In Islam there is a commitment to peace and thus to dialogue. Two forms of dialogue can be distinguished. Interreligious dialogue means to enter into dialogue with representatives of other religions. It differs from the inner-religious dialogue, where the talks take place within the same religion, usually between representatives of different currents.
In the field of religions, there are currently two conflicting movements in Germany. On the one hand, we are moving towards a unity of the religions, which actually transcends a peaceful coexistence and searches for common ground in the revelations. On the other hand, we recognise elements of radicalisation and isolation and thus a rejection ofother religious communities or their representatives.
Inter-religious dialogue is therefore of particular importance. It has the aim of creating a social environment that is both worth living in and at the same time pleasing to God. A community characterised by peace and freedom of body and mind for all its members.
History has taught us that Peace and freedom of the individual are only possible by preserving peace and freedom for all. In many places in the Koran we find verses on interreligious togetherness, for example in Sura 42:13, where we are reminded that the revelations of the earlier prophets also still apply to us Muslims.
“In matters of faith he decreed for you what he had commanded Noah – and in what we gave you (O Muhammad) through revelation – as well as what we had commanded to Abraham and Moses and Jesus: Keep the true faith steadfastly and do not divide your unity in it” (translation by Muhammad Asad, Patmos Verlag). In Sura 3:64 we read that the religions share an essential identical word: “Say: O followers of earlier revelations! Come to the principle that we and you have in common, to worship no others but God and that we should not ascribe Divinity to something else besides Him and that we should not take people as our masters beside God” (translation see above.).
That faith in the same God is the unifying moment of religions is also found in the discussion about Ibrahim in Sura 3:67:
“Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but was one who turned away from everything that is wrong, because he had surrendered to God; and he was not of those who ascribe divinity to something else besides Him” (translation see above). Taking the appreciation of the prophet Jesus which we can find in Sura 3:59: “Truly, in the sight of God, the nature of Jesus is like the nature of Adam, whom he created from dust, and to whom he then said: “Be! – and he is.”
The interreligious dialogue therefore naturally includes the so-called book or scriptural religions, i.e. Judaism and Christianity, but it is also welcome to encompass other groups, because only those who are in dialogue with each other can get to know each other.
In Sura 49:13 we are warned against our own arrogance towards others: “O people! See, we have created you all from one male and one female, and have made nations and tribes out of you, that you may know one another. Truly the noblest of you in the vision of God is the one who is most deeply conscious of Him” (translation cf. above)
The noblest among the faithful are thus not automatically the followers of Islam, but those believers who have the most intimate relationship with God and who live it in their daily lives with their hearts.
We members of the Ibn Rushd-Goethe Mosque conduct the interreligious dialogue with joy, respect and with an understanding of equal rights at eye level. Our mosque rooms within the building of the St. Johannis Church illustrate this in a very concrete way. The wish of dialogue with the other religions in our environment springs from the effort to achieve a constructive cooperation. In this way we are joining forces against those who want to harm individuals or society as a whole. Any persecution or exclusion of a minority always poses a threat to all other minorities, as it demonstrates a social atmosphere that allows humiliation.
So we are always affected by it all together and therefore need clear signs that this is not being accepted by any religious community. To set signs of this kind, the dialogues must be characterised by love and understanding; after all, faith cannot always be explained rationally, but closely linked to education, tradition, culture, experiences and inner images. The interreligious dialogue is never an attempt at missionary work, but a reaching out of hands.
There are many different forms of dialogue. Apart from formal and informal talks, these are joint celebrations of festivals, such as Christmas, Hannukkah or the Ramadan festival,
Moments of living together. Reading books for children, invitations to the mosque, visits to the church, discussions with rabbis, participation in events organised by other congregations etc. are all opportunities to enter into dialogue. To fulfil their social purpose, these dialogues should also be publicly visible from time to time.
Irrespective of damage-aversion, interreligious dialogue naturally also serves pure joy and the gain of knowledge; because in conversation and in the explanation of one’s own positions we recognise their value and limitations. “Eye level” stands both for finding common ground as well as for mutual appreciation despite different positions.
We are looking forward to such appreciative encounters, the exchange about our faith and our positions, mutual support and the resulting harmonisation of the coexistence of as many social groups as possible in Berlin and beyond. All our active members are available and looking forward to such a dialogue.