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Interfaith Dialogue: A Way to Establish Peace, Coexistence, Friendship and Cooperation

It is needless to say that there will be no authentic and genuine dialogue among politicians unless there is sincere and genuine dialogue among religions and religious leaders. Therefore inter religious dialogue paves a way towards establishment of peace, coexistence, friendship and cooperation.

What follows is the speech of Archbishop Sebouh Sarkissian Prelate of the Armenians of Tehran and North in the First International Conference on Imam Reza (as) and Interfaith Dialogue which was held in Holy City of Mashhad, Iran on January 30, 2019.

It is a great joy and privilege to be in this blessed city and respected place surrounded by a group of eminent religious leaders, i academics, religious experts as well as committed believers who are gathered here for the sake of more knowledge and wisdom.

It is a unique joy at the same time to greet you all in the name of Almighty and one God that we all worship and glorify with the same meaning, but with different ways and means. Indeed it is a God’s blessing that brought us here, to this peaceful place in the midst of the troubled world.

I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation to the organizers of this seminar with the theme “International conference on Imam Reza and dialogue of religions” which I believe that it is so important and relevant for today’s world.

No doubt that dialogue has become an imperative necessity in our world, where God’s creatures are desperately in need of peace, peaceful coexistence and mutual love and respect and sincere many efforts, some of them concerted towards a new understanding between Christians and Muslims. They are noticeable in the broad areas of dialogue such as education, scholarship and other areas.

It is also true that the history of Christian-Muslim relations has seen much rivalry and wars, forgetting that there were rich and fertile encounter in the realms of life and ideas alike. Unfortunately, one of the features of our historical memories has been the way in which conflicts overshadowed peaceful experiences and accusations drown the voices of understanding.

The recent conflicts in different parts of the world, the current developments political and otherwise, the interference of so called the great nations into the affairs of the others may be threatening to build up new attitudes of distrust and hostility. This urges both Christians and Muslims to take into consideration their relations and priorities on dialogue and cooperation. The appreciated work in recent decades is a reliable resource.

It is needless to say that there will be no authentic and genuine dialogue among politicians unless there is sincere and genuine dialogue among religions and religious leaders. Therefore inter religious dialogue paves a way towards establishment of peace, coexistence, friendship and cooperation.

Adherents of Ibrahmic religions are called upon to go back to their Holy Books, namely, the Bible and the Qur’an, both books speak about peace, respected and peaceful coexistence. “Blessed are the peace makers” says the Gospel. Our mission as it is derived from the holy books, is to work for the establishment of peace among communities regardless to their religious and ethnic background.

The history is our educator; there was a time, when religious intolerance held sway a rejection of the others, both Christianity and Islam were susceptible to that kind of intolerance because of the sometimes mutually exclusive absolute doctrinal claims of each of them.

The affairs of our contemporary world, the uncertainty surrounding us, the extremist movements around us urge us to find ways to reconcile our absolute claims with acknowledging the right of others to their own absolute claims, in a spirit of mutual respect and love.

The globalised world has already got used to differences within its respective religious communities. Much more effort is needed in this field, because today we are witnessing a new wave of religious extremism, which is misusing and abusing religion. While facing this reality we, as religious leaders need to consistently liberate religion form such misuse, despite the patronage of political and social forces: I believe at this paint, it is very important the cooperation between religious institutions and civil authorities for the benefit of the society:

The genuine role of the religious leaders within the sphere of society is to positively promote spiritual values and virtues like justice, honesty solidarity, modesty, care for the weak and needy people, on the other side while having interfaith seminars like the one that we are having, we as religious leaders must constantly struggle to find, discover the common grounds, commonalities, moral principles and spiritual values, so that we may be able to instruct our people providing them with guidelines of mutual respect and acceptance.

The late pope Paul the VI said. “If you want peace, work for justice and respect”.

Peace, Justice and mutual respect should be protected by religious leaders, who should disseminate best practices of peaceful coexistence and models of life.

The religious leaders should be models and examples within their communities by preaching the value of fraternity in humanity and contribute to educating the population on peace, social cohesion and acceptance of the other.

Protecting human rights, preventing discrimination, exercising freedom of religion could stem difficulties in misuse of religion to drive violence and could help promoting peace and reconciliation in places where there is violence.

All this requires continuous struggle for reconciliation and peaceful coexistence. At this stage I believe it is time for us, as dedicated peacemakers to work on a new culture, that is culture of dialogue in order to educate and instruct our new generation leading them to a new life of tolerance, acceptance and mutual respect, which will lead us to a just society. Lets not forget what the great philosopher Plato has said thousand years ago.” Do not expect justice where might is right.”

Dear sisters and brothers, we all have to renew our efforts to end all kind of violence against humanity. Individual as well as Churches and states have responsibility for building peace and spreading love and understanding for a better society.

And this is not impossible. Once we start understanding the full meaning of the following words:

People were created to be loved

Things were created to be used

The reason why the world is in chaos

Is because things are being loved

And people are being used

We as human beings and God’s creatures have to speak with the others rather than about the others. This is one of the best way to overcome prejudices, stereotypes fear and hatred. Through genuine inter religions dialogue we will be able to achieve peace by building bridges of mutual understanding in order to drive out ignorance, discrimination and misjudgment. How inspiring is the golden rule “Do to others what you want them to do to you” (Mt. 7:12). This is the best principle to apply in any mutual relationship and harmonious living together.

I would like to conclude this brief intervention with the following words: Always pray to have the eyes that see the best in people.

A heart that forgives the worst,

A mind that forgets the bad, and a soul that never loses faith in God.



About Ali Teymoori

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