Peace, one and all…
I went along to a meeting of the Valleys Faith Forum last night. A Muslim woman from Cardiff came and gave a talk about the potentials and difficulties of inter-faith dialogue. The paper itself was interesting and so too was the subsequent discussion. One issue that seemed to emerge in a number of different ways during this discussion was the nature of inter-faith work: is it merely to reinforce pre-existing ideas and identities; or is it also to challenge them?
These are important questions and for me at least, go right to the heart of what it means to dialogue within and beyond our own faiths. More generally, these questions relate to the very nature of discussion itself: why do we talk with others? What do we expect from these encounters? How should these conversations be undertaken? Where should they begin and where should they end?
I have no ready answers to these questions, but I realise their significance. After all, unless we ask these questions of ourselves (and me of myself), how can we ever hope to be certain of our real intent? And, as the Prophet himself said (alaihi al-salatu wa al-salam):
‘Actions are (judged) by intentions, so each man will have what he intended…’
So, with God’s aid and permission, I intend to explore this topic more fully. With this in mind, I’m currently reading the excellent Scriptures in Dialogue: Christians and Muslims Studying the Bible and the Quran Together (edited by Michael Ipgrave).
Wa akhiru da’wana an il hamdu lillahi rabbil alameen.