Mumbai: Renowned Islamic scholar of Pakistani descent Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr Mohammed Tahir-ul-Qadri on Thursday condemned all acts of terrorism and said the concept of Jihad has been hijacked by terrorists.
Author of the acclaimed book `Fatwa on Terrorism and Suicide Bombings`, Dr Qadri, who is living in Canada for past few years because of threat to his life in Pakistan, said this while delivering his keynote address via a live video feed at the "People`s SAARC Prayer for Peace", an interfaith roundtable conference to promote peace, solidarity and harmony in South Asia.
The interfaith prayer meeting and roundtable conference was jointly organised by the Observer Research Foundation Mumbai, a not-for-profit public policy think tank, and an NGO Minhaj-ul-Quran International, India.
Religious leaders representing a cross-section of faiths, who participated in the roundtable, agreed to form an action- oriented Religious High Council to promote peace, solidarity and religious harmony in South Asia.
They also adopted a Joint Declaration to unite to frame a SAARC Charter for Interfaith Peace and Harmony.
The Joint Declaration seeks to make South Asia a region free of wars and militarism with zero tolerance to terrorism and all kinds of violence in the name of religion and create a mutual respect for different religions by maximising people- to-people contacts, promoting democracy and good governance, boosting economic cooperation with a view to remove poverty and unemployment and protecting the environment by promoting the vision of an `egalitarian` society.
Explaining the true meaning of Islam as propounded by the Holy Quran as a religion of peace that professed respect towards all other religions, Qadri came down heavily on terrorists and all acts of terrorism and led all participants at the roundtable to observe silence as a mark of respect to all the victims and survivors of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.
He drew parallels between the Holy Quran, the Vedas, the Bible and Upanishads, quoting from each of these religious texts, to highlight the similarities of their core message of peace and harmony and respect towards religions.
He called for peaceful relations between India and Pakistan stating that instead of considering each other as sworn enemies, they should unite to fight their real common enemies of poverty, disease, illness, corruption and underdevelopment.
"We need to create a society free of poverty and corruption with equitable distribution of resources, without abuse of power, one that respects human rights, with the positive use of research, science and technology," he said.
Though people are "very sceptical about the impact of the conclave, it is time for us to break the walls of suspicion, non-cooperation and hostility," ORF chairman Sudheendra Kulkarni said.
He talked about the need to awaken and activate the people, build a bridge and extinguish the fire of enmity.
The Indian editions of two books by Dr Qadri ? `Fatwa on Terrorism and Suicide Bombings` and `The Supreme Jihad` ? were released by religious leaders on this occasion.