By Tenzin Dharpo
DHARAMSHALA, June 15: The Indian Muslim community should show followers of Islam everywhere that harmony within the faith is possible and important, the foremost Buddhist figure and exiled Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama today said at an event in the Indian capital that celebrated diversity in the Muslim world.
The Dalai Lama said, “India generally has a history of a thousand-year-old religious harmony, and within the Muslim community, Shia and Suni have a good relationship. Now, it is not sufficient to have peace within the community but now time has come to show the outside world where conflict in the name of Shia and Suni in Muslim faith is there, that peace is possible and important.”
The Tibetan leader, widely seen as the ambassador for compassion, peace and religious harmony in the world urged the Indian Muslims community to take efforts to show the world that religious harmony, particularly amongst Shia and Sunni Muslims is possible and important today for a better world.
The conference with Muslim leaders on the theme “Celebrating Diversity in the Muslim World” at the Indian International Centre in New Delhi was suggested last year and its finances supplemented by the Tibetan leader to promote understanding and peace within the Muslim faith in India and to ultimately promote the need for harmony between different religious traditions and also within faiths to the outside world with India as the model.
Interacting with a group of Muslim leaders particularly from Ladakh and other parts of India and other nations, the octogenarian Tibetan leader said that Muslims everywhere are followers of the same Allah, same book called Quran and practitioners of five times of prayers a day, so killing each other on the basis of minor differences within the faith is “unthinkable”. “Indian Muslims should show Muslim communities and countries like Syria, Afghanistan and others that are in conflict that peace is possible and more importantly relevant now, more than ever.”
The Buddhist leader also lamented violence in Myanmar where Buddhist majority establishment persecuted Muslims and also violence in Sri Lanka where Buddhist majority’s influence has led to the Tamils suffering there.
The opening day of the conference also saw the former Vice President of India, Hamid Ansari and Nobel laureate and child rights activist Kailash Satyarthi in attendance.
Islam is the second largest religion in India, with 14.2% of the country's population or approximately 200 million followers according to a 2018 census, making it the country with the largest Muslim population outside Muslim-majority countries.