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Fars News Agencys interview with Dr. A. M. Helmi


Q: What was the need for the establishment of the Center for Interreligious Dialogue?

A: It was felt that interreligious dialogue could help leaders and thinkers of various religions know each others, understand each other and cooperate in creating an atmosphere of peaceful coexistence among the followers of different religions, particularly at the time when political figures ruling their countries are anti or against religion and religious way of living and try to take undue advantage of the existing religious misunderstandings to their own interest.

Q: What are the values given importance in these dialogues; irrespective of the national and religious identity of the participants?  

A: Issues discussed in these dialogues generally concern subjects of mutual interest like social justices, human dignity, peace, eradication of oppression, ethics, youth, women, human rights, etc.

Q: The most important criticism to interreligious dialogue in the country is that the two sides try to impose their views rather than come to some sort of understanding. What is your opinion?

A: There is no reality in this statement because we do not propagate Islam in such dialogues. We only put forward Islams views on particular issues. The same is true about the other sides. This is for the simple reason that the main purpose of dialogue is to come to mutual understanding and strengthen common values.

It is to be noted that being rationalistic is their approach Shiism and Shia Iran have always been the pioneers of dialogue; and this is what may not be stated about the Wahhabis and Salafis who consider interreligious dialogue as illegitimate.

Q: What is the reason that Europeans have welcomed interreligious dialogue with the Shia Iran as the representative of the Islamic world?

A: I have personally been informed by the representative of other religions about the importance they attach to engaging in dialogue with Shia and the Islamic Republic of Iran in particular. It is mainly due to the fact that in the Shia heritage emphasis has been made on respect to followers of other religions. For instance, in his letter of appointment to Malik Ashtar as the governor of Egypt, Imam Ali (a) reminds him of his attitude towards people in these words:˝Remember that people are of two kinds, they are either your brother in faith or human beings like you; in any case you need to treat them equally.

Q: What are the points emphasized by the Islamic Republic of Iran in these dialogues?

A: The points discussed focus on mans innate nature and issues that are common to various religious. Issues that concern all human beings such as justice, family, human rights, role of religion in the doing way with violence and oppression. In countries like China and Korea in which many people do not believe in any particular religion issues like the advantages of religiosity and its positive impact on mans daily life have also been discussed.

Q: What are the steps that have been taken for spreading the outcomes of dialogue at the level of society?

A: This was the concern expressed by the Iranian delegation in the meeting with the WCC. Certain decisions were arrived, at that included: greater interaction with the media with the aim of spreading greater understanding among various religious communities and adoption of appropriate stance in respect to certain extremist steps in sacrileging other religions and religious beliefs. Another decision made was to involve youth and women in interreligious dialogue in the hope of arriving at a new order in interreligious interactions. It was agreed that this objective can be achieved through schools and cultural institutes.

Q: What is your opinion about the very purpose of interreligious dialogue?

A: It would be a misconception to consider interreligious dialogue an objective in itself .What is important is to discuss differing point of view and reach certain common grounds. 


08:49 - 04/05/2013    /    Number : 597767    /    Show Count : 898

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