Thursday, February 17, 2011

Whats wrong with interfaith dialogue?

As one of the first people in Australia to bring interfaith dialogue into schools and one who has been doing interfaith for over a decade, I feel we have come to a saturation point. Unfortunately, interfaith groups are ‘preaching to the converted’ and what seems to be the trend is to spend large amounts of resources and funds on conferences and forums which attract very small audiences and do very little to move faith communities closer together.

Luckily, Australians are a very easy-going lot and interfaith or faith as a general experience does not rate highly on their priorities in life. Yet, Muslims and Jews who felt under siege took it upon themselves to make contact with other faith groups, particularly Christians (Catholic and Uniting Church) to build bridges to understanding.

But it is time to go beyond dialogue.

Muslims must stop pandering to the mainstream and apologise for the actions of others within their faith community.

Muslims must stand up for themselves and take a strong position on the various issues. Interfaith is acceptable as long as it is done without compromising your principles and your own faith.

As Muslims we must acknowledge the ‘People of the Book’ and to show them respect and acceptance just as we would expect them to do the same for Muslims. But when issues are placed on the table we must take a strong position and speak up against injustice and oppression.

Let me give you a few examples;
On the issue of Iraq and Afghanistan, Australia has no right to be in that country as an occupying force supporting shameless American aggression (which has killed 200000 people to date). When we speak to other Christians in the spirit of love and respect, we need to know that they do not support such oppression otherwise how can we even sit in the same room or share a meal when we know that one side supports the murder of other people?

On the issue of women’s rights. Many people criticise Muslims for their stance on the dress code for women and their roles within society. Yet, others have no problem with the objectification of the female body and the continued industry that supports body image and commodifies women’s bodies and their self-image.

Or the biggest issue that Muslims have ignored for so long is the injustices placed upon Palestinians by Israel. The acceptance of Israel’s oppression of Muslims and the continued usurpation of their land, food, culture and identity is an indication that we have sold out the Palestinians. When we meet with Jews we should not only ask each other “What does your faith mean to you?” But we should ask, “what does your faith say about oppression, human rights, kindness?”

There are many groups out there who are justifying their existence on the back of a “need” for interfaith dialogue. When in reality, there is no real need but just one side trying to justify themselves to others. In recent times Islam has become the talking point so every man and his dog wants to be seen talking to Muslims. But why do we allow ourselves to be used by these people?
The old saying goes, “Look at yourself before you look at others”
Muslims have to take a good long hard look at themselves in the mirror and ask why am I doing this? Is this pleasing Allah (swt)? Is it of benefit to my community and to my faith or is it in fact detrimental to my people? Am I doing an injustice to those who do not have a voice (such as in Palestine, Bosnia, East Turkestan and Iraq)? Am I promoting other faiths and am I justifying their exploitation and oppression of other Muslims by sharing the podium with them?
The bottom line is that we cannot compromise our principles and we must always maintain our integrity and stand up for Islam and Justice!


Muslim said...

You've hit the nail on its head!
Inferfaith dialogue should never be about appeasement and hiding behind the things we got in common with other faiths. Interfaith dialogue should in fact be dawah

yassir said...

Whatever man, ten years later. People like me told you this to your face, and told AFIC and ICV. Know it comes to you as revelation after wasting every opportunity imaginable to speak about REAL issues. Don't be so forgiving on yourself. You let millions of voiceless people down while obsessing about a few middle class australian's impression

Amel said...

The idea of "interfaith dialogue" to begin with should be the questioned from its basis. Is it a valid method of uniting the people? The purpose is here, initially, is to unite the people, to bring them to a common understanding or respected "boundary." When you try to unite people on the basis of religion, can it be successful? When you have hundreds of religions with differing as well as contradictory beliefs and values, likewise, people who live their lives according to a specific set of rules, there are bound to be arguments and dispute. Specifically if people with these differing viewpoints were to live under a country or system who governs them according to "their" ideology. Their values are bound to be "suppressed", risked, or sacrificed for the price of another, making it like a game of poker. Therefore interfaith dialogue cannot be successful, its only provides people with the false sense of "common grounds" So how can unity be attained? People must share the same ideology, the same ideas, the same values, principles, way of life, etc. The ideology can only be correct when its ideas are proven to be true and satisfy everyone's needs and instincts. This brings us back to issue of Islam and this article, why should the Muslims stand up now? Now you want to turn your back on interfaith dialogue? When did they ever respect Islam? They never respected the rights of Muslims, rather they repressed the rights of Muslims, killing, murdering, and raping their women for decades. As you stated in this article, where were the Christians, Jews, Buddhists', etc. when Israel cleansed Palestine of the Muslim People under the banner of a "sanctuary" for the Jews, a homeland for "Judaism." And when Islam was wiped off the map in 1924? To date, over half a million Muslims butchered in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have been oppressed for years, and our way of life suppressed, as long as Islam doesn't rule our life. As long as Allah, the most merciful, the most just doesn't rule our life. Men-made laws are oppressive, bias, and illegal. Allah knows best what way we should live, what we need and don't need. The Islamic State must be revived, and will be re-born. Only the under the Khilafah system will people truly live in harmony free of Men-made Governments.

وَلَن تَرْضَىٰ عَنكَ الْيَهُودُ وَلَا النَّصَارَىٰ حَتَّىٰ تَتَّبِعَ مِلَّتَهُمْ ۗ قُلْ إِنَّ هُدَى اللَّهِ هُوَ الْهُدَىٰ ۗ وَلَئِنِ اتَّبَعْتَ أَهْوَاءَهُم بَعْدَ الَّذِي جَاءَكَ مِنَ الْعِلْمِ ۙ مَا لَكَ مِنَ اللَّهِ مِن وَلِيٍّ وَلَا نَصِيرٍ

Never will the Jews nor the Christians be pleased with you, till you follow their religion. Say: "Verily, the Guidance of Allah is the only Guidance. And if you were to follow their desires after what you have received of Knowledge (i.e. the Qur'an), then you would have against Allah neither any Wali (protector or guardian) nor any helper.

Elisa said...

Very good article, alhamdulilah. Praise to Allah swt for guiding us to the correct understanding on issues that have been clouded for so long. Barak allahu feek br kuranda for stepping out of the square and questioning and challenging. said...

@yassir and amel very well put, the both of you. i have nothing to add except alhamdulillah the brother is finally waking up. Insha'Allah he will now be instrumental in the revival instead of an obstacle. Again, very well put. a.a.