(A) How did the Idea come?
Once a dynamic student leader Qazi Abdul Qadeer Khamosh had friendly relations with deceased Saddam Hussain, the then President of Republic of Iraq. Mr. Khamosh had also the honor of working with Saddam Hussain’s close aid and Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq Tariq Aziz (himself a Christian), the then Chairman of ‘Baghdad Conference’, a forum constituted for human service beyond all biases of religion, language and creed, with its secretariat in Baghdad. Mr. Khamosh was an active member out of 80-members ‘Coordination and Follow-up Committee’ of Baghdad Conference.
During different sessions of the Baghdad Conference, it was emphasized that the gap between the Muslim and the Christian communities, both making majority of the world population should be bridged to bring peace and prosperity in the world. After a detailed discussion, it was decided that scholars, parliamentarians, and social leaders from Muslim and Christian communities be contacted to have dialogue for peace and mutual understanding.
Qazi Abdul Qadeer Khamosh during political struggle for restoration of real democracy came close to National Christian Party Pakistan Secretary General Joseph Francis and discussed the idea to bring the Christian and the Muslim communities closer for national prosperity and religious harmony. Then the MCFI was given a final shape after consulting Bishop of Raiwind Dioceses, Waris Road, Lahore, Bishop Samuel Robert Azariah.
(B) MCFI Foundation / Background
The Muslim Christian Federation International was founded in December 2000, prior to 9/11 tragedy in 2001. It was expanded on January 18, 2002 with an objective to promote interfaith dialogue and tolerance in society. However, it focused on Muslim-Christian issues across the world despite having Hindu, Sikh, and other minorities on board.
According to experts, going through history of Pakistan, we come to conclusion that founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah did not want to make it an Islamic country ‘based on theology’ and ‘dominated by clergy’. Rather he wished to make Pakistan a social, liberal and modern state. In support of this arguments, it is sufficient that Jinnah nominated a Hindu, Jogindranath Mandal, as Pakistan's Law Minister, and a Qadiani ‑‑ Sir Zafarullah Khan ‑‑ as Foreign Minister.
If the Founder of Pakistan wanted to make Islamic laws why did he not appoint a Muslim scholar as Law Minister? Foreign Minister is head of the foreign policy of a country and how a ‘Qadiani’ could better advocate foreign affairs of an Islamic country.
Pakistan is a multi-religion society and cannot live ignoring others' right to religion of their own choice. We should have no objection if someone has belief in God and another is follower of different gods, practices the religion the way he wants. The Quaid's decision of appointing non-Muslims on key posts in his first cabinet did not face any criticism from religious leaders including Syed Abul Aala Maududi, Allama Shabbir Usmani, Pir Jama'at Ali Shah, Syed Daud Ghaznavi, Pir of Manki Sharif, and others.
“As President of Jamiat Ulema Ahl-Hadith, it's my wish that Pakistan must be an Islamic state in letter and spirit. I am not against Islamic system, but Founder of this country never pleaded to make it a theocratic state. So Pakistan's survival is in having a social democratic and liberal state,” commented MCFI Chairman Qazi Abdul Qadeer Khamosh.
He argued that Pakistan's founder party, the All India Muslim League constituted not a single committee with regard to Islamization till Pakistan's inception in 1947. “No doubt, Pakistan has over 97 per cent Muslim population and due to their dominance Islamic culture is definitely to prevail, but we cannot dictate other minorities to embrace Islam by force and follow it as the majority population of Pakistan is doing,” he maintained.
The MCFI rejects all types of terrorism and believes in democratic process through ballot to ascertain the wish and will of the people. The Pakistani society under different military martial laws faced challenges of religious enmity and sectarianism. It also witnessed hatred not only among followers of different religions but also among different sects of Islam. Military dictator Ziaul Haque approved legislation based on hatred deliberately to promote his personal agenda of lingering on his dictatorial rule. He went on artificial basis and activated militancy that badly tarnished the image of Pakistan in the world. The international community saw assassination of religious leaders, bombing on religious places including mosques, imambargahs and churches.
The MCFI was founded to minimize hatred aiming at converting intolerance to peace and love. The founder of Pakistan has promised mutual understanding and equal opportunities for all the citizens that later his successor rulers failed to give and country became hostage to a dozen families of elite and capitalists.
The MCFI believes that hatred prevailing in the society is due to discriminatory laws viz-a-viz minorities that are also against the teachings of Islam. The Christian leaders also believe that such hatreds and gulfs were not in accordance with the Jesus Christ commandments. To bring the Muslim and Christian communities closer, the MCFI struggled on common points in both the religions for nonviolence, tolerance, tranquility, peace, mutual respect and love, the Federation Chief uttered.
The Muslim Christian Federation International is of the firm belief that exception to some differences, the Christianity and Islam have more common points to coexist. “It is historical fact that the first who confirmed Hazrat Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) as Prophet of God was a Christian, Warqa Bin Nofil, relative of Hazrat Khadeejatul Kubra (RA), wife of the Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH).
“The Muslims for their protection first migrated to a Christian state, Habsha (Ethopia). Moreover, both the religions believe that Jesus Christ would come before last day in the world. Except war of cross, the Muslims and the Christians had cordial relations,' the MCFI Chief commented.
Holy Prophet’s stress on Interfaith Harmony
The MCFI keeps in view that the Holy Prophet's life had three phases: Pre-Prophet-hood, post-Prophet-hood era and the era when he was Prophet as well as ruler. He continued and stressed for interfaith dialogue in three eras of his life. Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) accorded agreement 'Hilful Fazool' in Makkah that all would stand by the oppressed against the oppressors without discrimination of religion, cost and color. The 'Medina Accord' agreed among all religions of Medina was a practical shape of interfaith dialogue and harmony.
The Muslim and Christian leaders gathered at the MCFI platform to promote the message of love and tranquility. Earlier, the people experienced the incidents of setting Churches on fire in different parts of Pakistan including Shanti Nagar of Khanewal, Sukkur, Sangla Hill and others places. These tragic incidents had tarnished the image of Pakistan at global level. Those who believe in tolerance and love came out for the community guidance that acceptance to others' point of view was possible and this should be disseminated across the world. This strive benefited Christian minority in Pakistan and Muslim minority living abroad particularly in European countries.
This was difficult to promote tolerance in the atmosphere of sectarian clashes at its peak. To achieve goals and objectives, the MCFI organized seminars, conferences, and get-togethers of the two communities and discussed interfaith harmony. The MCFI has honour to hold seminars not only in Pakistan but also in Nepal, London, Jordan, France and USA.
The MCFI team is committed to wage jihad against the 'traders of hate' whose agenda is to create hatred among humans, promote intolerance and work to vanish mutual respect. With the support of people from all walks of life including intellectuals, writers, teachers, parliamentarians, traders, and labours, we have dedicated our lives to strengthen peace, love, harmony, mutual respect and tolerance for others. Irrespective of its outcome or dire consequences, Khamosh said, “We want to develop such an environment of peace and love that no one could courage to create hatred among the people”.
The MCFI in collaboration with ICRD has started a unique training program for senior teachers and administrators of Madressahs.