Articles > Interreligious dialogue > 2006 > Reciprocity Means that Everyone should Try to Change
The journal > Year 2 N.4 September 2006 > Reciprocity Means that Everyone should Try to Change

Reciprocity Means that Everyone should Try to Change

The gaze of the East /3. Muslims have the problem of how to relate to a pluralistic world. And thus they have to address in a new way the subjects of freedom, of fundamental rights, and of laws. Christians have to explain that the choices of the West are not necessarily their choices. One need only think here of the war in Iraq.

Louis Sako | 01 September 2006

First of all, I would like to underline that we must say the truth and not roam around reality with pleasant speeches. We normally use a double language when we deal with each other. If we want sincerely to progress in our dialogue and to reach a harmonious life together in society, we should be courageous and say the truth objectively. There are differences and common points between us. We should recognize them and respect them mutually.
September 11th changed not only the mentality but also the reality of daily life between religious groups. And after the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, the abyss deepened.
Moslems are confronting a pluralist world: globalization and the mass media have transformed our universe into a small village. Today, because of what is happening, Moslems feel humiliated by the (Christian!) West and they are incapable of being integrated into a modern society, which, indeed, is changing very fast.
Moslems have a problem which is the following: how to deal with a pluralist world. How to deal with non-Moslems who are the majority in many parts of the world. Moslems long ago lived in a homogenous society with Christians and Jews minorities. They treated them as Dhimmi (the protected). Today, the situation has changed and the mentality too. Every human being has the right to live freely in his faith and thought and possessions. He refuses to be a slave to anything and to anyone, even the sacred. So how does Islam see the non-Moslem? How can Islam deal with modern society? How can religious norms and rules be up-dated? Are those who are not Moslems still considered infidels, so a target of war until they convert to Islam, the completion of religion (totalitarianism)? Moslem authority should deal objectively with this new reality. What is the position today?
There are verses in the Holy Koran dealing with special cases; they cannot be used in today's context. Moslems can profit from the experience of Christians over the centuries in updating their religious and social discourse! Christians should explain that there are no longer religious states in the West. What is happing in many places in the West has nothing to do with Christian values and morals. Most of the states have a secular regime. Christians can expound their faith but not to impose it; sometimes they cannot influence their own governments. For instance, we may mention the war on Iraq. The Vatican was against it and many bishops' conferences condemned it. Christians should also rethink their concepts and positions on Islam. We need reciprocity.
Fundamentalism is something against religion. We find it everywhere, among Moslems, Christians and Jews. It is a false interpretation of sacred books. Since September 11th a double complex has been created. Both sides feel there is a barrier, Christians are afraid of expanding Islam and Moslems are speaking about the waging of war on Islam by infidels, polytheists and crusaders! This vocabulary used by certain clerics in mosques and in the media contributes to violence and death. I would like to mention one example: many cars and buses bear labels with the Al-Shahda with a sword at the bottom! Plus, political leaders exploited the events for their own interests. The United States reacted in a bad way. The wars in Afghanistan and in Iraq have deepened the conviction among Arabs and Moslems of a crusadeZionist war against Islam.
I think as believers that we have to witness something that is different from the others. Today violence and death cannot be justified and blessed. This is the main challenge. We have to push forward the culture of dialogue, reconciliation and peace. Therefore we have to choose our speech and change our classic language in order to be efficient in stressing human rights and values.
As regards Western Christians, with the problems of globalization and the relation between religion and society, I think they have to review their position. Europe should not remain indifferent at a religious level! Christian faith and morality (family relations and the number of children are discouraging) are important. Christians are losing their identity!
In order to relay brotherly love and trust between Christians and Moslems, I suggest organizing conferences between Christian and Muslim religious and cultural leaders and thinkers to collaborate closely together to suppress the roots of the disruption of peace and security, to plan for a radical change in education programs in schools, to rebuild mutual confidence and reconciliation, and to discuss subjects such as: religion and civil tights; religious diversity and mutual respect; religion and the promotion of ethical values; and religion and globalization.
We highlight Christian-Muslim life together on the basis of citizenship, equality and dialogue, under the rule of the same law, instead of enlarging conflicts.

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