Surender Singh Kandhari is one of those seldom Champions of Tolerance, we all are lucky to meet in life: As Chairman of the Guru Nanak Darbar Gurudwara he founded and build in 2010 to 2012 the first Sikh temple in the United Arab Emirates in Dubai (www.gurudwaradubai.com). In 1976 Surrender came to this Gulf state to form the Al Dobowi Group, with now over 2,000 employees in different countries.
Together with his wife Bubbles he brings the 3000 year old spirit of tolerance towards other religions from India to his new home, inspiring so many people: ” Majboori is a word from Sanskrit, meaning duty, commitment, honor of promise. You do what you have to do. We need a Godness of Beeing Peaceful. The Sikh perspective is: “Faith, contentment and tolerance are the wealth and provisions of the godly people. I have adopted the way of tolerance and given my mind to Satgur. Why do you waste your life in hatred, vengeance and conflict? ”
Now his new book Lighthouse of Tolerance (ISBN:978-9948-34-880-1; www.atlasgroupme.com) has been published with many views from the United Arab Emirates and abroad “inspired by the UAE’s commitment to spreading the gospel of peace and tranquility through the warmth, compassion and understanding.”
It is an excellent work of love for humanity, with fresh new arguments and background information from an Arab country, about the Golden Rules of Tolerance, we all share.
Global Tolerance Initiative Founder, Dr. Hubertus Hoffmann, added this chapter to the book:
- What are your views on understanding tolerance?
Tolerance must not be equated with simply letting people have their way. It must encompass proactive respect and love for humanity, which are essential soft elements of peacemaking. It includes active advocacy against discrimination, xenophobia, and intolerant seducers.
In the ambiguous concept of “tolerance” various meanings come together including forbearance, open-mindedness, unprejudiced attitude, mobility, generosity and humanity.
We must protect the delicate basic foundations of peace with the same commitment we protect the water we drink and the air we breathe.
Do we really have to define tolerance first? We agree with Karl Popper, who pointed out that the academic desire for definitions of concepts is not really of much help, instead we need generally comprehensible analyses and ideas.
The notion of “being tolerant” – essential for the reality of human beings – is a broad term and at the same time an expression of a positive attitude toward life.
– not build more walls, but more bridges.
– look what unites us, not focus on what is different.
– open our hearts and minds for the new and unknown.
– start an active tolerance march with many small steps.
– Tolerance is not endless, like there is no unlimited liberty for everybody.
To make our world a better place, we must seek ways to stop and contain the propagandists of hatred and violence and any terrorist, who aim to wage war against other religions and ethnic minorities and kill innocent people.
No tolerance for intolerance!
- What do you think about multiculturalism?
We live in a global village with 7.5 billion different people.
Therefore we need both: our own home feeling and at the same time openness for other cultures. Multiculturalism is a fact of modern life now. We should cherry-pick what we like. We need a practical concordance between the known and the new, newcomers and established people with respect for each other.
- Do you appreciate diversity?
Each of us should enrich himself by different people with fresh ideas and cultures.
It is the common belief of Christians, Muslims and Jews that God has created all human beings in His image and likeness.
Tolerance means love for God’s work.
The establishment of a totalitarian theocracy on earth, built to favor one set of humans, strongly contradicts the original code.
God’s code of creation: the diversity of life.
He presents Himself in billions of different human beings and in hundreds of thousands of different flowers and animals which inhabit our world.
Numerous scientists speak of “biodiversity.”
The famous Museum of Natural History in Berlin defines this diversity and abundance of life forms as ‘mere immeasurable’ and as a ‘mystery of nature.’ Time and time again, life has sought new ways to flourish and adapt. In all cells God has deposited genetic information but also the chance for new combinations in the DNA codes of the chromosomes.
We humans have 23 chromosome pairs. Our egg and sperm cells contain only one set of chromosomes (meiosis). Each individual sex cell differs with regard to its genetic information because due to meiosis there are manifold combinations and recombinations. These combinations of characteristics are the reservoir for biodiversity and adaptation to new environmental conditions. During sexual reproduction parents are not simply reproduced, rather is diversity generated. In the fusion of sperm and egg cells, a new cell comes into being; half of its double set of chromosomes comes from each parent. In this way, a constant recombination of the genetic material is guaranteed and diversity is made possible. The power of life lies in this sacred diversity.
The original meaning of life is the creation of diversity and individuality.
It should be clear to whoever believes in God and his creation of life that God created and wants diversity.
Diversity is part of creation and the DNA of life; it is life.
God’s DNA is diversity: millions of very, very different plants and animals, small and big. Plus 7.5 billion diverse human beings.
Whoever wants to create unity from diversity, therefore, opposes both this plurality of God’s world order and the desire for tolerance.
Whoever, as a human being, pushes for homogeneity and persecutes people of other faith traditions, races, and minorities, sins against this great God-given blueprint for life.
Tolerance and respect for others correspond to the praise of God in his diverse creation.
These good practices and behaviors are emphasized in the Qur’an as well. In Surah 5:48 God acknowledges this diversity in the thinking and actions of human beings, ‘For every community, we decreed a law and a way of life. Had God willed, He could have made you a single community – but in order to test you in what He revealed to you. So live with one another in virtue. To God is your homecoming, all of you, and He will then acquaint you with that over which you differed.’ This Surah emphasizes the God-willed differences in faith and a peaceful struggle for the truth, as communicated to the people by the prophets.
The final judgment on whether a path of life pleases God is left to Him and not to other human beings. Only then, and only through Him, will judgment be rendered.
- Do you think politics has an influence on tolerance?
In general a successful modern policy should be based on humanity plus creativity plus efficiency,
As core element we need a clever double strategy of hard and soft factors of peace making, hawk and dove, to contain the radicals.
Therefore we must invest much more in the soft factors, including promotion of respect, tolerance, or reconciliation. Still we invest too little. But a war is only won after you have turned your enemy into a friend, told Eric Hoffer. Albert Einstein said: “We cannot solve the problems on the same level of thinking where we have created them.”
As well we need more dialog. Dialog is the mother language of mankind. It helps to transform enemies into opponents and opponents into friends.
We should establish Ministers of Tolerance – as done first in the United Arab Emirates in 2016 – in all countries. They should form a National Tolerance Agenda, presented at the UN Day of Tolerance to the parliament and the public.
We should give those institutions much more power with a minimum staff of 200 and around $ 500 million annual budget. We need a concrete action plan, like in the military.
5. Should tolerance be imbibed into schools as a subject? How to reach the children?
When I met 17 years young Mala in Oslo at the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony, she told me: “Begin with the children. We have to look into the text books.”
The same Yusuf Islam said in my documentary “Love is Tolerance”: “It would be great if each child learns the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or we give them The Ten Commandments. That would fix everything. You have to give education about tolerance at school. Therefore the teachers have to be educated themselves.”
Education is key. Here we must have fresh textbooks, e-learning instruments, films, meetings, discussions about diversity and tolerance.
We should as well active the influencers with their reach in social media to promote humanity.
Here are my “Codes of Tolerance for Educators and Schools”:
Education is the best weapon against intolerance. The better we get to know ourselves, our colorful world and our fellow human beings, the more conscious and humble we become.
Education promoting love, kindness, and respect toward other people creates tolerance. We should not only impart knowledge of the subject but also knowledge of the heart and responsibility.
God’s plan for diversity among human beings and in nature should become part of the classes in ethics. The values of the world ethos, the Codes of Tolerance as well as the basic documents of the United Nations and the interreligious congresses, such as the Chicago conference in 1993, should become part of the curricula in schools. The aim of education should not be the leveling out of differences and the homogenization of young people, but the cultivation of diversity.
Schools should provide basic knowledge concerning other religions and cultures, as they are part of a diverse world in which young people experience. Conversations with representatives of other religions and minorities are indispensable and should be integrated into classes.
Textbooks should be particularly careful in their formulations. They must not stir up prejudice against other religions and minorities. On the contrary, they must emphasize what they have in common and what is good.
Languages are a gateway to the world. In schools, they should not only be taught technically, but in a way that brings awareness of other customs so that a mixture of cultures can develop. All students should learn the world language English as perfectly as possible. By doing so every pupil can tap into the world through the internet and international travels. Student exchange programs are particularly important for an open understanding of the world. In school and in study groups the students should learn to solve conflicts peacefully and to take responsibility for their actions.
- What can faith leaders do?
In my book “Love is Tolerance” I mentioned “Codes of Tolerance for Religious Leaders”.
The leaders of the various world religions have particular responsibilities for promoting mutual respect and appreciation of other faith traditions. The final document of the World Congress of Religion in Chicago in 1993, with 6,000 participants, was a milestone on the way to respectful coexistence. These good pieces of advice should be filled with life by every local religious leader.
The human being as God’s creature must be in the center of religion. The founders of all world religions have repeatedly called for respect for this creation. Active tolerance is love for his creature and the image of God himself. The love of humanity is the measure of all love of God; human dignity is sacrosanct.
For the overzealous and the radicals who look down upon others while calling for confrontation, there must not be room in the churches, synagogues, and mosques. Their hatred desecrates the holy words, “Peace be with you!”
All human actions and sins are within the domain of God’s mercy. Only he, not a human being, judges the sinner. Whoever as a human being elevate themselves to God’s place as the supreme judge of sinners, leaves the ground of their religion.
Religious leaders should with good example and courage represent the true and good doctrines of their religions. The leaders must promote it actively and treat everybody humanely and respectfully. Where inhumanity reigns, it needs to be addressed with clear words.
Interreligious dialogue must be improved and practiced locally. This practice will first result in understanding, then in trust and humanity.
- My Basic Rule of Tolerance for Everybody
We should not wait for politicians and others, but wake up and start to make love and tolerance great again, like promoted by Surender Singh Kandhari in Dubai, and other Champions of Tolerance all over the world.
My advice: Let’s just do it!
Silent majority- Wake up. Stand up!
Do not leave a vacuum for hate-mongers, extremists, terrorists, the forces of darkness.
Don’t blame the bad guys, but yourself for being too passive.
Light a candle of tolerance each day.
Become active as a warrior for love.
Promote tolerance and respect each day with many small steps.
Join the forces of love and tolerance.
Be tolerant and out of egoism.
Make yourself great.
Whoever does good will in turn also become a better and happier person, free from the dark heavy burden of hate.
Fight for humanity.
Contain racism, extremism, and terror.
Impeach hate and the forces of evil.
With no tolerance for intolerance.
Propagate humanity wherever whenever.
Fight for the good and contain the bad.
Let us all together create a better world 3.0 for us and our children.
Picture from the book Lighthouse of Tolerance: Author Surender Singh Kandhari with Yvonne Bussmann (Vice President The Global Tolerance Initiative) and Dr. Hubertus Hoffmann.