Archbishop Dr Atallah Hanna and Dr Al Arabi Kashat during the session.Speakers of Sharjah Ramadan Majlis’ session stress importance of interfaith dialogue to establish peaceful coexistence Image Credit: Gulf News

Sharjah: The importance of interfaith dialogue and peaceful coexistence, particularly among those who share the same land, nation, and identity, was the topic of discussion during the first session of the Sharjah Media Centre’s (SMC) Ramadan Majlis at the Expo Centre Sharjah on Monday night.

Under the slogan ‘In the Culture of Dialogue’, the session was attended by Shaikh Sultan Bin Ahmad Al Qasimi, Chairman of SMC, who said that enhancing the culture of dialogue and accepting others is a part of the emirate’s approach to promote coexistence and peace among its residents.

Mukhtar Aziz, Director of the Islamic World Studies Centre and President of the European Forum for Development and Dialogue, addressed the controversies related to the dialogue among faiths, religious sects, and people. He pointed out that Islam believes in the unity of monotheistic religions as they have a single source of doctrine, while the differences in religion exist by Allah’s will. While people must admit these human differences, they have to try and remove the obstacles that hinder interfaith dialogue, he explained.

“Muslims are not allowed to blame people for their beliefs, but must instead deliver the message of Islam to others through peaceful dialogue without any sort of coercion or force.”

Agreeing with the same concept, Dr Al Arabi Kashat explained that it is, however, wrong to pretend that the Western World represents one point of view and, therefore, dialogue should be avoided with them on this ground. He said that the Western world includes different parties, some of which support Arab and Islamic causes. Therefore, Arab and Muslims must collaborate with them. “Controversy in dialogue must be avoided as it leads to extreme dispute but the dialogue should not only be in words but also in action such as helping others and providing aid and relief to those in need.”

Archbishop Atallah Hanna, Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of (occupied) Jerusalem, also commended the role of the UAE and Sharjah in delivering a civilised message to the world by taking part in peaceful and anti-violence initiatives and supporting the Palestinian cause in the international arena.

He said that Muslim-Christian relations in Palestine, in particular, and in the Arab World, in general, are not only based on dialogue but on the brotherhood of people living in the same homeland, belonging to the same nation, and sharing the same suffering and struggle for freedom. He pointed out that monotheists have so many similarities in common that cover a vast spectrum of human and cultural values. “Cooperation among these faiths on the basis of monotheism would only serve humanity.” said Hanna.