Department of Interfaith Studies & Human Rights
Today, different societies and communities in a country like India closely share life—from shopping, studying, working and travelling to living together in both urban and rural areas. They are, however, still very much unfamiliar with the values, cultures, traditions and beliefs of one another. In India, Hindus, Muslims and followers of many other religions have been living together for centuries. They have been caring for and sharing with each other, fulfilling their political, social and national responsibilities in an integrated manner. Nevertheless, they remain largely unaware about the cultural and religious traits of each other.
Dr. Mukhtar Ahmad Ansari, in his presidential address in 1927 in Indian National Congress in Madras, said:
“The educated Indian is forced by circumstances to study European culture but knows next to nothing about the culture of his fellow-countryman living next-door.”
What is more painful now is the fact that each faith community has developed mistrust and hatred for other. Their knowledge of each other’s traditions is superficial and unauthentic.
Further, the present world, having embarked on a journey of scientific growth and modern technological advancement, has entered a phase in its history where distances and remoteness have come to an end and borders are losing their meaning. This multilateral world has turned into a global society or a single community linked by science, technology, and internet. The interdependence of human beings as in today’s world has probably never been greater. For this, it is necessary for human beings to know and understand various cultures and faith traditions so they may better connect with each other on the basis of shared knowledge and understanding. The more important this subject is, the less it is made out to be. What we are often taught is that religion is a personal affair of an individual and that the religion of others is irrelevant or not important to study. This is truly a sorry state of affairs.