Interfaith dialogue — the only universal remedy

AT a time when Islamophobia is on the rise in western countries, merely due to misperceptions about Islam, the suggestion by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby during his talks with Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz for greater interfaith dialogue is indeed need of the hour to promote environment of harmony and tolerance in the world. Such calls in fact have been resonating in the air for quite sometime and conferences off and on are also organised on the topic but to achieve desired objectives of peace and rich cultural diversity, there is a need of a larger sustained activity.
Madrid Conference 2008 jointly organised by Late King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia and Spanish King Juan Carlos had shown rulers and scholars as to what efforts are required to inculcate harmony amongst the followers of different faiths and religions, but since then not much has been done at governments’ level to promote this cause. Late King Abdullah had been at the forefront of efforts to promote global peace and harmony and the Madrid moot attended by representatives of Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism etc was also aimed at reinforcing the common values shared by their respective faiths. It was a step in the right direction and there is a need to revive this process. Apart from governments and major world leaders, responsibility also rests with top religious scholars of all the religions to be more forthcoming and launch more frequently such an initiative that brings followers and academia of all religions to one table. Engaging more regularly and deeply is the only way to narrow down the existing gulf amongst different faiths and remove misgivings and misperceptions about each other. Such a discourse should be on certain concrete issues like jihad, women’s rights and war against terror as today there are great misunderstandings on these issues. With knowledge, conviction, clarity and appreciation for other’s point of view, the religious scholars can make this process more valid and fruitful.

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