The contemporary period presents extra-ordinary challenges for economic, religious and social issues, law and order, extremism and of rapid changes in global politics. The religious and political divisions are increasing. Traditional politics is being replaced with new populist slogans, anti-establishment ideology and with the idea of bringing extensive and overall changes to the current system of governance.

Regrettably, the world is divided into blocks, vested interests and social classes, and this division is further highlighted and sustained with slogans of building walls and adopting divisive policies. In many parts of the world, far greater priority is being given, either directly or indirectly, to asserting dominance and supremacy over others and satisfying a craving for power and authority.

The world stands in great need of peace, tolerance, mutual understanding, harmony, love and brotherhood. The world needs an end to wars and conflicts. Instead of walls of hatred being erected, we need peace to prevail, and for this to happen, people of all faiths, creeds, colours and political affiliations must join together. How rightly it has been said that “united we stand, divided we fall”.

I believe that wisdom demands learning lessons from our history, because the turbulent times we live in today cannot afford further divisions, barriers and walls. The history of the Berlin Wall alone is sufficient proof against building walls and in favour of building bridges which unite people across the globe.

Undoubtedly, walls create distance, isolation and exclusion, and bridges bring people closer and create unity and strength.

The instrument of politics should be used sincerely, effectively and wisely for the common and greater good of mankind

I am afraid that such conflict-ridden policies will bring no benefit to the people. Instead these may fuel radicalism and extremism, or the extremists may exploit such situations. In a globalised world, the effects of political decisions are felt across the globe. Leaders must be very sensitive and cautious when forming or adopting policies.

I think politics is an art and instrument of dialogue and persuasion. This instrument should be used sincerely, effectively and wisely for the common and greater good of mankind.

As far as the issues and disputes between nations and countries are concerned, it should be encouraged to find lasting and feasible solutions through mutual consultation, dialogue, collaboration and collective wisdom.

Our common religious teachings are characterised by effective resources and solutions in order to counter the challenges and disagreements that arise between nations and countries.

Justice, kindness, sympathy, humility, humbleness, patience and wisdom are among the core principles that religion teaches us and which can solve all the disputable matters.

The Holy Quran states: “Verily, Allah enjoins justice, and the doing of good to others; and giving like kindred; and forbids indecency, and manifest evil, and wrongful transgression.” (16:91)

“And help one another in righteousness and piety; but help not one another in sin and transgression.” (5:3)

Jesus said: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”(Matthew 5:44-45)

Let’s all unite and work together to build a cohesive, inclusive and peaceful world and to sow the seeds of love and sympathy for the entirety of mankind.

We must work hard and leave no stone unturned in promoting tolerance, harmony and brotherhood. We must seek to build bridges of love and hope between different religions and different communities and societies – because it’s time to build bridges, not walls.

I would like to conclude with a great message from the founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, who writes: “If you are an elder, be kind to the younger ones and do not belittle them.

“If you are rich, serve the poor but do not treat them with pride and disdain.

“If you wish God to be pleased with you, then be like two brothers born of one mother.”

Laiq Ahmed Atif is president of Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat Malta.

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