“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”
With Rumi’s words, a roundtable discussion began at the Marriott hotel on Wednesday. The theme of the discussion was ‘Respect Differences and Diversity to Foster Peace and Harmony’ and was organised by the Rumi Forum, a Turkey-based organization, which aims to bring people of diverse backgrounds together to exchange ideas and opinions and to provide a common platform for education and information exchange. The organisation takes its name and mission from the 13th century mystical poet, Jalaluddin Rumi.
The director of the Rumi Forum in Karachi, Sait Celik, said that everyone in this world should be accepted. He gave Islamic references, stressing on the fact that, if a person hates another person, and the second person hates the first one, the only result will be hatred and intolerance. “We have to accept everyone as they are,” he said, adding that all religions of the world are based on peace, love and harmony.
Author Rumana Husain spoke about how multi-cultural diversities make life interesting and beautiful by sharing her experience of traveling around the US, China and France. Referring to life in Karachi, Husain said this city attracts a lot of people, making the city populated and diverse but a sense of ownership is lacking among the citizens of Karachi. According to her, living in Karachi has its challenges but life in the city can become easy if the Karachi walay take ownership of the city.
Everyone in this world speaks one language and that is the language of love, said columnist Ghazi Salahuddin. “Today, we must try to relate Rumi’s messages to our lives to live with peace and love,” he said. Speaking about history, Salahuddin said during the time of Rumi, there was bloodshed and today society is getting more intolerant day by day, as if humanity has not moved forward and it is at the same point as it was in the 13th century.
The chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Zohra Yusuf, said the root cause of the terrorism and intolerance in our society is because all of us want to see a certain type of person around us. Yusuf felt Karachi’s diversity is under threat and unless we address the issues that are causing this intolerance in society, we will not be able to spread the message of love.
Naeem Zamindar, a teacher, was of the view that life is a journey. He added that love is not an emotion, but rather an essence. President of the Karachi Sikh Baradari, Sardar Ramesh Singh, said that living in Pakistan, they do not feel separated. “Who ever loved humanity or taught humanity to others, only that person can find God,” said Singh.
Meanwhile, Dr Sajida Zaki, professor and chairperson of NED University’s humanities department, said education is not about learning new things but rather it is human development. “With human development, people learn to adapt to life with people of different backgrounds,” she claimed. Activist Roland deSouza said the basic problem is of the haves and have nots. He reminded the audience that differences in race, language, cast and colour have brought us here but we all are from a single cell.
Published in The Express Tribune, 16 October 2015, Friday