Jordan: A pulpit of dialogue and a fortress of peace

Jordan: A pulpit of dialogue and a fortress of peace

By Fr. Rifat Bader

A few days ago two important events, which have great global impact, took place in the Kingdom. Both events fall in the same major category, namely enhancement of the values of citizenship and equality by accepting differences and respecting diversity.

The first event was the launching of the first network of Islamic and Christian university institutes in the Arab world. The initiative took place during the conference promoted in Amman by the Kaiciid International Dialogue Center and the Diyar Consortium. The Kaiciid Center is based in Vienna, Austria. Founded by Saudi Arabia, Spain and Austria, with the Holy See as a founding observer body, it includes Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Jews, and Muslim representatives. Diyar Consortium is an ecumenical organization, promoted by Lutheran Christians, founded in Bethlehem in 1995 and engaged in programs for the most vulnerable sections of the Palestinian population. The launching of the network from Jordan was a sign of the appreciation shown by the whole world to our beloved country, which has been promoting the lofty values taught by religious institutes and colleges.

The second event was the launching of The Jordan Times journalist, Ms Rula Samain, of an outstanding book with a great headline, namely, “Jordan: Fortress of Peace” and a subtitle that reads, “Jordan’s Interfaith Drive and Model of Coexistence”. The distinguished and massive participation in the launching and signing of the book in Amman ceremony demonstrated the interest shown by Jordanian citizens to the subject of the book and the desire to promote it, especially as the writer has become acquainted with religious affairs.

How beautiful are these propitious endeavors which are designed to launch initiatives that promote dialogue through the launching of the network of Islamic and Christian university institutes in the Arab world which is concerned in reinforcing “the culture of dialogue” and conveying it to the new generations by adopting modern educational methods. How beautiful, as well, to have a handy book to the new generations that incorporates all the initiatives.

Considering these two events, I remark the following:

Firstly: Despite the fact that dialogue is beautiful, it is merely one stage or rather a station in which our common train passes, or rather our common ship aiming at a main final destination according to Al-Azhar Declaration issued two weeks ago. Still lies ahead the major station which includes all different spectra, colors and stones of mosaics.

Secondly: We need a new dictionary of terms used by followers of religions. There are terms that are no longer fair such as minorities, coexistence and even tolerance. There are no people who want to live with others who hold mentalities that view them as being different or inferior. We are all children of God, according to the Islamic dictionary, and we are all created in the image of God, according to the Christian dictionary. We need to devote our cultural energies and media columns to the issuance of the hoped-for dictionary.

Thirdly: Religion and violence cannot go hand-in-hand, for religion and faith do inevitably lead to the love of God in the first place and to the love of all people. We cannot claim that we love God without loving other people. The first network of Islamic and Christian university institutes in the Arab world and Rula Samain’s book indicate that religion in Jordan has never been an incentive for violence and for exclusion of others.
Fourthly: We are aware of the importance conveyed by religion since it offers hope for future generations. As desperation and frustrations are rampant, we ought to make room for solace and hope amidst the conflagrations and the deteriorating events.

Fifthly: We have to support local centers that deal with dialogue initiatives, or that focus on respect for diversity, equality and citizenship as well as means to enhance them in our societies. Our Catholic Center for Studies and Media in our beloved Kingdom, Jordan, is ready to cooperate in this field which we refer to as “the necessary salt” since this is a necessity rather than a luxury.

O pulpit of dialogue and a fortress of peace, go ahead.

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