By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries
TOBA TEK SINGH, PAKISTAN (ANS) -- Pakistani Christian youth in Toba Tek Singh, which is in Pakistan’s Western Punjab Province, have begun a new era of promoting “peace, love, and harmony” as well as understanding with Muslims.
Ashfaq Fateh addressing the event (Photo: Ahsan Sadaqat)
The young people decided to organize a program for this “Christian-Muslim Get Together” in connection with the birth celebrations for the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and it was attended by Muslim clerics, political leaders, traders, students, media representatives, Christian pastors and priests, as well as community leaders who had been invited to express solidarity and share the celebrations with each other.
The historic event took place on Thursday, February 2, 2012, in the Tehsil [Administrative Division] Municipal Hall, in Toba Tek Singh at which there was a recitation from the Holy Quran (Naat Shariefs) and songs were performed in respect of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).)
Muslim speakers highlighted a message of “Peace and Harmony” with Christians and local pastors and priests assured Muslims that they “respect” their religion.
Ashfaq Fateh, a Christian leader and organizer of the event, told the ASSIST News Service, “History is full of Christian-Muslim cooperation, as well as peace, love, and harmony between the two groups and Christians have been serving in education, health and social sector for a long time.
Sahibzada Abdul Munam Husnan Sadique, a Muslim scholar, speaking at the event (Photo: Ahsan Sadaqat)
“Millions of Christians in Pakistan are working with Muslims in both the government and private sectors and they have jointly contributed to the progress of the country.
Christian ministries and churches have preached to respect and honor the Muslims and witness the values of responsible citizens.”
He went on to say, “There are different forums at at government and Church levels to strengthen inter-faith harmony. However, for the last three decades, incidents of violence at Shantinagar and Gojra, as well as the killings of Emmanuel brothers in a broad daylight as they were leaving a courtroom after being charged with blasphemy, and many others have widened the gaps between the two communities.
“The murder of Clement Shahbaz Bhatti, the Federal Minister for Minorities, and others, has created segregations and concerns among the weaker sections of the society. A common Christian feels hesitation to interact with a Muslims to avoid misunderstanding which causes tension between the two communities.”
Ashfaq Fateh went on to state, “Muslim brothers and sisters expressed great love with Christians during Christmas and other religious events. The Muslim-Christian friendship is an example here.
“In recent years, Muslims in Toba Tek Singh have set examples of love, tolerance and cooperation and so, therefore, our Christian youth decided to conduct a program in which a message could be given to the Muslim world that Christians have also expressed the same love and solidarity. The program planned to opened up new horizons of understanding and cooperation between the people of these two major religions.”
Mr. Johnson Gill, a youth leader, said, “The Christian youth feel that it is time to express to Muslims our love and respect for their Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the Holy Book of the Quran. When the Christians celebrate Christmas, New Year and Easter, Muslim friends shared the gifts, sent Christmas cakes and organized Christmas parties to enjoy the celebrations. If a Christian expected to be wished and respected, he/she should also express the same feelings for his/her Muslim friends.
“Therefore, following the Gospel values, our youth decided to organize a program. It’s a great sign of change that the Muslim clerics of different sects, priests/pastors and people of various sections of life, welcomed the first ever program of celebration of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) by Christians in Pakistan.”
Rasheed Jalal, district president the Pakistan Muslim League (N) for Minorities said, “The program is helping to break the cycle of segregation and it will open new horizons of dialogue and cooperation between the people of our two religions.
"Finally, this kind of a program, organized for the first time in the history of Pakistan, was with the intention to assure our Muslim brothers and sisters that Christians love and respect what they believe and are not against their prophet, but rather wish to share in their celebrations.”
Sahibzada Abdul Munam Husnan Sadique, a Muslim scholar, hailed the Christian youth for conducting such a gathering. He said, “This program is a message to the world that Christians and Muslims are united and share the celebration of birth of Hazart Muhammad (PBUH) with the same spirit.
“The program helps Muslim brethren feel the love and respect Christians have for our Holy Prophet in their hearts. Today, I assure the Christian community that we shall keep on working jointly for lasting peace and prosperity in the country.”
Mufti Abdul Mueed Asad, Leader of the Interfaith and Peace Council Pakistan, praying for
Christian-Muslim friendship (Photo: Ahsan Sadaqat)
Muslim leaders, such as Mufti Abdul Mueed Asad, Khatib, Jamia Usmania, welcomed the Christian community for organizing a public program for the two communities to promote a dialogue of life.
Syed Murad Ali Shah, an Advocate, said, “For lasting peace and harmony this platform should be strengthened. As religious scholars, it’s our responsibility to share the good gesture of the Christian community with Muslims at a mass level. It will help to bridge the gaps. The program by Christian youth has proved that they have high regards for our prophet (PBUH).”
Fr. Simon Khurshid, a parish priest at a local Catholic church, thanked the organizers for creating an opportunity for two communities for peace and harmony. He assured the Muslims that the Catholic church always pray for the Muslims whenever they have religious events or face difficulties or celebrations.
“Christian charities help everyone whenever there are disasters like floods and earthquakes,” he said. “Most of the beneficiaries of charity programs are Muslims.”
He then prayed for Muslim-Christian unity for “peace and development” in the country.
Ch. Amjid Ali Javed, District president Pakistan Muslim League (N), Pastor Victor, Ayub Anjum and Tehsil Municipal officer Tariq Mehmood Paroia, also spoke at the occasion.
|Dan Wooding, 71, is an award winning British journalist now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for 48 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. He is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) and the ASSIST News Service (ANS) and was, for ten years, a commentator, on the UPI Radio Network in Washington, DC. He now hosts the weekly “Front Page Radio” show on KWVE in Southern California which is also carried throughout the United States. The program is also aired in Great Britain on Calvary Chapel Radio UK and also in Belize and South Africa. Besides this, Wooding is a host for His Channel Live, which is carried via the Internet to some 192 countries and also provides a regular commentary for Worship Life Radio on KWVE. You can follow Dan Wooding on Facebook under his name there or at ASSIST News Service. He is the author of some 44 books, one of which is his autobiography, “From Tabloid to Truth”, which is published by Theatron Books. To order a copy, press this link. Wooding, who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, has also recently released his first novel “Red Dagger” which is available this link.|
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