Religion and World Peace: Webinar
On 9th and 10th of January 2021, ‘World organisation of Religions and Knowledge (WORK)’ in collaboration with ‘Sach Khoj Academy’ organised a Webinar on ‘Religion & World Peace’ to understand if religion has any potential to establish and maintain peace on earth. Prominent Religious personalities and intellectuals participated in the seminar and presented their views on the subject. These personalities were:
1. Rajvinder Singh Bains- Advocate, Punjab and Haryana high court and Human Right Activist
2. Maharishi Bhrigu Pithadeeshwar Goswami Sushili Maharaj-Spiritual Guru and National Convenor of Bhartiya Sarv Dharm Sansad.
3. Maulana Muhammad Aijazur Rehman Shaheen Qasmi-General Secretary of World Peace Organisation, New Delhi.
4. Dharm Singh Nihang Singh-Founder Sach Khoj Academy
5. Dr. MD Thomas-Founder and Director of Institute of Harmony and Peace Studies, New Delhi
6. Prof. Dr. Ronki Ram- Dean faculty of Arts, Punjab University, Chandigarh.
7. Allama Syed Abdullah Tariq-President of WORK
This article is the gist of the opinions of different speakers on the subject and the outcome of the discussion that took place in the webinar.
Peace and Its Offenders
The world has never been in so much distress and anarchy as it is today. Everywhere people are suffering. There is unrest, war, and hatred. Peace seems to be found nowhere. Restoration of peace is the need of the hour to let humans thrive harmoniously on this planet. We first need to find the prime cause of this lack of peace and then think of the solutions that could serve the purpose.
Directly or indirectly, the divisions that we have created in this world in terms of races, nationalities, religions etc. are the prominent reason behind these crises we are facing today. Everyone is scared of the other. People take undue pride in their socio-cultural status and look down upon others. All this makes people think that they are superior to others. They even think that a piece of land and its resources belong more to certain people than the rest. It makes them feel more deserving or privileged than other humans. Thus, in this pride, they hate and demean people who are different than them. To exercise their authority over them, they resort to things that kill peace in the world.
If division and hatred is the reason for vanishing Peace, then Unity and love can only be the solution to bring it back. But what could be those grounds that could let people having diverse languages, cultures, colours, religions and ideologies unite and love each other? Does Religion have the potential to do this seemingly impossible task?
Can Religion Restore Peace?
At first glance, it doesn’t seem imperative that religion-which by itself is one of the causes of creating divisions in society, holds any potential to establish peace. Today most of the violence is being done in the name of religion. Thus, it by no means has the answer to our Question. But before jumping to any conclusion, can we really claim to know religion in its complete sense? Do we really understand this? Is it being followed correctly?
Religion Vs Dharma/Deen
According to Allama Syed Abdullah Tariq (an Islamic scholar), religion or mazhab that is being followed by most of the people in this world is nothing but a distorted form of Dharma (in Sanskrit/Hindi) or Deen (in Arabic). Unfortunately, we don’t have an alternative word for Dharma/Deen in English. In short, what is being followed by the majority of religious people is not true religion as given by God but, it is changed and modified form of that. These pseudo-religions are actually the cause of human plight. They are the destroyer of peace. People should leave these cults and should follow the true religion- Dharma/Deen that God gave.
Sources of Dharma/Deen
From where could we get this true dharma/Deen?
According to the unanimous views of Allam Syed Abdullah Tariq (an Islamic scholar), Baba Dharm Singh Nihang Singh (a Sikh scholar) and Goswami Sushil Maharaj (A scholar of Sanatan dharma), the true dharma can only be found in the original religious scriptures (Mool Granth मूल ग्रंथ) that God sent through their pious servants.
With time people left these original words of God and confused philosophical texts, opinions and mythologies with Dharma and went astray.
Selfish people even distorted these original scriptures to meet their personal goals. Dr. Ronki Ram (Professor of political science in Punjab University) who has been really concerned about the wars, violence and evils like patriarchy, inequality, untouchability etc. (forms of violence that structure our society) also thinks that Dharma has the potential to build a peaceful society but, before that, we all need to sit together, study and understand what actually we mean by Dharma and how to spread it among masses. Therefore, in short, we need to understand and learn the Dharma/Deen from authentic sources.
Role of Dharma/Deen In Establishing Peace
The Question still remains intact: How do even Dharma/Deen (True religion) have the ability to bring about peace? Let’s understand it with the perspectives of different scholars and intellectuals.
According to Allama Syed Abdullah Tariq, the essence of Dharma is that we belong to the same One God who has created all the humans. Humanity arose from the first pair of man and woman and spread across the globe through generations. With time, People got divided into various nations and tribes who developed their own languages and cultures. Since our God is one and our ancestors are same, so, the message and teachings of God would also have been the same. God enlightened people of different nations, tribes and languages by His message that He sent through pious people called Prophets. He sent this Dharma/deen through Holy Scriptures in the language of a particular place and time so that people could understand the message. Based on these linguistics differences, people made different religions and got divided. With time, His message either got distorted or forgotten. And that’s how differences arose in the message of scriptures, for which people fight today. These scriptures of God are still existent today. We have ancient scriptures Vedas in India, we have Gospels, we have the last revelation in the form of Quran and many other scriptures beside that. A thorough study of these scriptures tells us that all so-called religions are actually the distorted form of one Dharma. We find that despite distortion (in some scriptures), they still have commonalities that give us grounds where we can unite humanity under the banner of One God. It is the reason why the ancient scriptures Vedas invite people towards common grounds (Rigveda 10:191:3); Quran in 3:64 also invites people of previous scriptures to common terms and the first common term is that we worship the same one God, the creator of this universe.
Common grounds create a sense of belonging in people. It is why, if we meet a person speaking our language in a foreign land, we feel attached and connected to him. We tend to get attracted to people who have the same interest and hobbies as ours. This feeling is natural. Imagine what will happen if we start following the right path of God and start looking every one as the servant of One God, as someone who belongs to each other, as someone who is equal, as people who have equal right to access every natural resource and every land that is made by God? These sense of togetherness will end hatred and would bring the much-needed peace that we are aspiring for. Unfortunately, the majority of people have cut themselves from these scriptures (the true word of God) otherwise they would have realised that Sanatan Dharma, Judaism, Christianity, Islam etc. if understood from their original revealed scriptures, are not different religions but one. All these have the same source of revelation. They would have realised that all superficial difference of race, creed or colour are just created for identification and not for making anyone superior or inferior.
Maulana MAR Shaheen Qasmi’s views were also similar to the one discussed above. According to him, the creator who created this us and this universe knows how peace can be achieved by humans. He made all those rules and principles by following which we can achieve inner and outer peace-this is Dharma. Maulana believes that people have made Dharma as something personal, expecting only inner peace out of it. But the social form of Dharma that is needed to develop outer peace has gradually diminished. He told that realisation of the fact that sovereignty only belongs to God and that entire mankind is the family of Him (Vasudheva Kutumbkam) has the capacity of uniting people. He insisted that the mankind should identify that whole humanity is the follower of one God; our lives, goals and objectives should be one; we should realise that this life is not eternal therefore, we must ponder over the purpose of our creation and believe that we have to meet our God one day and we all shall be accountable to Him. Only then we will be able to follow Dharma correctly and bring about inner and outer peace.
According to Rajvinder Singh Bains (Advocate and human rights activist), corrupt and immoral rulers and politicians are the reason for conflict, destruction and violence. These are the people who use their power to disrupt peace for the sake of maintaining their rule. They are the reason history saw world wars, massacres, riots and severe violation of human rights. According to advocate Bains, the potential to set these politicians right lies in the masses, the general public. People should never stop asking questions and their due rights from these politicians. But people can only have enough courage, fearlessness and power to do so if they have God-consciousness. This God-consciousness and fearlessness arise from Dharma. Thus, if true religion is absent from people’s life, they will not be able to make this world peaceful.
According to Baba Dharm Singh Nihang Singh, lack of dharma in individuals gives rise to bad qualities and habits like selfishness in his character that are responsible for disruption of peace. Dharma increases good qualities, conscience and intellect in a person. A person should try to acquire these and work towards winning hearts and establishing peace. He also shed light on the topic ‘Islam is Peace’. Since Islam has often been accused of spreading violence, Baba clarified that this happens when people deviate from Dharma. By quoting Guru Nanak Dev Ji, he said that it is very difficult to be a Muslim. He meant that Islam has very high moral standards that make it difficult for a person with a weak character to stay true to them. According to him, when knowledge of Dharma stops, then dharma stagnates and gets overshadowed by Adharma. Adharma gives rise to all sort of evils. Thus, it is very important to ponder and brainstorm over the understanding of Dharma and acquire it from authentic scriptures. He told us that it is just not enough to know Dharma but we have to follow it as well so that it becomes part of our lives. It is through our lives Dharma will prevail in courts and Governments and will lay the foundations of Peace. Thus, according to him, the true rule can be established only by Dharma, without which humanity will continue to sob in anarchy and cruelty.
MD Thomas (A Christian theologist) also believes that misuse of religion by compromising its true values led to violence. He also believes that it is the need of the hour that we should think about learning and implementing the correct and exact form of religion. To do so, we should sit with people of other religion and try to develop an understanding of each other. According to him, we don’t want passive peace where people are silent with fear of the cruel ruler or oppressor. We rather need active peace where people learn to live in harmony with each other. Achieving this state of peace is only possible with the correct understanding of religion and by living our lives according to the standards set by God. He also believes that all Prophets brought the same message and in fact, the religions are our combined heritage. That’s how he also affirmed the criteria for the establishment of peace.
Wrong understanding of religion has created havoc and disturbance in the whole world. It has given rise to anarchy and unrest. People need to understand religion (Dharma/Deen) from authentic sources. They should unite over the common grounds. Among these common grounds, the first ground is to realise that we all are created by One God and we belong to Him. We should submit ourselves to the sovereignty and will of One God. We should not discriminate fellow humans as we are equal in God’s sight. Religion, when followed in its correct form as Dharma/Deen, has the potential to make this world peaceful.
Link of the Webinar