A Two-Day International Conference on ‚ÄúRethinking Education of Religions in the Modern World: Prospects and Challenges‚ÄĚ

July 30-31, 2019 at University of Kashmir, Srinagar


Department of Religious Studies, Central University of Kashmir (CUK) in collaboration with Institute of Objective Studies, New Delhi (IOS) organised a two-day international conference titled Rethinking Education of Religions in the Modern World: Prospects and Challenges on 30th and 31st July at EMMRC, University of Kashmir, Srinagar.

Day 1 (30th July) - Inaugural Ceremony

The programme started with recitation of the holy Quran and naat by students of Bilaliyah Educational Institute namely, Aadil Ashraf and Faizan Illahi respectively. The recitation of the holy verses was followed by a welcome remark by head of department of religious studies, Central University of Kashmir, Prof. Hamidullah Marazi.

Prof. Marazi laid special emphasis on the importance of knowledge-seeking and said that “in real sense it is only knowledge that makes us humans”, adding that both semitic and non-semitic religions pay special attention to the importance of knowledge in one’s life.

Prof. Marazi also mentioned the first revelation of the holy Quran that was about reading. Further, He elaborated that the verse indicated all prophets through the annals of history were basically teachers.

Stating that the first thing created by Allah was “pen”, Prof Marazi was of the opinion that religious education had potential to provide human touch to society which it is in dire need of. “Education is the index of progress of any nation or community and there are both formal and informal ways of transmitting knowledge to humans. The present conference is an attempt to address the disintegration of knowledge and present solutions to the religious seminaries and secular institutions of education”, he added.

Briefly introducing the aim of his institute, Secretary General, Institute of Objective Studies, New Delhi, Prof. Z. M. Khan, in his address discussed at large the role of IOS in the empowerment of Muslims across India. Further, he also deliberated upon the need of more research on the issues of Muslims in the contemporary world.

In his presidential address, vice-chancellor, University of Kashmir, Prof. Talat Ahmad, said that modern education was more materialistic and less value-oriented as it was religious education which gave peace to our soul. Lamenting that religious education lacks modern-day requirements, he said a balance between religious and modern education was cardinal so that we should not be going to the extremes in any way.

Stating that modern education had both advantages and disadvantages, he was of the opinion that this conference was important considering the present situation in the world as a whole.

Briefly discussing the problems faced by Muslims, he brought to light the need of modern input to be incorporated in the religious education curriculum so that it could match the pace of the modern world. “We should teach foreign languages, and must include other disciplines in our religious institutions to be at par with the fast-changing world”, he concluded.

The presidential remark was followed by keynote address by Dr Mahmood Chandia, faculty, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Lancashire, United Kingdom. In his lecture, he mainly focused on the relationship between the accelerating technology and the spiritual crises of the modern world.

Calling the current times an era of acceleration, disruption, intolerance and jahaliya, Dr Chandia highlighted through graphic representation how artificial intelligence was making humans irrelevant and useless. “Humans are out of the job market due to the ever- increasing growth of technology,” he said.

Underlining that the issue to be discussed in the conference was on the global radar and the subject to be written about, the keynote speaker cautioned, “If we don’t understand the change, we cannot put together relevant teaching programmes. In order to live in this world of technological advancement we should be adaptable. We should have the quality to learn, unlearn and relearn”.

During his thought-provoking session, he spoke at large about the economic, social and political impact of technology on humans. Dr Chandia also discussed various paradigms, theories and approaches of learning and corroborated those methods of learning with religious education pedagogy. Talking about the relevance of the topic of the conference, he was of the opinion that both religious education and modern world were as relevant as ever.

For their contribution to religious education, three religious scholars of the valley - Kalimullah Khan, Haji Manzoor Ahmad and Dr Nisar Ahmad Bhat - were awarded certificates of appreciation during the inaugural ceremony. The certificate distribution was followed by a book release ceremony in which two books, Muslims of Kashmir by Dr Mehbooba Akhtar and Aayina Madaris by Dr Nisar Ahmad Bhat, were released by the dignitaries on the dais.

Asserting the role of technology in religious education, Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam, Chairman, IOS, who was also the chief guest of the conference, stated that technology was fundamental in religious studies in this era. Further, focusing on the social challenges faced by modern education, he was of the opinion that religion could play a crucial role in helping us to impart moral education in our educational institutions which we were in dire need of.

“We are more concerned about the marginalised sections of the society. IOS is concentrating on carving out models of development for future generations of the country including regions, sections of society, particularly professional groups,” he said.

Stating that we could also serve humanity without becoming the servants of technology or modern world, Dr Alam said that both religious and technological knowledge could help us to understand God’s world in real sense.

The conference was attended by scholars, academics, university students, students of madrasas and other religious seminaries, religious experts from various countries like United States, United Kingdom and various parts of India and Jammu & Kashmir.

Participants of different faiths like Islam, Sikhism, Hinduism, Christianity and various other schools of thought participated in the conference.

Mohammed Ahmed Reza, assistant professor, deptt. of religious studies, Central University of Kashmir, presented the vote of thanks. Assistant professor, deptt of religious studies, Dr Nazir Ahmad Zargar, conducted the programme.

The inaugural ceremony was followed by a panel discussion. Scholars from different faiths presented their perspectives during the two-hour long session.

Maulana Rahmatullah Qasmi, Jeremiah Graham, Dr Kuruvella Pandikattu, Prof. Madhu Khanna, Prof. Himmat Singh, Prof. R.N. Singh, Prof. Fahim Akhtar, Mufti Muhammad Ayub, Mufti Muhammad Yaqub Baba al-Madani, Mufti Mohd. Raza Misbahi, Mufti Abdur Rashid, Mufti Nazir Ahmad Qasmi, Maulana Bashir Uddin Qasmi were members of the panel. The session was chaired by Prof. Hamidullah Marazi.

The panel discussion session was followed by technical sessions. Two parallel technical sessions were conducted under the supervision of experts. In total, 15 research papers were presented on the first day of the two-day international conference.

 



Brainstorming Session

 

Lead Paper: Maulana Mohammad Adam

  • His lecture covered mainly two domains; education and humanity.

  • He said that education was of two types: Secular education and faith-based. According to him, these two systems of education systems could play a positive role in future.

  • He concluded by laying emphasis on the benefit to be produced by education without compromising the faith of an individual.

 

Addresses

  1. JEREMIAH GRAHAM

      • He talked about Prophet Sulaiman (A.S.).

      • He also mentioned how advancement of technology was reducing dependence on human labour and creating unemployment.

      • Graham talked about the freedom to be given to children to explore things and choose the faith they were interested in.

      • He also briefed the participants about the re-thinking of education.

  2. DR KURUVELLA PANDIKATTU

      • He talked about wisdom.

      • He said that human were afflicted with mental illness despite the fact that there was growth in the technology.

      • He laid emphasis on drawing wisdom from all religions, so that religion was equipped to cope with modern technology.

      • He stressed the need for interfaith dialogue.

  3. PROF. MADHU KHANNA

      • Prof. Madhu Khanna talked about the Indian civilisation and how it has been cradle for all religions, greatest monuments and human values.

      • Her focus was on the universal values of religions.

      • She was of the opinion that we must synthesise both streams for the betterment of society.

  4. PROF. HIMMAT SINGH

      • His focus was modern academics.

      • He believed that without believing in religion and without understanding philosophy, we can’t understand Iqbal.

      • He also talked about the development of metaphysics in Persian poetry.

      • Defined the term meta-metaphysics.

      • He was of the opinion that there was totality within entity, and macro within micro.

  5. R.N. SINGH

      • His briefly described artificial intelligence, re-modelling religious education and rethinking religious education.

      • Singh said that Buddha was above dogma.

      • He was of the opinion that all religions are one.

  6. PROF. FAHIM AKHTAR

      • He said that all religions teach love. Allah has created everything perfect for us, but today we are facing conflicts and inhumanity.

      • He said that there are good and bad qualities in a human being and religion makes us good.

      • He also talked about the reason for conflicts like advanced technology, people killing one another.

      • He mentioned social and moral implications of internet and social media.

      • He believed that we must read scriptures of other religions as well.

  7. MUFTI MOHD. YAQUB BABA AL-MADANI

      • He opined that seminars and conferences like the current one may help to eradicate conflicts from society.

      • Mentioning Prophet Mohammad’s (PBUH) time, he said that before him there was age of ignorance, but the first revelation didn’t talk about stopping the evils, but about the knowledge.

      • He said that all religions teach peace and let religious education get attention so that the teachings of religion get explored through religious centres.

  8. MAULANA BASHIR UDDIN QASMI

      • He said that we must adopt three things so that we may become humans:
      1. Knowledge
      2. Cleanliness: Body and Mind
      3. Unity

      • Maulana Qasmi stated that we must not see the “other” with “other’s eye”.

      • He also emphasised the need to bridge the gap between academic and religious centres.

  9. MUFTI MOHD. RAZA MISBAHI

      • He was of the opinion that re-thinking of religious education was necessary.

      • That India is birthplace of various religions.

      • Religion is relation between man and God. It makes humans aware of all disciplines and teaches him how to bow before Allah.

      • He said that every prophet taught religion and now people are running away from religion.

      • He talked about scientists’ claim that different forces control the creation, but it is only Allah who controls the creation.

      • According to him modern theologies must be reformed.

      • He said that last day (Qayamat) can be proved scientifically as well.

      • In his concluding remarks, he emphasised the need for an interfaith dialogue. Quoting the example of the Prophet (PBUH), Mufti Misbahi said that there can be peaceful existence of different nations.

  10. Maulana Mustafa Rifai Nadwi

      • He stated that when people from different religions put forward the teachings of their religion, it increases our knowledge.

      • The best thing about this conference is that no one here claimed that his/her religion is supreme. We must appreciate this.

      • Across the world, particularly in India, a confusion is being created both on physical and spiritual level which has resulted in chaos.

At the end of the brainstorming session, Prof. Hamidullah Marazi proposed a vote of thanks.

 

Technical Sessions

Day 1 (30th July, 2019) Venue: Room A

The session was presided over by Dr Madhu Khanna while Mr A.R. Bhat was moderator. In his welcome remarks, Mr. A.R. Bhat delineated the rules and regulations of the technical session.

  1. Prof. Himmat Singh (Patiala, Punjab)

    He presented academics towards the excellence in religious studies. The main insights of his research paper were as follows:

      • 20th century modernism along with domestic responsibilities.

      • Humanism and its variant dimensions.

      • He defined and defended the term “meta-metaphysics”.

      • He also discussed hermeneutics in his presentation.

  2. Dr Ismail Thamaressiri (Assistant Professor, Central University of Kashmir)

    Dr. Thamaressiri’s topic of presentation was “Religious education in secular India: Issues and concerns”.

      • Keeping in mind India’s diversity, he impressed upon the fact that the spirit of equality is a must in this multi-religious country.

      • He used the models of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr BR Ambedkar to corroborate his data.

      • He also discussed his research findings in the light of different Indian religions.

      • Stating that education plays a vital role in secularisation, he said that education imparts love, truth and tolerance, which are the basic elements of secularism.

  3. Dr. Anayatullah Khan (J&K)

    The broader areas discussed in his presentation were as follows:

      • Religious educational institutions in a secular nation

      • Ancient Babylonia and its education system

      • Buddhist monasteries and their education systems

      • Theological institutions of Rome, Italy etc.

      • Dharma and old religious education systems.

  4. Mr Javeed Qayoom (J&K)

    The following points were presented and discussed during the session:

      • Secular and sacred branches of knowledge (Nursi perspective)

      • He mentioned Badi Uz Zaman Nursi, a Turkish leader and his education reforms.

      • In a broader context, he discussed two branches of knowledge and education systems as follows:
      A. Secular
      B. Religious

      • He briefly mentioned the idea of education based on faith. Further, in the light of first revelation on Prophet (PBUH) and the word used ‘Iqra’ which means ‘Read’, he said that two things were impressed upon to read:
      A. The Quran
      B. The Cosmos.

      • In conclusion, he stated that the Nursi model of education was the best and should be implemented in contemporary times.

  5. Ishtiyaq Ahmad Mir and Tariq Ahmad (J&K).

    The main areas of the research paper were as follows:

      • Sociological approach of religious education

      • 3-point formula of centralising education

  6. Dr Sajad Mir (J&K).

    The main highlights of his presentation were:

      • Religious education only solution for peace in the world.

      • Purpose of religious education.

      • Mutual co-existence and spiritual values are must for development of a country.

Observations

The presentations were followed by a few valuable observations and questions. A few important questions asked in the session were as follows:

  1. Question to Dr Ismail Thmaraserri, to define secularism in Indian context.

  2. Another question to Dr Ismail Thmaraserri, Is secularism of the West different form the secularism of India?

Presidential Address

In her presidential address Dr Madhu Khanna, former head, department of comparative religion, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, said that the need of the hour was to rethink religious education themes and not to specify what is going on and what has happened in the past.

Underlining that all the presentations were normative, Dr. Madhu Khanna stressed upon the need to bridge the gap between thinking and doing. In her concluding remarks, Dr Khanna said that all definitions of religious knowledge were segregation, but ours should be integrating, as division creates communal disintegration.

At the end of the session, Dr A. R. Bhat proposed vote of thanks.

Day 1 (30 July 2019) - Technical session 1 (2:30-4:45pm) Venue: Auditorium

This session was chaired by Prof. Ishtiyaque Danish and the theme was Religious Education and Modern Techniques.

Seven research papers were presented in this session.

  1. Nelofer Habib

    The topic of her research paper was “Role of Information Technology in Religious Education”. She paid special attention to relevance of information technology (IT) in religious institutions. She said that religious institution could take advantage of IT as it helped to develop positive thinking among learners.

  2. Irfan Hussain Wani

    The topic of his research paper was “Role of IT in Religious Education”. He stressed that IT would help to share religious knowledge across the world. He also pointed out IT’s positive role in religious education.

  3. Mubashir Ahmad Shah

    The topic of his research paper was “Role of Information and Communication Technology in Religious Education”. After defining what religious education means, he said that through “Information and Communication Technology (ICT)” religious education could be shared worldwide. People in other parts of the world could be benefit from it.

  4. Mufti Ishaq

    The title of his research paper was “Knowledge and Islam”. He said that knowledge is the basis of everything in Islam because the first revelation was about knowledge. Mufti Ishaq stated that Islam did not prevent learning other sciences.

    He quoted the example of Zaid Ibn Thabit, one of the companions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). He was the one who learned various languages not on the advice of Prophet (PBUH) only, but it was the Advice of Allah as well because the Prophet did not speak on his own. What he speaks is from Allah (Surah Najm).

    He mentioned Dars-i-Nizami. According to him, this curriculum also included books on philosophy, mathematics, astronomy etc.

  5. Qurat-ul-Ain

    The topic of her paper was “Revisiting Institutions of Religious Knowledge in an Age of Post-Modern World”.

    She focused on the concept of Islamisation of knowledge and said that in Islam all knowledge is Divine. God is the source of all knowledge in Islam. She explained that this term was also used by Maulana Maududi in 1932.

  6. Mufti Muhammad Raza Qadri Misbahi

    The topic of his research paper was “Jadeed Hindustan mein Mazhabi Taleem ki Islah aur Asri Uloom ki Shamooliyat.

    He said that society is based on our religion. Islamic education should produce good citizens, who would lead society. He also said that the Quran does not go against science. Rather, science sometimes goes against it, like Darwin’s theory of evolution.

    He further stated that we should relate our old books with modern world. Mufti Misbahi was of the opinion that we should also change our subjects so that it can solve the modern problems. “We should classify our subjects according to the needs of modern world and we should introduce various sciences in our religious education,” he added.

  7. Mushtaq-ul-Haq Ahmad Sikander

    The topic of his research article was The Voices Within: The Demand for Change in Madrasa Educational System and Curriculum in India”.

    Sikander believed that media has created a negative image of madrasas. He said that after 9/11 madrasas had been related with terrorism. He elaborated that there was no duality of knowledge in Islam (sacred and secular).

    He also highlighted the role of Indian madrasas like Deoband in Indian independence movement and that of Aligarh Movement in education.

    The paper presentation session was followed by a question-answer session. Chairman of the session, Prof. Ishtiyaque Danish, also made some observations at the end of the session.

Day 2 (31th July, 2019)

In the first session of the second day, the first paper was presented by Dr. Paramveer Singh.

  1. Dr. Paramveer Singh

    His paper was titled “Religion studies in higher education of India”. He mentioned following points during the presentation;
    • Gurukul system of teaching and its endeavour in developing basic moral values of students.
    • He also emphasised Guru Nanak’s efforts to develop an education system which helped in teaching of Sikhism and led to the formation of Religion Studies in Punjab.
    • He also claimed that several movements in India like Aligarh, Arya Samaj, etc. were influenced by Sikh education.
    • Dr. Singh concluded that the origin of religion studies in different universities in India had given impetus to central universities to pursue the same.

  2. Prof. Fahim Akhtar Nadwi (MANUU)

    His paper was titled “Islamic Education for Students of Modern Education”. Following observations were made in the presentation:

    • He presented a deep insight to introduce an education system which truly provides Islamic knowledge in madrasas and at higher education levels.
    • Prof. Fahim Akhtar said that graduates of madrasas in India are conforming to the British-designed syllabus and are not able to imbibe the teachings of Islam.
    • He also stated that young students after completing high school have meagre knowledge of their religion and therefore higher education syllabus needs to be designed on the lines of Islam so that the students will be informed of their religion.

  3. Ms. Sukhwant Kaur (assistant professor, Govt. College for Women, Srinagar)

    The title of her paper was “Role of Education in Social Change in Sikhism”. Following important points were brought to light:

    • Quoting the words of Guru Nanak: Only that education is relevant which is meant for the welfare of the society.

  4. Ms. Bilques Aslam Shah (assistant professor Govt. College for Women, Srinagar)

    The title of her paper was “Religion in Inclusive Education - Channels and Strategies”.

    • The core idea of her research paper was the introduction of religious studies in multicultural and multi-religious institutions.
    • According to her, this could help in creating an ambience of tolerance for expressing different religious views and thus promote all-inclusive education.

  5. Nazar Mohammad Rather and Aijaz Ahmad Lone (research scholars)

    • They discussed in detail the beliefs of different thinkers like Maulana Maududi, Sir Mohammad Iqbal and others. The researchers also talked about self-emancipation through Islamic studies by quoting the thoughts of Maududi and Iqbal.

  6. Suhail Ahmad Parray and Sartaj Ahmad Sofi (research scholars)

    Their papers were titled: “Modernising Madrasa Education” and “Religion Education in the Digital and ICT Age” respectively.

    • They emphasised the need for madrasa and other Islamic institutions for adopting new technology to cater to the need for knowledge and information more easily and cheaply.

  7. Dr Zeenat Shaukat Ali and Dr Maddhu Khanna

    They enlightened the gathering with their insights on pursuing religious studies.

    • They suggested amendments in the present form of religious teachings.
    • Dr Maddhu Khanna emphasised decolonisation of education system and the need to create an Indian notion of secularism.
    • On the other hand, Dr Zeenat Shaukat Ali at the beginning of the paper expressed her incomprehension of the word education in both secular and religious worlds and briefed participants about its meaning as per Oxford Dictionary.
    • She was of the opinion that education was about emancipation and it took towards enlightenment. “The Arabic word Ilm which had to do with education and knowledge is used 805 times in the Quran, next to the word Allah, which shows the importance of education in Islam,” she said.
    • The problems in present times, like unequal distribution of wealth, exploitation of the weak by the strong, ethnic conflict etc. have not been caused by uneducated people, but these problems are caused by educated people. To overcome such problems, moral values are important to be inculcated in students for the betterment of the world.

 

Day 2 (Timing 11:30am-01:30pm)
Theme: Challenges to Religious Education
Moderator: Dr. Manvinder Singh

Presenters

  1. Ms. Bilqees Aslam Shah

    Title of the paper: “Religion in Inclusive Education-Challenges and Strategies”

    • Ms. Shah believed that religion and education were compatible.
    • According to her, the purpose of education is career and enlightenment.
    • No discrimination on the basis of religion.
    • She was more concerned about lack of moral values.
    • She focused on modern education in which youth would be participating in religious activities.
    • Teachers are biased in academic discipline as they promote their own religion.
    • Students face bullying, Sikh and Muslim students becoming the main target.
    • She laid emphasis on humanistic approach towards education as it leads to a broader perspective.
    • We must give respect to non-religious people.

  2. Sartaj Ahmad Sofi

    Title of the Paper: “Religious Education in the Age of Digitisation: The Role ICT”

    • ICT has an important role to play in education.
    • Study material is cheaper.
    • ICT must be used for improving religious education.
    • He also said that the term ICT is misunderstood.
    • Diverse set of tools: Computer, internet etc.
    • Learning through images, sounds etc.
    • Easily accessible.
    • Information store.

  3. Prof. Madhu Khanna

    Title of the paper: “The Study of World Religions in India: A Road Map for the De-colonisation of Religious Studies in the 21st Century”

    • India is a road map for religious studies.
    • While talking about Vedic period, she mentioned about Gurukuls.
    • The role of Nalanda University which attracted scholars from different lands.
    • She was of the opinion that by denying religious studies in academics, India is giving way to colonisation.
    • Even though religion belongs to the pubic, there are only a few public universities which have introduced religious studies.
    • Unlike India, some 60 per cent universities in the west teach this subject.
    • She also talked about the Indian notion of secularism which is different from the West’s.
    • Road map for future: De-colonize education system, establish autonomy of religious education, re-claim fair access to education, methodological pluralism etc.

  4. Bikramjeet Singh

    Title of the paper: “Impact of Colonial Disorder of Religious Studies as an Academic Discipline”

    He started with the impact of colonial discourse on all subjects, viz, history, sociology, anthropology etc.

    • Religious studies started by the West.
    • In India there are gurukul and monasteries having their own system and syllabus of education.
    • Fourth renaissance introduced polarity between tradition and modernism.
    • He talked about the need for dialogue.
    • He laid emphasis on tradition.
    • It is meta-historical.
    • Based on revelation.
    • He also mentioned clash between nationality and faith and the clash between natural and revealed religions.
    • He was of the opinion that Western ideology wants Christianity as the central identity.
    • This ideology divided religion on geo-graphical lines.
    • When scientific study is introduced it creates the problem. Religious clash is going on and to overcome this clash, religious unity is important.

  5. Dr Ajaz Ahmad Lone

    Title of the paper: “Ali Shariati’s Iqbal and the reconstruction of traditional Islamic educational philosophy”

    • Ali Shariati was an Iranian revolutionary influenced by Iqbal.
    • Iqbal was a multi-dimensional personality.
    • He mentioned about Iqbal’s concept of Khudi. He believed that education philosophy revolves around that concept.
    • Material and spiritual education.
    • Iqbal was against westernisation, not modernisation.
    • Education makes a student critical.
    • Balance must be created between traditional and secular education.
    • He laid emphasis on institutional crisis during his presentation.

  6. Manvinder Singh

    Title of the paper: “Guru Nanak's Vision towards Education”

    • Guru Nanak’s view on education.
    • Education for freedom.
    • Religion relates to God and man, spirituality with both.
    • Spirituality is necessary.
    • Teachers give two types of education: knowledge and wisdom.
    • Guru Nanak dialogued with different religious scholars. He started interfaith dialogue.
    • He established Kartarpur as the centre of interfaith dialogue. He also established Taksaal (centre of learning) at Kartapur.

    Day 2 (31st July) - Valedictory Session

    Like the inaugural, the valedictory session of the conference was started with the recitation of holy Quran and naat by two students of Bilaliyah Educational Institute, namely, Aadil Ashraf and Faizan Illahi respectively. After welcoming speakers on the dais, head, department of religious studies, Central University of Kashmir, Prof. Hamidullah Marazi, read the report of first day of the conference in front of the dignitaries, including vice-chancellor, Central University of Kashmir, Prof. Mehraj-ud-Din Mir.

    In his report, Prof. Marazi said that a brainstorming session was followed by two parallel technical sessions which were conducted under the supervision of experts. Prof. Marazi said that about 15 research papers were presented by scholars from various institutions and states on the first day of the conference.

    The welcome remark was followed by an interesting session in which the dissertations of the 4th semester students of the department of religious studies were screened in the form of videos and short films. The idea of converting dissertation in visual form and then exhibiting them in front of experts of the subject was lauded by all dignitaries and participants.

    Highly impressed with the dissertations work of the 4th semester students of the department of religious studies, Chairman, IOS, New Delhi, Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam, said that they had potential to be future experts of the field. Further, he acknowledged that the two-day conference was successful in disseminating the message of respect for all faiths of the world. Stating that IOS works on the same lines, Dr Alam left the dias with a three-fold message.

    • Sit together
    • Think together
    • Work together

    Dr Alam’s address was followed by Prof. Ishtiyaque Danish’s who also has been associated with IOS in the capacity of finance secretary. Praising the efforts of the department for organising the conference, he had a long-list of suggestions for research scholars and students working on such topics. He was of the opinion that experts and research scholars should work together for the welfare of humanity.

    Prof. Abdur Rashid Bhat, former head, department of Islamic Studies, University of Kashmir, acknowledged that this conference was quite successful in achieving its goals. Praising Dr. Mehmood Chandia’s keynote address on the first day of the conference, he said that the lecture was outstanding. He also proposed that documentary of this conference should be shared throughout the world. Prof. Madhu Khanna, former Director, Centre for Study of Comparative Religion and Civilisations, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, also thanked Department of Religious Studies, Central University of Kashmir for organising a conference which was need of the hour. Calling it an extraordinary seminar, she stated that this conference had sent a very important message across the world. Religious education should integrate both realms, materialistic as well as spiritual, she concluded.

    In his concluding remarks, Dr Mehmood Chandia, faculty, School of Humanities and Social Sciences Lancashire, United Kingdom, declared that papers presented in this conference showed the richness of knowledge that could be created within two days. Stating that the production of knowledge needed action, he insisted upon the requirement of some sort of action on these two days of thinking and learning for the betterment of society.

    Observing that as witnessed in last two days knowledge was being appreciated, Dr Chandia believed that knowledge was being brought to a common forum where different ways of learning could be put on the table for further discussions in the interest of all races and faiths.

    He also deliberated upon the need for a model of education that should morally, intellectually and spiritually equip students so that they are prepared to interact with each other in the modern society. Reacting to the video dissertation of students, Dr Chandia said that every religious tradition has institutes to preserve its knowledge. “Religious institutions like madrasahs, gurukuls, taksals, Christian seminaries etc., preserve classical learning of their religion. There is an urgent need to integrate the religious and other academic institutions. So that a united picture of religion is presented to the whole world,” he concluded.

    Stating that the purpose of this conference was not to impose our ideas but to share our theme, Dr. Paramvir Singh of department of Encyclopedia of Sikhism, Punjab University, Patiala, thanked the vice-chancellor of the Central University of Kashmir, Prof. Mehraj-ud-Din Mir, and Prof. Hamidullah Marazi for organising such an important conference. “Prof Hamidullah Marazi is considered to be an eminent scholar in the academic circles of the country. He conducts conferences, seminars, talks and other academic activities day in, day out. He has such an influence that no one rejects his invitation,” he concluded.

    Mufti Omar Abedeen Qasmi, deputy director, Al-Mahd al Aali al-Islamia, Hyderabad, said that Islam is not against learning other religions. Rather the Quran says, “Say, O People of the Scripture, come towards that is equitable between us and you”. (3:64). He was of the opinion that our universities should replace “comparative religion” departments with “introduction religions” departments. Emphasising the need for interfaith dialogues, Mufti Qasmi observed that we should come out of seclusion and interact with people of different faiths and communities. He also thanked the organisers for creating such a platform where people from different faiths can discuss issues for the benefit of society at large.

    Stressing the need of such conferences, GN Var, president of Private Schools Association of Jammu & Kashmir, pointed out that such conferences where moral education is taught help our young generation to live peacefully. Var brought attention to the remodelling of the education system in the Indian subcontinent. “Earlier, we were told how to think without any limitations, but nowadays we are being taught what to think and what not. So, we need to give it a serious thought”, he said.

    Further, Mr. Var believed that these conferences play an important part in an era where we have no solution to a number of problems like suicides, stress and anxiety, depression, social media and online gaming addiction and others activities posing a direct threat to society. “We have no solution except these seminars where moral values are taught,” he added.

    In his presidential address, the vice-chancellor, Central University of Kashmir, Prof. Mehraj-ud-Din Mir, laid special emphasis on the need for holding interfaith dialogue for solving issues faced by society at large. Emphasising the role parents can play in one’s life, he opined that parents should instil the essentials of their faith in their children at an earlier stage.

    “There is a dire need for providing moral education with religious education to our children. So, that they can learn about humanity and tolerance from their early childhood,” he said.

    Prof. Mir also expressed his dismay on the growing discord between members of various religious communities, asserting that “it is all because of the lack of religious knowledge”.

    Asserting that fundamentals of religious ethos should be inculcated in letter and spirit, he said that the deliberations during the conference should be consolidated and sent to the quarters concerned for implementation.

    Stating that the presence of people from different faiths in the conference per se determined the success of the conference, The vice-chancellor hailed Prof. Hamidullah Marazi for his efforts and also encouraged him to organise such conferences in near future.

    Assistant Professor, Department of Religious Studies, Dr Nazir Ahmad Zargar conducted the e proceedings while Assistant Professor, Department of Religious Studies, Mr. Harpal Singh proposed a vote of thanks.

    In total, around 50 research papers and articles covering various areas in the domain of religion, education, technology, science and other important disciplines were presented by the scholars from diverse backgrounds and faiths coming from different parts of India and Jammu & Kashmir during the two-day international conference.

    An 8-point resolution unanimously adopted at the concluding session, was read out by Prof. Z.M. Khan, Secretary General of the IOS. The resolution read:

    Resolution

    It is a matter of great satisfaction that a two-day International Conference on “Rethinking Education of Religions in Modern World: Prospects and Challenges” has been organised by the Department of Religious Studies, Central University of Kashmir, in collaboration with Institute of Objective Studies, New Delhi, on 30thand 31st July 2019 at University of Kashmir, Srinagar. The programme could be termed as a highly successful event from the point of view of participation, level of deliberations, attendance and floor engagement. Delegates from within and outside India could enjoy the weather and cuisine of Kashmir.

    The house in its final deliberations has adopted the following resolutions:

    1. The present-day world is faced with situations of disruption, chaos and confusion, which demand rethinking about education of religions in modern world afresh and at all levels. The present conference has been an important initiative, that needs more and more serious engagement on the theme.

    2. A new Sipirituo-moral consciousness may be devised through initiating a process of dialogue and mutual interaction. It would create an environment of peaceful coexistence.

    3. Religious and constitutional characteristics of Indian philosophy, culture and heritage must be highlighted to create environment of peace and progress.

    4. The present crisis situations demand all efforts for saving the planet through trusteeship, harmony, balance and social justice.

    5. There may be new initiatives to study other religions and there should be strong opposition to misuse and abuse of religions for ulterior motives.

    6. Efforts should be made to re-visit positive elements in civilisational and historical march of humankind. Full help may be taken by application of technology.

    7. Universities, research organisations and well-placed NGOs may come forward to rethink about education of religions in modern world and make religion relevant in present context.

    8. There is an urgent need for interaction among deeni madaris, other religion’s teaching institutions, and modern education institutions so that a unified worldview may be projected.

    The conference came to a close with a vote of thanks.

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