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Speech by Prince Aly S. Khan to the Council for Islamic Affairs, New York 1958-05-27

Tuesday, 1958, May 27
Read and Know No.19
Prince Aly Salomone Khan
Prince Aly Khan

Islam – A Liberating Force

Speech by Prince Aly S. Khan to The Council of Islamic Affairs, New York
May 27, 1958

It is one of the paradoxes of history that the West, and the Islamic world which have so many beliefs and values in common, should have lived in antagonism for centuries. When we consider the great contribution of the Islamic peoples to modern Western civilization, particularly in the realm of scientific enquiry, philosophic thought and mysticism, wherein the religious spirit is lifted to the sublime, the paradox of conflict becomes all the more striking

Perhaps the key to it lies in the statecraft of princes, who found in the appeal to religion a force of tremendous power, which could be exploited to sere their ambitions.

Fortunately, historians are now beginning to recognize the historic role of Islam as a liberating force for peoples oppressed by the burden of unjust social systems. Islam challenged the contemporary societies of Asia and Europe which rested on absolutism, intolerance and the privilege of birth and race. Instead it offered equality.

Swami Vivekanand, the distinguished Hindu savant, had this to say of its impact on India. “To Muslim rule we owe that great blessing, the destruction of exclusive privilege. The Muslim conquest of India came as a salvation to the downtrodden, to the poor. That is why one-fifth of our people have become Muslim”.

Given a right understanding of the foundations of Islam and Christianity, and the spiritual values which they have proclaimed, it should not prove very difficult to build a bridge of mutual respect and co-operation between the two great religions. Unfortunately, it is a fact that the close similarity between the two remains largely unknown to the West.

(Speech printed in Read and Know Number 19 published by Shia Imami Ismailia Association for Tanzania)

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