Some people regard interfaith dialogue as a useless luxury.
Others consider it a trap for values, as each religion believes other religions are not revealed truths, and that only its own faith is a source of salvation for humanity.
Hence the impossibility of dialogue between absolute truths.
Yet, the proponents of the single truth know that every religion is the result of different visions. The founding texts of most religions are plural. Many churches have come to accept others within their own faith, in order to avoid repeating the religious wars that plagued humanity for so long. This is thus a form of tolerance.
Nowadays, interfaith dialogue is not an exclusively religious experience. It’s not about tolerance, but rather about brotherhood and respect for others despite religious differences. This requires analyzing our relationships with others, which lie at the very heart of our identity.
This can lead to a better understanding of freedom, and to questioning the status of citizens in the following terms: Others are as free as we are to believe that they hold the truth, and this shouldn’t make us kill each other to impose our truth. That’s how this dialogue can build a more democratic society.
To achieve that, we must keep in mind that interfaith dialogue is not exploited for conversion; it’s not about reconciling religions, but rather about bringing people together through mutual understanding; and it involves individuals, not believers.
This is a crucial concept because individuals are often free to deploy more intelligence in questioning and dialogue, as opposed to institutions that are inherently rigid and guardians of dogmas, and deny otherness.
Interfaith dialogue between individuals can also promote a culture of peace in today’s world, where conflicts associated with religious affiliations are growing in importance, because this dialogue focuses on the need to promote mutual understanding, fight ignorance and prejudice, and thus achieve mutual respect.
An Arab proverb states that people are afraid of the unknown. Dialogue mitigates the feelings of hatred and withdrawal caused by not knowing others, and may encourage accepting the undeniable pluralism in which we live today thanks to globalization.
This culture of peace can contribute to building a more prosperous world.
This is thus another form of dialogue that’s less idealistic, more identity-related, and more technical too. A useful dialogue, so to speak.
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