The Eight General Conference:Islam And The Future Dialogue Between
In the Name of Allah
The Most Merciful, The Most Compassionate From the good land of Egypt that has known religion since the dawn of history, from Cairo, the citadel of Islam and pan-Arabism that has sensed the dangers of excluding religion from the rationalization of the requirements of contemporary life and the cardinal role religion plays in rectifying the path of humanity and guiding humanity, came the Egyptian initiative. This was represented in a call by the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs to hold a dialogue between civilizations within the framework of this conference held from 8-1lth Rabie Al Awal, 1417H (24- 27th July, 1996).
Representatives of more than 70 countries from all parts of the world participated in the conference. They spent the conference's days in dialogues and debates concluding with an emphasis on the value of dialogue and its importance as an active factor in alleviating tension and establishing peace and stability throughout the world.
Egypt has called for this intentional conference wholeheartedly with an open-mind and a resolved will to realize a greater share of more understanding and cooperation between the disciples of all the divine messages with a view to protect mankind in this era from himself, his weakness and the tyranny of his moods and lusts. The purpose behind this is to enable mankind to concentrate all his power and capabilities in reconstruction and expand the chances of peace and happiness for himself and the coming generation in the light of the teachings of revealed religions and their commandments. Throughout the twentieth century and since the end of the Second World War, our world has suffered many crises and tribulations, small wars and conflicts over borders, resources or the lust for hegemony that have cost it exorbitant prices in terms of lost lives and the dissipation of its nations capabilities. This has contributed to the prevalence of the cause of underdevelopment, namely poverty, ignorance and sickness in most of the third world countries and the propagation of the phenomenon of extremism, violence and terrorism in many parts of the world.
If this is the state and the actual image of our contemporary world, then there is no way but to resort to the divine messages in view of the great effect of religion in molding psychological, ideological and behavioral equilibrium of mankind.
Hence, there was a need to resurrect and activate the cause of cooperation between the disciples of all religions by calling for a constrictive dialogue between them to collectively define the path to protect mankind from the dangers that threaten the future of all humanity.
The idea of this conference emanated from certain basic facts:
We live in an era which, the barriers of time and place between nations have disappeared to an unprecedented degree owing to the communications revolution. Nations no more live in isolated islands. There has been a civilizational interaction and cross-cultural activity in a way mankind has never known.
Since its revelation, Islam has adopted the call for dialogue between religion and peaceful co-existence between human beings. The Prophet (PBUH) has dialogued with the disciples of other religions. The teachings of Islam have called all mankind to know one another and live in amity and cooperation.
Since the dawn of history, Egypt has been the cradle of religion and civilization. Later, it became the county of "Al-Azhar" which is the radiating centre of Islamic sciences and has shouldered for more than 1000 years the call for the values of Islam and the latter's tolerant teachings on amity, fraternity, tolerance, peace and moderation. From those facts, came our choice of the topics of this year's conference (Islam and the future of dialogue between civilizations). Islam so far as it is a religion contains the essence of the noble human values. At the same time, Islam is a religion of civilization, science and progress.
The pivots of the conference have been divided to cover this imprint topic. It was imperative, on the outset, to raise a question on what is happening nowadays in our world: "Is it a dialogue between civilizations or a conflict between them?" Hence, it was necessary to explain the stand of Islam towards this issue. This stand makes conflict an exception from the rule. The rule that governs relations between nations from and Islamic perspective is that of knowing one another, promoting amity and cooperation and not of conflict and dissension.
When one speaks about dialogue between civilizations, that between religions becomes a vital pivot that cannot be ignored. Religion represents the vital factor in every civilization. Hence, this pivot is the most important in the whole subject considering the deep effect of religion on the human psyche.
All religions, ending with Islam, call in essence for amity, fraternity and peace between all human beings. Since peace is the target of all religions, dialogue between them has become an inevitable necessity to achieve it. There was a vital need to clearly differentiate between the message of religions and the waves of extremism that have plagued in any countries of the world.
Extremism in ideology or in the interpretation of religion followed by fanaticism introversion and terrorism, are issues that have nothing to do with religion ever though their advocators ascribe to themselves religions, characteristics raised fake glamorous slogans to serve their ends. Hence was the topic of the third pivot dealing with dialogue and extremism. Dialogue is a civilized method while extremism is one against civilization and progress. As a natural result to the above-mentioned, comes co-existence between human beings as the last pivot to focus on as in an inevitable necessity, should this world continue to survive in an ever-increasing civilized framework.
Through these pivots and the researches and debates that dealt with them, the conference addresses a message to the whole world, the core of which is to emphasize dialogue as the only civilized language that could lead to the progress and well-being the world aspires to. It underlines that extremism, violence, terrorism are abnormal phenomena that have no relations to religion. Thus, they should be confronted by the exertion of efforts to stop their propagation considering that all religions call for the positive collective co- existence between all human beings.
These are matters that can but support peace-loving human being in the world in their endeavours to unify efforts, coordinate their stances and draw collective plans to save the world from the dangers threatening it which would lead to a civilizational set back. The Koranic verse that was the motto of this conference says: "O you people; We have created you from the union of a twain, male and female, and We divided you into nations and communities and dispersed you over the earth to get to know each other". "The Private Apartments: 13"
This verse draws our attention that all human beings emanate from one source. This is a fact that should be inculcated in all minds. There are no nations who are superior to others. They are all the creatures of God who gave them reason, endowed them with dignity and favoured them over his other creatures.
Undoubtedly, our contemporary world dearly needs to be aware of those meanings and to translate them into the realm of reality to save our world from collapse. It is evident for every reasonable and responsible human being that war, aggression, the lust for expansion on the account of other, passivity and indifference to what happens throughout the world are all matters that may add to the destruction of the universe. We are all called to put an end to this destructive operation of the world. If modern science and technology aim at knowing, analyzing and controlling physical subjects, the human mind seeks to guide humanity to the world of truth where religion is needed to achieve the principle of justice and peace. Religion can never be realized unless on the basis of justice.
As soil needs water to bear its fruits, the human being is in great need of peace and justice in order to live, create and produce. The conference addresses a call to all reasonable human beings in the world to stand in one rank in support of peace. If we want to achieve peace in the world, we cannot permit to revive old enmities of the distant or near past with all the complexes and consequences they caused. Thus, we appeal to the world to aim towards building the future with a positive stand with a view to realizing peace. Bolstering development and helping humanity attain a new future of fraternity and friendliness.
May God's peace, mercy and blessings be upon you.