Religious leaders from various faiths gathered in Rosebank, Cape Town, on Saturday at the Dialogue of Scriptures event to discuss ways to bring about peace through clarifying misunderstandings that may lead to conflicts among religions.
The meeting, hosted by Heavenly Culture World Peace and Restoration of Light (HWPL), was the final Dialogue of Scriptures meetings for the year. The goal was to help the audience gain a deeper understanding of the standards and teachings of each religion’s scriptures.
The topic of discussion was ‘Religion/Belief: Fact or fiction?’ Representing the various faiths were Sister Nita Makanjee from the Brahma Kumaris faith, Prabhu Medhavi das from the Hare Krishna faith, Moulana Shafiek Nolan from the Muslim faith, and Pastor Louis Duminy from the Christian faith.
They each took time to break down some misconceptions about their religions as a means of forging a pathway to peace.
Pastor Duminy was first to present and spoke about the misconception regarding the ‘prosperity gospel’ within Christianity. He shared that the purpose of one’s faith is not to gain material possessions but rather to be reconnected to God.
Sister Nita highlighted the common misconception that the Brahma Kumaris faith forms part of Hinduism. Although the roots of this faith, like Hinduism, are also found in India, Brahma Kumaris are a standalone religion. She also highlighted that a major cause of misconceptions amongst all religions is the habit many people have of taking teachings and scriptures out of context.
Moulana Shafiek Nolan spoke about the misconception that the Prophet Mohammed is the author of the Qur’an. He said that no Muslim believes this, nor do they worship the Prophet Mohammed. He explained that Prophet Mohammed was, like many religious figures in various other faiths, the vehicle to deliver the message he received from the heavens. He also quelled the idea that Islam and the Qur’an suppresses women and that women are not free. He said that women are not forced to go into a Hijab or to cover up; that there are certain objectives of why the Qur’an has this particular ruling within their faith but that it is important to understand the basis of it, further reiterating Sister Nita’s point, instead of take it out of context according to one’s own understanding.
Prabhu Medhavi das explained that the purpose of religion is to do good and to serve and that the ultimate act of this service is in serving God. He also added that God is the source of everything, however, people mismanage what has been given to them. Some people have too much while others have nothing, this he regarded as ignorance and cruelty.
Following the talks by the religious leaders, the audience were then invited to discuss how they might have experienced religious prejudice within their community or everyday life, and furthermore, how they can resolve these misunderstandings and work together with HWPL toward peace, unity and harmony in communities.
The audience shared various incidences where they had experienced prejudice based on their choice of religion and the general consensus was that ignorance and a lack of tolerance were the main causes of such prejudice. The audience agreed that the solution to resolving religious conflict is firstly in the use of platforms that peacefully discuss conflicts and secondly in educating people about various religions so as to cultivate understanding and tolerance among faiths.
“I really appreciate these gatherings because it gives an opportunity for people from different backgrounds and faith to come together and just share with honesty and openness… it builds lovely relationships,” said Sister Makanjee.
These meetings take place every month in 126 countries around the world.