SHAFAQNA- A webinar called “Religious Lifestyle in the Interaction of the Followers of Different Religions and Denominations from the Viewpoint of Islam and Christianity” was held on Wed. Dec. 2, 2020 in the Institute of Jurisprudence and Islamic Civilization with the participation of Hujjatul-Islam Muhammad Taqi Akbarnejad and Father Miguel Praso from Italy.
This webinar was the first in a series of interfaith dialogues proposed and organized by the Institute of Jurisprudence and Islamic Civilization and the Institute of Shiite Studies and Global Peace. At the beginning of his presentation, Hujjatul-Islam Akbarnejad said that we believe God has created humans not out of need but because He wanted to grant mercy upon them. That is why he addresses His messenger in Quran 21:107 that
“We did not send you but as a mercy to all nations”.
Also He says in Quran 57:27:
“We followed [prophets] with Jesus son of Mary and we gave him the Evangel and we put kindness and mercy into the hearts of who followed him”
Now if prophets have been sent for mercy, it is meaningless to have conflicts and quarrels among the followers of religions. He went on to say that if religious leaders and the followers of religions pay attention to this point that religion is for mercy and happiness, they would feel that they have a precious asset and they would try to benefit from this asset more than trying to force others to accept it.
If people believe that religion tries to build our life in this world before building our hereafter and that we should see the impact of religion in our lives, they will be more motivated to enjoy the beauty of religion themselves and that someone who introduces religion by applying violence, he or she has not tasted the sweetness of religion.
Father Miguel Praso said today there are people who cannot tolerate the opposite viewpoints. This is a common concern for which we should try to find a solution. He added that about 84 percent of the world’s population affiliate themselves to a religion but the question is that why the other 16 percent minority has dominated the religions and why religions should suffer this? He answered that one of its reasons is that wars and conflicts between religions has caused them to escape the religion.
Mr. Akbarnejad explained that there are two reasons why religions are accused of violence: the first reason is related to internal issues and misunderstanding within the religions. A solution to solve this problem is dialogue which we do not see very much. If dialogues occur in higher levels, we would not see violence in lower levels. Second reason relates to the arrogant powers whose interests are linked to these clashes and conflicts. Muslims had lived for hundred years peacefully and with not much violence. However, when some intelligent services fostered the growth and empowerment of a sect called Wahhabism, religious violence expanded.
He went on to say that if we believe that the majority of world population believes in a religion, we could turn it into a legal case and the leaders of religions could agree that no official or non-official body has a right to attack the sacred identities or values of religions. Where no such a law exists, we cannot defend our beliefs effectively.
He emphasized that in our country, if somebody had attacked Jesus Christ even slightly, our scholars would have categorically condemned it. If a similar reaction was taken by the leaders of other religions in the case where Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was mocked, Muslims would not feel oppressed and it would be a shelter against violence by radical groups.
In the second part of his presentation, Father Miguel Praso confirmed that it was not the first time Prophet Muhammad was mocked by that magazine and that Christians expressed their complaints to that periodical and it was condemned by the leaders of four Christian denominations. However, since the westerns governments strongly believe in the separation of the church and the state, it has made it difficult for us to play a more effective role. He also emphasized the necessity of dialogue among the leaders of religions to resolve this problem.