Doha Third Conference For Religions Dialogue


Unofficial Translation

The Address of His Highness

Shaikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani,

Amir of the State of Qatar


The Conference on

The Dialogue of Religions



29 – 30 June 2005


In the Name of God,

The Most Compassionate, The Most Merciful


Your Excellencies,

Honourable Guests,

            I would like to welcome you to the Third Conference on the Dialogue of Religions which has become an annual occasion to which we all look forward to deepen dialogue and communication among their followers for a mutual understanding that would realize the best results to the benefit of our peoples, nations and all mankind, if possible.

            I hope that this year’s deliberations would come out of the domain of generalities into an in-depth discussion of detailed central issues. The goal of this dialogue has always been to make the knowledge of each side of the other deeper  and their relation be based on reciprocal respect.

            Realistic and objective contemplation leads us to the conviction that it is feasible to deal with the topics related to the shared temporal interests which concern all sides. At the same time, whenever we deal with  matters related to beliefs and conviction peculiarities, we have to abide by  the sublime faiths that enjoin respect of the beliefs of others so as not to end up into futile argument that does not solve any dispute or settle any conflict.

            We are required to observe certain obligations determined by the Almighty God and hence we cannot but abide by them. We are committed to seek acquaintance among nations and are to follow wisdom and good words and decent argument. We are to avoid grossness in address, and are not to abuse others beliefs. We are enjoined to be gracious to the believers in other religions and to treat them well and cooperate with them and not depreciate the positive achievements they make in the different fields of life since God Almighty has made human beings inheritors of the earth to exploit it and establish justice on it as a joint responsibility of followers of all religions.

            There is no doubt that any dialogue of a religious nature is sensitive in a special sense. It is known that an atmosphere of caution has prevailed for a long time between Muslims and others, some traces of which are still present until now, which appear for instance in some publications of one party or the other. Therefore, one of the main obstacles that has to be surpassed so that our dialogue could be fruitful is a psychological obstacle which is directly related to the cultural legacy of long epochs. This issue deserves all attention on our part because any serious dialogue must see reality as it is before it looks into what it ought to be. In other words, we have to start our dialogue from reality so as to be able to influence it.

            From this point, we note that some studies and researches concerned with our subject ignore  that the Islamic phenomenon has an important cultural dimension that demonstrates,  in some of its aspects, a rejection of the hegemony of the rich North, which is generally represented by the West, and the marginalization suffered by the Muslim peoples, who are proud of their references and authentic cultural symbols. Perhaps the orientalist logic which was based on highlighting the contradictions between the East and the West to the extent that it neared at times the verge of racial and fanatical thinking against all that is not Western does reflect those attitudes that need to be reviewed.

            That is why, through the rounds of this dialogue, we have to carry out a critical revision of the Arab Islamic history on the basis of its being a logical and natural continuation of processes of political, economic and social change leading to natural and expected associations, and not to interpret the modern Islamic phenomenon as a mere conservative backward reaction against change and modernization.

            The start now must be based on an earnest desire to re-establish communication with the civilizational and cultural heritage of the other so as to form a joint human system free of aggressiveness. There must be conviction in the autonomy of cultures, self-respect and difference of basic references, without discrediting the other or excluding him from the general picture of humanity. Such a start can be established on the common denominators derived from the civilizational environment of Islam, Christianity and Judaism, which were intertwined and intermingled through time. That is why we think that the dialogue between religions is apt to positively reflect on the dialogue between civilizations.

Honourable Guests,

            Three main tracks can be set for work to support the dialogue in the short and medium terms.

            The first track is the promotion of knowledge exchange between Islam, Christianity and Judaism, where the translation of the basic references into Arabic and foreign languages is of great importance. In this context, some measures of a practical nature can be taken such as establishing joint institutions to carry out this task.

            The second track is to concentrate in the dialogue on the social and cultural issues to achieve the rapprochement and cooperation which we desire. It may be appropriate in this respect to bring up the role of women in society in a serious attempt to understand the ethics of the Muslim societies on which ready-made judgments are often made on the basis of prior positions or because of lack of knowledge. It is also possible to look into the relation between religion and modernity.

            The third and last track is to look into finding ways of joint cooperation in solving the chronic conflicts for the sake of realizing peace and accord.

            I hope that we succeed in our dialogue for what is good and beneficial.

            Wa salamu Alykum wa Rahmatul Allahi wa Barakatu.





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