June 4, 2014

The pitfall of interreligious dialogue

"Interreligious dialogue is simply about exploring the fact that you noticed a fundamental difference. It might make you wonder how the God of Christians and Muslims can be one and the same if they have such different understandings of God. And it might make you dig deeper into your own tradition as well. (...)

Of course, if people are getting together in community groups to get to know each other, that’s great. Because at the community level, people might have misconceptions about many things that can easily be clarified by simply talking to each other. But if you do scholarly work, you have to be open to the possibility that there might be no definitive outcome at all.

Actually, one of the pitfalls of efforts of dialogue is the idea that we should reach some kind of goal with which we should all be happy. I’m opposed to a ‘dialogue on the surface’ as well. We need to go deeper. But how do you know you’ve gone deep enough? It makes no sense to say: “oh this is deep enough.” It’s just about trying to understand how people talk about the things that matter to us in life. And once you start to look at it like that, you don’t go into any dialogue setting with some sort of intended goal. You’re just there to learn. You’re not there because you have to defend your viewpoint but to listen how somebody else is expressing something that you’re interested in."

A very thoughtful part of a nice interview with British scholar Mona Siddiqui.

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