Looking at intra-faith Muslim dialogues. Is Islamic Pluralism an answer?
By Yusuf Morales
In the age of globalization and the nearness of each civilization to each other, we have noted that after decades of strife, internecine cultural conflicts and even after Samuel Huntington posited the theory of “Clash of Civilizations”, there has been much to understand of the importance of understanding one's neighbor, whether he is within the ambit of Islam, or outside it.
Many would always point a finger toward undersolved conflicts in Pakistan, Egypt, Yemen and even Afghanistan where the role of religious and political leaders hae been overlapped and the conflicts continue to be mired in tension and violence.
Some say that dialogue in such cases must follow two tracks: one aiming to create an environment of understanding and religious harmony, while the other would be resolving these issues at the political level.1
Understanding that in many countries, there is already a significant number of Muslim communities following different schools of thought; Sunni, Salafi, Sufi, Deobandi,Ithna Ashari, Ismaili and other minority schools, this becomes a unique challenge to any particular community as well as to leaders, whether situated in a Muslim or a secular state.
The practice of Takfir and inability to accept and respect the perception coming from another school of law has always been the danger to this. Eventually becoming the fuse of sectarian conflicts around the globe.
And thus a state of religious tolerance, a condition of harmonious co-existence of between adherents of different schools of thought is required to further human understanding beyond an exclusionary and intolerant religiosity2.
This paradigm if merely allowed to be in the hands of the religious clergy would funnel either animosity or lip-service, as these religious propagators must push this further to the people so that it would trickle down3.
But for such to happen, much effort is needed, training the Ulema, as well as the Muslims to be involved in such an endeavour would take the time and would need to be done in a much sooner time enabling to cover more ground in the process.
Concepts like non-declaration of takfir, mutual respect, understanding and recognition of differences in thought and madhahib and masa'el in order to they may know each other. The highlighting of the commonalities of schools of thought must also be emphasized.
All Muslims share the same pillars of Islam, articles of faith as well as in the unity of Islam and thus such a unity can push or prod them together towards a more pluralist discourse among the different schools of though in Islam
1Almohoudi, Fahad, Saudi's Push for Religious dialogue, Common Ground News Service, 21 July 2009
2Morales, Roque Santos, “Using the tools of islamic Pluralism and Moderation as tools for interfaith dialogue and a basis for subculture of today's Muslim youth”. Conference paper, “2009 National Conference on new Thinking, new concepts of interfaith dialogue in the Philippines: Spotlight on the youth”. Novermber 26-28,2009, DLSU Manila