Elders held a panel discussion titled "The Role of Religious Institutions in Promoting Peaceful Coexistence" as part of the Azadi Fellowship Programme, which commenced on Saturday in Islamabad, Pakistan. The event featured prominent speakers including Dr. Zia-ul-Haq, President of the Islamic Research Institute at the International Islamic University; Dr. Kamal Buraikah, Professor of Islamic Studies at the International Islamic University in Islamabad; Mr. Sardar Ranjit Singh, former Member of Parliament for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa; Bishop Samuel Robert Azaria, Director of the Center for Christian Studies in Rawalpindi; and Mr. Christopher Sharaf, Coordinator of the "Saiban e-Pakistan" program for Christian minorities. The session was attended by several religious leaders, intellectuals, academics, and researchers.

At the beginning of the session, Sardar Ranjit Singh highlighted that the Document on Human Fraternity, which was co-signed by His Eminence Dr. Ahmed Al-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar and Chairman of the Muslim Council of Elders along with His Holiness Pope Francis of the Catholic Church, represents a comprehensive and clear humanitarian constitution. He emphasized the need for religious leaders to leverage their influential roles to promote the culture and values of human fraternity, peaceful coexistence, and mutual respect, especially among youth, to ensure these values are deeply rooted from a young age. This, he noted, contributes to creating a global environment characterized by justice, equality, and brotherhood.

Dr. Kamal Buraikah affirmed that peaceful coexistence is a fundamental principle everyone should adopt, praising the pioneering efforts of the Muslim Council of Elders since its inception as well as its vision of enhancing peaceful coexistence and interfaith understanding as an effective means to overcome the challenges faced by multicultural societies.

For his part, Bishop Samuel Robert Azaria stressed the ability of different religions to bring about positive and lasting change in society. He underscored the significant responsibility of religious institutions in spreading values of tolerance and mutual understanding and embracing diversity and respect for others, which are essential steps towards achieving a cohesive and integrated society that is more just and humane.

The panel discussion also showcased major initiatives and projects launched by the Muslim Council of Elders aimed at fostering peace in both Muslim and non-Muslim communities and promoting the values of dialogue, tolerance, and coexistence. Participants also noted the crucial role of religious institutions in enhancing peaceful coexistence and the urgent global need to promote positive concepts, acceptance, and respect for others, affirming that all individuals belong to a single human family and that despite our diverse religious backgrounds, it is our duty to spread peaceful coexistence worldwide.

The Muslim Council of Elders has organized several discussion sessions addressing major contemporary humanitarian challenges. One of the key topics was climate change, where the Council highlighted its efforts to activate the role of religious leaders in addressing the climate crisis by holding the Global Faith Leaders Summit for Climate, which resulted in the publishing of the "Call of Conscience: Abu Dhabi Joint Statement for Climate." The summit came prior to the launch of the Faith Pavilion at COP28, which was the first of its kind in the history of COP conferences and which was a global platform for dialogue aimed at finding effective solutions to the climate crisis. Additionally, the Council held a session discussing religious freedom and interfaith relations, emphasizing the importance of promoting religious freedom to establish societies that respect diversity and allow individuals to practice their beliefs freely without fear of discrimination or persecution, thereby reducing conflicts and enhancing social peace.

The Muslim Council of Elders launched the second session of the Azadi Fellowship Programme in Islamabad in collaboration with the International Research Council for Religious Affairs (IRCRA), the International Islamic University, the Islamic Research Institute, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Centre of Excellence on Countering Violent Extremism (KPCECVE), and the Resala organization in Pakistan. The program is held from May 18 to 25 and involves 25 young men and women from various religious backgrounds with the aim of instilling a culture of religious and cultural dialogue as well as supporting efforts to promote peaceful coexistence, combat hate speech and extremism, and address the challenges of global peacebuilding.



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