Dr Mufti Esmail Menk being greeted by a Buddhist leader during the multi-faith Happiness Iftar Gettogether organised by Al Manar Islamic Centre in Dubai on Friday. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: Religious leaders of all faiths across the globe can teach their followers an important lesson through promoting togetherness, understanding and respect for one another, famous Islamic speaker Dr Mufti Esmail Menk told a multi-faith gathering in Dubai on Friday.

He was speaking at the annual ‘Happiness Iftar Get-together’ of Al Manar Islamic Centre attended by various religious leaders, diplomats and other guests.

Dr Menk, who has been named one of the 500 most influential Muslims in the world since 2010 and has millions of global fans and social media followers, said if people come together to understand each other’s diversity and differences and learn to respect them, we can achieve comprehensive happiness.

Diplomats, religious leaders, government officials and business leaders attend the iftar.

“Having respect for one another is far higher and a better word than tolerance. Across the globe, it’s important for us to promote this form of togetherness and understanding and respect for one another, because if we as leaders are to show that we definitely respect people of different backgrounds and faiths, I think our followers will learn a thing or two,” said the Zimbabwean scholar.

He went on to explain that ignorance is responsible, most of the time, for the “evil” people think of one another.

Dr Menk also said that everyone on this earth is part of one big family and comes from one maker and that no one has the right to force any belief or faith on another.

“What makes me think that I’m the only one entitled to live, I’m the only one entitled to think that what I have is the supreme and that is absolutely correct in a way that no one has the same right [to think that way]? We don’t have the right to shove things down the throat of others as per the injunction of the scriptures,” he said.

Vipul, Consul-General of India in Dubai, addresses the multifaith iftar gathering on Friday.

He highlighted how it is important to discuss differences and not be intimidated with other opinions and to always pray for goodness and peace.

Dr Menk’s main address was about Ramadan being a season of compassion towards everyone and a month of togetherness that should be practised all year round.

Dr Mohammad Al Kobaisi, Grand Mufti of the Department of Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities of Dubai, in a speech, called on people to come together to reach out to the less fortunate people and help them. “Making someone smile is actually a charity and smiling in the face of someone is also a charity,” he said.

Dr Mohammad Al Qubaisi, Grand Mufti of Dubai Department of Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities, at the event.

The event was attended by consuls-general of India, Pakistan, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Ukraine and the Philippines, along with religious heads of Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism, various government officials and business leaders.

Guests were asked to share their views on the recipe of happiness.

Rev Timothy Heaney from the Christ Church in Jebel Ali said joy is more important than happiness and it comes from two things — gratitude and hope.

Surrender Singh Kandari, chairman of Guru Nanak Darbar Sikh Temple, said happiness can be achieved in the world when the less fortunate is fed food and that if every mosque, temple and church serves food, there won’t be poverty in the world.

Dr Mufti Esmail Menk speaks at during during the multi-faith Happiness Iftar Gettogether.

Sasika Vishwanath, head of the Buddhist temple in Dubai, said humankind can experience happiness by spreading love and kindness even to those who they dislike.

The closing remarks came from Ahmad Hamed, a speaker at Al Manar, who highlighted the event’s “unique feature” in emphasising the spirit of togetherness between many influential people.

Al Manar Islamic Centre is a non-profit community centre established in 2006 under the patronage of Shaikha Hind Bint Maktoum Bin Juma Al Maktoum, wife of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.