A Book Review by Narges Qauyumi
Interfaith Dialogue an Islamic perspective, written by Dr Qadir Bakhsh MBE and Maqsood Ahmed OBE, focuses on the interaction between different communities and people from all walks of life gathering together, sharing thoughts and views in an understanding and respectful manner.
Often, what we choose to see and the people whom we interact with, determine our experiences. We live in fear and look at one another with suspicion more so now than ever before after the events of 9/11 (in 2001) and 7/7 (in 2005). Fear holds us back and prevents us from looking beyond our past and looking at each other as individuals.
The authors point out that Islam encourages interactions between people with different faiths. It cites an example when a Christian delegation met with the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and wanted to find out about Islam. He allowed them to stay in the Mosque and pray in their own Christian way.
Through encouraging and reinforcing the power of one voice, it is then echoed by others. After all knowledge is power and the simple fact that you share it, is what is most important.
Bakhsh and Ahmed highlight some quotations from the Qur’an, which is not only misinterpreted by the media but also by Muslims themselves. An excellent example of this would be the following;
Truly those who believe, and those who are Jews, and Christians and Sabeans – whoever believes in God and the Last Day and is virtuous – surely their reward is with their Lord, and no fear shall come upon them, neither shall they grieve (Qur’an 2:62)
The difference between the adherents of various religions may sometimes lead to disagreement. It is the responsibility of the followers of different faiths to encourage respect and understanding between faiths through well-organized interfaith dialogue.
Another very interesting example highlighted the journey of the prophet from the Makkah to Madinah, in the direction of prayer (Qibla). Some scholars state that this initiative was to acknowledge the shared values between the Muslims on one hand, and the Jews and Christians on the other.
The direction of the Qibla symbolically demonstrates the need for Muslims to accept the similarities between other faith groups, rather than their differences. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) continuously invited other faith groups for dinner and Khutbey (lectures) to inform non-Muslims about Islam. This shows that historically interfaith dialogue was practiced from the beginning.
Looking around the world today particularly with what is happening in Syria and Iraq, disintegration causes death and destruction. The major brunt of this impact falls on the poor.
Interfaith dialogue nurtures understanding, promotes tolerance and promotes our confidence to be proud of whom we are and the roles we play in our diverse society. It is through interfaith dialogue that we can and must bring our communities together and strengthen our values as we are living in an increasingly complex world.
Interfaith dialogue and understanding are imperative for the progress of the world and the Qur’an as described in the book offers very clear guidelines and encouragement for all to engage in dialogue which, lead to positive change.
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