I agree with Marina Cantacuzino that forgiveness is not the exclusive property of Christianity. He quoted several faiths scriptures on forgiveness and reconciliation.
‘The best deed of a great man is to forgive and forget.’ Islam (Shiite). Nahjul Balagha, Saying 201
‘Where there is forgiveness, there is God Himself.’ Sikhism. Adi Granth, Shalok, Kabir, p. 1372
‘The superior man tends to forgive wrongs and deals leniently with crimes.’ Confucianism. I Ching 40: Release
‘Who takes vengeance or bears a grudge acts like one who, having cut one hand while handling a knife, avenges himself by stabbing the other hand.’ Judaism. Jerusalem Talmud, Nedarim 9.4
A talk prepared for UPF meeting on Monday 6 February 2012 at House of Lords.
Bismillah Hir Rahma Nir Rahim (I begin with name of God the Most Kind the Most Merciful). I greet you with the greetings of Islam (Assalamu Alaykum wa Rahmatullah wa Barakathu (May God’s blessing and peace be with us all.) .
I am honoured to be asked to speak to you on the important issue of “Forgiveness and Reconciliation in Islam”. From the outset I must say I am very grateful to Dr Rev’d Marcus Braybrooke for guiding me on many issues of Interfaith. I have only praise for Universal Peace Federation (UPF) for its good work over the years.Part of our being human is that we make mistakes, no body is perfect. Sometime we make mistakes without deliberation and intention. But sometime we deliberately sin and do wrong to others. It is said “to err is human and to forgive is divine”. Both parts of this statement are very true. As human beings we are responsible, but we do also make mistakes and we are constantly in need of forgiveness.
Interfaith Harmony week is so important. Sadly so often in the past religious exclusivism and contempt for the other has been a contributory factor in the genocidal killings that scar human history. It is time for people of faith to make deep apology to members of other faiths whom they have hurt and offended as Pope John Paul II did at the Western Wall in Jerusalem It is also vital that as people of faith we work together for a more just and peaceful world.
With long experience of these issues, Rev. Dr. Marcus Braybrooke, President of the World Congress of Faiths, was an excellent Chair for this Session on 'Religious Freedom - Global Issues'. He commented that, “It is appropriate today that we are having this discussion and the House of Lords are having (the Archbishop of Canterbury) debate on the rights of religious minorities in the Middle East, affirming that religious freedom is a basic human right. Faith communities themselves have much yet to learn about tolerance of other communities. They should move away from the historic exclusivism."
A speech entitled 'Religious Persecution in Pakistan' (full speech link) by Shiekh Rahman gave a personal and moving account of the persecution experienced in Pakistan by religious minorities. Particularly pressing upon the exclusion and violence experienced by his own religious community, the Ahmadiyya Muslims. Peter Zoehrer gave an account of religious persecution currently occurring in Japan. He described it as a “hidden human rights crime” of forced conversions and kidnappings of more than 4300 believers – predominantly Unification Church members, but also more than 100 Jehovah Witnesses leaving those who go through such ordeals are left psychologically traumatised and in some cases, physically decimated. Jura Nanuk, Deputy President, Croatian Religious Liberty Association, reported on the anti-religious legislation passed in the Hungarian parliament on 14/07/2011, that grants the government the right to determine whether a religious community could enjoy religious status. This legislation has led to the persecution of smaller religions.