On Tuesday, the Dalai Lama writes in The New York Times about the importance of religious tolerance, touching in particular on Islam.
THE IMPULSE TOWARDS INTOLERANCE
When I was a boy in Tibet, I felt that my own Buddhist religion must be the best--and that other faiths were somehow inferior. Now I see how naïve I was, and how dangerous the extremes of religious intolerance can be today.
HOW TO RECONCILE TOLERANCE WITH ONE'S OWN RELIGIOUS IDENTITY
Granted, every religion has a sense of exclusivity as part of its core identity. Even so, I believe there is genuine potential for mutual understanding. While preserving faith toward one's own tradition, one can respect, admire and appreciate other traditions. ... In my readings of the New Testament, I find myself inspired by Jesus' acts of compassion. His miracle of the loaves and fishes, his healing and his teaching are all motivated by the desire to relieve suffering.
THE POWER OF PEOPLE
I'm a firm believer in the power of personal contact to bridge differences, so I've long been drawn to dialogues with people of other religious outlooks.
Let me tell you about the Islam I know. Tibet has had an Islamic community for around 400 years, although my richest contacts with Islam have been in India, which has the world's second-largest Muslim population. An imam in Ladakh once told me that a true Muslim should love and respect all of Allah's creatures. And in my understanding, Islam enshrines compassion as a core spiritual principle, reflected in the very name of God, the "Compassionate and Merciful," that appears at the beginning of virtually each chapter of the Koran.
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