Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Ready for Religious Dialogue | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz has called for religious dialogue and this goes hand in hand with Islam in its approach to dialogue with non-Muslims. God has provided clear evidence and has given us a divine global religion calling for amicable dialogue and debate.

The Quran says, “And argue not with the People of the Book except by what is best,” (Surat Al-Ankaboot, Verse 46). So God commanded us to push for dialogue and debate using the best methods and words. The Quran says: “Say O People of the Book, come to an agreement between us and you: that we will worship none except God, that we will associate no partners to him, and that none of us take others for lords besides God (Surat Al-Imran, Verse 64).

Our Messenger Mohammed (PBUH) held dialogue with People of the Book, both the Jews and Christians, visited them and broke bread with them, and they in turn visited him in his home and ate with him and the Prophet provided them with evidence in support of his message.

We do not fear religious dialogue as we, thank God, have explicit Truth and a noble heritage from the Quran and Sunnah that overwhelms the mind, comforts the heart, and makes the fair opponent submit to the argument if his intention is real. Otherwise, how could the world take heed of our call if we close the doors to dialogue and refuse to sit with non-Muslims? Why do we fear refuting an argument with another argument, evidence with evidence and idea with idea when we have nothing to hide?

Our principles are strong and straightforward and they are declared five times a day from the minarets, the pulpits, the universities, forums, satellite channels, newspapers and magazines. The Islamic message is a universal one, it was not meant for a certain number of people, or a tribe, a specific country or a generation since God told His Prophet (PBUH), “And We have not sent you [the Prophet Mohammed] but as a mercy to mankind,” (Surat Al-Anbiya, Verse 107).

Our scholars and preachers should have the strength and determination to deliver the truth of which we are aware to everybody. The People of the Book should listen to us just as we have listened to them; they should believe in, honour and respect our Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) as we believe in, honour and respect Moses, Jesus and all other Prophets.

A distorted version of Islam was portrayed to some nations by some Muslims who are not worthy of representing Islam and this image is not positive in any way. Therefore scholars, preachers and intellects should undertake the mission of explaining Islam’s orthodox teachings and virtuous morals in order to eliminate any confusion within the minds of Islam’s opponents and to remove the suspicions that overwhelm the hearts of those who are ignorant of Islam. I guarantee that the rational non-Muslims who listen to us and our argument would accept the truth.

Words are stronger than weapons. Throughout our glorious history, we have opened more hearts, eyes and ears by using arguments, evidence, verses and examples than via battalions, armies, swords and spears.

Let us ask Indonesia, Malaysia, African countries and Islamic republics whether a single tank or soldier has been sent to them from us. Rather we have sent them peace envoys and amicable delegations made up of visitors and traders. When they saw the way in which our ancestors behaved, their manners and sincerity, immediately they said, “We see that your religion is one of truth.” They embraced Islam, the religion of God, in large numbers.

My message to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques is that in collaboration with scholars he should proceed with an Islamic project based on dialogue and evidence to improve the image of Islam and explain our divine objectives to mankind, our monotheism, God’s mercy upon his servants and our aim to bring people out of the darkness and into the light as well as peaceful coexistence with humanity, saving those who have gone astray who fight against God and his Messengers and guiding those who are confused towards the right path.

The Quran says, “Invite all to the way of the Lord with wisdom and goodly exhortation and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious; surely your Lord best knows those who go astray and he knows best those who follow the right way (Surat al Nahl, Verse 125).