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Religion and Society

The Dialogue with Muslims Starts with a Dialogue Among Ourselves

Kuzguncuk Mosque and Surp Krikor Lusavoric Church, Istanbul [aydinsert /]

A mutual and loving knowledge able to communicate the beauty of living together is the only antidote to all forms of terrorism

Is defeating jihadism and other forms of terrorism a real possibility? The question has become even more acute after the recent attacks in Spain and England. Fear, strong condemnation and anger are not enough when faced with such brutality. The necessary work to implement adequate security measures - which, in any case, would never be sufficient in avoiding the lethal acts carried out by suicide bombers - is also not enough.


Often, the answer coming from us Europeans – “We will not alter our way of life” – seems more like a firm statement rather than the indication of a path. It is an answer that does not lack courage, provided that we are aware that it raises an even more radical question. “What, in fact, is our way of life?” Indeed, was it enough to say after the facts: “We will go back to the Bataclan or to the stadium” or “We will stroll again on the Nice waterfront”?


In order to face the current historical crisis that Pope Francis has defined as a "change of an era, not an era of change," we, the men of the Third Millenium, cannot avoid facing a much more demanding question: “Who does the man of the Third Millennium want to be?” It is a matter of meaning, i.e. of the meaning and direction to give to our personal and social life. Regardless of the worldview we are inspired by – as believers, unbelievers, or believers in a different way – we can no longer escape this provocative question.


A matter of meaning For about fifteen years, Oasis’s work has been that of documenting analytically, among other things, the challenge thrown at us by the Muslim world: “You are a ‘non-civilization’. You have lost any kind of faith, you talk about rights and then you often step on them. Above all, you have never ceased to walk, in an ever-more devious manner, on the road to domination”. Here we cannot go ahead and analyze the religious, civil, political, economic and ecological issues that afflict us. Nor can we explain a civilization that produces poverty and exclusion, here and in various other parts of the world. Not to mention our tendency to easily forget world history in its entirety. History does not justify violence in our relations with Muslims exclusively and this should therefore stop us from talking about an “us” and “them” situation.


Finding the relevant meaning of life and sharing it within a passionate confrontation that aims at a mutual recognition: in order to do so with Muslims, it is necessary to begin to do it amongst ourselves, here where we are.


An instrument open to all The poet T.S. Eliot talked in his time about “stuffed men”. It might be a fitting adjective for us Westerners of the Third Millennium lost in an autistic narcissism that prevents us from loving others because we do not let ourselves be loved by God. Perhaps it is precisely from this humble recognition that a dialogue with each of our “human brothers”, to use Karl Barth’s expression, should start again. Even with Muslims. A mutual and loving knowledge that is able to communicate the beauty of living together is the only antidote to all forms of terrorism.


Oasis International Foundation wants to be an instrument open to all, especially those who want to build a “civilization of truth and love”, in the words of St. John Paul II.



Text translated from Italian