Sacred Scriptures and Interfaith Dialogue

Abstract

M. Fethullah Gülen encourages Muslims to be tolerant and accepting of people in other religions and to enter in to interfaith dialogue with them. He succeeds in doing this because the Qur’an sets the ground for this interfaith stance. Christians and Jews are often not aware that their Scriptures also promote interfaith dialogue. The paper shows that Jewish and Christian Scriptures, somewhat in keeping with the Qur’an, allow for interfaith relationships that are respectful and peaceful. To this end, the paper briefly examines some of the Old Testament and New Testament passages that promote interfaith dialogue. In the OT, the story of the Prophet Jonah is first examined to set the stage for an interfaith understanding of the story of Abraham and Melchizedek, the life of Ruth, her great grandson, King David, and finally, the Jewish restoration after the dispersion in Babylon and Persia. In addition to these OT themes, which Christians take as their own, the paper gathers similar interfaith themes in the NT. Christ is seen to encourage interfaith dialogue, as does James, the early Church leader. The paper finds that the Apostle Paul (the author of most of the NT) develops the implications of an interfaith theology in his letter to the Romans. The paper will conclude with some consideration of why the adherents of Christian and Jewish traditions seldom take their Scriptures to advocate interfaith dialogue and how the work of Mr. Gülen suggests a way forward to create more such understanding and dialogue.

by Dr. Ali Ünsal