42. Pope Benedict calls for a true dialogue between Christianity and Islam

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Article summary: 

In this article, the author comments on Pope Benedict’s

call to have a "true" dialogue

between Christianity and Islām, giving his opinion on the issue of dialogue among


Article full text: 

During his visit to Turkey, Pope Benedict XVI called to

have a "true"

dialogue between Islām and Christianity; a call that was welcomed by some Muslim thinkers who forgave


offensive claims of Islām being violent, whereas it was described by al-Qā‘idah as part of a

new crusade aimed at severing Turkey’s Islamic roots.
The author of this article comments on this


that the word "true" in the Pope’s call indicates that dialogue will not be true if both

parties insist that

differences between religions are more superficial than inherent. Furthermore, it is

necessary to acknowledge that

religious teachings are similar in their essence so that a compromise can be

reached in a step towards enhancing

peace and religious tolerance. The author criticizes this compromising

view, arguing that if religions were all the

same there would be no need for more than one. He believes

that they represent different views, each reflecting a

different understanding of the universe, life, and

human behavior. In this regard, he distinguishes between two

types of dialogue; constructive as opposed to

misleading dialogue. In his view, recognizing diverse views is an

important step toward "true constructive

dialogue," provided that all parties believe that each of these views hold

one side of the truth that is

not obvious to the others. Thus, the affluence of human souls would lie in knowing

the essence of these

diverse views and benefiting from what is unique about each of them; only then would a

dialogue among

religions be useful. On the other hand, he says that a dialogue would be harmful and misleading in


cases, among which are:
If a dialogue was based on the will for victory disregarding the search for

the truth, as each party will only seek to defeat the opponent’s arguments even if this involves

hiding or

fabricating part of the truth.
If any party involved in the dialogue resorted to their

holy scriptures to

support their arguments, this would destroy the dialogue as these sources are of no

credibility for the opposing

party. Thus, argumentation should be based on rationality and

Finally, he concludes that the

fanatic’s view of his religion being the best is

normal, since through his religion he sees the truth. The

problem with fanatics however, lies in their

failure to recognize the relation between God and believers of other

religions, and that no religion is

wrong as long as it is capable of fulfilling the spiritual needs of its

believers and lead them to a

virtuous life, besides, isolating himself from other religions and using his religion

as a criteria to

judge them. Thus, the importance of dialogue is revealed. Accordingly, we should surpass polite


and debating to learn and benefit from others, and even reconsider our concepts and ideas when necessary,

because understanding others’ religions means understanding one’s own, and real believers are not


who criticize others’ religions or mock them. Rather, real believers are those who can perceive

facts of

different religions and then move on.

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