King Hamad with participants at a conference on ‘Dialogue Among Civilisations’ in Manama on Monday. Image Credit: BNA

Manama: Muslims should adopt two tracks in their communication strategy, the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, the highest Sunni religious institution, said.

“[We] need to launch two dialogues, an internal comprehensive dialogue among the Arabs and Muslims themselves, and an external dialogue between the Arabs and Muslims on the one side and the followers of divine religions and other civilizations, on the other side,” Shaikh Ahmad Al Tayyib said in his speech at the Dialogue Among Civilisations conference in Manama.

The followers of Islamic sects should sit together and talk in order to agree on the many things that Muslims have in common, he said.

“Muslims, through the dialogue, should be able to combine their goals, unite their purposes and forgive one another over our disagreements. Differences should not breed hatred, violence and sectarian differences that are fuelled by politics and lead to divisions among the followers of the same religion,” he said.

He added that Al Azhar was ready to contribute “fully and effectively” to complete Bahrain’s dialogue between Islamic sects.

Dialogue should be a regular feature throughout all regions because “the world is right now sitting on a violent volcano that threatens doom.”

“The only solution available is through acquaintance, dialogue and rapprochement between the nations, peoples and religions.”

Al Azhar top religious leader said that Bahrain should continue its efforts to bolster dialogue and positive interactions between civilisations.

“The civilisation of Islam is open to the world. It has influenced and it has been influenced by other civilisations. The civilisation of Islam has always been willing to reach out to other civilisations and has been able to go itself beyond the borders of the Islamic confines. Therefore, Islam was the first to seek an open and pluralistic globalisation. Today, we deeply need to be truly inspired by the spirit of our civilisation and reproduce it again,” he said.

According to the religious scholar, “there is no escape from the rapprochement between peoples and religions and from the removal of the causes of disputes until all the people of the earth live like one family.”

The three-day conference that has brought together around 500 people from several countries and representing major faiths concludes on Wednesday.

Shaikh Khalifa Bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the President of the Higher Organising Committee said that he looked forward to the adoption by the participants of the Manama Document at the end of their forum.

“The recommendations of the conference will be referred to the King, the patron of the event, to adopt them as part of the Manama Documents,” Shaikh Khalifa said. “The document would include the noble principles of the pluralism and diversity that serve humanity. The United Nations will be urged to adopt it as one of its formal documents. One recommendation is to designate Bahrain as a major hub in the universal process of dialogues among civilisations,” he told the media in the Bahraini capital Manama.

The conference emphasises the need for tolerance and respect for religious and intellectual diversity and for the protection of human rights, he added.

“It also promotes dialogue, understanding and peaceful coexistence among all civilisations, religions and cultures in all their diversity,” he said.

Bahrain hosted a major inter-faith dialogue in 2002.