Fostering religious harmony with books

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Fostering religious harmony with books

Amid the many publications seeking brisk business at the Bengaluru Book Festival, Salaam Centre, a City-based non-governmental organisation, has made its presence felt by distributing books for free.

The NGO brings out books that aim to foster religious harmony in Kannada and other regional languages.

At the book fest, the organisation has distributed about 2,500 copies of the Quran and other books. The organisation does not believe in forcing the books on any one but distributes them only to those who approach it and express an interest, according to Syed Hamid Mohsin, Chairman, Salaam Centre.

A set of four books are given, including the Quran, ‘Tappu Kalpanegalu’, ‘Islam Shantiya Dharma’ and ‘Sarvajanara Pravadi’. It is not just about distributing, people are free to discuss the books with it too.

The organisation has been actively taking part in several book festivals across the country. While 60 per cent of its books are printed in Kannada, it also publishes in Hindi, English, Tamil, Telugu and Marathi. Mohsin, a Bengaluru-based businessman, started the initiative in 2008.

“Printing the Quran in regional languages is not a new concept. However, I felt that people were not aware that it was available in their language,” he said. Eighty per cent of the people who have expressed interest in taking the books are youth. Other than that, academicians and journalism students too have expressed interest, he added.

Root cause

At a time when religious extremism has become a global challenge, instilling hostility in various communities, Mohsin believes the root cause of the problem is misconception about religion. “For instance, the often misinterpreted concept is that of “Jihad”. Jihad means a struggle to establish peace within the inner self. It calls for understanding the pain of others. Understanding the true essence of religion would go a long way in nurturing harmony,” he noted.

His initiative hoped to create better understanding about the religion for those within the community too. “The problem of religious extremism crops up because the religion is misinterpreted. Muslim youth in the country should concentrate on problems in India and work towards solving social issues.”

The centre has distributed about 1,500 sets of books to High Court judges and advocates. It has also given about 500 copies to the police headquarters in the hope that those regulating the law will have first-hand information about what Islam stands for. Over 2.5 lakh sets of books have been shared with people across the country till now.

To print a set of books, it costs the organisation about Rs 300. However, for Mohsin this is his way of giving back to the society. “I have a house and a car. Instead of investing in more properties I wanted to do a good deed for the society,” he explained.

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