News contributed by: Mr. Clement Lincoln Gomes Project In-charge (EPEC), Caritas, Chittagong
“Every religion speaks of harmony, but some people do not realize what the origin of religion is, they think that their own religion is the best religion. This thought is an extremist thought,” said representatives of different religious communities in an inter-religious dialogue in Chattogram Archdiocese. They added that this extremist thinking forced those to attack people of other faiths. The attacks on weak religious communities at different times in the country are the result of extremist thinking.
A special discussion on inter-religious dialogue was held at Archbishop’s House in Chattogram city on Saturday, October 23 at 10 am. The meeting was organized by the Commission for Christian Unity & Inter Religious Dialogue of Chittagong Archdiocese based on the theme “Our leadership in establishing harmony”. Citizens of various classes, including Christians, Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists participated in the meeting. Mr. James Gomes, Coordinator of the Commission for Christian Unity & Inter Religious Dialogue delivered his welcome speech and the program was led by Mrs. Margaret Monica Genes, Teacher, St. Scholasticas Girl’s School & College.
Rev. Fr. Leonard C. Rebeiro, Judicial Vicar of Chittagong Archdiocese said, “Bangladesh is a country of communal harmony. The harmony between different ethnic groups and religious communities here is followed in the world. But still, some occurrences took place in our country and that happened mainly due to lack of knowledge of the religion, either from ignorance which spoils harmony. Christianity says that harmony cannot be established even without a single human, whether it’s religion or ethnicity. Harmony must be created in human beings, not in any particular religion.”
Assistant Professor of Chittagong University in Islamic Studies Abul Hossain said, “From the extremist thinking, people of one religion attack other people. The recent incident in Bhola district, the same thing happened in our country before. All this are the result of extremist thinking. We do not keep in mind that religion is not just a matter of practice, it is a matter of study. Again, I follow a religion that says I don’t need to study another religion that is not right either. Every scripture should be read and should know about every religion. If I know what is written in another religion, then I will not have any enmity about that religion. This world must be made peaceful through harmony, which is the root of every religion.”
Assistant Professor of History Department of Chittagong University Mr. Ananda Bikas Chakma said, when we have power, we not even consider a human being as a human. It’s become a culture of our society. But religion says, the more you get higher position, the more humble you become. But in our society the opposite is true. The overwhelming majority of power does not consider the minority as human. If I think that my doctrine or my religion is the best, the other religions are nothing, then other religions become secondary. The conflict becomes inevitable. The love we have to God is realized in our love for a human. It cannot abide alone. That is the principle of Buddhism.”
Prof. Swadesh Chakraborty said, “Last few years we have seen many conflict over religious content like Bhola district in many places in our country. The only way to get rid of it is to love people. If we do not rise up against the religion discrimination then the harmony will not be established. Hindu-Muslim, cobbler-teachers all are human beings. Humanity is above all. There is no greater harmony than this.”
The Chairperson of the event Archbishop of Chittagong Archdiocese, Most Rev. Moses M. Costa said, “Dialogue is a way of coming to each other, a way of holding each other’s hearts.” An atmosphere of harmony is created through dialogue. This dialogue will continue. It can be arranged with 5 people, it can arranged with 100-500 peoples. But the concern would be to establish harmony between religion to religion, nation to nation, people to people.
The Convener of this program Mr. James Gomes said, “The only way to get rid of religious conflict, bloodshed, harassment that is going on all over the world and the only solution is to establish harmony. If we are humble, avoid egoistic manner and start thinking about others the conflict will be reduced. Through dialogue, we have just begun to try to create brotherhood, humanity among people.”
This half day long program was ended through open discussion.