Interfaith dialogs Madrid: A Thinking man’s Observation

Welcome with Assalamualaikum,(Peace be upon You)

The Interfaith dialogue entered into the second phase with a gathering of prominent Muslims and Non Muslim scholars across the globe upon the invitation of King Abdullah in Madrid, Spain, from 16 July to 18 July.

It was my first opportunity to see an ocean of scholars, thinkers and writers of various faiths. It can be a surprise for many readers that there are various organizations holding interfaith dialogues in the West. Many of them are run by Retired Pastors, and Rabbis. These dialogues are held in colleges, churches and Masajid too.

Let me share my experience in interfaith dialogues with my fellow readers. I met very interesting people from other communities and had lots of one to one discussion with them on many issues. This was my first opportunity to discuss with Jewish counterparts, and I found it good and fruitful.

The Non Muslim’s Interfaith Organizations

Walter Ruby is the Program Officer at the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding New York. He says that he has taken part in hundreds of Interfaith dialogues in the US .

He has lead many American students including Jews and Christian students to various Churches, Synagogues and Masjid and hold dialogues “to fuse the tension erupted out of political blows”.

There is also an increase of sharing family cultures with each other by enjoying hospitality of each community. Some organisation even brings teenagers from all three faith to stay together for three weeks, so that they understand each other.

Rabbi Joseph is 82 years old and runs a Center for Christian Jewish understanding at Fair field. He says that now they have initiated dialogues with the Muslims too, as they were very few in numbers in their locality. Rabbi Joseph was a Rabbi for 40 years and after retirement he is working in interfaith dialogues.

It was interesting to speak to these learned men who were moderates. Rabbi said that the extremists in the Jewish community who are small in numbers believe that Israel should extended it borders, for making a greater Israel, but a majority of the Jews don’t agree with them and they too are fed up with the war and living under constant fear of war and suicide attacks.

Then why does it not echo in media

Because the Media is dishonest, said the senior Rabbi

This allegation on media is not hurled by the Muslims alone, Even William Baker exclaimed in the audience: When the Taliban destroyed Statues, the media screamed loudest, but when the churches were destroyed in Bethlehem it went out as whispers

The media is partial, this was the common agreement reached by almost all participants though not announced officially. Some one even commented:

How can this event be ignored by the CNN and BBC?

The day when the conference ended, Fox TV ran with mischievous headlines,King Abdullah holds dialogue to show his supremacy over Muslims !!!!!

The head lines further read : Jews and Christians unhappy over the ending of seminar.(Infact the media present over there have not missed out the positive comments of any Jew or Christians.)

In order to malign the seminar, the cunning Fox TV announced: Saudi school still teaches killing of homosexuals.

Palestine Issue remains an important chapter in Interfaith Dialoge

Then what is the solution for Palestine Problem, I asked every Rabbi I met, and all of them responded “Two nation should be accepted by one and all .

The reason? “Because it is not practical to diverse a whole nation of Israel from one place to another”

Then what about the Palestinians? “They should be given compensation, and those who want to be accommodated in Israel can be, and the rest should be allowed to settle in Jordan, Saudi and other Arab nations”

But why not all of them in Palestine? “Because there is nothing like a Palestinian, all of them are Arabs and not Palestine. They were just named by the British.”

But the Old Testament says that they did exist, look at Goliath?

“It was a race and not a nation”,

But the same can be said about the Jews of today, these people stayed in Europe for about 2000 years and got married with the localities and now they too cannot be originals!

Do you (Arabs) want peace or war? If we stick to this egoism then there cannot be a solution. “Yes” I said.

Then what is the final solution? ” The Palestinians should have a Gandhi” said the Rabbi and we ended the dialogue

These were the most moderate views of scholarly Jews, and they are in majority

Yet I believe that dialogues must be continued to avoid war as the Quran says to the Muslims that¨” you dislike war”

Muslims in Mardrid

I was excited to visit the Islamic center in Madrid for Jummah. Colorful Muslims from Africa, Asia and Europe filled the large Masjid , including women in scarf and children in Islamic libas announcing the return of Islam in Spain. Next day I was invited to deliver a talk in a Bengali Masjid , The topic was : Muslims in Non Muslim society

There are around 25 Masajid in Madrid, with some of them having around 2000 people attending the Friday Prayers.

With more News next time Inshallah

Nisar Nadiadwala

About author: Nisar Nadiadwala has a wide experience of speaking on “interfaith dialogues” and sharing his views on issues related to interfaith communications. He has been invited to many Forums, Institutions and Private gathering to deliver his views on theology, peace, monotheism and other issues related to social life. In his talks he motivates his audience to have a broader look at interfaith dialogues. He can be reached at : nisaar_yusuf@yahoo.com

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