Iraqi thinker stresses dialogue necessary for convergence of opinions
Iraqi thinker Sheikh Shihab Al-Shuwaili says dialogue is necessary for convergence of opinions among communities.
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I seek refuge in Allah from the cursed Satan In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
Greetings to all participants in the 37th International Islamic Unity Conference
The mission of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is the religion of kindness, leniency and respecting others. The respect should be through various humane means. The genuine mission of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is respecting freedom of thought. In this connection, God Almighty says in Holy Quran, “Let there be no compulsion in religion.” Moreover, genuine mission of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) respects various characteristics, including diversity and difference in opinion, and opens the path of peace and friendship before all so as to share opinion. The best way for further convergence is dialogue. Dialogue among various religions and civilizations is admitted in Holy Quran, “Say: “O people of the Scripture: Come to a word that is just between us and you.” Relationship is not restricted to relationship between Muslim and non-Muslim; rather, it is relations with all people in general; it should always be part of our human, political and cultural etiquette.
When dialogue is held and we give the chance to the other party to speak, many physical and spiritual damages are prevented, saving time; otherwise, war and confrontation wastes it.
It can be claimed that nature of the new phase in which Islamic communities lie, mandates us officially recognize others and listen to their opinion. The reality of present phase makes it our duty to strive for convergence of opinions, so that commonalities are further highlighted in talks. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his infallible household set a nice model of dialogue with others and officially recognizing them. The dignitaries’ model of approaching and engaging with other religions, their behavior towards polytheists and people in general can be a model for us. The way Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his household approached people was with respect to the valuable principle of building friendship with people is half the wisdom. The noble traditions show well that infallible household of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) always preferred the principle of dialogue to any other strategy. For instance, pay attention to Imam Ali’s (AS) dialogue with Khawarej. In talks with Khawarej, Hazrat Ali (AS) was successful to convince them withdraw from their stances. Therefore, many Khawarej returned to the right path. Therefore, relying on the principle of dialogue is very important. Dialogue among civilizations and religions is an issue referred to in Holy Quran. Already reference was made to a verse from Holy Quran, “Say: “O people of the Scripture: Come to a word that is just between us and you.”
The dialogue, I referred to, is of high importance, especially at the age of globalization. In this historical juncture when Islamic community gets out of its isolation of several years, dialogue is of special importance. The requisite for the dialogue is wisdom and culture that are influential and can transfer a brilliant image of pure mission of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to others. Meanwhile, all thinkers and those holding dialogue should prepare the condition for dialogue with other religions and civilizations to be able to identify nature of various religions and civilizations. It should not be disregarded that any dialogue, featured by good will and mutual confidence, is necessary to stretch such a bridge of humanity between those holding dialogue. During dialogues, the parties can reach common views and identify points of divergence, thus reaching a balanced and common point. Concentration on historical and Islamic personalities is a very important point which should be taken into consideration. We should inform others of the details of traditions of Islamic personalities and their role in Islam and in general in history.
The reason is that Islamic personalities are in fact a good model for Islamic community. If we introduce the personalities as a model, we will then become successful to transfer our message to the other party. The message will be transferred by the religious, intellectual and literary figures. As I said, the precondition for any talks is sincerity. We should know who to transfer the message we wish. Based on what said thus far, dialogue is an art. It is culture and power to convince others and get them along. Dialogue causes peaceful co-existence and brings the negotiation parties to a common point. Here, the two sides will observe many commonalties.
Dialogue should be in proportion with culture of the other party; Let me provide you with an example. When you speak with a European citizen, who is indulged in materials, about the reasons and causes of revolution of Imam Hossein (AS), you should not say Yazid was a drunkard and committed sexual violence against his relatives. When talking to such a person, you should say Yazid killed a holy personality. Yazid violated freedoms; Yazid plundered public assets; Yazid collected illegitimated assets. Yazid dominated the public unjustly without a free election. This way, one can outline the causes and reasons of revolution of Imam Hossein (AS). This way, we can introduce Imam Hossein (AS) as a revolutionary personality, whose uprising was to defend human justice and implement divine injunctions. With regards to historical and contemporary issues, we should enter talks with the other party in proportion with his/her culture. Moreover, the information on civilization of the other party should also be used.
Under present conditions that different political lines raise different opinions and there are efforts to divide faiths and ethnic groups, the need for dialogue to confront the extensive onslaughts is felt more than ever. The main goal of the onslaughts is to institutionalize plot and discord of children of Islamic Ummah. Furthermore, dialogue is a courage, that through which one can translate the achievements, that were not once met through war and violence, into action. Of course, the courage needs meeting a serious of conditions. We should use dialogue as a wise weapon and as a civilizational and human bridge to send our message to people representing different religious faith and different civilizations.
I end my speech by a selection of `Iftitah’ supplication:
“Oh God, we complain to You, for not having our Prophet, may your blessings be upon him and his family, and the absence of our Mowla, and the multitude of our enemies, and the smallness of our number, and the severity of plots that hatched against us. Oh God, we desire for You a generous state through which Islam and its people are glorified and the hypocrisy and hypocrites are humiliated through the government; and make us in that government among the callers to worshipping you and make the leaders moving to your path, and grant us the honor of this world and the hereafter.” END OF THE 09:26 MINUTES