San Francisco, USA, 16 April 2006 (By Louis Sahugan, L.A. Times) - Prominent Muslim dignitaries on Saturday met for the first time with the world's most influential Buddhist, the Dalai Lama, enlisting his help in quelling fanatical ideologies within Islamic communities and improving the faith's declining image in the West.
The summit was a measure of the desperate concern among moderate Muslim leaders and scholars about religious extremism and increasingly negative views of their faith arising from Western concerns about terrorism. Indeed, Islam traditionally has not recognized Buddhism.
'The main issue of this conference is to provide a platform to teach that there is no room today to say or invest in anything but love,' said Imam Mehdi Khorasani of Marin County, who had extended the invitation to the Dalai Lama. 'We are happy and grateful for His Holiness' decision to lend his energy to this cause.'
Appearing comfortable and jovial in his maroon and saffron robe before a crowd of about 600, the Dalai Lama, 71, was true to his image as one of the world's most avid advocates for peace.
'Some people have an impression that Islam is militant,' he said, seated in lotus position on a center-stage baronial chair at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins hotel. 'I think that is totally wrong. Islam is one of the world's great religions and it carries, basically, a message of love and compassion.' He pointed to his homeland of Tibet as an example of a place where Buddhists and Muslims have existed together in peace for centuries.
In an interview earlier, the Nobel laureate and religious leader of Tibetan Buddhism said, 'Promoting the genuine message of Islam and the proper impression of the Muslim world