It is my duty to extend my gratitude to Erasmus Prize Foundation who extended to me this honour. As the saying in Arabic goes: “he who does not thank the creature will not thank the creator”, therefore I am thankful to both, the God and the servants of God.
Erasmus Foundation awarded me not only a prize but also an honorific title, namely,’the Erasmus of Islam’. A few years ago a correspondent of the Los Angeles Times gave me the title ‘the Luther of Islam’. I am, of course, innocent of all this but if I were to chose one of the two I would definitely opt for the ‘Erasmus’. The humanism, tolerance and more importantly the anti-sectarian tendency of Erasmus attracts me more towards him than Luther, who was, no doubt, also a great man of European history.
I am of the firm conviction that mankind today is in dire need of a spiritual interpretation of the universe as well as a spiritual emancipation (as Mohammad Iqbal once said). In my humble endeavours, therefore, I try to emancipate the spirituality from the cage of the official organised religions. As for masses who seek the spirituality within an organised religion I offer a more tolerant interpretation thereof.
In the field of political ethics I always remind myself and my friends of the horrible gap between rights and duties in the modern society. Too much emphasis on the rights in the liberal west has led to the virtual neglect of human duties and responsibilities. On the other hand too much concentration on obligations has made rights practically invisible in the East. A balance therefore has be struck between the two in order to readjust the human condition to the ideal human values.
Reaffirming my gratitude to the Erasmus Foundation, I wish the present laureates, the former and the future ones a rightly responsible life.