The Necessity Of Interfaith Dialogue by M. Fethullah Gulen People are talking about peace, contentment, ecology, justice, tolerance, and dialogue. Unfortunately, the prevailing materialist worldview disturbs the balance between humanity and nature and within individuals. This harmony and peace only occurs when the material and spiritual realms are reconciled. Religion reconciles opposites: religion-science, this world-the next world, Nature-Divine Books, material-spiritual, and spirit-body. It can contain scientific materialism, put science in its proper place, and end long-standing conflicts. The natural sciences, which should lead people to God, instead cause widespread unbelief. As this trend is strongest in the West, and because Christianity is the most influenced, Muslim-Christian dialogue is indispensable. Interfaith dialogue seeks to realize religion's basic oneness and unity, and the universality of belief. Religion embraces all beliefs and races in brotherhood, and exalts love, respect, tolerance, forgiveness, mercy, human rights, peace, brotherhood, and freedom via its Prophets. Islam has a Prophetic Tradition that Jesus will return during the last days. For Muslims, this means that such values as love, peace, brotherhood, forgiveness, altruism, mercy, and spiritual purification will have precedence. As Jesus was sent to the Jews and all Jewish Prophets exalted these values, dialogue with the Jews must be established, as well as a closer relationship and cooperation among Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. There are many common points for dialogue. Michael Wyschogrod writes that there are as many theoretical or creedal reasons for Muslims and Jews drawing closer together as there are for Jews and Christians coming together. Furthermore, Muslims have a good record of dealing with Jews: There has been almost no discrimination, no Holocaust, denial of basic human rights, or genocide. In fact, Jews were welcomed in times of trouble, as when the Ottoman State embraced them after their expulsion from Spain. Muslim Difficulties in Dialogue - In the last century alone, far more Muslims have been killed by Christians than all Christians killed by Muslims throughout history. Many Muslims, even educated and conscious ones, believe the West seeks to undermine Islam with ever-more subtle and sophisticated methods. - Western colonialism is remembered. The Ottoman State collapsed due to European attacks. Foreign invasions of Muslim lands were followed with great interest in Turkey. The gradual "transformation" of Islam into an ideology of conflict and reaction or into a party ideology also made people suspicious of Islam and Muslims. - Islam was the greatest dynamic for Muslim independence. It has been viewed as an element of separation, a harsh political ideology, and a mass ideology of independence that raised walls between itself and the West. - Christendom's historical portrayal of Islam as a crude distorted version of Judaism and Christianity, and the Prophet as a fraud, still rankle.

moral and socio-cultural values. as in the preaching of its message to a wayward. Ruler of Fate and Wise. Not confused and not torn apart by a mass of theological subtleties. this sense of mission draws its strength from a complete conviction of the relevance of Islam. The West remembers Islam's military might and invasions. "The Church reaffirms to them that in modern society in order to save the meaning of religion and servanthood to God-a necessity and need of true civilization-the Church itself is going to take its place as a resolute advoate of God's rights on man. It is not a religion of natural faith in the God of the philosophers. shows that the Catholic Church's attitude has changed. H.. and of Ishmael. The West's perspective on our Prophet also has softened. in its vigorous denunciation of exploitation. Those religions worship God with sincere. Pope Paul VI said: "On the other hand. Such Christian clerics and people of religion like Charles J. the Catholic Church is looking farther..Dialogue Is a Must For interfaith dialogue to succeed. Moubarac. in its fight for solidarity against racist and Marxist ideologies. beyond the horizons of Christianity. Dalmais.." He believed that Islam has a positive. Islam's resistance to materialist ideologies and its important role in the modern world has amazed Western observers. What is man? What is the meaning and purpose of life? What is goodness and reward. nor buried beneath a heavy burden of dogma. what is the meaning of judgment after death and receiving the fruits of what one has done? What is the mystery surrounding the beginning and end of existence?. and Thomas Merton express warmth for Islam and the Prophet. Islam is a great mystery of Divine Will. Michel Lelong. Gardet. Islam faces the modern world with a peculiar sense of mission. L. bleeding humanity. Christians should follow Muslims. who says Islam is "the faith of Abraham revived with Muhammad. which Initiated this dialogue and so cannot be ignored. we must forget the past." Pope John Paul II admits in his Crossing the Threshold of Hope that Muslims worship in the best and most careful manner. to get to know and support with precaution. In the Council's second period. Norman Daniel. Maurier. Olivier Lacombe. Current Muslim opposition to and resentment of the West benefit no one. and support dialogue. ignore polemics. Transcendental. "In our world that has become smaller and in which relations have become closer. but faith in the God of Abraham." He believed in the Qur'an's Divine authorship and Muhammad's Prophethood. dialogue and co-operation those who follow other religions and to encourage them to develop their spiritual. and focus on gicommon points. The West's view has changed. the West cannot wipe out Islam and Muslim armies . on this point. Ledit. people expect answers from religion regarding mysterious enigmas in human nature that turn their hearts upside down. what is sin? What is the source and point of suffering? What is the path to true happiness? What is death. Irene M.. almost prophetic mission in the post-Christian world. compassion.." Muslims and Christians have struggled with each other for almost 14 centuries. together with believing and living as Christians. for: "Islam is the religion of faith. devotional actions. and realistic zeal. "The Church encourages its children. self-maintenance. In our global village. Jurji's remarks are significant: "In its self-respect. Consider Massignon. The Second Vatican Council. of Isaac. faith in our God.. E. It is turning towards other religions that preserve the concept and meaning of God as One. He reminds his readers that. H. Creator.

Islam possesses an uncorrupted and living spiritual tradition rooted in the Qur'an and Sunnah. I took those worshippers as witnesses and said: 'I witness that there is no god but God. Religion has not escaped unbelief's onslaught. as the most trustworthy representative of universal peace. and that Muhammad is God's Messenger." If they turn back. everyone testified for me. all of us are saying the same words. I took courage from its great and intense servitude to present my insufficient servitude to the Divine Court." Elmalili Hamdi Yazir. nations. Suddenly I discovered the virtue and secret of congregational prayer. The Islamic statement of faith-There is no god but God-is a call not to do certain things. and base our actions on Islam as a religion. The West has scientific. Such a perception is found among Westernized Muslims and non-Muslim Asians and Africans. in circular rows around the Ka'bah. from among ourselves lords and patrons other than God. a famous Turkish Qur'an interpreter. but by their being universal and broad.' "As this reality was unveiled. say: "Bear witness that we are Muslims (surrenders to God's Will)" (3:64). Those who adopt Islam as a political ideology do so usually out of personal or national anger or hostility. Religious progress is possible not by consciences being narrow and separate. I felt they confirmed me in my cause and included me in their prayer. This is not limited to Arab or non-Arab. open. It represented the widest statement on which religious people could agree. that we associate no partners with Him. So. and You alone we ask for help (1:5). Both sides can benefit from each other. Said Nursi explains this broadest scope of Islam from a contemplative observation: "I thought about we in: You alone do we worship. Strangely enough." Islam gave these as gifts. Muslims were to reply: "Your religion is for you. every individual became a kind of intercessor for me. We must end this practice. technological. many groups that have put themselves forward under the banner of Islam export this image and actually strengthen it. that we take not. and books can unite in one essential conscience and word of truth. If it was rejected. I saw myself in the earthly mosque. and military supremacy. Islam made history's greatest ecumenical call: Say: "0 People of the Book! Come to common terms as between us and you: that we worship none but God. By praying together at the Bayezid Mosque.' . and my heart asked why we was used in place of I. and true path of salvation and law of freedom. or consider the West and other religious from a historical perspective and define their attitude accordingly. The Prophet defined a true Muslim as one from whom others are safe. I felt I was praying before the Ka'bah. American universities teach Islam as a political system in their political science or international relations departments. Islam's Ecumenical Call for Dialogue Fourteen centuries ago. Muslims must stop acting out of ideological or political partisanship and dressing it up in Islamic garb. and they are confirming me. I said: 'Praise be to the Lord of the worlds. or represent mere desires as ideas. economic. religions. "Another reality unveiled itself: All of Istanbul's mosques united and came under Bayezid's authority. As long as I recited the Qur'an there.cannot attack the West. my religion is for me. I have so many intercessors. observed: "Various consciences. This has caused the West to adopt a distorted vision of Islam. so that followers of revealed religions could end their separation. Islam has taught the human realm such a wide. For example. Muslims cannot limit Islam to a political ideology or an economic system.

incorrect thought. Here. the we in we worship pointed to these groups. God commands: And discuss not with the People of the Book. Adam's son Cain was the first murderer. While leaving this trust. for one murder engenders the idea that anyone can be killed (5:32). At the very outset. the mind. worship your Lord (2:2 1). and I was among them." . However. For this reason. a Prophetic Tradition states: "If a person is killed unjustly. Its criticism and warning about some attitudes and behavior found among Jews. From my body's atoms to the outer senses. and polytheists also were directed toward Muslims who engaged in such behavior. War and conflict are aberrations to be controlled. and who believe in what is sent to you and what was sent before you.'" Interacting with non-Muslims The Qur'an says: This is the Book. Islam established rules to balance and limit war. For example. creation of hostility. Christians. immediately thereafter." He explains: "You do not gain anything by his defeat. everyone in the three groups replied: 'You alone do we worship. a guidance to those who fear God (2:2). especially in the matter of interfaith dialogue. Like everyone else. property. which must follow certain guidelines. security. An exception is made for self-defense. and (in their hearts) have the reassurance of the Hereafter (2:3-4). I heard his command in my spirit.I entrusted this testimony of faith to the Black Stone. and like me. I imagined our Prophet. Islam gives the greatest value to human life by saying that killing someone is the same as killing everyone. the Qur'an's translator and propagator. another veil opened. Having such a condition at the very beginning seems very important to me. the Qur'an calls people to accept the former Prophets and their Books. addressing humanity in Madina: 0 humanity. in reality. All revealed religions are based on peace. and reproduction." Debate should enable the truth to come out. life. and undesirable characteristics. If you were defeated and he was victorious. without exception some of that sin will be credited to Cain. Every class or species was busy with its unique invocation and litanies to God. for he opened the way of unjust killing to humanity. "In short. it takes justice and world peace as a basis: Let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from Justice (5:8). wherein there is no doubt. large due to its duty and quality. Sarah Mumtahana says: God forbids you not. which began the epoch of bloodshed. The second circle contained all creatures performing the greatest prayer and invocation of God. the Qur'an uses very gentle words to awaken hearts to the truth and to plant hope. I saw that the congregation I was in had separated into three circles. there was a congregation busy with servitude and gratitude. "The first circle was a large group of believing Muslims and those who believe in God's existence and Unity. except with means better (than mere disputation) (29:46). with regard to those who fight you not for (your) Faith nor drive you out of your homes. Said Nursi's view is significant: "Anyone who is happy about his opponent's defeat in debate is without mercy. are steadfast in prayer. and world harmony. The Bible gives more details of this event. These pious ones are those: Who believe in the Unseen. Islam developed a line of defense based on protecting religion. then you would have corrected one of your mistakes. but. the Qur'an describes how to proceed. The modern legal system also has done this. the Bible contains even stronger expressions. from dealing kindly and justly with them: for God loves those who are just (60:8). resistance to truth. and spend out of what We have provided for them. The third circle contained an amazing realm that was outwardly small. Some Qur'anic verses criticize the People of the Book for wrong behavior.

Jesus once said to a blood-thirsty crowd: Let he who is without sin cast the first stone (John 8:7). we hear from the Prophet that a prostitute entered Paradise because she gave water to a dog dying of thirst. Whoever has the greatest share in this love is the greatest hero of humanity. and forgive what is forgivable. and a very important source of spiritual discipline and virtue. seeking forgiveness and surmounting the shame of personal sin allows us to attain infinite mercy and overlook the sins of others. Such heroes continue to live even after death. while another woman entered Hell because she allowed a cat to starve to death. tolerance and forgiveness. and liberality and affection. and prepares it for eternity. Once they are welcomed through love. As we say: "Errors from the young. and endure any hardship for its sake. Altruism generates love. This embrace is so broad that a drunk suddenly shook himself free and became a Companion of the Prophet. We should ignore others' faults. He put the beauty of forgiving in their hearts. Just as God showed His attribute of forgiveness through individuals. and finding oneself again. We expect love and respect. If we understand this. the most pleasing action in the Infinite Mercy's view is the activity pursued amidst the palpitations of this return and search. For instance. and conscience in good shape. Compassion exalts people. they are welcomed by many. As everything speaks of and promises compassion. it was God's forgiveness that elevated him to Prophethood. and a murderer was turned toward the truth and reached the highest rank. They dedicate their lives to this. Its followers are not rejected. It causes merits to attain new depth and extend to infinity. how can we "stone" others? Malice and hatred turn the land into a pit of Hell. even if they are rejected by some. While Adam dealt a blow to his essence through falling. Showing compassion to all living beings is a requirement of being human. forgiveness from the elder. Tolerance is the most essential element of moral systems. Those who make contact with eternity through love seek to implant in others what they receive." Being forgiven means a repair. a great power that can resist and overcome every force. We should carry forgiveness to those whose troubles are pushing them into the abyss. one who has uprooted any personal feelings of hatred and rancor. We should do this to touch hearts and benefit from contradictory ideas that force us to keep our heart. the greatest gift today's generation can give is to teach their children how to forgive and be tolerant. For this reason. God's treatment passes through the prism of tolerance. Love elevates every soul that absorbs it. spirit.The Pillars of Dialogue Love is a person's most essential element. Whenever we err. The excesses of those who have no forgiveness or tolerance made the past one or two centuries the most horrific ever. Forgiving also is a great virtue. The most direct way to one's heart is love. and mistakes and faults to shrink into insignificance. and during life are welcomed and loved by people. Thus. respect different ideas. the way of the Prophets. the universe can be considered a symphony of compassion. they always attain their goal. Creation was introduced to forgiveness via humanity. a return to an essence. and we wait for it to embrace us and all of creation. especially . It is a most radiant light.

beauty. No one can prevent this. what they inspire in others disappears quickly. the world will one day find this essence. and being virtuous are the essence of the world and humanity. rancor. and adorn their outer worlds with virtue. Goodness.from God. . purify their inner worlds of hatred. But can we expect these if we do not first offer them to others? The Last Word Those who want to reform the world must first reform themselves. Those who lack self-control. truthfulness. However. and jealousy. Whatever happens. self-discipline. and refined feelings may seem attractive and insightful at first.