Staff Reporter

NEW DELHI: Islam is a religion of compassion and evil acts done in its name have nothing to do with it, Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al Saud on Friday. He expressed the hope that Muslim youth would embrace "tolerance and harmony."

King Abdullah was speaking at a special convocation at Jamia Millia Islamia, where he was conferred the degree of Honoris Causa or Doctor of Letters by its Chancellor Fakhruddin Khorakiwala.

The degree was conferred on him in recognition of his "wisdom, vision and sagacity" and for being an "elder statesman, a friend of India, a ruler of a great kingdom committed to peace among nations and communities and a man of indomitable moral courage and compassion."

The citation described the King as an elder statesman who received worldwide acclaim for his wise counsel and dynamic leadership. "In a rapidly changing world, he is widely regarded as a reformer, innovator and moderniser and a statesman committed to world peace, global cooperation and inter-religious harmony," it said.

King Abdullah said Islamic universities have the great responsibility of teaching compassion, tolerance and harmony to youth, who should imbibe Islamic virtues.

Vice-Chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia Mushirul Hasan expressed the hope that the Jamia and Saudi Arabia would be able to provide an adequate language to not only comprehend the 21st century but also "to decide for ourselves the importance of living together, understanding each other, and interpreting each other's lifestyle and value systems."

Prof. Hasan said: "India's 150 million Muslims are today an essential part of that indivisible unity that Maulana Azad, Ajmal Khan and Ansari spoke of. The Constitution guarantees them equal rights of citizenship; the Shariat laws apply to marriage, divorce and inheritance; and thousands of makatib and madaris follow the traditional Islamic system of education. What's more, Muslims are not members of a community sitting sullenly apart but actively participating in regional and local cultures whose perspective they share."

Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh was present.