A group of young people studying in a Madrassah in Azad Kashmir decided to start a Social Action Project to promote understanding between people belonging to different sects. The members of the group felt that only through understanding each other better can people get along better.
After attending the Active Citizens training offered in their area they formed a group which they named “The Reformers”. Being affiliated with a religious institute they assumed that interfaith harmony would be an issue they could easily address, but in reality they found their task a very complicated one.
According to a group member Muhammad Bilal Yaqoob, to translate their vision in to positive action they discussed their idea not only with their friends, colleagues, parents but also with members of the community they did not know very well.
A series of meetings were organized by the group where ulemas (religious leaders) belonging to different sects could come together and hold talks in a relaxed and open atmosphere. These dialogues were dubbed the “friendly, peace lovers harmony meetings” by the group. The group hoped to convince the faith leaders participating in the dialogue to work together to promote peace and harmony. The Reformers also hoped to convince them to not use abusive and inflammatory language against other sects in their sermons.
The endeavours of The Reformers were appreciated by the ulemas and community members. But perhaps the biggest reward for the group was that the ulemas who attended these meetings agreed to make a conscious effort to be more tolerant of others’ beliefs and pledged to avoid using harsh words against other faiths and sects as well. The meetings concluded on a happy note and all the participants joined hands to make a “human chain” – a universal symbol of unity.
After these meetings an event was organized by the group where ulemas from different sects addressed the community members and stressed on the importance of promoting interfaith harmony and to combat violence with tolerance and to create peace in the community.
The members of the group are planning to continue their religious education and to take their message of understanding and peace to other parts of the country.