Opinion: "Common Ground: An Interfaith Miracle?"

February 16, 2006

Source: UPI


On February 16, 2006 United Press International ran an opinion piece by Mohammed Abu-Nimer, Associate Professor of International Peace and Conflict Resolution at American University's School of International Service in Washington, DC, on the value of interfaith dialogue. Abu-Nimer writes, "These interfaith, intercultural, or intercivilisational dialogue meetings initiated in the West [mostly after 9/11] have been gaining more and more support from both government and private individuals... What can such meetings accomplish? For Muslims, interfaith dialogue can offer an opportunity to accurately present their faith and correct some of the basic stereotypes and misperceptions regarding its practices and principles... The interfaith dialogue circles help in breaking the enclave mentality of the closed communities in which many Muslims live... This isolation increases the likelihood of a violent backlash when there is a terrorist attack on a European or American city... I must admit that there is truth to some of the above criticism [that interfaith can be used as a forum to try to convert others, or that interfaith dialogue is essentially just talk and fails to produce any change]. But such a critique fails to consider the fact that personal and individual change is essential to any desired larger, social and political change in any relationship. Thousands of stories of hope and transformation have been documented by people who have attended these interfaith meetings, and in many cases such individuals have acted in their own personal sphere to change the images and negative stereotypes which exist about Muslims and non-Muslims alike. In addition, efforts in interfaith dialogue are like any long-term educational investment in building a global and local culture of peace, in that its fruits will only be seen and felt by future generations which will be better-equipped to counter all forms of violence more effectively."

See also: Interfaith, Islam