Connecting faiths

May 23, 2020

Hinduism urges its followers to follow the path of tolerance and harmony. A Hindu is required to follow high moral values and ensure respect to others. Another prominent quality is to absorb the...

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Hinduism urges its followers to follow the path of tolerance and harmony. A Hindu is required to follow high moral values and ensure respect to others. Another prominent quality is to absorb the good teachings of other religions as well. Traditionally, the Subcontinent has been known for interfaith harmony for hundreds of years. All sufi saints, arriving from Arab and other Muslim countries, were warmly welcomed by the local population.

After the passage of so many years, the naat 'Shah-e-Madina' is still very popular. It was first recorded in Salim Raza’s voice for the film ‘Noor Islam’ which was actually produced by a Hindu producer, J C Anand. Similarly, the book 'Arab ka Chand', written by Swami Lakshman Parshad in honour of the Prophet (pbuh), is a well-regarded part of Urdu literature. There are also so many other Hindus who have shown their respect towards the Holy Prophet (pbuh).

Today, a few unwanted elements, who try to target other religions, are present in every society and country. Most of the time they succeed in carrying out their hate activities against vulnerable communities, and spreading hatred on social media.

Keeping the above in view, I believe in utilizing my socio-political status to become a voice of the oppressed. Recently, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom issued its annual report. In the Pakistan chapter, the historical opening of the Kartarpur Peace Corridor was acknowledged as a positive development. However, a false piece of news related to the Pakistani Hindu community was also highlighted by the US commission.

This news first appeared last month, claiming that Pakistan-based welfare organization, Saylani Trust, had refused to give food rations to someone from the Hindu community during the critical time of Covid-19 crisis. Instead of reacting in a hurry, I preferred to approach the said trust and was assured that there was no religious discrimination.

Therefore, I decided to issue a press release on April 4, 2020, which mentioned that the “Pakistan Hindu Council, in the coronavirus outbreak, was closely monitoring the situation, and has not received any such complaint by local Hindu community regarding discrimination.”

Shri Param Hansi Ji Maharaj was a God-fearing saint. His followers are from different religions. He was also a Hafiz-Quran and dedicated his entire life to serving vulnerable people. After Partition, the local Hindu community had to migrate from there. Sadly, his Samadhi was targeted by some extremists. After a tireless legal struggle, I succeeded to restore the Samadhi according to the orders of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

Whenever I used to visit there, I felt that the local population is very excited to welcome Hindu pilgrims. They believe that the arrival of Hindu pilgrims will have a positive impact on the overall development of the area. This year, the Hindu followers of Shri Param Hans Ji Maharaj provided food rations, new dresses and Eid gifts, worth Rs10 lakhs, to local people. Similarly, the Pakistan Hindu Council, in its nationwide ration distribution drive, is also providing food items to deserving families, without any religious discrimination. Every year, collective Iftar arrangements are ensured outside the Swami Narain Temple Karachi in the holy month of Ramazan.

Unfortunately, it is has been observed that some people influence others for not receiving support by other community. Similarly, a few people believe that charity money should be spend on one's own religious community. However, such positive interfaith gestures are in fact not only promoting interfaith harmony and national unity but also projecting the positive image of our beloved country at the international level. In my view, people-to-people contacts among different faiths must be strengthened for better understanding.

Maligning the name of Pakistan on the basis of fabricated fake news is a matter of great concern. Therefore, I would like to emphasize that all international research and media organizations should verify the facts before believing any news related to the patriotic minority communities of Pakistan. In this regard, my doors are always opened for everyone.

The writer is a member of the NationalAssembly and patron-in-chief of thePakistan Hindu Council.

Twitter: RVankwani



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