Interreligious dialogue is a constructive process where people of different religious background come to a mutual understanding. These people try to respect each other and live in harmony in spite of their differences. Interreligious dialogue breaks down the walls of division that separates people. The concept is spreading very fast in many countries and involves in promoting the acceptance of the religious beliefs of others.
People started to understand that there will be no peace among nations when there is no peace among religions. We need to interact with different religious groups and cultural backgrounds in our daily lives, and there might be some tension that is created due to the difference in the background. So there has to be a positive interaction between people so that everyone lives in harmony with each other.
Aims of interreligious dialogue:
The primary objectives of interfaith dialogue are:
- To increase the mutual understanding between religious communities.
- Identify the causes of the tensions between two religions.
- Taking steps and measures to prevent such strains and to build the confidence to overcome unpleasant situations.
- Breaking down the stereotypes and other barriers which may cause suspicion and distrust.
Interreligious dialogue is the process of bringing religious communities together, but it does not aim to come to a common belief or to convert each other. Everyone can remain true to their faiths and beliefs.
The following are some of the interfaith actions that occurred over centuries in many nations:
- In India, King Akbar had encouraged the diverse country to live in peace despite the different religious background in the country. He understood that to maintain a vast nation he needed to promote positive interaction between the people of the nation.
- In the year 1263, there was a religious disputation in Barcelona where Jews and Christians had a dispute with each other and the idea of interfaith dialogue was brought about to bring people together.
- In the 19th century at the World’s Columbian Exposition was conducted for international religious leaders. Swami Vivekananda addressed the Congress, and he started his speech by saying “Sisters and Brothers of America.” The Congress event was supposed to be the birth of an interfaith movement.
- The IHEU was founded in Amsterdam in the year 1952, and that organization stands to promote humanist, secular, atheist, cultural and skeptic values among nations.
- In the 21st century, after the September 11 attacks, people started to talk about interfaith relations on a large scale.
- President Obama issued a challenge by sending a letter to all the institutes in the United States and the goals of the challenge were to maximize interfaith beliefs and organizations. Many people and agencies accepted the challenge and responded positively.
The world is filled with different cultures, and people come from the various background. Thus it is very important to understand the need to have interreligious relations.