ASIA/PAKISTAN - Planting trees in madrasas and to break fasting together: Christian-Muslim initiatives

Thursday, 30 March 2017 religious minorities   islam   dialogue   peace   reconciliation   fasting   human rights   ramadan  

Lahore (Agenzia Fides) - "Our goal is to encourage and foster a culture of peace, understanding and harmony between religions in Pakistan, especially between Muslims and Christians": says Fr. Francis Nadeem OFM Cap, Executive Secretary of the National Commission for Interreligious dialogue and ecumenism, in the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Pakistan. He expresses the spirit of the work of the Catholic community in the aftermath of two initiatives promoted by the Commission: a meeting with several Muslim leaders, in which Christians and Muslims shared iftar, the breaking ceremony of the Islamic fasting, the holy month of Ramadan; the planting of some olive trees in the Islamic district of Markiz Bilal, Lahore, led by imam Shafat Rasool Nuri, which includes a mosque and a madrasa.
Fr. Nadeeem told Fides that these gestures are symbolic and important to spread a culture of dialogue and peace: "The olive tree has an important meaning both in the Islam and Christian religion and is cited in their respective holy books. The act of planting these trees intend to create a good atmosphere among religions. Olive trees will grow and remind students that here they live and grow in faith, but also to all the faithful and pilgrims who pass by, the value of peace, acceptance, tolerance, harmony in society".
Shafat Rasool Nuri, who leads the Sufi Islamic community of the Markiz Bilal Islamic complex, welcomed the delegation of leaders, saying: "We want to bring this message to the world: we are called to work together and discover the common points, looking at what unites us. It is useful to know and appreciate the differences, with the aim to fully understand each other".
At the end of the meeting other Muslim leaders present expressed a desire to carry out the same gesture in madrasas that they head.
Fr. Inayat Bernard, Rector of Santa Maria Seminary in Lahore, recalled that the Christian fasting is always accompanied by prayer and almsgiving. Fr. Francis Nadeem thanked Shafat Rasool and other Muslim religious leaders gathered, reaffirming the spirit of the Commission for interreligious dialogue and ecumenism: to work tirelessly to build harmony among people of all religions in Pakistan. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 30/03/2017)

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