Equality and human rights are fundamental teachings of The Koran and Prophet Muhammad, Chief Justice of the Madras High Court Justice M. Yusuf Eqbal said on Tuesday.

Addressing Meelad-un-Nabi celebrations organised by the Advocates' Meelad Forum, Mr. Justice Eqbal said although human rights were portrayed to have evolved as a western concept, equality and humanity have always been central principles of Islam.

Terming it unfortunate that Muslims, especially women and children, constituted a significant proportion of the people in the world displaced by war and human rights violations, and formed the majority of the world's illiterate, Mr. Justice Eqbal called upon the community to advocate a rights-based approach to better education and standard of living.

Pat for Forum

Mr. Justice Eqbal lauded the Forum, which has over 500 members offering legal services to the poor, and carrying out various programmes such as educational initiatives.

Responding to felicitations, the Chief Justice said the reception he had been accorded by the Bar Council and advocates' associations on assuming office at the Madras High Court exceeded expectations.

Madras High Court Judges F.M. Ibrahim Kalifulla, K.N. Basha and G.M. Akbar Ali were among those who felicitated the Chief Justice.

Delivering a special address on Prophet Muhammad, the Prince of Arcot, Nawab Mohammed Abdul Ali, said the teachings of the Prophet required to be practised life-long and not merely during a day-long observance such as the Meelad-un-Nabi.

No religion, particularly Islam, advocated non-tolerance of deities of other faiths, the Nawab said.

Paying tributes to the Chief Justice, the Nawab said the duty and responsibility of a judge was so important that judgments should be issued without fear or favour.

The Nawab appealed to the practitioners of the Bar to shun false evidence, which was one of the major sins in Islam.

M.K. Hidayatullah, Forum president, and R. Abdul Mubeen, secretary, spoke.

Chief Kazi to the Government of Tamil Nadu, Mufti Salahuddin Mohammed Ayub, initiated Maghrib prayers.

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