Does Islamic world need interreligious dialogue?
By Rufiz Hafizoglu
Upon the invitation of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Pope Francis will arrive in Turkey Nov. 28. During the visit, he will meet with President Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. The sides will discuss the possibility of an interreligious dialogue and methods of fight against the use of religion for political purposes.
There is such an opinion in the world today that the religion does not play a decisive role in the life of mankind. Meanwhile, most of the current events in the West and East, prove that the religion, on the contrary, is one of the most important and determining factors in many political events.
Along with the increasing role of the religion in human life, the importance of an interreligious dialogue will also increase. The religion can be also used for reconciliation. But some forces have been recently using it in their interests. The crimes in many countries worldwide are committed "for the sake of Allah..."
Unfortunately, despite the efforts of Christians and Muslims, interreligious dialogue has not brought any significant results so far. And this inefficiency has its reasons.
One of the factors preventing an interreligious dialogue is the lack of a unified system of holding such dialogue, and a single center of discussions. We can recall that the Vatican has repeatedly stressed its readiness to start such a dialogue, without knowing who to deal with - "pure Islam" adhered Saudi Arabia or "moderate" Turkey and Iran.
As opposed to Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran are more inclined to a dialogue with the Christian world. Vatican’s dialogue with Ankara and Tehran will be more effective than with Riyadh. But most of Muslims do not accept a concept of "moderate Islam", they consider it rather ambiguous. This testifies to the fact that "moderate Islam" and "moderation in Islam" are the concepts having opposite meanings.
Even some politicians in the Muslim countries, which are distinguished by their moderateness, oppose the term “moderate Islam.” In particular, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a speech in August 2007, that he is against the use of the “moderate Islam” term, which, in his opinion offends religion.
By the way, the first time this term was used in a report of the administration of US President George Bush on the country’s foreign policy strategy with regard to the Middle East.
The inter-religious dialogue between Vatican and Iran is also hindered by the fact that the Shiites make up only one-third of the total number of Muslims. So even if such a dialogue becomes a reality, its success is doubtful due to a small percentage of Shia Muslims. Thus, it is first necessary to organize a dialogue among the religious denomination within Islam.
It would be unfair to accuse the Islamic world that the inter-religious dialogue still can not be initiated.
After all, the West also has many obstacles to interreligious dialogue. And the most important of these is the insult to values of Islam, and existence of Islamophobia, which is hidden behind big words about “democracy”, “freedom of speech” and “human rights”.
Some political circles in Europe believe that the causes of Islamophobia are the Muslim migrants who are not integrated into European society. But they forget that not all Muslims, living in Europe, are migrants.
The social and political Islamophobia serves the interests of
the radicals. The radicals believe that with fake democracy they
can fight only using radical methods.
The inter-religious dialogue today can prevent many conflicts. And no matter what obstacles prevent its implementation, it is vital now to all parties.