Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Qatar University’s (QU) seminar on interfaith dialogue

DOHA: Qatar University’s (QU) College of Shari’a and Islamic Studies recently held a symposium on ‘Interfaith Dialogue Issues in Culture and Media’.

The symposium was organised in conjunction with the Doha International Center for Interfaith Dialogue (DCID) and Al Qaradawi Center for Islamic Moderation and Renewal.

Shari’a College Dean Dr Aisha Al Mannai, DCID Director Dr Ibrahim Al-Naimi, and Al Qaradawi Center Director Dr Mohammed Khalifa Hassan, headed the symposium which was attended by a large number of QU staff, faculty and students.

In his presentation on “Manners and Skills of Dialogue”, Dr Hassan said: “Islam included the ethics of dialogue in the Quran and Sunnah, giving dialogue a special place in the understanding of religion. Muslims employed dialogue in achieving the goals of getting to know others, and in the delivery of their scientific efforts, drawing on the Prophet who was a role model for Muslims in dialogue and who gave a unique model to communicate with non-Muslims”.

QU Head of the Department of Dawa and Islamic Culture Dr Yousef Siddiqui presented on ‘Reality Reading of Interfaith Dialogue’. He was followed by Al Jazeera TV anchor Khadija bin Gena who spoke on “The Role of Media in Supporting and Guiding Interfaith Dialogues”. “One of the reasons for the hindrance of dialogue between religions today is the confusion between dialogue and politics. Politics has had sometimes a destructive role that poisoned relations between Muslims and others,” bin Gena said.

“While it should take place in forums and websites to benefit all, the subject of interfaith dialogue remains in locked rooms. Some media coverage of interfaith issues does not take into consideration a commitment to professional codes of ethics that impose impartiality on affiliations and partisanship”, she added.

QU Mass Communication Department faculty Dr Alaa Elshamy presented a critical and analytical view of interfaith issues in the media. Symposium participants discussed the efforts to address the “thorny issue” of interfaith dialogue.

They pointed to recommendations coming out of numerous meetings and conferences held at different levels and different countries which sought to bridge the gap in views between religions and sects with respect to religious freedom, acceptance of others, and openness to heterogeneous cultures which carries the values of coexistence and cooperation as part of the teachings of divine religions.