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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

Dalai Lama meets with Muslim community in Ladakh

August 1, 2016

Office of the Dalai Lama, July 27, 2016 – During his pilgrimage to Leh, Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir this week, His Holiness the Dalai Lama visited a Shia Mosque in Leh where he was received by the President of the Shia community and a number of Shia clerics. Besides members of the Shia community, representatives from the Sunni and Buddhist communities also joined the gathering in the prayer hall.

The Shia President informed the audience that this was His Holiness’ third visit to the mosque. In his comments, the President said that the world was facing the challenge of terrorism in the name of religion, which was very unfortunate for humanity and must be condemned. He pointed out that a few ideologists were using the name of Islam to carry out these terrorist acts and that this was incorrect.

In his remarks to both the communities, His Holiness related how during the Fifth Dalai Lama’s time, land was given to a group of Ladakhi Muslim traders for them to build a mosque. This marked the establishment of the Tibetan Muslim community. Since then, at all Tibetan government functions representatives of the Tibetan Muslim community participated. They were a very religious community characterized by their gentleness and peacefulness. There were no records of quarrel among them. They always had beautiful stories to share. They were true followers of Islam.

His Holiness then reflected how in the past there was immense suffering as a result of World War 1 and 2. Many people were killed. Now at this very moment, on this same planet, there are thousands of people being killed and many facing starvation. However, His Holiness was encouraged to learn from scientists that basic human nature was compassionate. If basic human nature were destructive then there would be no use in trying to promote compassion but this was not the case.

His Holiness stressed that all seven billion human beings in the world wanted happiness. In this regard, all major world religions emphasized the practice of love compassion, forgiveness and tolerance. Religion should not be a source of division and conflict. It was important to remember the concept of one truth, one religion on the level of an individual. And several truths, several religions on the level of the community.

Explaining the need for diversity of religions, His Holiness said, “Different philosophies are necessary. For well over two thousand years, different ways of life developed. Great teachers appeared and taught the message of love. But because of different environment, there were different ways of life. So there are different mental dispositions. Therefore it is necessary to have different philosophical views”.

He went on to explain that the Middle East had Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, which came from the same Abrahamic family of religions. India had Sankhya, Hinduism, Jain and Buddhism. Different philosophies were simply different methods to bring conviction about the importance of love. Each had their own powerful ways to practice love.

In discussing Islam, His Holiness expressed how he learned from his Muslim friends that the real practice of Islam is the practice of love. A genuine Muslim practitioner must extend his love to all creatures of Allah. Likewise, a genuine Buddhist must extend his love to all sentient beings. Despite different philosophical views, both had the same aim, the same goal.

Touching on conflict within the Muslim community, His Holiness said,  “It is very unfortunate to see that in many Muslim countries there is conflict between Shias and Sunnis. This is very sad, especially since religion was the source of this conflict. It is important to remember that Shias and Sunnis are followers of the same Prophet Muhammad. Both study the Koran and pray five times a day. They should put aside their small differences and remember that they are practitioners of the same faith”.

His Holiness pointed out how unfortunate it was these days that many terrorist attacks were being blamed on the Muslim community. He emphasized the need for all of us to change this kind of attitude. There will always be mischievous people in every community, whether Buddhist, Jewish, Christian or Muslim.

His Holiness stated that we must be careful and not use the term Muslim terrorist or Buddhist terrorist. Once a believer commits an act of terror he or she is no longer a true practitioner of their faith. In explaining to His Holiness the term ‘jihad’, a Muslim cleric defined it as combatting one’s destructive emotions, not harming other people. So there was sufficient reason to explain that practitioners of Islam were practitioners of love.

On his part, His Holiness said that he has been making efforts since September 11 in defending Islam and explaining that Islam is an important religion of the world. The essence of Islam was the practice of love.

On his return, His Holiness was greeted by large crowds along the roadside which had swelled in the thousands.
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