"Peace is a cherished hope of mankind and a crying need of all ages". Islam, which means peace, is a religion with great emphasis on peaceful coexistence, justice for all, tolerance and many other similar values that form the foundation of any working human civilization. Ironically, Islam is also perhaps the only religion which is today most suspected about on matters it speaks most about.
Prof. Mohsin Usmani Nadvi, an acclaimed scholar of Islam, picked up this very thread of peace and tolerance when he was invited to deliver the inaugural address at a Seminar, held under the auspices of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India, in 1998. The booklet, under review, is the compilation of that speech. Recently published, it has great relevance even today, given the kind of situation prevailing in the country where peace and tolerance seem to be the worst casualties.
The book-in-brief has very relevant quotations from the Qur'an and the Traditions which the author uses to dispel various misconceptions about Islam, currently doing the round and very studiously puts his points across as regards Islam's universal message of love, forbearance, good behaviour, respect for other religions and so on. Commenting upon the increasing communal divide in the country, which is eating into "our cherished achievements of unity amid diversity," Prof. Usmani attributes it to the lack of understanding between religious communities and, therefore, to end this perennial problem, he finds a panacea in the form of an inter-faith dialogue. "Unless we purposefully study the Scriptures and holy books of other religions, we ourselves stand exposed to the dangers lurking ahead," Prof. Usmani says, and insists on taking inspiration from the spirit of the Sufi Orders, the Bhakti movement and the Saints of the Christianity to strike a semblance of sanity in the country.
The author emphatically submits that "terrorism has no place in the Islamic doctrine". He however defends the constitutional right to spreading of Divine message, which "has stood the test of time" since ancient times, more so in the last 50 years.