An interfaith Dialogue

The identities can be inspired to overcome their differences through the medium of dialogue

Dr. Abdul Ahad
Srinagar, Publish Date: Nov 15 2017 11:38PM | Updated Date: Nov 15 2017 11:38PM
An interfaith DialogueFile Photo

It is indisputably a pioneering work on Islam & Christianity, the underlying aim of which is to create an understanding among the monotheistic identities for cooperation and coexistence which is so conspicuously absent from the universe presently. Written in lucid English this book comprises 546 pages, so skilfully distributed among 14 wonderful chapters, 10 important appendices and a compact and useful bibliography. While tracing the genesis of the civilizational discord among the identities, the author sheds enough light on existent bottlenecks that do not allow them to balance their differences in a meaningful manner. And work together for Brotherhood based on Unitarian Faith essentially and divinely envisaged by Prophet Abraham and subsequently strengthened by Moses, then Jesus and lastly by Muhammad, peace be upon them all. That Islam appeared as a culmination--rather than obstacle/obstruction--of the struggle carried by these Prophets over several centuries is the main theme of the book. This historical fact is yet to be duly recognized by both the Jews and Christians. It is a great lapse that has in actuality failed them not only to relate the emergence of Islam and it's Prophet to the prognosis made by earliest divine Revelations but also to appreciate the eternal message of Quran. The identities can be inspired to traverse across the ordained path and overcome their differences through the medium of dialogue and understanding between the two great Civilizations.

 The author has been able to bring new and compelling evidence to bear upon the underlying purpose of Crusades that were launched not for any holy purpose but simply for aggrandizement, pillage, slavery, lifting of animals and killing of peasants. These wicked occurrences have been equally condemned by historians like Edward Gibbon, Steven Runciman and Simervel.

 This monumental work by an internationally known Kashmiri Scholar earnestly pleads for a meaningful accord, sincere reconciliation, genuine rapprochement and real social coalescence of these identities to be able to defeat the forces if disruption and anarchy. And foil the attempts of those hell bent upon augementing the ranks of turbulent and discordant voices that have completely beseiged our times with all the attendant ills and inhuman consequences.

The invaluable aspect of Dr. Sahib's painstaking research is it's objective conclusions which, apart from lifting pristine, original teachings of these great religions from the maze of distortions, suffered by them at various junctures of history, strengthen the perspectives/views/thoughts of votaries of Inter-Religious Dialogue between the Civilizations who while spending their life in promoting understanding and cooperation among the Monotheistic religions have earned nothing but censure, and displeasure.

Sheikh Iqbal's book is, therefore, a huge contribution duly substantiated, amplified and supported by relevant verses from the holy Quran, Bible and other Books of God and a great variety of scholarly works. It is undoubtedly remarkable enough to qualify him for his inclusion into the list of noted exponents of civilizational peace who have profusely and objectively written on the subject for reaching an understanding between the divided communities.

Bringing together Jewish, Christian and Muslim identities--who have a common ancestry--through a well thought out process of mutual cognizance and identification of similarities of original revelations and genuine teachings of their religions and ample recognition of basic objectives they stand for is not the forte of the scholars of any particular community. The noble initiative was the legitimate child of an ever growing yearning/desire of men of wisdom and knowledge of these religions who came to the forefront to spin and weave the thread if harmony to knit together the fragmentary people's; the Ahl al-Kitab. They left no stone unturned to show to the world the mightiness of historical forces that marched in unison to extend their reinforcing stimulus to the Biblical Prophets and God's Messengers ( from Moses to Muhammad, on them be peace ), to promote the wellbeing of mankind through an elaborate and ennobling set of teachings propounded by these religions. Pope Paul VI was one among the foremost groundbreakers to prepare the way for a peace dialogue with various leaders of the Muslim world. He was himself " moved by the profound belief in the unification of Islamic and Christian worlds in the worship of a single God". It was really a great step towards unity among Civilizations: a message of considerable significance that was well taken by noted Muslim scholars like Ismai Raje al- Fauqi and Dr. Attaullah Suddiqui who worked strenuously for the cooperation among the identities on the basis of common understanding of the teachings based on common original revelations of the great religions. Equally inspired to study and assess the nature and quality of Islam were some well meaning Christian scholars, notable among them being Martin Forward and Helena Wackerlin who authored: Guidelines for a Dialogue between Muslims and Christians; a book that to quote our author: " had cleared the debris of misunderstanding caused by misinformation and misrepresentation that had worked havock throughout the past centuries".

The consequences of this straining intellectual exercise undertaken by these scholars and men of merit and vision we're encouraging enough for exchange of peace messages between Pope Francis and King Faisal of Saudi Arabia. Also the Pope bestowed the title of saints on Arab nuns; a noble spiritual gesture that was a prelude to the opening of Palestinan Embassy in Vatican City in  presence of President Mahmoud Abbas. It was of course a step lively towards:

1) cutting to size the overbearing arrogance of usurpers of Arab lands;

2) washing away the dirty linen of acrimony, racial prejudice and wicked crimes perpetrated by enemies of humanity against the oppressed and occupied people's; and

3) boosting up the sagging moral of the hapless people laden with unremitting grief and agony due to on going mayhem. 

 There is an urgent need to reach an understanding in contemporary times when UN has totally and miserably failed to resolve problems of peoples struggling to shape their own destiny; and when the world order is greviously afflicted with terrorism and conflict fomented by some unjust Members of Security Council that, to quote Dr. Sahib, " trade in war weapons and other materials with the countries that are governed by leaders with no foresight or far-sight, and believing simply in combat-philosophy. Humanity and its tyrannized constituents want immediate peace, justice, security and contentment..." That can be achieved through sincere dialogue only.

The author has inadvertently missed to provide a comprehensive glossary and index at the end of the book to make it easier for the researchers and serious readers to fathom the meaning and significance of idioms and words in Arabic and retrieve without any difficulty the information they require for the their projects. 

 However, one can not but appreciate the zest, zeal and missionary spirit with which the author has pursued and carried forward his researches to add to our knowledge of Islam and the Muslim world. 

( Dr. Ahad is author of Kashmir to Frankfurt; Kashmir Rediscovered; Kashmir: Triumphs & Tragedies; Legends of Unsung Heroes ( forthcoming ).


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