The term interfaith or interfaith dialogue refers to cooperative and positive interaction between people of different religious traditions (ie. "faiths") and
spiritualor humanisticbeliefs, at both the individual and institutional level with the aim of deriving a common ground in belief through a concentration on similarities between faiths, understanding of values, and commitment to the world.
It is distinct from
syncretismor alternative religion, in that dialogue often involves promoting understanding between different religions to increase acceptanceof others, rather than to synthesize new beliefs. There is a view that the history of religion shows conflict has been more the state of affairs than dialogue.
The term interreligious relations refers to relationships between
religions (rel. comparative religion).
History of Interfaith dialogue
* Interfaith dialogue and action has taken place for many centuries. The Emperor
Akbar the Greatfor example, encouraged tolerancein Mughal India, a diverse nation with people of various faith backgrounds, including Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, and Christianity. [ [http://progressivescottishmuslims.blogspot.com/2008/04/learning-interfaith-from-mughals-akbar.html Progressive Scottish Muslims: Learning Interfaith from the Mughals: Akbar the Great (1556-1605) ] ] Muslim Spainis an additional historical example of great religious pluralism.
* Another example of historical coexistence between people of different faiths has been in the
Balkansunder the administration of the Ottoman Turksfrom 15th to 19th centuries. Catholicand Orthodox Christiansas well as Muslims, Jewsand Sufishave dwelled in harmony for hundreds of years in this region (despite some small incidents). Today the region is shaky and very sensitive. Especially following the dissolution of former Yugoslavia, ethnic and religious wars have been waged, and other horrors have been recorded in the last decade in 1990's. The UN peacekeeping forces are in the region today to ensure the safety of the general population against attacks.
* Early 20th Century - dialogue started to take place between the
Abrahamic faiths- Christianity, Judaism, Islamand Baha'iFact|date=April 2007
** The 1960s - Interfaith movement gathered interest. Fact|date=April 2007
** 1965 - the
Roman Catholic Churchissued the Vatican IIdocument " Nostra Aetate", instituting major policy changes in the Catholic Church's policy towards non-Christian religions.
** Late 1960s Interfaith groups joined around
Civil Rightsissues for African-Americansand later were often vocal in their opposition to the Vietnam War. Fact|date=April 2007
** July 2008 - Historic Interfaith dialogue initiated by King
Abdullah of Saudi Arabiato solve world problems through concord and not conflict. The conference attended by religious leaders of different faiths like Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoismetc was hosted by King Juan Carlos of Spain in Madrid. Fact|date=July 2008 [ [http://www.saudigazette.com.sa/index.cfm?method=home.regcon&contentID=2008071712004 Saudi Gazette - Let concord replace conflict – Abdullah ] ]
Interfaith and different religions
Interfaith and multi-faith interactivity is integral to the teachings of the
Bahá'í Faith. Its founder Bahá'u'lláhenjoined his followers to "consort with the followers of all religions in a spirit of friendliness and fellowship." [http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/b/TB/tb-4.html#pg22 Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, page 22] , Bahá'u'lláh, From the "Bishárát" (Glad-Tidings).] Bahá'ís are often at the forefront of local inter-faith activities and efforts. Through the Bahá'í International Communityagency, the Bahá'ís also participate at a global level in inter-religious dialogue both through and outside of the United Nationsprocesses.
In 2002 the
Universal House of Justice, the global governing body of the Bahá'ís, issued a letter to the religious leadership of all faiths in which it identified religious prejudice as one of the last remaining "isms" to be overcome, enjoining such leaders to unite in an effort to root out extreme and divisive religious intolerance. [*cite book
author = Universal House of Justice
authorlink = Universal House of Justice
year = 2002
title = Letter to the World's Religious Leaders
publisher = Bahá'í World Centre
url = http://bahai-library.com/?file=uhj_religious_leaders_2002 ]
Reform Judaism, Reconstructionist Judaismand Conservative Judaismencourage interfaith dialogue. Interfaith dialogue is a controversial issue within the Orthodox Jewish community. Some Orthodox Jews refuse to participate in interfaith dialogues because they believe that Judaism's prohibition of proselytism, combined with other religions' "missionary zeal", [ [http://www.lchaimweekly.org/lchaim/5761/672.htm L'Chaim: 672: Beha'aloscha ] ] creates an unbalanced power dynamic such that the "dialogue" effectively becomes a monologue. [ [http://www.lchaimweekly.org/lchaim/5761/673.htm L'Chaim: 673: Sh'lach ] ] However, some Modern Orthodox Jews participate in interfaith dialogue.
Islamhas long encouraged Interfaith dialogue and action, with historical examples coming from Muslim Spain, Mughal India, and even starting as far back as the Prophet Muhammad's time, where people of the Abrahamic Faiths lived in harmony.
Many traditional and religious texts and customs of the faith have encouraged this, including specific verses in the
Quran, such as: "O people! Behold, we have created you from a male and a female and have made you into nations and tribes so that you might come to know one another. Verily, the noblest of you in the sight of God is the one who is most deeply conscious of Him. Behold, God is all-knowing, all-aware." [Qur'an 49:13]
The Institute of Interfaith Dialog has been very active in the different states of the US. With about 15 branches in several states, including Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi and Kansas, the IID organizes interfaith dinners, inter-cultural trips, conferences and panel discussions.
While there are many basically religious organizations geared to working on interfaith issues (see
Interreligious organisations) there is also a less common attempt by some governmental institutions to specifically address the diversity of religions (see Australasian Police Multicultural Advisory Bureaufor one example.)
In India, many organizations have been involved in interfaith activities because of the diversity of religion in the nation.
"Minhaj-ul-Quran" International is a non-sectarian and a
non-governmental organization(NGO) working in over 81 countries around the globe. Its main aims and objectives are to promote interfaith dialogue and to live peacefully within society. [ [http://www.minhaj.org/org/index.php?contents=text&tid=427&lang=en Merry Christmas Interfaith Festival] ] "Minhaj ul Quran" was founded by Shaykh ul Islam Prof. Dr. Muhammed Tahir ul Qadri
Centre for Dialogue
Daughters of Abraham
Interfaith Alliance UK
Jewish views of religious pluralism
Parliament of the World's Religions
Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue
Relations between Catholicism and Judaism
Roland de Corneille
Saltley Gate Peace Group
Seventh-day Adventist interfaith relations
Temple of Understanding
United Religions Initiative
World Council of Churches
www.Interfaith Dialogue Basics.be
* [http://www.ctbi.org.uk/interfaith Churches Together in Britain and Ireland - 'ecumenical space' for exploring interfaith issues]
* [http://www.lehighdialogue.org Lehigh Dialogue Center]
* [http://www.interfaithdialog.org The Institute of Interfaith Dialog]
* [http://interfaithradio.org Interfaith Voices: A public radio show promoting religious harmony and interfaith understanding]
* [http://www.interfaith-encounter.org The Inerfaith Encounter Association]
* [http://www.ciid.ca The Canadian Institute of Interfaith Dialogue]
* [http://www.interfaith.org.uk The Inter Faith Network for the UK]
* [http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=39775 President Ronald Reagan speaks on interfaith cooperation of military chaplains during combat]
* [http://www.theregenerationproject.org/ The Regeneration Project and the Interfaith Power and Light campaign]
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