Jakarta – One of the foremost Islamic scholars of Indonesia has urged countries around the world to espouse "genuine" tolerance instead of a "phobia-like" response to religious tensions.
Muhammad Sirajuddin "Din" Syamsuddin was speaking to global leaders and influential religious figures in Abu Dhabi about principles of religious tolerance during the sixth annual Assembly of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies.
The meeting, titled "The Role of Religions in Promoting Tolerance: From Possibility to Necessity", on Tuesday was attended by more than 300 government officials from around the world, religious leaders, influential figures, experts and policymakers, along with representatives of the United Nations.
During his speech, the scholar asserted that no one could claim to be completely tolerant while calling other groups intolerant.
"Such subjective claims will only damage the religious tolerance climate. Such an accusation is often politically motivated and is itself a form of intolerance," said Din, who has in the past served as chairman of both the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) and Indonesia's second-largest Islamic organization, Muhammadiyah.
He added that, instead of developing such a "phobia-like" approach, nations around the world should develop a "genuine tolerance" culture. "We should discuss any problems that may exist between groups. Dialogue is a dignified way to overcome the problem."
The event aims to elevate religious freedom, cooperation and tolerance from their possibilities to necessary ethical commitments and legal obligations, especially concerning the protection of places of worship, attacks on which have threatened the freedom of religion in many parts of the world.
Delegates to the global gathering discussed and examined some issues regarding the promotion of tolerance and the role of religion, law, society and education.
Besides Din, Indonesian figures in attendance included Jakarta Syarif Hidayatullah Islamic State University (UIN Syarif Hidayatullah) chancellor Amany Lubis and lecturer Zaitunah, Gontor Darussalam University chancellor Amal Fathullah Zarkasyi, Institute of Qur'anic Sciences (IIQ) chancellor Khuzaimah Y Tanggo and MUI leaders KH Abdullah Jaidi and Muhyidin Junaidi.
From Abu Dhabi, Din – in his capacity as the President of the Asian Conference on Religions for Peace (ACRP) – went to New York to attend the Religions for Peace meeting with world religious leaders, at which he was a moderator in a discussion on the role of religion in tackling the environmental crisis. (ggq)