One wishes to raise the point of inter-faith dialogue as the opportunity presents itself with the visit of His Holiness the Pope to the United Arab Emirates. There are indications to the effect that, advocates of inter-faith dialogue, or , advocates of dialogue among the different systems of belief in the Arab world, tend to separate between individual action and the system of faith itself.
By – Khairi Janbek:
The separation is usually rationalised by saying that it is important to dissociate both aspects from each other in order to protect the faith; since an incomplete work or deed will inevitably lead up to incomplete faith.
However, according to this rational, we usually end up being afraid for our faith, mindful about protecting it, and insecure in our civilizational outlook.
Therefore, what kind of a dialogue can the Arab dialogue partners pursue with other faiths and civilizations, when their main concern is concentrated on defending their faith, and trying constantly to justify or denounce actions attributed to it?
They are handicapped even before starting the process of dialogue, by this separation between faith and deeds, and if they carry on in this manner, the term dialogue will even lose its fashionable intent.
All the same, one must say that there are many Muslims whom feel justifiably, that their faith is under attack from other civilizations, but this is not at all the basis for any dialogue, because, let us face it, the history of encounters between Jews, Christians and Muslims, can provide plenty of ammunition for the promoters of hatred and discord, but equally it provides also plenty of opportunities for the advocates of friendship, understanding and dialogue.
Of course, we should not and must not be selective when we approach the mutually interactive history of the three Abrahamic faiths, but should take the whole experience as a lump-sum product and deal with it as it is rather than, how we wish it to be.
In other words, neither defending the faith nor explaining it are the purposes of inter-faith dialogue, and when parties in the Arab world do that, they neither do service to defending the faith, nor to explaining it, but they merely turn it into a pretext for not doing anything.
Many centres of education in the world do teach various aspects of Islam; history, civilization and faith, therefore the world is not ignorant of Islam, and by the same token many Muslims may want to defend their faiths, but they must understand that inter-faith dialogue is not the tool for that , simply because, by necessity the term dialogue means promoting and enhancing commonalities.
Since Islam represents in essence a way of life, then its role in politics, economics, and the social sphere must be taken seriously into consideration because those representations could lead to discord in various societies, and the start for seeking solutions is actually by setting the record straight on the basis of continued dialogue among the various faiths, and cultures.