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Interview ( 9 Oct 2021, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Truth (Haqq) Has Its Impact, Moses Spoke In Front Of Pharaoh and Ja’far Ibn Abu Talib before the King Negus

By Mushtaq Ul Haq Ahmad Sikander

9 October 2021

Eminent Scholar, Writer, Academic and Interfaith Dialogue Activist Prof. (Dr.) Hamid Naseem Rafiabadi in conversation with Mushtaq Ul Haq Ahmad Sikander about the essence of Interfaith, Intra-faith and Civilization Dialogue

Tell us something about your inter faith initiatives?

It all started in year 1991, when I was deputed to attend the, World Fellowship of Inter -Religious Councils (WFIRC) Kerala meeting and I presented my paper.

We have witnessed an upsurge in the Interfaith Dialogues after 9/11 attacks. Do you believe in the same?

Yes, those who held the reins of power thought that we need to talk now. United States the lone superpower had been targeted and its hegemony challenged. Before 9/11 it ignored the genuine Muslim voices and only dealt with its Muslim stooges and called it as Inter Faith Dialogue and used it as a strategy to suppress the genuine voices.

It was also necessary to engage people who could be a source of trouble in future. 9/11 in this way proved to be a blessing in disguise, as these Inter-faith Dialogues helped dispel the myths and misperceptions prevalent about Islam, despite the fact that the present Christian Pope Benedict had called for a proselytizing mission to convert whole Asian community to Christianity in current century.

Then these Dialogues even helped Muslims to shun their conspiracy theory approach and defeatist mentality, that Inter Faith Dialogues are meant for proselytizing Muslims, I believe that truth (Haqq) has its impact, Moses spoke in front of Pharaoh and Ja’far ibn Abu Talib before the king Negus, hence even if some dialogues have some clandestine designs we shouldn’t shun our participation in them.


Eminent Scholar, Writer, Academic and Interfaith Dialogue Activist Prof. (Dr.) Hamid Naseem Rafiabadi


Can’t we Challenge the hegemonic Uncle Sam on Political and Military front?

Engaging in military and political endeavors to me is strengthening and providing a justification to Uncle Sam to plunder more. Muslims in general and Muslim countries in particular can’t afford these adventures, plus they will result in a dead lock not in dialogue. They will certainly lead to co-destruction rather than co-existence. Only through dialogue we can understand each other better. Prophets and Saints were always in minority but they used this minority character to get engaged with the majority.

But the Inter-Faith Dialogues are still an elite endeavor; they have yet failed to percolate down on the common masses level?

Engagement in Inter faith Dialogues should be an elite engagement as only Intellectuals, can dialogue, common people can’t understand its niceties as they can only see the differences, but yes Dialogue in action must percolate down to the masses. The hearts of the people should be won through philanthropic activities. The Prophets are sent to show humankind the path towards salvation and they are the best people though not elite, they set the trend which the common masses should follow, but the problem with us is that common masses are at peace with each other but elites fight among themselves which then manifests itself in the sectarian or inter religious violence.

Then are the elites a hurdle towards interfaith cooperation?

Yes to a certain extent they surely are

What more hurdles do we encounter when engaging in Inter Faith cooperation?

We are not desirous to know what real Islam is, to know what Allah means by La, Quran explains the way of transgressors. Islam requires us to know what Islam is not. The grave worship, new innovations, Shirk and its modern versions have been condemned by Quran, but we label the same as Islamic. It is the biggest hurdle towards engaging in interfaith dialogues because first we have to be aware of the pristine Islam only then we can go for a Dialogue.

2. We are not confident about our religious truth and fundamentals as our access to Islam is based on secondary sources of knowledge, we try to understand Islam as developed by theologians, Fiqh(jurisprudence) or Ulema, which was developed centuries later. If we had enough knowledge to access the direct sources of knowledge and know Islam in its pristine beauty from Quran and Sunnah, then we would be confident enough to engage in Dialogue with people of other religions like Imam Ghazali, Imam Taimiyah, Ismail Raja Al Faruqi used to engage in with no threat to their faith.

3. Our Ulema are not aware about the trends of the modern world and what it demands from them. The scholars of other religions have upgraded themselves with the changing times but Muslim Ulema lag far behind than rest of their compatriots.

4. When religion becomes institutionalized and used for attaining certain political and economic benefits and a vested interest gets developed among the Ulema they would be least concerned about Inter Faith dialogues but would use religion for self aggrandizement and vested interest. They have divided Muslim Ummah into different sects and with each sect they have certain interests and can never afford to loose their authority and influence on people by accepting other person’s stance, which is an essential ingredient for Inter Faith Dialogue, hence sect has become important not creed, the doors of Ijtihad have been closed as defending sects has become ‘real’ Islam, hence none among them is open for Dialogue.

Why there have been rare or no initiatives towards Intra Faith Dialogues?

Due to sectarian and factionalism regimentation, no intra –Faith dialogue has had been taking place! When Muslim ulema are not ready to open up the doors of Ijtihad closed centuries before, how can they open up their minds to tolerate views of others religious views than their sectarian ones?

What is your stance regarding the Clash of Civilization doctrine as propounded by Samuel P Huntington?

Huntington believed in posing one group against other, but history contradicts his theory as never civilizations have clashed with each other, but they interacted with one another. There is a clash of interests not civilizations, cultures may clash with each other not civilizations. As the norm with West is that they first act then legitimize their acts by providing theories, similar has been the case with this theory, which tries to justify the occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq. Like philosophers try to justify all fallacies, Huntington too opts for the same, but the Clash of Civilizations theory is a mere speculation as civilizations work in tandem and they will never clash, Civilizations take their own recourse. Islam is for reconciliation not for clash.

Even some Muslim scholars like Akbar S Ahmad have been surmising a clash between Muslim exclusivists and inclusivist? Do you witness any such clash too?

Intellectuals live in their own world, and have their own shortcomings. Akbar S Ahmad lives in the West, hence consciously or sub consciously West has its impact on him and he has even imbibed certain impact too. He too has become a victim of this Clash of Civilizations theory, though there is no clash prevalent. Islam has a dynamic theology, Quran and Hadith provide guidelines and Islamic approach is above Time and Space limits while as Akbar S Ahmad’s approach has these constraints. Muslims are reactionary people; we have no vision for action. We still have no theory of our own, hence the predicament. Some of our scholars support Islamic Democracy, Communism, believe in Evolutionary theory, use science as a yardstick to approve Quranic facts as there is absence of Civilisational Ijtihad among Muslims.

Some Muslim groups have been calling for the establishment of Khilafah and Islamic State; don’t you think that claims like these hamper the Inter Faith cooperation?

These claims are utopian. Islam stands for pluralism where all communities interact with each other. Prophets Sufis and Saints have lived and preached in multicultural societies. In the Globalized world the message of Islam has become more relevant and presence of a Muslim government doesn’t have much impact regarding the spread of Islam, plus the circumstances don’t allow for establishment of such an Islamic State. The enemies of Islam know our weakness; they try to make non issues sound as real Islamic activism, because of our myopic vision. The real facet of Islam, its moral and spiritual aspects are ignored and kept in oblivion.

Don’t you think that the use of religion in Politics has led Islam to get a bad label as a religion of terrorism?

Islam is a complete way of life, but we don’t follow it. The rights of the Muslims have been usurped by various forces but when they fight for the restoration of their rights they are dubbed as terrorists. Yes use of Islam in political disputes has led it to become a scapegoat but it is also a fact that Islam is the greatest source of motivation for Muslims and they consider Islam to be a solution to all problems baffling them, hence try to link Islam to every issue which has its shortcomings. The West is following the dictum of killing a dog and giving it a bad name, people of Palestine, Chechnya, Iraq, Afghanistan are fighting for a justified cause, but still they are being dubbed as terrorists. Muslim world is at the receiving end, and the world owes responsibilities towards them, but it only dubs them and plays blame game. When Muslims were in power they never indulged in the savagery or usurped other countries first by robbing them and if they resist to this plunder then dubbing them as Terrorists. World powers need to learn form the Muslim history.

What do you think about the murders carried out by certain Muslim groups against those who don’t adhere to their brand or interpretation of Islam?

 These murders can’t be justified from an Islamic point of view and need to be condemned in harshest terms. Muslims have been put in dubious situations, the occupiers want a reaction from Muslims for their aggression and many a times Muslims don’t understand their nefarious designs and lose balance of mind and indulge in wanton killing though on a small scale as compared to the Western powers, and with Corporate Media in their hands they veil their crimes and exaggerate those of Muslims, but still the actions of these Muslim groups can’t be justified.

Muslim scholars and Ulema usually don’t condemn these acts nor speak against the atrocities West is perpetuating on Muslims?

The reality and truth of these acts and crimes remain shrouded in mystery, hence when the reality is blurred they are afraid to condemn the same. Plus the Muslim nations are so weak that they aren’t able to control the activities of the Non State actors, which in many cases are foreigners. Thus there are many factors working in tandem in the Muslim countries and ulema are incapacitated to understand the same, though Nahi Anil Munkar (forbidding people from what is wrong) is an important duty enjoined by Islam and Muslim ulema have a role in calling a spade a spade.


Dr Hamid Naseem Rafiabadi is Dean Social Science and Head Department of Comparative Religions, Central University of Kashmir, Youth Convener WFIRC, Core Group Member of International Center for Dialogue and Diplomacy (ICRD) Washington, Convener Academic Committee for Philosophy IOS New Delhi, Governing Council Member All India Milli Council and Honorary director of Shama Foundation, Kashmir


Mushtaq Ul Haq Ahmad Sikander is Writer-Activist based in Srinagar,


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