New Age Islam
Mon May 17 2021, 04:00 PM

Islam and Pluralism ( 23 Jul 2008, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Interfaith dialogue; Saudi initiative appreciated

By Fahad Al-Qurashi, Saudi Gazette

THE whole world greatly appreciates the initiative of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz in calling for the unprecedented world interfaith Madrid conference in order to promote dialogue between the world’s main religions.

The basic idea of the conference was that many conflicts and wars in the world are launched on religious grounds, and that an effort must be made to deal with them. The three-day conference attracted followers of a wide range of religions who had the opportunity to talk to each other and discuss the role that religions can play in establishing peace and harmony in the world.

It goes without saying that the world is witnessing a growing number of economic, political, and social problems, which represent a direct threat to all of humanity.

This is why religion is becoming increasingly important as a safeguard against human suffering and a protection against the evils of widespread injustice, corruption and immorality. Religions can do an even better job in achieving this mission if their followers work together.

I think that the Madrid conference is a good first step towards investing religions with a significant power to promote noble values and principles that can make all of us happier.

Several weeks ago King Abdullah called for an International Islamic Conference to be held in Makkah. At that conference Muslim scholars from all over the world met and discussed the best ways to represent Islam at the Madrid conference. A good sign at the Makkah conference was the friendly negotiations between clerics who belong to different sects.

Commentators stressed the importance of the image of King Abdullah entering the Conference Hall holding the hand of the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, and that of the former Iranian president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani thus symbolizing a better understanding between the two countries and the two sects.

This great picture sent two important messages. First, it is true that Muslims belong to different sects but that does not mean they should be divided.

Muslims can solve their problems among themselves thorough dialogue in order to create a strong front that better represent their issues. Second, dialogue is one of the best methods for Muslims to build better relations with non-Muslims.

The Holy Qur’an calls for establishing dialogue with those who reject Islam. Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) tried in numerous cases to build bridges with those who did not believe that he was a Prophet, and he urged Muslims to do the same.

When people engage in dialogue they understand each other better and learn from one another. In addition, dialogue can contribute to removing mistrust and suspicion from their minds. When people trust each other, they can work together confidently for the greater common good of mankind. It is self-evident that much of what divides people is their beliefs.

In spite of that, there is still some room for reaching a common ground where people do not give up their beliefs but make more effort to understand the viewpoints of others.

King Abdullah has proved himself to be a prominent leader who is concerned with promoting the role of religious dialogue as a method of underscoring human commonalities.

Regardless of all the differences among religions, there are great values and principles that unite their followers. King Abdullah has built the policy of Saudi Arabia on the principles of respecting others and cooperating with them to create a more stable world and a more optimistic future.