14 Jan Franciscans and Interfaith Harmony in Pakistan
On 18 December 2016, the Franciscan JPIC of Pakistan, in collaboration with Kawish Resource Centre and the OFM Special Commission for Dialogue with Islam, organized an “Interfaith Celebration of Eid e Milad ul Nabi and Christmas”.
Fr. Jamil Albert, OFM, a member of the OFM Special Commission for Dialogue, welcomed all guests and noted how great a joy it was for the brothers that their Muslim guests recited their evening prayers in the brothers’ chapel. It was a true sign of the interfaith harmony that this celebration of Milad ul Nabi and Christmas was organized to express.
In his remarks, Molana Syed Abdul Khabir Azad, the chief Imam of Badshahi Mosque, voiced his appreciation of the Franciscans’ efforts in promoting religious harmony as a bridge between both the communities. He also said we need to celebrate our joys and be united in other times. To this, Molana Masood Qasim Qasmi stated that our sharing in the daily realities of life calls us to discuss the ways in which our respective religious Traditions bring us together to work for the common good.
In a reflection on St. Francis’ encounter with Caliph Malik al-Kamil in 1219, Br. Jamil noted that St. Francis is a model for inter-religious dialogue today. St. Francis presented himself non-violently, non-belligerently and with honesty. He did not impose his own religious beliefs on others, but as a spiritual person he shared God’s “shalom” with them. In this same light, Br. Victor Sawaira, OFM, the celebration’s principal organizer, remarked on how interfaith dialogue and the promotion of peace and harmony are indispensable parts of the Franciscan Spirituality.