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Positive interaction among religions ensures salvation of global civilization: Iranian scholar

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Ayatollah Alireza A'rafi, head of Iran's Seminaries

A high-ranking Iranian Muslim scholar has underlined the need for a “positive and constructive interaction” among faiths in order to guarantee the salvation of the global civilization, stating that political and social systems are based on common origins that enable cultures to unite.

Ayatollah Alireza A’rafi, head of Iran’s Seminaries, said that extensive communications among people, along with peaceful coexistence, can advance human and humanitarian goals and help overcome political, social, and cultural issues.

“Positive and constructive interaction among religions is one of the most important factors for saving the global civilization, and fostering intimacy among human societies,” the cleric said.

“Interactions of religions can tremendously contribute to their convergence, and bond human societies together. Common values of religions can easily address human needs. The diversity and multiplicity of religions is an ideal opportunity for human societies to deepen their understanding and visions and exchange their achievements,” Ayatollah A’rafi pointed out.

The senior scholar went on to highlight that all human values are anchored in spiritual and religious traditions, adding that religion, therefore, plays a matchless role in human life and lifestyle.

He said prophets have tried throughout history to create a lifestyle based on monotheism, promote the spirit of love and affection among all people, and command their followers to love each other.

“The goal of all divine religions has been human happiness, salvation, and liberation in this world and in the hereafter. Throughout history, the role of prophets in creating unity and solidarity within societies has been undeniable,” Ayatollah A’rafi noted.

He called on religious scholars to fulfill their educational, moral-promotional, educational, and social responsibilities, work towards scientific discussion among different denominations and schools of thought, and avoid prejudices and extremism.

The cleric then dismissed the concept of absolute relativism, saying it gets in the way of correct understanding.

“Absolute relativism, especially postmodern relativism, does not have a strong and acceptable rational and philosophical logic. Postmodernism relies on the logic of relativism and makes dialogue expedient and superficial,” he opined.

“All religions and denominations of the world are organized on the basis of rationality, the focus of which is the purposefulness of the world and societies. Religions have sought to understand the relationship among man, himself, and his existence, and at least within the framework of rationale and common sense, tried to provide a correct and realistic interpretation of man and existence,” Ayatollah A’rafi said.

He added that all religions and schools of thought are formed on the basis of justice and peace and are meant to direct human societies within such a framework.

“The interaction of religions and denominations is not based on formalities. It is rather based on a deep logic. Religions and denominations are rooted in common principles of philosophy, law, values, and jurisprudence,” the cleric said.

“The current world needs to learn the etiquette of dialogue among different religions. Islam and Muslim scholars have always stressed the need for interaction among human beings and underscored respect for their sanctities,” Ayatollah A’rafi said.

He emphasized that interfaith dialogue has been one of the main areas of concern for religious thinkers over the past two decades, adding that epistemological, ontological, theological, and interactive necessities have made religious dialogue inevitable in today’s world.

“Through interfaith dialogue, a clear and close understanding of the teachings of religions can be obtained, and many misunderstandings would be removed. This will prepare the ground for belief, value, and behavioral convergence,” Ayatollah A’rafi said.


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