Dalai Lama CC Christopher_Michel

A landmark summit convened yesterday in San Francisco that marked the first time the global Muslim community has engaged the Dalai Lama in an effort to address religious extremism. The Dalai Lama was joined by approximately 100 world-renowned scholars, teachers and leaders of Christian, Hindu, Jewish and other faiths who met with their Muslim and Buddhist counterparts to celebrate unity and denounce religious intolerance.

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama broke his regular schedule, normally planned seven years in advance, and accepted an invitation from the Muslim community to discuss the most momentous issue of our time — how to mitigate religious intolerance and promote understanding and compassion among Muslims and peoples of all faiths.

Shaykh Hamza Yusuf said the meeting was a commitment to use “the wisdom of our traditions as a means to help one another overcome suffering, through the core teaching of compassion, and to condemn the perversion of religion that causes so much human suffering.” The head of the Islamic Society of North America, Sayyid Sayeed, said, “The strategy must be developed by all of us together, which is why this conference is significant.”

The summit participants joined the Dalai Lama in changing previous commitments in order to participate in the historic discussions, even though it occurred during one of the most religiously significant weekends of the year — The Prophet’s birthday, Easter, Passover.

The Organizing Committee said in a statement:

“Religious intolerance, and the violence that tragically attends it, have masqueraded as a legitimate expression of religious conviction and have grabbed the world stage from the majority voices of reason. Those attending this gathering want to rectify this imbalance… and are committed to acting in their communities to promote compassion and counter divisiveness.”

His Holiness pointed to Tibet’s long history as an example of the exemplary relationship between Muslims and Buddhists and said, “Personally, I can tell you that in Tibet, Buddhists and Muslims have lived together for more than four centuries. Very gentle, very peaceful; no reports of quarrels,” he said.

The statement from the summit concluded, “Never before have so many of the world’s prominent and influential religious leaders come together at one time for such an imperative and specific purpose. The message of peace and understanding that will emanate from this conference and the solidarity powerfully represented by these great and compassionate thinkers speaking in unison will help heal the world. That is our purpose.”

The summit included Robert Thurman, Ph.D., professor and first western Tibetan monk; Rabbi Jack Bemporad, director of the Center for Interreligious Understanding; Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, founder of Zaytuna Institute; Huston Smith, distinguished professor of philosophy and religion and author of several books, including, Forgotten Truth: The Common Vision of the World’s Religions, among others.

Photo: Christopher Michel, CC


  1. Over a year after this event Aprl 2006 occurred, it was interesting for me to come across this article. I aim to sense the kind of impact it has had in light of continuing wars. I look forward to the Dalai Lama’s upcoming Australia tour and will reflect on this matter again.

  2. As I read this, I thought about the history of Muslims in Tibet, you centuries ago were given land by the then Dalai Lama, to build their mosque & cemetary. They lived in peace & worked side by side. It is sad when the voices of unreason & hatred are given the stage — and the media’s attention (which helps them in the end to spread their hate). Most “jihadist” or “extremists” as people like to call them don’t even know the history of Muslim ethnic populations other than their own small group. They are unaware of the long standing cooperation between indigenous Muslims in various nations & the people they live amongst. So when these trouble makers come into a region (ie Afghanistan’s Pakistani educated & raised Taliban for example) they disrespect the “OTHER” out of hatred & ignorance. Not only of the people but the cultures that came before them. In each case it is forbidden in the religion, but these are aspects their moderately educated teachers never taught their students. They were too busy teaching them to hate “foreign” for the sake of the Afghan-Soviet war. War never ends the way mankind wants, so perhaps we should give ourselves over to other measures & use our national resources in a positive way in the future — worldwide. Wouldnt that be a change. Like using it to bring peoples together, like this conference.

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