Inter-Faith Understanding and Dialogue international conference concluded

Aligarh: The online international conference on ‘The Role of Faith in Facing Crises: What Religion can offer to the Post-Covid World’ organised by the Dara Shikoh Centre for Inter-Faith Understanding and Dialogue, Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) was concluded with experts speaking on how faith can provide spiritual support as Covid-19 takes a heavy toll on mental health.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Zafar Mahmood, President, Zakat Foundation said that the faith leaders have the authority to impact the behaviour and attitudes of billions of people. Their institutions are among the oldest and most long-standing and provide essential services to billions of people around the globe, making them essential partners in normal times as well as in an emergency.

He added that the pandemic reminds us that in the race to earn wealth, people have left spirituality and now it is time that the faith leaders and communities should come forward to influence how people treat the planet.

Haji Syed Salman Chishty, Gaddi-Nashin, Dargah-e-Ajmer Sharif, pointed out that the history is a witness to the trials faced by human race during pandemics and how people overcame these difficult situations.

Haji Chishty emphasised that humanity will come out of this crisis with a greater faith in God.

He added that the human race will become more perfect and learn the lessons to extending helping hands and being humble, after this pandemic.

“Sabr (patience) and Shukr (giving thanks to the Almighty) are necessary to defeat this crisis,” said Haji Chishty.

Prof S D Sharma spoke on the teachings of religious scriptures to deal with the pandemic hit world. He emphasised that the holy books, Gita and Quran have verses on sanctity of life and the importance of helping fellow human beings.

The Chief Guest of valedictory session, Ayatullah Mahdavipoor of Iran said that since the Covid19 outbreak, adherents of various religions have gathered together to pray for an end to the pandemic, for those affected by it, as well as for physicians and scientists to combat the disease.

He added that there is no doubt that the severe lockdowns and isolation measures have taken a toll on the mental health of people, but religious belief and spirituality is becoming the ray of hope in the situation.

Presiding over the valedictory session, AMU Pro Vice Chancellor, Prof Zaheeruddin said that there is an anticipation of a significant increase in all kinds of mental health problems and issues and that is an area that needs to be attended to, and faith is a good source of support, providing hope to people who are in very difficult circumstances and have been psychologically affected.

Prof Mehrajuddin, Vice Chancellor, Central Kashmir University said that the response to Covid19 is showing the power of faith. Now we must harness this power, together, to create a sustainable future for ourselves and for all other species that share this planet.

Dr Sheikh Aquil Ahmad, Director, National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language (NCPUL) pointed out how India’s unique culture of unity in diversity has always led to harmony and love between culturally, linguistically and religiously dissimilar individuals and groups during times of trials and tribulations.

“Crises are integral to life and do not discriminate between the rich and poor. Giving up hope is prohibited in all religious beliefs, therefore in the time of this pandemic, we need to be more inclined to religions and do our best to help the humanity,” said Mr Raamish Siddiqui, prominent lawyer and author.

Prof Rajveer Sharma, Delhi University elaborated, faith implies trust, confidence, belief and moral conviction of religious beliefs to have a trust that God is the greatest helper and life cannot be sustained except by faith, even in our daily affairs.

Prof Iqbal Ali Khan, who chaired the session, spoke on the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) on the precautionary measures to be taken during the pandemics. He said that the guidance offered by religions can help us overcome the coronavirus crisis in the strongest of ways.

The co-chair of the session, Dr Mohammad Nasir emphasised that Faith leaders need to continue to use their considerable influence to push for a healthy planet, just as believers must heed the call to care for creation contained in the scriptures of every religion and in the tradition of every faith.

Prof Touqueer Alam Falahi, Prof Shakil Samdani and Mr Osmond Charles elaborated how wings of religious organisations have dispatched medical and food supplies to people in need during the time of crisis.

Prof Ali Mohammmad Naqvi, Director, Dara Shikoh Centre for Inter-Faith Understanding and Dialogue extended the vote of thanks. Dr Mohd Shahid, Deputy Director, Sir Syed Academy presented the report of the session.

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