As mentioned by Prof. Greg Barton, in his well researched book,“Jemaah Islamiyah: Radical Islamism in Indonesia”, our notoriouscleric is also reported to have said, “I make many knives, I sell manyknives, but I am not responsible for how they are used.” The moderate clerics maintain that terrorism and violence havenothing to do with religion. They carefully avoid discussing the issueof growing fanaticism. They would not echo with Gandhi, “Afanaticism that refuses to discriminate is the negation of all ideals.”Speaking in international forums, the leaders of our religiousinstitutions are reluctant to admit that the growing fanaticism andradicalism have divided our society where interfaith harmony hadnever been an issue to discuss, but a way of life to practice.
Earlier we did not have interfaith groups, but we hadinterfaith harmony. This was a reality then, and a myth now.Now, the reality is that we have several interfaith groups,but no interfaith harmony.
Whether you like it or not, religion has been used to justify acts of terror. Religion has been presented in such a way, and by its ownfollowers, that it has lost both its meaning and its utility as “auniting force”.It is against this backdrop that, December this year the Parliamentof World’s Religions will meet in the city of Melbourne, Australia.We may recall, back in 1893, the parliament had met for the firsttime in Chicago. Vivekananda (1863-1902), one of the speakers whowas to become the star then, firmly believed that, “sectarianism,bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism have long possessedthis beautiful earth. They have filled the earth with violence,drenched it often and often with human blood, destroyed civilizationand sent whole nations to despair. Had it not been for these horribledemons, human society would be far more advanced than it isnow.”He hoped that the convention might toll the “death-knell of allfanaticism, of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen, and of all uncharitable feelings between persons wending their way to thesame goal.”More than a century later, his hope remains a hope and a dream torealize. The conference in Melbourne later this year therefore, is notonly timely, but also urgent and imperative. However, moreimportant is the meeting of our minds and hearts. More urgent isour willingness to be honest and truthful in what we say and what