Monday, 10 May 2010

Interreligious Dialogue

I was reviewing a book on interreligious dialogue between Christianity and Islam by a Catholic Priest. Somehow, I found the book wanting on several fronts:
  • There is no mention of Jesus Christ at all!! I took it for granted that Jesus would be one of the key figures discussed in the book besides Muhammad and Abraham... but to my shock he is not there!! I wonder what dialogue is the author talking about between Christianity and Islam without the very person of Jesus!!
  • Secondly there seems to be an overwhelming 'Christian' overdose in the text. (Now, that I cannot mention in the review!! Even if I did, the editor would chop it off!!). When I say 'overdose' I do not mean the 'normal prejudice' I expect the author (being a Catholic Priest) to have. But a sensible balance when speaking of 'dialogue' between two religions and cultures.
  • Perhaps my criticism springs from the lessons I learnt from Fr Ivo and his classes at Divyadaan (Nashik) on Religious pluralism. Dialogue is much more than openness and willingness to listen to the other. It is a passion to share what I have, coupled with the openness to receive what the other has to offer, in all his or her being. Furthermore, there are various levels at which dialogue is possible. The present author seems to be totally ignorant of it or has conveniently chosen to leave aside that aspect of it. The greatest merit in a genuine interreligious dialogue is the discussion of - or atleast the ambiance to discuss - the most thorny issues. This books clearly evades them all.
  • As for primary resources, for Christian thought it is the Scriptures, Vatican II docs and the Papal talks. And for the Islamic interpretation?? Sacred Scriptures (The Quran) and just a couple of Islamic thinkers whom the author considers an authority. What about the Shariat, if not of every nation, at least the ones considered most authoritative?

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