Seminar on Challenges of Pluralism and Islam held in Chennai

By TCN News,

Chennai: Indian ulama have to work assiduously to develop a fresh understanding of Islamic texts in the context of present-day life and create a new interpretation of Islamic law, Prof. A R Momin, former head of department of sociology in Bombay University, said here today.

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Prof. Momin was delivering his keynote address at a two-day seminar on “The Challenges of Pluralism and the Middle Way of Islam” at New College. He said “Islam is accommodative of pluralism” in its laws and social mores as demonstrated by the historical record of Ottoman, Andalusia (Arab Spain) and medieval India.

A view of inaugural session

Quoting from the Quran Prof. Momin emphasised that Islam recognised and accommodated ethnic, religious and cultural diversity. He juxtaposed it with the observation that in India respect for and accommodation of diversity was reflected not only in the country’s religious and ethnic landscape but also within the fold of Hinduism.

Quoting from the Rig Veda, he said “The Truth is One, but the sages call It by different Names”. That stance had been validated by the inclusion of more than 25 words of Dravidian origin in the Rig Veda and many more in later Vedas, he added. In this regard, China is the binary opposite of India as its ethos is mono-cultural, according to Prof. Momin.

Prof. Momin also pointed towards the contribution of Indian Muslims to the advancement of the multi-cultural ethos in arts and letters, culture and architecture. As the world was getting increasingly diverse and hybridity rather than uniformity was the central theme of life, accommodation and celebration of diversity would be the right choice.

Earlier, in his welcome address Dr. Karamathullah Bahmani, coordinator of (IOS) Chennai chapter, while welcoming the audience and guests said that by now IOS was known worldwide and enjoyed an affiliate status with the United Nations (Social Roster) largely because of the tireless efforts of its chairman, Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam.

A view of audience

Mr. Habibullah Badsha, former advocate general of Tamil Nadu asserted, “pluralism is inbuilt in Islam, and its beauty lies in resilience of its message”. He advised Muslims not to talk about backwardness all the time. “Hold your head high and forge ahead”, he exhorted Muslims, especially the youth.

The seminar, which was jointly organised by the Institute of Objective Studies, New Delhi and New College, Chennai, began with the recitation of Quran by Mr. Abdur Raheem Patel.

Prof. Z M Khan, secretary general IOS, presented highlights of 24 years of its research and publication work, as well as of seminars and symposia organised by it. He said so far IOS had published over 200 titles, has been offering scholarships and publishing several journals, besides running different websites.

IOS had also started several centres like IOS Centre for Applied Social Research, IOS Centre for Computer Education and IOS Multimedia Centre. IOS would observe its Silver Jubilee in the 25th year of its existence in 2011, he announced.

In his presidential address, Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam, chairman of IOS remarked that human dignity lay in the freedom of choice, which was possible only when a multiplicity of options was available. “Islam offers you the choice to select or reject”, he said pointing towards Islam’s acceptance and celebration of diversity.