New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday praised Islam and took cue from the Holy Quran while stating that education was important for progress and development of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) region.
"The Quran mentions the word 'ilm' 800 times. It is among the most repeated words after Allah. This is the importance of knowledge in the religion," Modi told an audience comprising the high commissioners of Saarc countries and envoys of Muslim nations such as Qatar, Bahrain, Egypt and Indonesia at his residence.
Releasing a book 'Education of Muslims: An Islamic Perspective of Knowledge and Education - Indian Context' by historian JS Rajput and India Islamic Culture Centre president Sirajuddin Qureshi Modi said: "Education can become the strength of the entire SAARC region. If the region does not embrace modernity, it will get left behind, as the rest of the world progresses."
The prime minister said it is the "good fortune of people living in India" that we have the opportunity to follow, understand and learn so many different religions, and strands of thought at one place.
Modi said that as India is now free of polio, it is ready to assume responsibility for eradicating it from the entire SAARC region.
He also spoke about India's plans to launch a SAARC satellite, which will work for the benefit of the entire SAARC region.
About the book, he said, it can help us in "understanding each other" - understanding different points of view.
He recalled a Muslim education seminar in Ahmedabad in 1894 and elaborated that a Hindu hosted it and one of the resolutions about educating Muslim girls which was unanimously adopted was also moved by a Hindu to emphasize how knowledge sharing has been happening in India for years.
The PM, who broke with the capital's tradition and did not host Iftar parties, also used the occasion to express his good wishes to the guests for the month of Ramadan starting in a few days.