Greg Mortenson, bestselling author of "Three Cups of Tea," he told religious leaders gathered at the Southside Baptist Church on Monday that the education of girls can turn from war to peace in Muslim countries.
"My whole life is dedicated to education," said Mortenson. "The fight against terrorism based on fear. Based on the hope of promoting peace. The real enemy is ignorance."
Mortenson, who also wrote "The stones in the schools, visited Birmingham to speak of 178 schools, he helped launch in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Monday night, he taught at Samford University.
At Southside Baptist Mortenson addressed the Jewish leaders Buddhists and Christians gathered for a discussion on interfaith cooperation for peace.
Mortenson said he was born in Minnesota and now lives in Montana, but he was a child when his father became a missionary teacher in Tanzania in 1971 and helped start a hospital there, the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre.
Mortenson has lived 15 years in Africa before returning to the United States. In the 1990s, he walked and climbed mountains to Pakistan and began a campaign to build schools.
"All of us have innate desire to help people," he said. "We feel good when we help people."
The title of the book "Three Cups of Tea", he said, came from a high Balti who shared a proverb which says that the first time that the action area, you are a stranger, the second time, you are friends, and the third time , you're family.
"It takes three cups of tea," said Mortensen. "What he was talking about relationships."
Mortenson co-founded and serves as president of the Central Asia Institute, which continues to open new schools. Each school needs a donation of land and labor communities, and schools were built with an emphasis on local teachers and administrators. The schools that thrive on a sense of community and not attacked by any party to the conflict in the region, although the emphasis on training of the girls in question, "he said.
Schools teach several languages, including Arabic and English. "We teach them to read, write and understand Arabic," said Mortenson. "In the Koran there is nothing that says girls can not go to school. In the Qur'an, the two worst sins of suicide and killing civilians. "
Girls 'education' will lead them to teach parents and children to read, Mortenson said. "Literacy is spreading like wildfire," he said. Education leads to better decision making, and hope, which leads to a more peaceful community, "he said.
"I think we live in a world of peace," said Mortensen.