Shehzad Ahmed Sahir
The newly established University of Baltistan is situated in the Baltistan region of Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan. The village where the varsity is situated is known as Skardu. This village is famous for its bewitching natural beauty, eye-catching lakes, snow-covered peaks, gigantic mountains, bitterly cold glaciers, and freezing weather. The natural beauty coupled with religious and sectarian pluralism makes it so different from the rest of the parts of Pakistan. The multiplicity of sects and adherents displays a ravishing picture like a bouquet of multicolored flowers. The people of this region never indulge in religious hostilities and sectarian feuds. In the retention of such a nonviolent environment in this region, the role of the University of Baltistan is highly commendable. At its very nascent stage, the varsity has successfully organized dozens of regional, national, and international seminars to propagate the Islamic philosophies of universal brotherhood and interfaith harmony. Pakistani society and its people are considered the custodians of the Islamic faith. It can easily be observed that the state, the institutes, the society, even a layman, and all the factions of the society are striving for the promotion of amity and peace among people and nations. No interference in other faiths is the slogan. As the Holy Quran stresses, “and hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided. And remember the favor of Allah upon you – when you were enemies and He brought your hearts together and you became, by His favor, brothers. And you were on the edge of a pit of the Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus does Allah make clear to you His verses that you may be guided (3:103).” The quoted verse from the Holy Quran is one of the guiding principles not for the Muslims only but the entire human race. It is the need of time to emphasis on the practice of the Islamic theory. It is noteworthy to mention here that the University of Baltistan has set the precedent for the rests. Indeed, Islam stresses the respect of ulemas, religious gurus, and gods of the other religions as well. As Islam emphasizes, “Don’t abuse anyone’s God/faith/ religion. If you will do that, they will also do the same. Don’t abuse any one’s GOD’; If you will do that, they will abuse your God.” All the faiths should be honored and as they refrain their believers from belittling or demonizing the sacred places and personalities of one another. A single hate speech can perturb the adherents of the followers of any sector religion. As it happened a couple of weeks back but the ulema from both sides criticized such hatemongers. In the condemnation of such rogues, various processions were organized in different cities and towns of the country. The speakers of all sects openly disowned and condemn religious bigotry. Mischiefs of such radicals and fanatics were bitterly criticized. The dogmatic speeches indoctrinating filth in the minds of the innocents were thrown into the trash. The derogatory remarks against the Holy Prophet (SAWW), Wives of the Holy Prophet (SAWW), Sahaba (r.a), and Ehl-e-Bait (r.a) were unambiguously condemned by all. A very positive gesture was displayed by all Islamic schools of thought. At this crucial stage, whe it seems that the foreign state and non-state actors are trying to create insurgency in Pakistan, the University of Baltistan successfully organized three consecutive seminars at the national and international levels on the topic of religious tolerance and interfaith harmony to promote acceptance of religious and sectarian differences. In these seminars, religious scholars or representatives from various religions and sects were invited as speakers. These were the proudest moments for a university that not only focuses on the teaching-learning activities but also inculcates a sense of inter and Intra religious harmony in minds of the people at large. It is a need of time to promote the peaceful picture of our religion and country. The educational institutions, the pulpit of the Mosques, and several other forums can be encouraged to promote the message of peace, tolerance, and interfaith harmony. This is how we can make this world better for humans and humanity.
(-The writer is a Lecturer in English Literature, Department of Languages and Cultural Studies, & Deputy Registrar, The University of Baltistan, Skardu.)