Paper presented by Dr. Hussain Madavoor,
Faith in Action-High Level Religious Leaders Summit-Interfaith Response on Stigma and Discrimination against HIV and AIDS – Hosted by Sri Sri Ravi Sankar
Hon’ble Religious Scholars and Leaders
My dear brothers and sisters from various faith and nations
First of all, I begin with Islamic Greetings of Peace, May the Merciful and Compassionate God encompass all of us with His abundant measure of PEACE & TRANQUILITY! السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته this Arabic term means, Om! Shanti! Shanti! in Sanskrit.
I am much excited to be here with you in this summit, I visualize it and the gathering before me as a cross section of our great nation rich with a glorious heritage Dating back to thousands of years,
Unified within its fold diversified cultures, civilizations and religions Diversity is the distinguished feature of our great nation India,
Diversity itself is something destined by God throughout the handiwork of his creations. To recall words of Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru … … as he said, Every Indian should chant the manthra UNITY IN DIVERSITY Each one of us has right to practice our own faith, beliefs, modes of worship, and cultural identities independently and without fear
As such we are bound to accept and respect right of others to observe and act according to their faith and beliefs. Enjoining to the tenets of any particular religion is a matter left to the individual Let us give this freedom to the individual concerned
Having said this, we have many areas in our day to day affairs that asks for combined efforts and collective intervention. We must sit, think and speak about loudly the scope of such areas where our individual faith or belief does not come in as threat or a barrier.
We have to create venues and opportunities for collective thinking For finding common grounds and consensus on things that have no differences of opinion among us, for the sake of whole the human race, for welfare and goodness of every human being for the sole purpose that the human race may prevail in peace and tranquility. Here, at this point, I whole-heartedly appreciate initiatives of Sri Sri Ravisankarji for convening this worthy summit.
At his juncture our single focus will be on the ways how to eliminate the menace of HIV/AIDS from our society, from the world we live, from the face of earth, and how we empathize with the unfortunate lot already affected,
What each of us can do to alleviate their untold sufferings, Not only physical, but social and stigmatic too. How we can improve the quality of their life And bring hope and care to innocent victims.
I present here perspectives and virtues of Islamic views in this respect.
HIV/AIDS in an Islamic Prescriptive
Looking back to the history, the initial identification and growth of AIDS was in the last two decades of the twentieth century. There is no known cure for this highly dangerous disease which directly destroys the immunity system of the affected. Almost 33 million men and women already died of the disease. Present toll of AIDS victims are estimated at 25 million worldwide. For the dismal fact, more than two million of them are young children. The spread of the virus and the disease in India is at an alarming pace. This may develop soon as a global epidemic. The end result will be mass death of people in their productive age, loss of young men and women, the absolute wealth of any nation.
Religious leaders and groups who dispense enormous energy for the total development of the society have much to do to counter the spread and expansion of AIDS. Another point demanding increased attention would be the physical, social and moral support for the affected victims, irrespective of the fact how they get it. Care and available cure for manageable ailments should be dispensed without any prejudice, discrimination and hurt of feelings or deprivation of dignity.
Prevention is better than Cure
This is a slogan upheld by the medical community. Closing all doors which lead into evil will be the effective solution to get rid of evils. It is an accepted fact that 85% of known AIDS cases were through sexual routes. It gets a fertile breading ground among multiple sex partners who are habituated in illegitimate sexual relationships. When one member of the married couple gets the virus through illegitimate sexual contacts, he or she, knowingly or unknowingly, passes it over to the innocent partner. This also paves the way for transmitting the disease to their children and the infants to be born too. It emphasizes the importance of sexual discipline and sexual education to all. Awareness should be given to the young adolescents.
To safeguard the community from peril and save individuals from the destructive adultery Islam enjoined the following steps:
1- The institution of Marriage: Quran ordained the institution of marriage to every man or woman who attains the age of puberty and are capable of leading a married life. It recommended fasting and self restrain for those who can not afford to marry due to momentary reasons preventing from marriage. Islam ordains and prefers family life comprising wife and children than celibacy or spiritual isolation.
2- Diligence and Care in dealings with opposite sex: Islam decrees healthy restrictions in all dealings between two members of the opposite sex. Totally strange man and women are not allowed to be isolated at a single space at any given time. However, they can meet for essential interactive roles in the presence of a family member or a responsible adult member. This is the view of Islam. Holy Quran has firm and definite stand on the issue. Instructions to get away from illegitimate sex are spread over in several verses of the holy text. Quran in this respect not only does prohibit adultery, but prevent from entering through doors which may end up in the filthy crime. Verse 32 of Chapter 17 reads: “And come not near to unlawful sex. Verily, it is a great sin and an evil way”.
Here we realize that Islamic teachings are perfectly compatible to human nature and all positive instincts. As a result all divine teachings, whether in Quran or in the traditions of the prophet are based on the idea of common welfare and meant for betterment of the human race. Anything prohibited by Islam are obviously harmful for the human being. Everything permissible in Islam is good and meant for overall progress and development.
3- Decency in attire and dressing: Islamic law prohibits provocative dresses which may arouse passion in others. Islam decrees decent and dignified dress for both men and women. In today’s world our men almost observe decency in their attire, but the reality in the case of women is dismal. It seems that they are keen to expose more body than to cover by their dressings. This has become a practice even among the socially accepted women groups. Male members get attracted and disturbed. They are lead to unlawful fulfillment of desires, ending up ultimately in adultery, rape or sexual abuse. Let us listen to words of the prophet: “in any community where adultery becomes norms of the daily life will be punished with numerous incurable diseases”. Is AIDS the fulfillment of this prophecy?
4- Harms of Homosexuality:: The debate over same sex marriage has grown into a controversy and they attained permissibility at least in a handful of countries. This practice beyond any shadow of doubt is against the law of nature and values governing the dignity of man. A massive awareness drive has become imminent to save our youth population from the disaster. Story of Prophet Lut has been mentioned in divine scriptures, both the Quran and the Bible. His people were engaged in the extremely sinful activity of homosexuality, and turned away from the lawful social order of marriage. The Quran, when narrating the related stories asks an important and fundamental question. “Is not there amongst you a single right minded man?”. Quran 11:78 Faith and firm belief in the goodness of religions only can reverse the odd situation and bring deviated youngsters into the mainstream fold, the way of nature and soberness. Conditioning of physical circumstances or modifications in the law have very little to do to correct this anomaly.
5- Care of the HIV/AIDS victims: Among the HIV/AIDS population in our society, a good number acquired the virus as result of carelessness, lack of vigilance, ignorance etc., and in many cases for mistakes not their own. However, the society is bound to provide the innocent victims care, medical attention, rehabilitation and overall do all that is possible to return them their human dignity. God Almighty is always forgiving and compassionate. Therefore human beings are far more worth of pardoning and forgiving. As our old proverb goes, to err is human, to forgive is divine. No HIV/AIDS victim should be left without due care, medical attention or deliverance from social stigma or isolation. At the same time, all that is possible to prevent the spread of the menace should be taken with a futuristic plan based on scientific schemes. This goal can not be achieved by efforts of medical community alone or by healthcare facilities itself. Whole society should deliver whatever they can, however small, for this noble mission.
I congratulate facilitators of this noble summit, which proved to be want of the hour to save the human race from an incoming epidemic. When that happens, God forbid, the wrong-doers among us alone will not be the sufferers, rather the world as a whole.
… …. واتقوا فتنة لا تصيبن الذين ظلموا منكم خاصة
“And fear the affliction and trial which affect not in particular (only) those of you who do wrong…Quran 8:25