In Australia, courses on different religions of the world are readily available in many universities and colleges. But no such opportunity has been available in Pakistan.
Minhaj University in Lahore, Pakistan now officially recognized by the Government of Pakistan has recently taken the initiative to open a School of Religions and Philosophy, the first of its kind in Pakistan.
This new program will enable students to study all the religions that are practiced in Pakistan, namely, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism. Some aspects of Judaism will be studied as well.
Graduates of this program will have an adequate knowledge of different religions of Pakistan to support the work of inter-religious dialogue in this country.
The program consists of two years of full time study. During the first year, students will attend courses on the different religions of Pakistan. While in the second year of the program, each student will be able to choose a particular religion for further research.
Professors will be engaged from the Christian, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist and Muslim communities to accompany the students in their research. In this way, students will obtain an insight into the religions of Pakistan with the help of a professor who actually practices that religion.
Although there is widespread support for this new venture, prospective students in Lahore are wondering whether a degree in Religions and Philosophy will provide them with a job in future.
In a world where subjects of study are chosen according to future job opportunities, the School of Religions and Philosophy at Minhaj University has to compete with many other programs that are financially more promising for students.
The University is confident, however, that the value of a profound knowledge of the different religions in Pakistan will eventually come to be seen as a useful way of promoting understanding, peace and harmony in this country, which gives religion such an exalted and significant role.