Our shared responsibility to protect the holiness, dignity and unity of life through interreligious cooperation and education
preventing the abuse of religion for atrocity crimes
by Yahya Pallavicini
The Holy Koran says “Whoever kills a soul it is as if he had slain mankind entirely” (Koran, V:32), and this could be a reference for the entire Islamic community worldwide on how we understand the crime. What makes even more atrocius this crime it is when it is perpetrated under the pretext of doing it in the name of God or of a religion, against a believer belonging to the same or to another religious community.
From the Muslim perspective, Humanity is a universe of people characterised by the divine gift of life and the dignity of spiritual presence. A Universe organised based on the religions, cultures and citizenships that must contribute to the common Good. The reflection of Unity in the multiplicities and expression of the divine mystery, allows each believer to represent and realise the fullness of his or her identity and nature without religious integralism, syncretism, and without the abuse of power or subjection.
East and West have hosted the decline of some religious communities in the development of the intercultural and interreligious patrimony of humanity. In some regions Jews, Christians and Muslims have been subjected to persecution, ghettoization, and genocides but have known how to make prevail sentiments of love and closeness together with the practice of justice and solidarity both in moments of severe crisis and in moments of lesser tension.
For millenia, the history of communities of Jews, Christian and Muslim believers have manifested some closures, conflicts and incoherences but testimonies of understanding, collaboration and reciprocal honesty have always been present from which relationships of mutual-knowledge, respect and spiritual harmony have developed and been consolidated.
Secularisation and Globalisation can at times assume an arrogance and indifference with regards to the sensibility of populations and religious communities. Jews, Christians and Muslims are aware of the accelerated political, social and cultural path that is taking place and, consequently, cultural crises, moral decadences and ideological instrumentalisations. Preventing radicalism, ethical relativism, and the utopia of a world without God is possible by coordinating the forces of Dialogue and Education between Jews, Christians and Muslims and renewing the value of Fraternity.
Hatred for another’s religious belief which results in persecution and violence must end. The international political system and national governments must guarantee to Jews, Christians and Muslims and all religious peoples the right to live their faith with freedom, dignity, and security. Better education and dialogue between religious institutions and communities are essential in our contemporary society to ensuring the harmony of religious pluralism under the rule of law.
Funerals, baptisms, weddings, prayers, fasts, charity, health, education, work, home, are some concrete facts that characterise the life of every person and the activity carried out by many believers towards those who need help, Mercy, Fraternity, and Peace. There is no improvisation and there can’t be mere cold pragmatism but there is a need for a perspective and an orientation that allows for going beyond oneself and even “the other”, above the level of suffering, misery, or social injustices.
Jews, Christians and Muslims recognise in the actions of religious orders, of brotherhoods, of monks, of mystics, of priests and of nuns, of spiritual masters and disciples, of the intellectual and juridical schools that deal with sacred science, of the asociations of religious inspiration, a fundamental contribution to preserve and re-transmit the value of a faith for the Absolute in the relativity of the world, a faith for the Transcendence in a concrete manner, in the immanence, a faith in the Eternal to practice in every moment of existence, a faith for Metaphyisics that implies a love for the other.
Muslims and Christians strive for a peace that is “beyond all understanding”, an experience of intimacy with the mystery of God, and of fraternal harmony with their neighbours. Peace then is neither a vague abstraction nor an unrealistic ideal. Peace can be achieved when we all recognize that we share a common home, and that we are invited by God to work together for the common good.
Christians and Muslims are inspired by Mercy as an expression of the grace of God described in the respective sacred texts and in the teachings from the lives of the masters and the communities of believers.
Harmony is a key concept that, in 2010, inspired the United Nations resolution for the World Interfaith Harmony Week based on the noble initiative and presentation of King AbdAllah II of Jordan. Since then, the interreligious initiative and its manifestations are repeated every year as a model of peaceful cohesion and coexistence.
To conclude, it seems that our efforts will not bear fruit if we forget to involve all of the three dimensions that constitute the nature of man, which, in the Islamic, Christian and Jewish traditions, are usually referred to as Spirit, soul and body, these being the three dimensions which we must preserve as a unity and which have to be linked to three other actions: interreligious education, social participation and global security.