Indian Prime MinisterNarendra Modi has extended Ramadan Kareem greetings to the Muslim community across the world starting in a few days time and said the month long fasting denotes purity of mind and soul. In what is seen as a significant outreach to the Muslim community and the Muslim world, the Prime Minister showered praise on Islam for emphasising the importance of education. “We must admit that 21stcentury will be the century of knowledge”
At a book launch ceremony “Education of Muslims" by historian J.S. Rajput and India Islamic Culture Centre president Sirajuddin Qureshi at his official Race Course residence on Monday, Modi said that Holy Quran mentions ‘ilm’ (knowledge) 800 times.“It is among the most repeated words after Allah. This is the importance of knowledge in the religion,"
The audience included High Commissioners of SAARC nations and envoys of Bahrain, Syria, Qatar, Egypt, and Indonesia. The PM's outreach so far has been usually limited to meeting community members and clerics. This book launch was the first such meeting where Modi hosted high commissioners of Muslim countries for an informal tea.
The Prime Minister said that all religions lay emphasis on education while quoting verses from the holy books of different religions. What we can proudly assert is our religious diversity as India is house to almostevery religion in the world, he added. He insisted that every religious text gave a lot of importance to knowledge and it was the only light that could show various communities the right way.
"We are lucky that we live in a country where people speaking the same language and following a similar culture follow different faiths. This understanding of different perspectives is not possible anywhere else in the world," he said. "Understanding each other is the meeting point between various communities,"
Referring to a Muslim education seminar in Ahmedabad in 1894 the Prime Minister elaborated that a Hindu hosted it and one of the resolutions about educating Muslim girls which was unanimously adopted was also moved by a Hindu to emphasize how knowledge sharing has been happening in India for years.
Stressing on the need for openness and moving with the times, Modi said, "No community or region can ignore modernity. If we do not embrace modernity, the world will move ahead and we will be left behind."
Modi said his recent visits to Saarc countries had reinforced his belief that only knowledge could bridge boundaries. The PM also stressed on the importance of education for each community and the role India stands to play in the "century of knowledge."
We have set up SAARC university in India and the students coming out of it will know the importance of regional cooperation The Prime Minister also said that India has successfully eradicated polio and ‘we could share its knowledge to help Pakistan overcome this problem’. The Pakistan High commissioner was also present.
In his address IICC President Qureshi said the PM's message of sharing knowledge between communities should help build trust in the SAARC region. Rajput said it was imperative for people to know the basic tenets of Islam to get over the atmosphere of mistrust and distrust.