Interfaith Dialogue

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan | Interfaith Dialogue

In ancient times, the whole system of life was riddled with superstitious beliefs. Many strange, unfounded ideas were gener­ally in vogue. Nicolson, in his Astronomy (1978) has recorded an interesting historical curiosity: “When an eclipse occurred, the Chinese thought that the Sun was swallowed by a huge dragon. The whole population joined in making as much noise as possible to scare it away. They always succeeded!”

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan I Interfaith Dialogue

A certain Jew lived near Shaykh Bayazid Bastami, the great Sufi saint. When this saint passed away, someone asked the Jew why it was that he had not accepted Islam. The Jew answered: “I see two Islams, neither of which can I accept. On the one hand there is the Islam of Shaykh Bayazid Bastami, which it is beyond my capacity to follow. Then there is the Islam of most Muslims, which I would be ashamed to make my own.”

Dr Anindita N. Balslev in conversation with His Holiness Dalai Lama, Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, Dr Karan Singh and Reverend Mpho Tutu
The Four Cliusters of Questions
Anindita N. Balslev

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan I Quarterly Salaam, New Delhi, India I Vol 34, October 2013, No 4 I Page 142-149

Islam and Christianity have a common origin, that is, the Semitic tradition. Both are Semitic religions. Although the advent of Christianity was about six hundred years before that of Islam, but there are great similarities between the two religions. There is common ground between Islam and Christianity. 

I have been asked to give my opinion about ‘inter-dependence in religion’. According to my experience, the word ‘inter-dependence’ is a confusing word as it leads to ambiguity. It is not very clear as when you say ‘inter-dependence’, it means that you are pre-supposing that each religion is true. As per my study, you have to study every religion objectively in your search for truth. One should not live in bias. The better way is not to pre-suppose and be biased and make an objective inter-study of all religions to find truth.

At a seminar on ‘Religion and Humanitarianism’ held under the auspices of the Zakir Husain Institute of Islamic Studies, at the Jamia Millia Islamia, in New Delhi in 1993, one of the speakers, Dr Bishambhar Nath Pandey, recalled how a Hindu procession, led by Swami Satya Dev through Bala Ghat in the Indian state of Madhya Pradeh in 1926, had been planned to provoke Muslims into rioting. The procession with beating drums and slogan shouting, was deliberately organized on a Friday.

Religious differences have always existed between people. That is why interreligious dialogue has been found in one form or the other since ancient times. Fourteen hundred years ago the Prophet of Islam held in Madinah a three-religion conference—in modern terminology, a trialogue—to exchange views on religious issues.

Dialogue, or peaceful negotiation, is the path prescribed by Islam. Islam is based on the principle of dawah, which is another name for peaceful negotiation. Violence is totally forbidden in Islam. There is only one exception to this ban and that is when it is engaged in self-defense. This can take place only at the time of external invasion, and such action is the prerogative of an established government. Non-governmental organizations have no right to wage a war in the name of justice, or even in self-defense.