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Religion and Society

After the Controversies, Proposals for a Shared Pathway

Doha 29~30 June 2005

Last June the Third Conference on Dialogue between Religions was held in Doha, the capital of Qatar. Despite the initial controversies that led to a refusal by three rabbis, two sheiks and the Patriarch of the Orthodox Copts of Egypt to take part in the meeting, the conference witnessed for the first time the participation of Muslim, Jewish and Christian representatives from numerous countries of the Middle East, Western Europe, North America and some Asian countries. During the first day of the conference the papers of each representative of the three monotheistic religions gave their papers one after the other. The Emir of Qatar, Sheik Hamad Bin Khalifa Âl Thâni, invoked a responsible approach to contemporary realities and emphasised the importance of analysing things for what they are and not for what one would like them to be, in order to bring out the common points of Islam, Christianity and Judaism, in the search for common solutions, above all as regards the question of women and openness to modernity. Padre Maurice Borrmans, Professor-Emeritus at the Pontifical Institute of Islamic Studies in Rome, emphasised the values that are common to the three monotheistic religions: the sacred character of life, of freedom, of knowledge and of science. Lastly, the American rabbi, José Rolando Latalon, invited people to reject exclusivistic positions and observed that every religion has a place for the Other because God is benevolent towards all His creatures.

 

After a series of other papers, which were given on the first and second days and which drew attention to fundamental points for the development of dialogue and inter-religious knowledge, the following proposals were made: a project for the creation of a centre for inter-religious dialogue in Qatar, the creation of departments for the comparative study of religions in Arab-Islamic countries, the exchange of lecturers to achieve the better training of experts in religious matters, the creation of inter-religious councils for dialogue and peaceful co-existence within Islamic countries, cooperation in the publication of school religious textbooks with special attention being paid to the news disseminated by the mass media, the condemnation of the exploitation of religion by politics, and the rejection of any link between terrorism and religion.

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