Monday, February 16, 2015

First Thoughts on ‘Strive for Peace and Harmony’

IWIH conference Speakers 2-2015
International Interfaith Harmony Week 2015 Pakistan

John R. Houk
© February 16, 2015

Shamim Masih writes about an Islamabad Pakistan observance of the United Nations International Week on Interfaith Harmony. As an American I have little trust for any globalist initiative promoted by the United Nation which seemingly accommodates that international body’s Muslim nations’ notion of Free Speech and Religious Freedom. The Islamic notion runs something like this: All religions are free to practice their faith as long as those non-Islamic faith do not contravene or insult Islam. Meaning Islam is superior to all other religions hence people of other religious faith cannot practice their faith in a way that Islam forbids for that would insultingly blasphemous. Knowing this here is an excerpted summary of the UN’s International Week on Interfaith Harmony:

The World Interfaith Harmony Week was first proposed at the UN General Assembly on September 23, 2010 by H.M. King Abdullah II of Jordan. Just under a month later, on October 20, 2010, it was unanimously adopted by the UN and henceforth the first week of February will be observed as a World Interfaith Harmony Week.

The World Interfaith Harmony Week is based on the pioneering work of The Common Word initiative. This initiative, which started in 2007, called for Muslim and Christian leaders to engage in a dialogue based on two common fundamental religious Commandments; Love of God, and Love of the Neighbour, without nevertheless compromising any of their own religious tenets. The Two commandments are at the heart of the three Monotheistic religions and therefore provide the most solid theological ground possible.

The World Interfaith Harmony Week extends the Two Commandments by adding ‘Love of the Good, and Love of the Neighbour’. This formula includes all people of goodwill. It includes those of other faiths, and those with no faith.

The World Interfaith Harmony Week provides a platform—one week in a year—when all interfaith groups and … (The World Interfaith Harmony Week;

The summary above claims to promote peace and harmony between Christians and Muslims and even uses concepts familiar to Christians such as “Love of God, and Love of the Neighbour” (British spelling). It is misleading.

If one goes to the link in the summary embedded in “The Common Word Initiative” one begins to understand this peace and harmony propaganda is based on Islamic Supremacist concepts rather than Christian concepts. The website provides a link to what it calls the “A Common Word Letter” which is an English translation that is listed as a summary and abridgement with the title “A Common Word between Us and You”.

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
A Common Word between Us and You
(Summary and Abridgement)

Muslims and Christians together make up well over half of the world’s population. Without peace and justice between these two religious communities, there can be no meaningful peace in the world. The future of the world depends on peace between Muslims and Christians.

The basis for this peace and understanding already exists. It is part of the very foundational principles of both faiths: love of the One God, and love of the neighbour. These principles are found over and over again in the sacred texts of Islam and Christianity. The Unity of God, the necessity of love for Him, and the necessity of love of the neighbour is thus the common ground between Islam and Christianity. The following are only a few examples:

Of God’s Unity, God says in the Holy Qur’an: Say: He is God, the One! / God, the Self-Sufficient Besought of all! (Al-Ikhlas, 112:1-2). Of the necessity of love for God, God says in the Holy Qur’an: So invoke the Name of thy Lord and devote thyself to Him with a complete devotion (Al-Muzzammil, 73:8). Of the necessity of love for the neighbour, the Prophet Muhammad ( صلى الله عليه وسلم ) said: “None of you has faith until you love for your neighbour what you love for yourself.”

In the New Testament, Jesus Christ ( عليه سلام ) said: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One. / And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. ’This is the first commandment. / And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself. ’There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31)
In the Holy Qur’an, God Most High enjoins Muslims to issue the following call to Christians (and Jews—the People of the Scripture):

Say: O People of the Scripture! Come to a common word between us and you: that we shall worship none but God, and that we shall ascribe no partner unto Him, and that none of us shall take others for lords beside God. And if they turn away, then say: Bear witness that we are they who have surrendered (unto Him). (Aal ‘Imran 3:64)

The words: we shall ascribe no partner unto Him relate to the Unity of God, and the words: worship none but God, relate to being totally devoted to God. Hence they all relate to the First and Greatest Commandment. According to one of the oldest and most authoritative commentaries on the Holy Qur’an the words: that none of us shall take others for lords beside God, mean ‘that none of us should obey the other in disobedience to what God has commanded’. This relates to the Second Commandment because justice and freedom of religion are a crucial part of love of the neighbour.

Thus in obedience to the Holy Qur’an, we as Muslims invite Christians to come together with us on the basis of what is common to us, which is also what is most essential to our faith and practice: the Two Commandments of love.

… THERE IS MORE (The ACW Letter; Author attribution - Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal; 138 Muslim Signatories;; 10/18/07)

This so-called interfaith peace and harmony document is full of Islamic taqiyya (deception). Check out this excerpt from an IPT expose of the document originally written as a response to Pope Benedict XVI speech in Regensburg that alluded to a violent Islam:

In full context, it is clear that this section of the Quran, including 3:64, is a condemnation of Christianity and Judaism and a call for conversion. Why would this verse be included in a call for peace and understanding between Islam and Christianity? The authors and signatories of this letter are among the most learned scholars of Islam in the world. They know the context of 3:64 and its true message, which is exactly why they included it. This letter is not a call for peace. It is a call for conversion.

This is in accordance with various commentaries on the Quran, including the influential and prolific Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi. Maududi founded the Pakistani Islamic group Jamaat e-Islami in 1941. He wrote of this chapter:

The message has been extended to the Jews and the Christians in continuation of the invitation in Al-Baqarah, in which they have been admonished for their erroneous beliefs and evil morals and advised to accept, as a remedy, the Truth of the Quran. They have been told here that Muhammad (Allah's peace be, upon him) taught the same right way of life that had been preached by their own Prophets; that it alone was the Right Way, the way of Allah; hence any deviation from it will be wrong even according to their own Scriptures.

Specifically regarding these verses and surrounding verses, he also adds, "This discourse is particularly addressed to the Christians and invites them to accept Islam." And "In these verses the people of the Book, the Jews, have been invited to give up their sinister ways and accept the divine Guidance" (Maududi, "Introduction to Al-i-Imran," The Meaning of the Quran).

This fits with the traditional Islamic view that Christianity and Judaism are not religions of true monotheism because, according to the Prophet Muhammad, they worship those other than God, in conflict with the call in 3:64. According to a hadith on the authority of Adi bin Hatim from the Sunan al-Tirmidhi, Muhammad is recorded as once saying of Christians and Jews:

Whatever their priests and rabbis call permissible, they accept as permissible; whatever they declare as forbidden, they consider as forbidden, and thus they worship them.

Along those lines, the Quran states:

9:30: The Jews call ‘Uzair a son of Allah, and the Christians call Christ the Son of Allah.; That is a saying from their mouths; (in this) they but imitate what the Unbelievers of old used to say. Allah's curse be on them: how they are deluded away from Truth!

9:31: They take their priests and their anchorites to be their lords in derogation of Allah, and (they take as their Lord) Christ the son of Mary; Yet they were commanded to worship but One Allah: There is no god but He. Praise and glory to Him: (Far is He) from having the parents they associate (with Him).

The Pope and the other recipients of this letter are well-versed enough in evangelical efforts to see it for what it really is, but they are not the targets of this letter. It is an open letter for a reason. It is meant to influence the Christian public around the world. This view is supported by the fact that, according to the London Times, it "will be rolled out around the world in a series of press conferences." The websites of major Islamist organizations in Europe and the United States have rolled out statements praising the virtues of the letter. (A Common Word Between Us and You is a Call for Conversion; By IPT; IPT News; 10/15/07)

Shamim Masih is promoting this interfaith dialogue. I understand his reasoning for doing so. Christians are the minority in Pakistan in which overwhelmingly the Muslim majority treat the minority as barely tolerable pariah. The percentage of the Pakistan population is a bit difficult to pin down. In checking this out myself I found the BBC claim 1.6% in 2013, Gatestone Institute lists 3% in 2014 and the Pakistan Christian Post quotes Nazir S. Bhatti of the Pakistan Christian Congress (PCC) as 13%. The point is Pakistani Christians have a memory of a better life under British rule when today’s Pakistan was part of India. Pakistani Christians live under the iron of boot of Islam’s age old treatment of dhimmis.

I am convinced Shamim’s participation in International Week on Interfaith Harmony is based on an imperative hope. I am also convinced Shamim Masih and other Pakistani Christians are being deceived by an Islamic Supremacist agenda.

JRH 2/16/15
Strive for Peace and Harmony

By Shamim Masih
Sent: 2/16/15 10:57 AM

ISLAMABAD: The Government of Pakistan is determined to fight terrorism and alleviate poverty. Though Pakistan is facing a lot of changes but still we need to create space for others. Terrorism is not only minorities’ issue but the rest [of the people] are facing the same problems. The Pakistan army is fighting against terrorists and we are taking every possible measure to nip them [in the] bud. It was stated by Senator Parvaiz Rasheed, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting in a Seminar Organized by Prominent NGOs namely Reformation for Empowerment and Alleviation of Poverty (REAP) and Rah-e-Nijat Ministry in observance of UN International Week on Interfaith Harmony, 2015.

His Excellency Mr. Jesper Moller Sorensen, the Ambassador for Denmark also graced the occasion with his presence.  In his address, the Ambassador said:

“Interfaith is a continuous journey of engagement. It is not only about accepting individuals for their beliefs, but respecting their principles and learning to tolerate each other’s faiths. It is essential to create tolerance and develop space for discussion, sharing of knowledge and understanding the other side’s point of view”.

The Ambassador also explained that freedom of religion is a fundamental right, and protection of religious minorities is a cornerstone in Denmark’s foreign policy. Mr. Stefno Gatto, Deputy Ambassador of European Union also stressed to minimize the gaps and create space for other faiths. He said the E U member states are committed to bring peace and harmony among different faiths. The EU is working for women and minority rights in Pakistan.

Eminent scholars Christian, Muslims, Hindu and Parsi emphasized on that mutual understanding and inter-religious dialogue are vital dimensions of a culture of peace. This week, the world celebrates an interfaith harmony week that promotes harmony between people Shamim Masih IWIH conference 2-2015regardless of their faith. The seminar started with a welcome note from Shamim Masih, President Reformation for Empowerment and Alleviation of Poverty (REAP) and vote of thanks by Safdar Saleem, Secretary General, Rah-e-Nijat Ministry. Shamim said that different faiths do not bind in limits but allows social harmony and mutual tolerance for a better and progressive society. Re-affirming that “mutual understanding and inter-religious dialogue constitute important dimensions of a culture of peace”, he extended to patronize any efforts leading to international peace.

Several human rights activists, diplomats, politicians and other dignitaries attended the event. The gathering unanimously resolved to work for unity and cohesion among masses to create a just and secured social network aiming at a progressive Pakistan. The event was broadcast live on Pakistani television and other media outlets. The World Interfaith Harmony Week was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in its 2010 resolution.

Be Blessed,
Shamim Masih

Diplomatic Correspondent, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, UN, F & S, MOST, CADD & Human Rights Activist

Daily Khabrian – in Urdu ( description – in English) & Channel - 5 (A project of Khabrian Group of papers)

For Americans especially, I have discovered the best way to donate to Shamim Masih is via Western Union sending this LINK to a Western Union agent in Islamabad. Include Shamim’s phone - +92-300-642-4560
First Thoughts on ‘Strive for Peace and Harmony’
John R. Houk
© February 16, 2015
Strive for Peace and Harmony

Edited by John R. Houk
Text enclosed by brackets are by the Editor

© Shamim Masih

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