(MENAFN - Arab News) Muslims have all the potential to engage in dialogue with other faith communities and they should do it effectively in order to bring about communal harmony and strengthen global peace and stability, said Professor Zaleha Kamaruddin, rector of International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM).
She made her remarks yesterday while addressing an international symposium on the significance of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah's Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue Initiative. The initiative was organized by the Madinah Islamic University in association with IIUM.
Kamaruddin commended King Abdullah's initiative, saying it would remove misconceptions among the followers of different faiths and culture and promote peaceful coexistence among them.
"Islam is a peaceful religion and it was sent as a blessing to all mankind. We Muslims should address other faith communities with respect and open dialogue with them.
" Dr. Bachir Soualhi, director of international promotion and scholarships at IIUM and one of the organizers, said the symposium called for enhancing ways to strengthen King Abdullah's dialogue initiative by establishing more TV channels and websites and
holding more seminars and conferences.
"Since this initiative has come from the holy land, it will receive the support of all Muslims and will have a big impact." Soualhi stressed the need for popularizing the initiative.
"All religions call for peace and tolerance.
The problem is with the followers of these religions who have misunderstood their religious teachings of tolerance, the problem comes from followers who have misunderstood the teachings. So the dialogue message should reach the grassroots level," he added.
The symposium also called for greater cooperation and coordination among the various interfaith and intercultural initiatives launched by different countries including Turkey, Egypt and the US.
"All these forums have a common agenda and work in a coordinated manner to have greater impact," Soualhi said.
He said the symposium was timely as it was held at a time when Muslims were protesting against an anti-Islam film and cartoons that abused Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
It has resulted in the death of about 60 people. The participants discussed
this issue in detail and stressed that Muslims should be taught how to respond to provocations in a rational manner.
Soualhi commended the Madinah Islamic University for selecting Malaysia for the conference.
"Malaysia is one of the most peaceful nations in the world. One nation and one Malaysia is its slogan. It is a model for communal harmony," he said, adding that the country offers a good platform for interfaith dialogue.
Data Seri Jamil Khir bin Baharom, a minister at the prime minister's department, opened the symposium.
"Bringing people of different civilizations and cultures together on common grounds of mutual understanding and appreciation is a noble objective that we should all champion and spare no effort to realize," Baharom said.
"We have to find ways and means of educating people of different civilizations and cultures on the urgency and importance of dialogue for better understanding and cooperation."
The Malaysian minister said the symposium would contribute to building strong foundations for a greater understanding among the diverse civilizations, cultures and people.
"This peaceful and productive coexistence is not implausible as their roots and foundations lay at the heart of all religions," the minister added. "I shall vehemently stress that Muslims need to champion the mission of mercy to mankind and pull together their efforts and resources to set a global role model to all mankind."
"We need to work together for a global impact that will advance the cause of brotherly and sincere dialogue between the followers of religions and civilizations.
Dr. Muhammad Al-Oqla, president of the Madinah Islamic University, said the king's initiative was aimed at overcoming the obstacles of mistrust and conflict that threaten world peace and stability.
It also works on building bridges of communication and love among civilizations to ensure understanding and cooperation among nations.
Dr. Abdelaziz Berghout, deputy rector of IIUM hoped that the recommendations and resolutions of the symposium would further
activate the king's initiative. More than 400 delegates took part in the symposium, which saw presentations by nine keynote speakers.
The symposium was successful in discussing the principles and framework for dialogue.
Dr. Yousuf Rahath, who is doing a post-doctoral research at IIUM commended King Abdullah's dialogue initiative saying it would play a significant role in bringing different faith communities closer at this time of anti-Islam and anti-Muslim campaigns.
"It should be popularized by using all possible means to have a greater impact. This dialogue idea should not remain in the academic level," he added.