Interfaith dialogue for a globalised world

by Tareq Oubrou
Print
Email
Bordeaux, France - In these times, it is essential to engage in interfaith and intercultural dialogue, given the way our world is evolving. With post-modern globalisation there has been a decline in the belief in the philosophy of progress: the secular theory of salvation no longer has the answers to existential concerns of our times.

Humanity is struggling with a deep uncertainty caused by economic globalisation, permeable borders, and the mixing of cultures and traditions due to migration and increasingly sophisticated means of communication and transportation.

An environment with these changes favors a reemergence of the irrational in general, and the spiritual and religious in particular. In fact, our world – as the American sociologist Peter Berger notes – is fiercely religious.

I am convinced that in this climate of turbulence, religions offer the potential for generosity, wisdom and an ethical sense of transcendence capable of creating a strong link between people, beyond their differences. We might have different beliefs and dogmas and adhere to different schools of philosophical and metaphysical thought, but I strongly believe that it is possible to share a pragmatic universal system of ethics that would allow us all to live together.

The details may differ from one tradition to another, but we can definitely act together towards a more peaceful future.

Religions are not abstractions. And interreligious dialogue is above all an encounter between human beings who may be from different religious traditions but nevertheless share the same humanity, the same world, the same reality and sometimes the same culture, social condition, language, ways of thinking and interests.

An ethic of common action is thus possible.

Intercultural and interfaith dialogue is above all a matter of understanding the “other”. It should be motivated first and foremost by a natural desire to meet the other, who is different but paradoxically alike in many ways. At the end of the day, we all belong to the same big family of human beings. We are different ethnically, linguistically, religiously but these differences are what make us rich.

The Qur’an tells us to know one other: “We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another” (49:13). But dialogue is not only about knowing one another.

In today’s tense climate, dialogue must also be part of a geopolitical strategy – what one could call a “geo-theological” strategy – that can help build understanding between nations and contribute to peace within societies and between people.

The purpose of interreligious dialogue is to prevent tensions that can arise between and among religious communities. A geo-theological strategy could respond to the threat of uncontrolled de-secularisation described above – which is equally a threat to individual religions – by anticipating violent forms of religion nourishing claims of identity which could tear apart the fabric of societies, endanger national unity and launch conflicts between nations.

It is thus very important today that religions do not transform their universalism into totalitarianism - which would jeopardise the very spiritual values that they uphold.

All religions should provide reassurance and offer hope for a better, fairer and more egalitarian life. Instead of fighting each other, they should fight, hand-in-hand, against threats of violence and misunderstandings that endanger humanity.

###

* Tareq Oubrou is Director of the Bordeaux Mosque and President of the Imams of France Association. This article is part of a series on religious leaders and interfaith dialogue written for the Common Ground News Service (CGNews).

Source: Common Ground News Service (CGNews), 7 September 2010, www.commongroundnews.org
Copyright permission is granted for publication.
 
 
 
 
VIDEO OF THE WEEK
Women of Tunisia: Let your voices be heard!

The women of Tunisia have a decisive role to play in shaping Tunisia's future. Fatma Ben Saïdane reminds women of the power of their vote and the importance of civic engagement.
 
 
 
 
"I like the articles you distribute because they're not always safe. They move the discussion forward, they're not reiterative. They help me think in new ways about problems that really need solutions, problems that are not simple but complex."

- Michael Wolfe, Unity Productions Foundation
 
 
 

It takes 200+ hours a week to produce CGNews. We rely on readers like you to make it happen. If you find our stories informative or inspiring, help us share these underreported perspectives with audiences around the world.

Monthly:

Donate:

Or, support us with a one-time donation.

 
 
 
OTHER ARTICLES IN SERIES
Sharing the Holy Sites
Pakistani Christians more active than you think
Teaching the next generation to make peace
Religion as a tool for peace
Imam from Qom stresses unity of all faiths
High expectations for Indonesian religious leaders
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
200+
 
 
# of hours per week to create one edition
 
 
8
 
 
# of editors in 6 countries around the world
 
 
30,000
 
 
# of subscribers
 
 
30
 
 
Average # of reprints per article
 
 
4,800
 
 
# of media outlets that have reprinted our articles
 
 
37,307
 
 
# of republished articles since inception
 
 
6
 
 
# of languages CG articles are distributed in
 
 
2000+
 
 
# of writers since inception
 
 
'

 

Other articles in this series

Sharing the Holy Sites by Rabbi Michael Cohen
Pakistani Christians more active than you think by Haroon Nasir
Teaching the next generation to make peace by Mohamad Bashar Arafat
Religion as a tool for peace by Riad Jarjour
Imam from Qom stresses unity of all faiths by Mohammad Ali Shomali
High expectations for Indonesian religious leaders by Elga J. Sarapung