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Message of Cordialit y A Scientific-Promotional Quarterly

Vol. 2 No. 5 Special Edition July - September 2011

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Interested parties may contact the Cultural Section at: No. 16 Sta. Potenciana St., Urdaneta Village, Makati City Tel. nos. 812 5696, 812 5697 Fax no. 812 2796 Email: culturalsection_iran@yahoo.com or manila@icro.ir

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PAYAM-E MEHR A Scientific Promotional Quarterly

Vol. 2, No. 5, Special Edition July September 2010 (Tier Shahrivar 1389)

Publisher: Cultural Section, Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran-Manila Editor in Chief: Hon. Hossein Divsalar Payam-e Mehr is a scientific-promotional quarterly aimed to create links, dialogues and exchanges between academicians and readers of varied persuasions through comparative and in-depth studies from different perspectives covering a broad spectrum of subjects like religion, literature, culture and art, philosophy, women issues, Islamic sciences, history and international relations. The views expressed in this journal reflect the opinions of the authors and may not be regarded as espousing the official stance of the Cultural Section of the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran here in Manila, Philippines. The Cultural Section reserves the right to edit or refuse to publish any submitted article. Compensation for the authors of articles appearing herein will be based on the evaluation of the Council of Writers.



TE: AL NO salar ITORI essage ED sein Div ecial M ounselor Hos -A Sp ural C lt By: Cu GES: MESSA Address hilipi to the P te zbehan -Keyno Mojtaba Rou public of Iran e li H. E. A dor, Islamic R mbassa A rks pines g Rema .S.C. - Openiniso Erquiza, F niversity arc lle U Br. N t, De La Sa n Preside e Address slamic of the I raei lcom - We ddin Da elor, Embassy hahabo Hon. S ultural Couns er C Manila Form of Iranepublic R gue h Dialo Interfait d LES: aling an ARTIC Religions, He ce f existen - Role o ilian Sison eful Co Dr. L essage of Peac By: ajar :AM - Islam ahmood S. T Creation Dr. M nd Care of ceful By: g, O. P. ns a Of Pea Religio ente G. Cajili s In Pursuit gie Vic By: Fr. mic Eschatolo ha - Abra nce: te Coexis r A Boon? o A Bane nomic nd Eco imba or A. L s On Social A Manso By: Dr. le Of Religion Ro -The ieties ercado, SVD Of Soc risis: Justice eonardo N. M s of Angels ental C g L By: Fr. Break the Win and Environm t s - Don s Worldview u ion (Religio erspective) P bi st Relig Islamic agher T. Dara s Justice or Ju B u By: Dr. ustice: Religio hsh ocial J unes Nourbak -S Social Yo mi About By: Dr. aeel Hajhashe in Bringing Esm gion of Reli e Role gue - Th Africa h Dialo hange s Guingona t on Interfait C rite men By: Ma colare Move e o c - The F ful Coexisten eace llo asti for P Lolita C By: Dr. h nterfait m on I mposiu e Sy RT: REPO tatement of th inal S gue -F e ith Dialo Dialogu ium on Interfa s -Sympo nce: at a Gla TION Dialogue II A UBLIC nterfaith I OUS P PREVI on Islam and minar -Se

InterFaith Dialogue: Roadmap Towards Peace and Stability

The exploitation of some existing but small differences in religious beliefs has always been part and parcel of the divide and rule policy of those who want to accomplish their set goal by sowing discord among unaware people, who instead of focusing on the important commonalities among religions and sects, considered little differences as the cause of hatred and dispute. A glance at previous and recent history bears witness that, unfortunately, divide and rule policy has always been, and still is, existing; and only religious and aware people could shed light on it and struggle toward unity. It is worthy to mention that religious beliefs need not be a source of conflict and the existing diversity of view points are natural and should be neglected. Instead, the many commonalities among all religions should be expressed and emphasized, the most important among them is the call for peace and brotherhood of men. All divine religions point to the fleeting reality of this world and emphasize building up of harmonious co-existence with all created beings as a prerequisite for the actualization of a blissful end in the world yet to come. Thus, finding commonalities with other followers of faith becomes a necessary step towards this end. Based on the result of the attack against religion carried out incessantly throughout the ages, a sustained advocacy for interfaith/intercivilization dialogue thereby can never be an exaggeration. The Payam-e Mehr, not just this edition but previous issues as well that carried the papers presented during Interfaith Dialogue Seminars held here in Manila, especially the one held in 2010, has shown its commitment to pursue this so religious people can elevate their scientific, cultural, religious, social and political awareness that will result to better understanding among all the followers of religions and, thus, establish peace and security. I commend all the scholarly men, women, researchers and the editorial board who wrote their articles emphasizing the undeniable function religion has in bringing about peace, harmony and tranquility in this world for mans elevation and achieving of human dignity and look forward to have more comments, suggestions and contributions from our dear readers. With this, we do hope we will be witnessing a world based on justice, peace and security for the heavenly religions. I wish prosperity and success to all. Hossein Divsalar Editor in Chief



H. E. Ambassador Ali Mojtaba Rouzbehani Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran - Manila

Message of

Nowadays, mans quest for freedom is framed upon his scientific and technological aspirations, thus, creating a predisposition for man to underrate the capability of religion to define rights in such a way that Religious View of Human Rights is widely unaccepted by most western scholars of human science among whom are the lawmakers. It is understood that the prevailing mentality among lawmakers and human science scholars from the western point of view caters religions incapability to foster requirements of human aspirations in shaping relations and upholding human rights. It is indeed a fact that many religious tenets are interpreted incorrectly and these false understandings are vastly used to justify untoward actions of some believers. Considering what is perceived of religion in the western world in the 21st century is accurate, we too agree that religion is by no means structured to embed cultural and social elements. If it was true that religion is merely a spiritual relation. However, religion, in the Islamic perspective meets all elements of being and relations, namely mans relation with the Creator, mans relation with himself, mans relation with his fellowman and of course mans relation with the world and, thus, gives religion an undeniable stand regarding law, politics, economics, art, ethics and in short, all aspects of

day to day life. Researchers, scholars of Islamic studies and those familiar with comprehensive analysis of theoretical and practical viewpoints of Islam testify to this fact. In most secular countries, religion has very little to do in the constitution and its provisions are merely designed to guide individuals to good citizenry with disregard to its religious desirability. On the other hand in the Islamic point of view, the main source of civil law is the will of the Almighty. And the will of the Almighty considers all believers as a solitary component in spite of their race, nationality and color. As simply distinguished, Islamic laws have multi dimensional stance towards freedom, right to exist, as well as right to acquire proper education and training, and the right to be dignified regardless of race or nationality. Due to this fact, those rules and regulations based on the consensus of man, limited to a certain geographical boundary, could not in any way be absolute, thus, cannot cover all the rights of people. On the other hand, if the main source of human law is based on the Abrahamic religions, which are in accordance with the nature of man, human rights could be understood better and will be more practical. This is an important fact that leaders of Abrahamic religions, Christians, Jews and Muslims, consider their religions as the noble conviction of Prophet Abraham (a.s.) but, this variety of ideas should be studied and researched through the Old and New Testaments as well as the Holy Quran to discover the most natural and rational to the point of nurturing co existence that will usher in cooperation in the fields of duties, responsibilities and human rights. Symposiums like this, with the participation of scholars and experts of religions, could diminish misunderstandings and misconceptions among the leaders of Abrahamic religions, Christianity, Islam and Judaism through dynamic scholarly interfaith dialogue. However, we cannot tackle all issues in a single interfaith symposium. Perhaps we can discuss more on future occasions in different venues. The continu-

ity of such occasions is vital in the effectiveness of these dialogues. The Islamic Republic of Iran looks forward to interfaith dialogue as an ideological principle and considers it exceptionally valuable, thus, after the victory of the Islamic Revolution of Iran under the wise leadership of Imam Khomeini (r.h), Iran for more than 30 years now not only is the leading supporter of interfaith dialogue but also the pioneer of dialogue among civilizations and has explicitly welcomed the leaders of different thoughts and religions, establishing connections with them. Tehran has been the center for hosting most of the world religious leaders and has been sponsoring various bilateral and multilateral religious gatherings while various Muslim Iranian Ulama and scholars were invited in different high level international conferences in various countries. Iran has repeatedly announced its readiness to communicate with Filipino Christian leaders and hold regular interfaith dialogues with both Catholic and non Catholic scholars in Tehran and Manila, and is also ready to invite leaders from other religions. In conclusion, I would like to express my genuine appreciation to the respectful members of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines particularly the Episcopal Commission of Inter religious Dialogue and De La Salle University, as well as the Christian and Muslim scholars who will present their researches in this scientific gathering. I wish success for each and all. Mabuhay tayong lahat! Maraming salamat po.

mes you walk where on place camny other gthe hallways, the greet peo y say Good le, morning,
streets and you



Message of Br. Narciso Erquiza, F. S. C. President, De La Salle University System

Sometimes you walk around anywhere on campus, in any other place along the hallways, by the streets and you greet people, say Good morning, Magandang umaga and most likely people will look at you, stare at you for a short while and sort of pass you by. And they sort of ask themselves, What has gone wrong with that person who greeted me? I suppose its a common experience that most of us get to have. We are not used to getting greeted. We are not used to allowing people to enter our lives because when someone greets you that person invites you to become a part of him or her; and the invitation is an invitation to dialogue. Today and tomorrow I think you will have the opportunity to be able to dialogue with each other. And the opening that brings about that dialogue is supposed where one will welcome one another to that dialogue, I suppose today, as in tomorrow, the experience will be one of a sense of welcome. We come in, you come in and we allow each other to be able to enter into each others lives. And to be able to enter each others lives, it is important that we welcome each other in the name of our god. In the name of Yahweh, I welcome you all. The god that is in me welcomes the god that is in you. We understand what that means. Hopefully and truly, the god that is in me is the same god that is in you. The god that is in you is the same god that is in me. What better venue for dialogue. Good morning and welcome.



Welcome Remarks of Hon. Shahaboddin Daraei Cultural Counselor, Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran - Manila
Salamun alaikum and good morning. Welcome to the Symposium on Interfaith Dialogue. This is indeed a clear manifestation of the willingness of the followers of heavenly religions to give emphasis on dialogue as the means of intellectuality in the 3rd millennium. I would like to bring to your good attention some facts as one of the hosts of this symposium. The most important of all is this symposium is not organized based on a certain subject with political aims nor is it for any expediency purpose. The logic behind this symposium is the logic of the Holy Quran, the logic of dialogue, the logic of the noble Prophet of Islam (p.b.u.h.), the logic of his descendants (a.s.) and the logic of the Islamic civilization. The theme of this dialogue has been made by the Quran which is the holy book of the Muslims. The first invitation done by the Holy Quran was the invitation for the Messenger of Islam to make dialogue with the People of the Book as stated in Chapter 3, verse 64 Say, O People of the Book! Come to a word common between us and you: that we will worship no one but God Almighty In this verse, emphasis is given to find commonalities among the People of the Book. The recommendation was not limited to dialogue only with the people of the Book but also with the infidel Qurayish tribes. Also, the Messenger of Islam was ordered by

God to make dialogue with them with a positive attitude as stated in Chapter 34, verse 24 - 25 we must not say Im right and you are wrong, if we go into dialogue by this type of attitude then no result will come out So our aim is very clear, we are looking for a common ground. We would like to find the right objective. We would like to understand each other better so that cooperation will be the ensuing result. The relation between Islam and Christianity has a long history. Some historians quoted wars and stiff competition between these two heavenly religions but they ignored the fact that the history of Islam and Christianity is the history of dialogue also. The Prophet of Islam started dialogue with Christians in Najiran in Medina located at the Arabian peninsula ten years after the migration from Mecca to Medina, and the Islamic Republic of Iran, as the pioneer in building relations among religions has tried her best to correct the existing wrong notion that has left an overcast shadow on interfaith dialogue, and is still trying to revive it; but unfortunately, recent political and other developments might endanger this revival effort. Ladies and Gentlemen, you are well aware of the theory of clash of civilizations, and you are aware of the Islamophobia in different countries and particularly, the latest wrong decision to burn the Holy Quran in one of the so-called democratic countries. So a symposium like this that emphasizes cooperation and dialogue, which revives the relations between Islam and Christianity is a must. Dialogue is not limited to a mere exchange of thoughts but is also the means of bringing hearts together. Dialogue is life itself which establishes confidence between two sides. The Islamic Republic of Iran, considering the current situation of the world, looks forward to this dialogue among religions and hopes that through a nonstop dialogue we could take effective steps towards having understanding, cooperation and mutual respect. Since interfaith dialogue is not only limited to theological fields, rules and regulations and musts and must nots in ethical aspects, but is

also a lever for better cooperation among the followers of heavenly religions, this is expected to result to just and peaceful international relations among nations. Likewise, this will usher in peaceful co-existence among humans, having mutual respect for each others religion and its followers. This certainly, is respect for the rights of religions in essence. Consequently, the insults and aggressions towards the sanctity of religions, heavenly books, religious characters and authorities could be stopped. Let me, as the cultural representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran, thank the Almighty and thank you for giving this opportunity where we can praise the Lord together. The most beautiful action indeed. Finally, I would like to render my sincerest gratitude to all the religious institutions and personalities, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines Episcopal Commission on Inter-religious Dialogue and De La Salle University, as well as the Secretariat Office of the Interfaith Dialogue and Dialogue Among Civilizations of the Organization of Islamic Culture and Relations Organization of Iran and dear guests from Iran who journeyed a long way to honor us in this session. I also thank the Excellencies, political representatives of other countries in the Philippines, particularly our dear Ambassador Ali Mojtaba Rouzbehani and the sincere cooperation of the representatives of CBCP Episcopal Commission and De La Salle University, particularly, the President, as our co-sponsors. I fervently ask from the Almighty success and grace for all the scholars who, by giving their articles, have already assured the success of this conference and also for the audience who will take part in this event. Maraming salamat po.



Healing and Interfaith Dialogue
Dr. Lilian J. Sison University of Santo Tomas Secretary General, Religions for Peace - Philippines

The Role of

Abstract The Philippines quest for peace has been elusive for many decades now, Mindanao, in particular has been besieged by internal armed conflict because of the desire of the Bangsa Moro people for self determination and their claim for ancestral domains. The recurrent armed conflict has caused the deaths of at least 120,000 people with almost a million more internally displaced. Among those who are directly affected by the conflict are the women, children and the youth and those who experience hunger and malnutrition and have little access to basic services and education traumatized by the horror of the armed conflict leaving most of these survivors feeling helpless and suffering the pains of war trauma. The paper highlights the peace building initiatives in central Mindanao of Religions for Peace in partnership with the University of Santo Tomas through the psychosocial support services it delivered to the war trauma victims the women, children, youth and the Military personnel. It emphasizes the role of religion and inter-religious dialogue in building the capacity of the communities to heal the wounds inflicted by the conflict. It is our thesis that unless these wounds are healed, there can be never be genuine dialogue and peace. The paper also examines how people of Faith can show us the more humane side of Faiths and pave the way for greater tolerance and peaceful co-existence.

The Asian Conference of Religions for Peace (ACRP) now known as Religions for Peace is an organization of Asian countries whose aims and aspirations are: first to revitalize Asian religious heritage and to promote a creative and critical awareness of religious people in Asia in pursuit of peace, justice, and human dignity; and second, to motivate the people of Asia and the Pacific region to make concerted efforts in promoting peace. ACRP is the regional body of WCRP/Religions for Peace International, which is the worlds largest and most representative

multi-religious coalition for peace. The Philippines is one of the member countries in Asia and the Pacific whose quest for peace has been elusive for many decades now, Mindanao, in particular the second largest island has been besieged by internal armed conflict because of the desire of the Bangsa Moro people for self determination and their claim for ancestral domains. The peace process between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the GRP Panels for a negotiated political settlement has been overtaken by



three major wars in 2000, 2003 and 2008. Data revealed that the recurrent armed conflict has caused the deaths of at least 120,000 people. More than 930,000 persons were displaced by the year 2000. A military offensive in 2003 resulted to the displacement of approximately 411,000 persons, many of whom had only recently returned home after the war of 2000. During the first quarter of 2007 at least 60,000 others were displaced by armed conflict between various groups in Western and Central Mindanao. Among those who are directly affected by the conflict are the farmers, fisherfolks, women, children and youth, the elderly and persons with disabilities, those who experience hunger and malnutrition and have little access to basic services and education. They score poorly on most of the internationally recognized indicators of human development and speak of injustice as well as marginalization. In August of 2008, and upon the request of the Catholic Parish Priest of Pikit, the University of Santo Tomas Graduate School sent a team of Psychotherapists to the areas in Pikit, Cotabato to conduct critical incident stress debriefing (CISD) to the survivors of the armed conflict

in the areas. The team had witnessed the devastating post traumatic stress reactions of many children, youth, men and women who had been traumatized by the horror of the armed conflict, leaving most of these survivors feeling helpless and suffering the pains of war trauma. As a consequence of this debriefing, and in line with the theme Peacemaking in Asia of the ACRP in its seventh assembly, a capacity building/ training program on mental health, psychosocial support and psycho-trauma management for community women volunteers/leaders in the armed conflict areas in Central Mindanao was designed to address the mental health and psychosocial needs of those victim survivors affected by armed conflict. One of the highlights of the training is the creation of the local network (Central Mindanao Women of Faith Network) of stress debriefers and the identification of area leaders among the participants who lay down plans on how they can make use of the knowledge and skills gained from the training and how to find ways to further improve it. From the 54 women volunteers who underwent first level training in October 2009, a select group of 20 community women volunteers/

leaders were given second level training in July 2010. They were trained on trauma reducing processes such as Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD), safe-place exercises, and internal stabilization techniques so that the women would come equipped and ready for the challenges that would face them. They will serve as the key focal persons who will spearhead the conduct of interventions to those victim-survivors of armed conflict. Likewise, they are being coached, mentored and provided technical assistance by the professional psychologists from the UST Psychotrauma Clinic to enhance their skills and competencies on the psychotrauma management and interventions to internally displaced persons (IDP) victim-survivors of disaster especially the armed conflict. The participants are professionals and paraprofessional community women volunteers and leaders who have direct experience in the conflict. They have their own wounded-ness. And because of this, they will be effective de-briefers and first-responders to victims of conflicts and calamities. The ACRP Women Committee spearheaded the Training of Trainors on MHPSS because of the belief in the compassionate nature of women and also in the life enhancing spirituality that values womens experience of birthing, nurturing, educating and healing as the extension of Gods care for life1. Such characteristics of women make them capable of transcendent kindness, that generosity of spirit to empathize the primal understanding of what it means to suffer, not only of their own pain but also the pain of others which makes them powerful advocates for peace. As women of Faith, their belief in the Divine in such practices as prayers and rituals

strengthens them in their personal and collective struggles to build peace. Essentially, it was the goal of the project on psychosocial services to: 1. Empower the community women volunteers/leaders to do their share in peace building and healing by equipping them with the necessary skills and competencies in mental health and psychosocial (MHPSS) support especially on psychotrauma management and intervention, and 2. Prepare them for mobilization and capacity building where they can take care of themselves and their communities in cases of crises situations thereby creating support network and linkages in order to strengthen their skills to do self-healing and healing of others through mental health and psychosocial support and interventions. The success of the first phase of the training program had led to requests to extend the psychosocial services to the internally-displaced youth, victims of conflict who are most often recruited as child soldiers. It was a felt need that psychotrauma debriefing be undertaken to these young people before they can be fully integrated into the larger society. The youth showed manifestations of Trauma which ranged from the excited states of anxiety and hyper-vigilance to the slump states of depression and frustration. They were made to realize that the release of the feeling associated with traumatic events helps prevent post-traumatic stress disorder and could help pave a way for better recovery. In the end the youth were purged out of their trauma experiences, some even were able to forgive the people who caused their trauma. They now can look forward to a better future with the desire to help work for




peace in their communities. Similar training sessions were conducted for TOT on Critical Incident Stress Debriefing for the Armed Forces (Military) 6th Infantry Division, Camp Siongco, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao. It was participated on by 60 Officers, Enlisted Personnel and Civilian employees from 25 battalions of the 6ID. The training which is the first in the country is essential to the Military Personnel assigned in conflict areas as it would help them in minimizing the impact of the psychological trauma from combat situations and rescue operations that are encountered by the Army, and to mitigate the risk of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. It is very important that the men and women of the military be able to take care of themselves and address their issues as they are not only soldiers but are also human beings. A second level training for the military is scheduled next week. This will equip them the necessary skills in mental health and psychosocial support and prepare them for mobilization and capacity building where they can take care of themselves and their communities in cases of emergency situations. It is heartwarming to note that the trained Army personnel use their newly acquired CISD skill in their peace-building activities to civilian communities in the conflict affected areas. It is my thesis as Secretary General of Religions for Peace, Philippines, that there can never be any fruitful dialogue for peace unless and until the psychological wounds of the conflict are healed. Hopefully, the case of Central Mindanao will prove this. It is worthwhile to note that this capability building project to promote peace in the community was initiated and brought to fruition by religious leaders at the grass roots level, the Parish Priest of Pikit of the Congregation of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, the Religions for Peace, Philippines, and the Priests psychotherapists of the Pontifical University of Santo Tomas, the Ustadz of the National Ulama Conference. While the initiative is essentially Christian, the participants are the tri-people of Mindanao,

the Muslims (50%), Christians (45%) and Indigenous People (5%). During the training days that they were together, learning, praying and socializing, together, authentic dialogue took place. The Women and the youth realized that there is no discrimination between the Christians and the Muslims even in the interfaith prayers. There is more and more mutual respect and mutual tolerance among them. It gradually dawned on them that the Mindanao conflict is not religious in nature; that together they can advocate for peace and can work for a common good. The goodwill that was established with the communities of central Mindanao paved the way for peace facilitation in the area. Religions for Peace was able to dialogue on the peace process and the efforts on the negotiated political settlement with the MILF, particularly with Chairman Mohagder Iqbal of the MILF Peace Panel and Al Haj Murad Ebrahim Chairman of the MILF Central Committee. Religions for Peace is applying for an ICG (International Contact Group) status in the peace process. At the core of, or the essence of peace building through healing, is the role of religion in community building. Although the various religions of the world are so radically different from each other in terms of theology and doctrine, in this case, Muslim and Christians, at the socio-ethico, moral dimension, however, there is more commonness and universality. The different faiths and cultures engender a values ethos among them, that is, they share a set of common moral values and ethical standards that provide men and women guidelines for communal living. Therefore, Religion is not merely a psycho-spiritual support to the individual for his own personal satisfaction and fulfillment, of spiritual development and enhancement in order to live life healthily and to the full, religion is also a social and communal commitment. Religion helps people to internalize an orientation to the pubic good2. Religion grooms every individual to be responsible and contribu-

tory members of their communities and societies, their states and nations. The socio-political maxim of religion is that Good and healthy individuals make a good society. It is therefore the goal of any peace building organization to help develop good and healthy individuals who will live fruitful lives and who will be Gods instruments of peace particularly in areas of conflict and culturally diverse societies. We can also talk about the role of religious leaders and religious communities in promoting peace and development as discerned by the cases just presented. Religious communities have many resources to contribute to civic causes. These include both moral resources such as values that inspire action and organizational resources. When the collective assets of religious communities are coordinated and mobilized as multi-religious assets, they can provide extraordinary value as problem- solving tools for conflict resolution. The mechanism of interfaith Dialogue provides a unique method for religious communities committed to common action to unleash their hidden assets and work together to transform conflict and advance human development3. Very concretely, they provide immediate response to conflict by tapping and linking with networks (NGOs, Private Sectors) to provide direct service to victims of conflict, in this case the Parish Priest of Pikit and the UST Psychotrauma clinic in the area of MHPSS; the Ustadz of the National Ulama Conference linking the military and Religions for Peace and the UST psychotrauma Clinic. They provide their resources e.g. retreat

houses - Our Perpetual Help Shrine of the OMI, media outfit (I-watch), professional expertise for the cause - Psychotrauma Experts (UST) and sometimes provide direct service such as their parishes being used as temporary shelter to those internally displaced by the conflict. They feed the international media with conflict situations at the ground and grassroots levels. They have social Ministry Units that tackle social issues and provide advocacy on human rights, childrens rights etc. They release advocacy statements (Priests and Imams) whenever conflict arise (Bishop-Ulama Conference) Their peace-building activities are firmly anchored on their Faith and in a vision where they see the unity of man in peace because peace is sustainable, attainable and certainly desirable. They exude a holistic spirituality that is integral, harmonious, inclusive, incarnational, promoting life and peace. From the theoretical standpoint and the perspectives of Religions for Peace, the method of coalescing multi-religious communities to promote peace and advance human development is practical and open to continuous creativity. At its simplest, it involves assisting religious communities to correlate a given problem or challenge with their capacities for action. This method, albeit simple, is powerful. When applied, it discloses large, often hidden or underutilized capacities for action that lie within the reach of religious communities. Importantly, the method also makes clear what kind of capacity building is needed to better equip religious communities for more effective cooperation.

1http://www.mothers4peace.com accessed 6/09/09 2Religion and Social Capital Suguaro Seminar on Civic Engagement in America John F. Kennedy School of Government. Harvard University 3 Document: Religions for Peace International (WCRP) New York



Abstract The very term Islam means peace as well as submission to God Almighty. In order to understand the true Message of Islam and its peaceful Co-existence with other religions, one should concentrate on the authentic sources of the Islamic teachings i.e. The Holy Quran itself and the life and the practices of the Holy Prophet Mohammad (P.B.U.H.) during his own time, before the Islamic rule was hi-jacked by some extremist fundamentalist, opportunistic, Khalifahs, Sultans, Pashas, immediately after the death of the Holy Prophet, up to the last Ottoman Caliph in Turkey, in 1920. The extremist Taliban, Wahhabis, Salafis using the name of Islam, have killed more Muslim men, women, and children in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Somalia, and Yemen, than they have killed the non-Muslims! And that shows how much of Islamic faith they have, and how unIslamic they have become!

Islam: A Message of Peaceful Coexistence

by: Mahmood S.Tajar

* The word Islam itself means: Peace/Shalom; it also means submission to the will of the One and Only God. * O you who have faith! Enter into SILM (submission to One God/peace) all together; and follow not the Devil. Holy Quran, 2:208. * (Tell the unbelievers, O Mohammad!) To you your religion, and to me, mine. Holy Quran, 109:6 * There is no compulsion in religion... Holy Quran, 2:256 A Confession Before I start to explain further about those Quranic verses, which I quoted above, I must have

a confession, a mea culpa, so to speak, a religious confession, indeed. Especially, considering the fact that I am now speaking in a prestigious Catholic institution, like De La Salle University, and more particularly because, I am at the presence of some eminent Catholic Priests! You know, I was born a Muslim, in a religious family, with an Alim as a father, and I even grew up in the religious schools of the Holy City of Qom in Iran, which is the seat of the Shi-ah Islam, as Vatican is to Catholicism, yet it took a German Lady Scholar like Annemarie Schimmel (1922-2003) to remind me, or actually to awaken me to this reality,


that: Islams most earth-shaking Message was never Jihad, as some Taliban and Wahhabis and Salafis are promoting falsely, in the name of this beautiful religion, (and their Western Neo-con counterparts, among the Jewish and Christian communities, are also brandishing, that same slogan, and fighting fire with fire!). But rather, the most important Message of Islam is an amazingly forgotten or over looked one, i.e.: A Peaceful Co-existence with all other religions, who wish to live in peace with us! Miss Annemarie Schimmel, who spent her entire adult life studying Islam, and she even lectured in some prominent universities of the Muslim and Western world, like the Istanbul University in Turkey, the Punjab University in Pakistan, as well as the American and German universities, not only quoted and explained these Quranic verses relating to a peaceful co-existence, with other religions of the world, but she also backed them up further, by presenting the ways and practices of the Holy Prophet Mohammad P.B.U.H. during his own life time, and his role, as the Supreme Leader of the Muslims, both as a spiritual leader, as well as the head of the Islamic State in Arabia, circa 630 A.D. Look at the following examples, for instance: 1.) The Holy Prophet and his true followers did not start any fight with the unbelievers of Mecca,

in their own City of Birth Mecca. In fact, it was they, who were being persecuted by the people of Mecca, for their faith, and they had to migrate to other countries, like to the Christian Kingdom of Abyssinia (todays Ethiopia) or they had to move to Yathrib or Medina, to save their own lives! 2.) All the major wars that took place, later, like The Badar, the Honain, the Khandaq, or the Khaibar, etc. were in fact defensive reactions to the aggressions, that were perpetrated by the Meccans, or by the others, against the Islamic community in Madinah. (Yes, there were also some Ghazawat, those missionary acts to educate the Arab Bedouins, and other masses, about a new Messenger and the Message, that there is only One God, and Mohammad is His Messenger, and a call to Brotherhood, Unity, Equality before One God, and peace in the war-torn tribal land of Arabia, and beyond.) But (as long as the Holy Prophet was alive) never was there any coercion or conversion to Islam by force. Thats why, anyone who wanted to keep his old religion, could do so, but he would have to pay a tax (as the Muslims also were obliged to pay Zakat, Khums, etc.) which was called Jiz-ya, from the old Pahlavi/Persian word Ga-zeet or Kharaaj from the old Persian tax system, called Ha-raag etc.) In

other words, while the attempt was to make a unified Islamic country, among the divided tribes of Arabia, yet there was no coercion to conversion to the faith at all (as we see in the Christian Inquisitions or the Jewish persecutions of the Christians, or vice-versa.). 3.)In fact, during the life time of the Prophet Mohammad P.B.U.H. the Jewish community of Khaibar were living side by side, in peace, with the Muslim community in the City State of Madinah, and the two communities were actually engaged in mutual cooperation, and in various beneficial businesses with each other; Until finally, the Jews broke their peace compact with the Muslims, and also joined with the other enemies of the Islamic State in the war of All Parties or Al-Ahzab (See Chapter 33 of the Holy Quran). Changes after the Prophet Mohammad (632 A.D.) I should also admit the fact that, after the death of the Prophet Mohammad P.B.U.H. (632 A.D.) the Islamic Faith and its Message of Peace, were hijacked by some fundamentalist extremist groups, who were violent, not only against the non-Muslims, but even massacred the Peace loving Descendants of the Holy Prophet himself! (As did the Jews, with the righteous children of Abraham, and as the extremist Christians did, after Jesus Christ, at different periods, as well). The history of Islam shows very clearly that some Khalifahs, Sultans and Pashas, from the early days of this beautiful religion, up to the last days of

the Ottoman Empire in Turkey, in 1923, have abused the peaceful message of the Holy Prophet, and His Blessed Descendants, or the Ahlul Bayt. And today, the extremist murderers of the Taliban-WahhabiSalafi, Al-Shabab, and Abu Sayyaf organizations, who have murdered so many Muslim men, women and children, in the Islamic countries like in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, etc., are doing the same things, in the name of Islam. These murderers have killed more Muslims, in the name Islam, than they have killed the non-Muslims. (Then you start to question their claims to Islam, in the first place). Just a week ago (Sept. 7, 2010), we witnessed four suicide bombings by the Pakistani Taliban, killing over a hundred Shiah Muslims (30% of the entire Muslims of the world) during the Holy Month of Ramadan, while those poor people were fasting, and they were attending the Death Anniversary of Imam Ali, and the rest were attending a demonstration in support of the Palestinian people, and against the Israeli occupation of Jerusalems Islamic sites, which is illegal under International Law. If you look at those murderous, heartless and brainless thugs (who look more like the Jewish extremists calling Crucify him! Crucify him! rather than a person of Islam, i.e. of peace or Shalom!) closely, then you will have a clear picture of how those extremist elements (or the revisionists, as the political scientists would call them) have actually hijacked the entire Message of Islam, and have



turned Islam into a totally different message i.e. of Hatred, Murder, Mayhem, Bloodshed and Misery to the Muslims and the non-Muslims alike but still I would like to emphasize the fact that, they have killed more Muslims than they have killed non-Muslims! (So, who are they, really?) A Humble Suggestion Taking all those facts into consideration, I would like to humbly suggest that in order to better understand the true Message of Islam, we should concentrate our own research more on the authentic Quranic verses and the well-documented preaching and practices of the genuine Muslim leaders, i.e. the Holy Prophet of Islam and those whom he had approved of, rather than the preaching and practices of those whom he did not approve of and were, in fact, the Black Sheeps of Islam those who killed their own Muslim brethren rather than fight the invasions and aggressions against Islam, showing their true color! Some More Quranic Verses Now, to support further these views, and in order to shed more light on the true Message of a peaceful co-existence with (and not violence against) the rest of humanity, that Islam espouses, here are some genuine Quranic instructions to the Muslims, as well as to the non-Muslims and the rest of humanity, as a whole: 1) O Mankind! We have created all of you from a male and a female... (you are actually brothers and

sisters; so no discriminations) The best of you in the Eyes of Allah are those who are purer in their characters. Holy Quran, 49:13 2) (O Mohammad!) Tell the People of the Book (Jews, Christians, Majais, Sabeians) come to that word which is common between us (lets unite)... to worship none but God Almighty! Holy Quran, 3:64 3) The Believers (Muslims) the Jews, the Christians, the Sabeians, anyone who believes in God and does righteous deeds (even a Zoroasterian, Manechian, Abadian, etc.), shall have their rewards with their Lord, and they have nothing to fear or to worry about! Holy Quran, 2:62, and 5:72 4) Call to the Path of your Lord by wisdom (= Logic) and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in the best and most gracious manner... Holy Quran, 16:125 5) If they (non-believers) argued with you, just tell them: I and my followers have submitted ourselves to God Almighty! Holy Quran 3:20 6) ...And if they still refused, then your duty is just to convey the Message! (Ibid) 7) And if they refused, well, we have not sent you to guard over them (force anyone), your duty is just to bring them the Message... Holy Quran, 42:48 8) Allah is our Lord and (He is) also your Lord; to us our deeds, and to you, your deeds; Let there be no quarrels between you and us! Holy Quran,

42:15 There are some 20 more similar verses in the Holy Quran, just to emphasize the fact that the Holy Prophet of Islam P.B.U.H. came to preach, and not to push, or to pressure, the people into the faith (because, according to the Holy Quran, there is no compulsion in religion), and he carried out the noble tradition of the great Prophets before him, (Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, etc.) very faithfully, to the last day of his life on this earth. But, what took place after him, or what some other extremists are doing in his name today, is not Islamic, because, as they say: You can never be more popish than the Pope! And I think the Bishops and the Priests in our gathering also agree with me, wholeheartedly! Pope Benedict XVI and Islamic Tolerance Now, that we are talking about the misunderstood Message of Islam, which is unfortunately twisted by some twisted-minded so-called Muslims themselves, and it is also mistaken by some nonMuslims, and even by the Catholic Church hierarchy, I also would like to discuss a little about what the present Pope, His Holiness Benedict XVI said, regarding Islam and Christian encounters, which caused a lot of controversies, debates and protests, internationally. On Sept.12, 2006 the Pope, while lecturing on the issue of Religious Tolerance (or intolerance if you please) in the German University of Rosenberg, made some controversial remarks about the violence in the history of Islam. Then he quoted a certain historian as saying: During the siege of Constantinople

(now Istanbul in Turkey) in 1391 A.D., while the armies of Islam laid the siege around the city, inside it, the intellectual debate between Islam and Christianity was also going on, between the Byzantine Emperor, Manuel II Paleologos and a learned Persian Muslim, who represented the intellectual side of Islam (see The International Herald Tribune Sept.14, 2006 p.1 The Lecture of Pope Benedict XVI, at the Rosenberg University, Germany, Sept.12, 2006). The Catholic Church later explained that the Pope was actually quoting the opinion of a certain person, many centuries ago, when there was less information among the followers of different religions, and less tolerance, which, I fully agree. And here I would like to quote another Quranic verse, to show how favourable the Islamic views about other religions, especially Christianity, has been since the early days of Islam. The Holy Quran says, and I quote: (O Mohammad!) You will find the kindest religious folks to the Believers (Muslims) those who are called Christians! Because, amongst them are the priests, the selfless missionaries, and they are very humble people. Holy Quran, 5:85 (We have already seen this, very clearly, when the early Muslims, [Circa 610 A.D.] who were being persecuted by their own Arab countrymen in Mecca, went to Abyssinia/Ethiopia, and they were welcomed by the Christian King of Ethiopia, and his people. This has been repeated many times in history.) Another interesting positive point that I personally noticed in that lecture of Pope Benedict was:



While the war between the Turkish Ottoman Muslims and the Christian rulers was going on, there was a religious debate also taking place, between the Byzantine Emperor Manuel II and a Persian Muslim scholar. That Persian Muslim scholar, like many other Persian Muslims, including the Saracins (the Khorasanis, the Iranian Muslims) and their Islamic scholars, were the brains of Islam, while the Ottoman Turks and the Arab rulers were involved in many un-Islamic atrocities, of which all the Muslims are being accused and abused, until today. This just goes to show that every coin has two sides and Islam is no exception. The history of Islam is not just of those abuse of power by some power-hungry and war-mongering tribes of Arabia or the Turkish warriors or the Taliban/Pashtun highlanders in the mountains of Pakistan or Afghanistan! But, there is another side to it, which is tolerant, rational and intellectual, too, and that is what we are trying to discover, here. (Note: The Persian/Saracin Muslim scholars comprise some 80% of the entire Muslim intellectuals and philosophers in the history of Islam. But unfortunately, and mistakenly, many of them have been called Arabs in the world history books, just because of their Islamic (Arabic) names, and their religious identity). The best known among the Persian Muslim scholars, are: 1.) Salman Al-Farsi (the first Persian convert to Islam, and a respectable scholar, the great compan-

ion of the Holy Prophet of Islam, 622 A.D.), 2.) Jabir Bin Hayyan Al-Tusi Al-Kufi (of the Algebra, from whose name Jabir, the word Algebra was born, and the founding father of Modern Chemistry in the world, which is also called Alchemy), 3.) Imamul Haramain Al-Jowaini (the first Muslim scholar, to be called Imam of both Mecca and Medinah), 4.) Fakhri Razi (the great interpreter/commentator/mofassir of the Holy Quran), 5.) Al-Khawrazmi (the father of Algorithm, from whose name Algorithm was born, a pioneer in modern mathematics, the Arabic numerals, the Zero, the modern geometry and engineering. Even the word engineering in Arabic language i.e. Hindasa and Mohandis come from the Persian word Ha-andaza meaning The Measurement), 6.) Imam Abu Hanifah (the Greatest Imam of the Sunni branch of Islam) from Kufa (Kuppa = the Hills, an ancient Persian border outpost, now in Iraqs border with Iran), 7.) Imam Hanbal (the second great Imam in the Sunni Islam), 8.) Bukhari (collector of Al-Bukhari Hadith Book, the greatest book, after the Holy Quran, according to the Sunnah Islam) Al-Sahih I, 9.) Muslim (author of the second great Book of Islamic Traditions/Hadith) Al-Sahih II, 10.) Nasa-iy (of Nasa, Khorasan province of Persia) Al-Sahih III,

11.) Abu Dawood Sajestani of the Sistan-Baluchistan of Iran (Hadith) Al-Sahih IV, 12.) Tirmidi of Tirmiz, ancient central Asia/Persia (Hadith) Al-Sahih V, 13.) Ibne Maja Caspini (Qazwini), an expert in Islamic Traditions from Qazwin of Iran (Hadith) AlSahih VI, 14.) Avecinna (Abu Ali Sina), the Greatest intellectual mind in the world, during the Middle Ages, (See the International Herald Tribune, Oct. 11/2001), 15.) Razi (Rhazes, the discoverer of the Industrial Alcohol and also the Sulphuric Acid, etc.), 16.) Ibn-Hazm of Andalusia (a Saracin of Persian Origin, and a great Muslim scholar of Spain 9941064 A.D.) 17.) Ali Zar-yab of Andalusia (a Saracin of Persian origin, and the greatest musician and artist intellectual of Spain. Death 852 A.D.) 18.) Al-Kirmani (the Saracin musician of Andaluca, Spain, Circa 860 A.D.) 19.) Farabi (philosopher, linguist) from Farab/ Faryab of Central Asia (inventor of several musical instruments), 20.) Biruni (historian, geography master) from Central Asia, Ancient Persia, 21.) Khawja Naseer Tousi (philosopher/astrologer) from Tus of Khorasan (=Saracin) [Note: A part of the moon has been named after him by NASA], 22.) Sheikh Tabarsi (Hadith) from Khorasan, Iran,

23.) Sheikh Al-Ansari (Fiqah) from Shusha/Susa, Iran, 24.) Qazi Nurullah Shush-Tari (Martyr of Islamic Education in India), 25.) Omar Khayyam (the great mathematician, and the creator of the worlds most accurate calendar until today, which is called the Jalali calendar. By the way, he is also the second best selling poet in the history of mankind, The Rubaiyyat of Ommar Khayyam, the most translated book, after the Bible!), 26.) Rumi (the great Islamic scholar, Sufi and the overall best selling poet in the entire history of the world literature!), 27.) Imam Tabari (the greatest interpreter of the Holy Quran in the History of Islam), 28.) Abul Faraj Al-Isfahani (Lexicon), author of the classic Arabic work Al-Aghani (897-967 A.D.) 29.) Shaikh Sah-rewardi (Sufi), 30.) Maula Sadra of Shiraz (Philosophy), 31.) Ibne Muskuyah (Philosophy) [Note: his family name is derived from the Persian word Musk/ Mushg, as are the names of Mask-Va (Moscow), Muscat and De-mascus, and the Iranian cities of Meshgin-Shahr and Andi-Meshg], 32.) Al-Taftazani (Arabic Grammar), 33.) Al-Zamakh-Shari (Arabic Literature/Hadith/ Quran), 34.) Abdul Qadir Gilani (=Jangi Doost, the Great Sufi Teacher 1077-1166 A.D.), 35.) Kwaja Mo-inud din Cheshti of Ajmer (India),



36.) Yaqub Al-Kindi (whose last name is a Persian word meaning The Scholar, The Citizen but, he is called Arab Philosopher by mistake!), this great man was the first philosopher in the Islamic history. 37.) Mohammad Al-Kolaini (of Kolain, near Tehran, today), 38.) Allamah Majlisi (Master of Islamic Traditions and Hadith) of Isfahan, Iran, 39.) Sibwaih of Shiraz (the father of Arabic Grammar), 40.) Hafiz of Shiraz (The greatest and the best poet ever to walk the Earth! according to his American translator, Daniel Ladinsky [see The Gift, Collection of Hafizs poems, 1998 N.Y., USA]. Hafiz was also adored and worshipped by J.W. Goethe, the greatest poet of Germany and Europe, as a whole). 41.) Khalil bin Ahmad/Firuz Abadi, the father of Arabic Lexicon/Dictionary, whose famous Dictionary Al-Qamus became the Standard word for Dictionary in Arabic Language (like Zerox for the photo copier!), 42.) Al-Shahristani of the Classic Milal wa Nihal in Arabic language, 43.) Ibne Moqaf-fa (Ruz Beh also called The Father of Arabic Prose) the Persian translator of the 1,000 Persian stories into Arabic, which is mistakenly labelled as The Arabian Nights; Ibne Moqaf-fa

of Persia, was also the first man who translated the Greek books of logic and philosophy into Arabic. This caused an explosion of Greek wisdom mixed with the Islamic philosophy, and thats how the Islamic Civilization (mistakenly called the Arab Civilization, just because it was written in Arabic) was born. This young (36 year old) genius translator, was later burned alive, Inquisition style, by some Arab rulers, who were so jealous of his perfect Arabic language, and books, that they accused him of blasphemy, and trying to write in perfect Arabic, in order to challenge the Holy Book of Islam, i.e. AlQuran! Gentlemen! Thats what I call the Hijacking of Islam by the extremists. 44.) Ibn Khallikan the famous Muslim historian (mistaken as an Arab, but his real name speaks for itself, that he was from the well known Barmaki Persian aristocrats and ministers of Haarun ArRashid, the Abbassid Caliph. He is from Irbil (now part of Iraq) one of the ancient historic cities of the Kurdish/Persian people. His full name is: Ahmad --Al-Barmaki, Al-Irbili. (See The Persian Names by Maneka Gandhi/India 1994 p.180). 45.) Jamalud Din Asad Abaadi (known as AlAfghani 1838-1897 A.D.) the pioneer of the Back-to-Islam-Movement in the Arab and the Muslim world. (See the International Herald Tribune, Jan.12/2005). This man, whose identify as an Iranian was discovered later, was called by the

Egyptian extremist, fundamentalist, wahhabi author Mr. Rashid Rada as: A dog from the Persian dogs! (Kalbun min kilabil ajam!) But, to defend that silent man from the barks of these jealous guys, I would like to introduce his personality further to my readers and to the generations to come, long after we are all gone: Seyyed Jamalud Din Asad Abaadi went far beyond his country (Iran) and he influenced some of the greatest minds in the Arab and the Muslim world, from Afghanistan and India up to Turkey, Egypt, Syria and even Europe, and here is how: 1. The national poet of Turkey (and a host of other Turkish intellectuals) Mr. Yurda Qul (1869 1944) was one of the students of Jamalud Din, and a great follower and fan of him, when the teacher used to lecture in Istanbul Academy, in the 1870s. So were the great Turkish reformer, Saeed Nursi, Mohammad Aakif, etc., etc. In the Arab world, the greatest Islamic scholar of Egypt in the last 200 years, Sheikh Mohammad Abdoh (1849 1905) who later on became the Rector of the Al-Azhar University in Egypt (the oldest university in the world?) and the Grand Mufti of the Sunni Islam, had also the honor of being one of the students of Jamalud Din. So was the great Egyptian author and scholar, Fareed Wajdi, and several other Egyptian literati. And last, but not the least, was his great follower, Dr. Mohammad Iqbal, the Indian born national poet of Pakistan (November 9, 1877 - April 21, 1938) and

the ideologue behind the creation of the first Islamic Republic, in 1947, who probably got that idea from the teachings of Asad Aabaadi, although, he never met the great teacher, personally. Plus many other great Muslim leaders, who directly or indirectly, were influenced by Asad Aabaadis views, even when he himself was in Paris in 1884, publishing his monumental magazine AlOrwatul Woth-qa, in Arabic language to awaken the Arab world to the Back-to-Islam movement, and the Islamic Renaissance (O boy! O boy! What an interesting Persian dog/cat? he was!) 46.) Ayatullah Ruhollah Khomeini (1904 - 1989 A.D.) the greatest spiritual-political leader of the Muslims in the last 1,000 years. He lead a successful Islamic Revolution (1979 A.D.) and he established the Islamic Government (as did the Holy Prophet in 622 A.D.). There is no other example of an Islamic Revolution/Government in world history like it, except the first one that was established by the Holy Prophet P.B.U.H. himself! No wonder, Ahmad Bin Bella, the revolutionary leader of Algeria, called it: The Miracle of our Age! (see Time Magazine, Apr. 1979). But the most prominent among the Persian Muslim scholars, was; 47.) Imam Mohammad Al-Ghazzali of Khorasan (=Saracin), who according to some Western orientalists, and several Muslim Jurists, was: The greatest scholar in Islam, after the Prophet Mohammad, himself!)**



Thats why even Ibn Khaldun, the pioneering Muslim sociologist from North Africa (1332 - 1406 A.D.), clearly stated that: The biggest group of Islamic scholars were the Ajams! (the Persians). (See: A.A. Velayati, The Civilizations of Islam and Iran, Tehran, 2005 p.560) The Role of the Saracins in Islamic (Arab?) Civilization In the early history of Islam, the Saracins (Khorasanis, the Persian Muslims/Iranians) lead the nation of Islam; and they carried on with its civilization, from Central Asia up to China and India, and from Persia up to the North Africa, and eventually, the Persian Muslim general, called Tariq Bin Ziad of the City of Hamedan, Iran (the man after whom Gibraltar was named) conquered Spain in 711 A.D. , and he and his followers, started the first and the best universities in Europe of the Dark Ages, where the Christians, the Jewish and the Muslim scholars, studied and researched, together, in peace! This noble Saracin tradition was continued by another Saracin (Persian Muslim) ruler, called Musa Bin Nosair (the Persian governor of North Africa, who had sent Tariq bin Ziad for the Andalusian expedition a year earlier) and this lead to: the Glory that was Al-Hambra... a tolerant culture and civilization, that is unparalleled in Europe, up to this day! While the Europeans (the Swiss, the French, the Belgians, the Dutch, the Germans, and even

the Vatican) are not tolerant of a minaret of a Muslim Mosque; and when the Americans, in the land of milk and honey and the First Amendment and Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington, cannot even allow a Mosque/or the Islamic center of Cordoba, to be built near the vicinity of the Ground Zero, or anywhere else in the U.S.A. for that matter, and the infamous American Pastor Terry Jones, once wanted even to burn the Holy Quran on Sept. 11, 2010 (as his white brother, Hitler, used to do in the 1930s), the Saracins of Spain, in the 8th century A.D. in the Spanish cities of Madrid, Civilia, Granada, Cordoba and Madinah Az-zahra, were building and even financially supporting the Churches, the Synagogues, the Mosques, Palaces, Universities, for every human being be it a Jew, a Gentile, a Christian, an Atheist, a Muslim or anything else! This Saracin tradition of the Persian Muslims, and their tolerance for other religions, is evident even in this highly polarized world, and these dangerous days. There is probably not a single Al-Qaeda member among the Persian Muslims! Thats why, we can see that in the tragedies of the 9/11 in New York City, and the 7/7 of London and Madrid and Mumbai, etc. etc. the suicide bombers, came from the Arab Saudis, Yemenis, Moroccans, Egyptians, Pakistanis,

and even some home-grown bombers in France, Germany, the USA. But, not even a single Saracin (Khorasani/Iranian) has ever been indicated in such illogical atrocities, against the Muslims or the nonMuslims, for that matter. The role of the Persian Muslims, since the early days of Islam, has always been, tolerance, intellectual contributions to the Islamic Science, Mathematics, Medicine, Chemistry etc.etc., which are unfortunately recorded in the world history books as, The Arab Civilization, Arabesque, Moorish (Moroccan). But, the truth of the matter is that, as the Pope also observed, (and Ibne Khaldun, the eminent Muslim sociologist stated, even before) the intellectual role of Islam, almost always has been represented by the non-Arabs, especially the Persian Muslim scholars; even the greatest musician of Andalusia, in Spain, during the 8th century was a Persian Muslim (Saracin) by the name of Ali Zar-yab (Arabs call him Zarib!) whose last name is a Persian word that means goldsmith / gold miner. Ali Zar-yab: The first man of the European Renaissance Ali Zar-yab was a true man of the Renaissance in Europe, during the 9th century, long before Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519 A.D.), and other newly awakened intellectuals in Florence, or the rest of Europe, appeared in the 14th-17th century! Zar-yab, the

Persian Muslim artist of Andalusia, Spain (D. 852 A. D), was the pioneering man, who in the 9th century A.D. taught fashion designing to the Europeans!, and he also taught them the three square meals a day! instead of the normal Europeans two meals a day (probably because of poverty, lack of food or even lack of education and sophistication). See Gardesh-gari, Cultural Magazine, Tehran, March, 2005.xxx He also taught the Europeans the sophisticated Persian (Islamic) table manners of spoon and fork, etc. that Europe did not know about (and even some non-Persian Muslims also dont know, until today!). (Also take note of the Latin (Moorish) music in the Iberian Peninsula - Spain, Portugal and later on, in Latin America, the Oud, the Dulcimer, the Sarabandan Dances, the Poetry, the Gitanos, the Mosaics of Al-Hamra, and its Heavenly Fountains, the Shiraz of Xeres, the Turkish Bath, the paper Industry of Andalusia, the Pendulum and the early clocks, the compass, etc. all with Saracin (Persian) influences. All those cultural, intellectual and civilized practices and religious tolerance, (in the 9th century A.D.) were being promoted and practiced by the Saracins (Persian Muslims) in the heart of Europe (from Cordova to Sicily and up to the gates of Paris) even as the Spaniards and the Catholic Church at that time, were busy with their own infamous Inquisitions! They were burning alive thousands of their own Christian brethren, as well as Jews and Muslims, or any other



Christ, Zoroastrianism refers to the Persian Prophet Zoroaster, Manechianism to another Persian Prophet called Maani; the same is with Hinduism, Buddhism, etc. ** No wonder, the Holy Prophet Mohammad had already prophesied, that: If knowledge be found in the stars, there will be some Persians to obtain it!. *** Making paper, was one of the many gifts of the Saracins (Persian Muslims) to Spain, from where it also spread to the rest of Europe, that did not know about paper before! The Saracin paper industry (which they also got from the Chinese) went from Spain to Italy in 1279 A.D., and from there to France in 1348, then to Germany (of Gutenberg!) in 1390 and finally into (the Industrialized) England in 1495 A.D. (see Dr. A.A. Velayati Persian and Islamic Civilizations, Tehran 2005 p.04. References: 1. The Holy Quran (English Translation) by Prof. Mir Ahmad Ali and Tafseer of H.I. Aqa Puya, with the transliteration of Prof. M.S. Tajar, Published by the Muslim Academy of the Philippines, 2009 and by the National Bookstore in 2010 (Third Edition). 2. The Holy Quran (English Translation) by Abdullah Yusuf Ali, Published by the Iranian Muslim Students Assn. of the Philippines, with Transliteration by Prof. M.S. Tajar, 1985. 3. Nahjul Balaagha, Lectures of Imam Ali, by Sayyid

infidels and deviant persons, like Galileo Galilei, and many other scientists, philosophers, intellectuals and free thinkers, for their crimes of thinking or believing other than the Catholic Church! (Maybe the Taliban of today have also learned their lessons of brutality and intolerance from those Medieval Inquisitions, otherwise, the true Islam has never taught its followers to commit brutality and murder, as far as the clear verses of the Holy Quran, and the teachings and the practices of the Holy Prophet Mohammad P.B.U.H. and his Blessed Ahlul Bayt, are concerned). The Spanish Intolerance While the Muslim Saracin rulers of Spain were so tolerant of the Jews and the Christians, their opponents, i.e. the Catholic Kings of Spain, were the exact opposite. They are known in history, as Los Reyes Catolicos. They were so intolerant of other religions that finally King Ferdinand (1452-1516 A.D.) and Queen Isabel of Spain (the grandparents of the present King of Spain, King Juan Carlos) expelled all the Muslims and the Jews (1480/90s A.D.) who were living in Spain for almost 800 years or more! They forced others to convert into Catholicism, or to be put to death - a true example of the Inquisitions, ethnic cleansing and religious bigotry and intolerance, made in Spain.

These tragic events of religious intolerance, which took place in 1480/90s A.D. lead to the destruction of Granada, Cordoba, Civilia, the Madinat Zahra, etc. and the end of a glorious era of the peaceful co-existence among the peoples of different faiths, in Europe, or anywhere else for that matter! Until in the year 2000, the then President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Dr. Mohammad Khatami (another new Saracin?), came up with the idea of the Dialogue of Civilizations and he presented this idea, as a resolution, to the United Nations, which was officially adopted by the U.N. General Assembly, and the year 2001 was declared by the U.N. as the year of the Dialogue of Civilizations. It took place just a few months before the September 11, 2001 tragedy in New York City, and the rest, as they say, is history! As the Romans, before, used to say: Que tempora, Que Moris! (What a time! What a moral bankruptcy!). Footnotes: * Note: Islam is probably the only religion in the world that its name means its Ideology and its ideology is its name, i.e. Peace/Shalom, plus the Submission to God Almighty. Meanwhile, Judaism refers to a certain tribe or a race, Christianity to the Person of

Radhi and Ibne Abil Hadid, Ansarian Publications, Qom/ Iran, 2003. 4. Prophet Mohammad and his Household (Ahlul Bayt) by Ustad Abdus Samad 10th Edition, Islamic Research Center, Manila, Philippines, 2005. 5. 100 Questions and Answers About: Shi-ah, Sunnah and Wahhabism by Ustad Abdus Samad, Published by the Islamic Research Center, Manila, Philippines, 2007. 6. A Brief Study of the Holy Quran, by Amid alQommi, printed by the Iranian Muslim Students Assn. of the Philippines, 1981. 7. Principles of Islamic Government, by Prof. M.S. Tajar, published by the Iranian Muslim Students Assn. of the Philippines, 1982. 8. Islamic Civilization and the Contribution of Persia a Research work by Prof. M.S. Tajar and Dr. Abdi Bakhtiari of the University of the Philippines, Diliman, 2009. 9. Echo of Islam, the Iranian Magazine (English Ed.), March 2010. 10. Mahjubah, the English Magazine for the Muslim Women, Tehran, Iran, May 2009. 11. Gardesh-gari Tourism and Culture Magazine, Iran, September 2000. 12. Al-Wahdah, Iranian Cultural Magazine (Arabic Ed.), March 2010 13. Persian and Islamic Civilizations by Dr. A.A. Velayati (former Foreign Minister of Iran, 1980-1988) Tehran, 2005



Religions and Care of Creation

(God Cares: Renewed Awakening)
Rev. Fr. Dr. Vicente G. Cajilig, OP, SThD Chaplain, College Department Colegio de San Juan de Letran, Manila & Consultant OIEC-Asia (International Office of Catholic Education-Asia)


Abstract The paper will be grounded on the usual understanding of religion going to the points from special metaphysics of belief, paving to the common synthesis of any religion embodied in cult, doctrine, and morals. Yet, the practice of belief, while keeping the essentials in all place, admits accommodation due to place and time. Geography and Chronology posit adjustments in the practice of ones religious persuasion. The acceptance of common vocation of all human beings called stewardship over creations requires meeting of minds. The participants who would come from varied religions will be eventually led to individual or group awakening to a vocation to exercise care of creation in the domain of promoting ethics for harmony. An expected change in life style is due to take place if people are serious about this vocation. The requisites that can be used in the meeting of minds will be delineated serving as axis of inter-religious dialogue. One doable requisite of a group that come together among others is the mutual listening and from there the common effort to learn from each other: in the case of the symposium this means to listen and learn about our individual and common share in the vocation called stewardship over creation From the Holy Book: God the Fathers name we praise; Who, creations Lord and spring, On this day, the first of days, Did the world from darkness bring. Some Basic Assumptions The word religion has been accepted to might have come from: re-legere or to read again, or re-eligere or to choose again, or religare or to re-bind. At least this is the way old books would present to the students in etymological root of such a word with ample acceptance. It is a virtue according to scholastics that disposes the person to give to the divine what is due to its dignity and nature. Call a man who practices a religious belief and he can describe quite satisfactorily all his activities that unfold his respect and love for his god. There are varied expressions of ones belief. Even an atheist cannot deny this universal phenomenon. Thus an imam would lead the people several times a day praying and calling the believers to pray. A priest would have a day incomplete without saying the holy mass. A Buddhist monk would never fail everyday to come and light incense and recite chants as called by the duty of the moment. Special Metaphysics, we call also theodicy, would contest before an unbeliever the existence of the Cause of causes. Aristotle was the first to present such lofty argument which later Thomas Aquinas would revisit in the series of proofs of the existence of a Cause which is identifiable with the universal creator being



the most basic concept of God. There are contemporary men and women who would challenge the validity of Thomistic five ways of probing the divine existence. Others would propose the position that nobody can deny Gods existence because experience tells us that God does exist. The experiential dimension of major and minor religions is sufficient to convince an unbeliever. Of course, the more in-depth knowledge of religion would lead a researcher to more complicated areas of any sect or group. A religion would embrace cult or ways of worship, doctrine or contents of belief, and code that put order to morals or way of life. Thus, Islam would have its sets of how to be at the mosque during worship, present systematically the basic doctrine from the great prophet, and prescribe ways of life to the adherers. So would Christianity revere and study its ways of worship, defend the most fundamental doctrine as core of belief, and guide the believers in the pathway of good moral life. The Ten Commandments would summarize the cult, doctrine, and morals of Christian Church. The Catholics have their liturgy, dogmas and moral prescriptions. The eight paths of Buddhist adherers is a clear series of prescriptions of how to be a good believer. Geography and Time would spell out however certain kinds of variance in the practice of any faith. The unfolding of Buddhist belief in Sri Lanka would not be as exact as the one in China or in Thailand. There are differences, although, the basic faith may remain intact. Thus the Islam as lived in Indonesia may not be exactly the

same as in the Middle East. Christian Theology has been no exception. There is so called contextual embodiment of of Worship, Doctrine and Code. The Catholic circles, among the Christian varied denominations, have been keen about the contextual theology. This has been brought by the two guides of Vatican Two: to go back to the main tradition, and try to discover ways of adaptation called by the signs of the times. One effort of Vatican Two is on Dialogue: dialogue among Christians themselves in ecumenical efforts; and dialogue with other faith in the so-called inter-religious dialogue. The Churches of Asia has been in the pathway of dialogue with peoples of diverse faiths and cultures. One area of dialogue by peoples of different beliefs is in the realm of Care of Creation. This has been more emphasized as we experience in the whole world disturbance of mother nature. The El Nino, the La Nina, the collapsing icebergs in the northern hemispheres, the melting of snow on the mountains of the Himalayas, the massive pollution of Yantze and Nile, losing the beauty of Pasig river are matters for inter-religious concern. The latter seems to be urgent. In fact it is not only inter-religious group who must worry in the local setting, but also and most of all government and nongovernment agencies. The contextual reading of the care of creation, may it be in Asian level or in local level, believing in doing common effort due to the self-assumed vocation we call stewardship over mother-nature is the task at hand. The Catholic Bish-

ops Conference-Episcopal Commission for Inter-religious Dialogue (CBCPECID) must be undergoing this meeting as encouraged by the Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences. The final paper called Living the Eucharist in Asia stipulates: Episcopal Conferences and Dioceses should establish programs on the stewardship of creation (FABC Papers No. 129, p. 33) Let us start at our individual awakening leading to a kind of corporate awakening. This awakening is not only among the denizens of the cosmopolitan populace but as well the awakening of tribal and village people. I. Awakening Morning One day, I was attending a month-long meeting in Cebu. We were housed in one retreat place located on one of the hills of the city, Lahug. During one occasion, I rose very early, took my tennis shoes, shorts and shirts, and I went down to jug for some time. Tired a bit, I sat down the ground facing the city and watching it as the gleam of light steals the pang of darkness. It was quite early the sun was just about to show its face from the east. While restful on the ground I noticed that from the distance I could see more clearly the buildings and houses of the city and the sea beyond. Creatures around, I began to notice - Some animals and plants. The flowers were more visible. Turning to the west, I could still see the moon about to be less visible as the sunlight comes. And I could also hear some birds songs. I was so close to creation. At that moment I had more understanding of the eleven first chapter of Genesis. All that I saw that special morning were good.

A Jewish hymn of the praise to the Lord, which the Christians have adapted, is still frequently recited, or chanted, during some first days of weeks and special feast days. It is the canticle from the Book of Daniel: Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord Praise and exalt him above all forever. Angels of the Lord, bless the Lord. You heavens, bless the Lord All you waters... Sun and Moon... stars of heaven, bless the Lord. All you winds... Fire and hear... Cold and chill... Dew and rain... Frost and chill... Ice and snow... Nights and days... Light and darkness... Lightning and clouds... Mountains and hills... bless the Lord Everything growing farm the earth, bless the Lord. (Daniel Chapter 3) This canticle reminds the Psalmist and the people of the beauty of nature and surroundings. The psalmist could be Daniel and companions; but it could be anyone of us who recognize the fact that creation is not our own doing but the Lords. The same text reminds us of the task of creation: what God has made are all to bring back in form of glorification the nobility and goodness of the Divine Creator. The peak of the whole of Creation is Man himself and woman herself. This is our unquestionable dignity. It is a privilege that brings with itself a responsibility. A privilege for us as we are all most



precious among the whole of creatures of God. And the same endows us with a sense of obligation by the virtue of justice and the exercise of the same in so-called religion which all of us present here profess. Ours is an obligation so much as to be masters of all in creation, to be stewards. Our stewardship is of divine origin. Look at your two hands. God has made these two hands beautiful and useful to keep the integrity of creation. Our technology is useful to help us in keeping the beauty of creation. But, have we? Where have we failed? Look at our rivers and mountains and seas! Pasig river is practically dead! Mountains of Antipolo are getting grayer! Manila Bay is fast turning to be a depository of garbage, harmful chemicals, and other human dirt? Our elderly in the city would tell us how much they miss the colored fish they used to see by the bank of the river. The nature rich banks of Pasig could only be seen now in some old pictures and old paintings by gone-by artists who taught that their best contribution to society is to put on works of arts the beauty once they used to enjoy. What has happened to our beautiful land? II. Our Abused Beautiful Land The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines has already taken note of this in their pastoral letter as early as 1988. One does not need to be an expert to see what is happening and to be profoundly troubled by it. Within a few short years brown, eroded hills have replaced luxuriant forests in many parts of the country. We see dried up riverbeds where, not so long ago, streams flowed throughout the year. Farmers tell us that, because of erosion

and chemical poisoning, the yield from the crop-lands has fallen substantially. Fishermen and experts on marine life have a similar message. Their fish catches are shrinking in the wake of the extensive destruction of coral reefs and mangrove forests. The picture which is emerging in every province of the country is clear and bleak. The attack on the natural world which benefits very few Filipinos is rapidly whittling away at the very base of our living world and endangering its fruitfulness for future generations. (CBCP, What is happening to our Beautiful Land, January 29, 1988). Our conference today, designed to pick up and recall the memory of the beauty of the past, but also aimed at identifying the ethical issues involved, is almost late an endeavor. But the organizers believe that much could still be salvaged. In salvaging what should be salvaged, the schools, dioceses, and parishes, in collaboration with agencies of government and religions today come together just to awaken conviction with greater determination. The pastoral document cited, the first to be done by a national conference ever, worldwide, is a clear demonstration of love for country and love for creation. There was a call to respect and defend every form of life. There was the reference to see the beauty as well as the pain of the earth. What is happening to the forest was lamented. The ironic sighting of deserts in the sea. III. Asian Reverberation of Concern for Ecology What is a national concern became an Asian issue in many conferences later. In 1994 scientists from Bangladesh, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Ma-

laysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand, together with the members of the educational commissions of the national Episcopal conferences, joined efforts to study and reflect on the issue of love for creation. To mention a few: Honorable Angel Alcala, then secretary of Environment and Natural Resources (Philippines), Mr. Yong-Gae Cho of Green Peace Movement Center (Korea), Dr. Joseph D Silva, of Zoology Department of the University of Dhaka (Bangladesh), Prof. Tadashi Kawata, Vice President of the Science Council of Tokyo (Japan), Mr. Joseph Kuzhinkanniyil, Professor of Chemistry from Kerela, (India) and Dr. Ir Ign Suharto, Faculty of Industrial Technology, of Catholic University in Bandung (Indonesia). Together with other experts in education, ecology and technology, they have joined forces to face the ecological challenges as they found them in their respective places of works and professions. The happy event took place in the University of Santo Tomas. To have a very practical perspective for the meeting on ecology, the delegates of scientists, educators and church people planted trees in the campus. Those trees planted have grown and can be seen along the West Side of the UST Central Library. The event symbolizes the active involvement of these representatives from different countries to align with the provisions of Agenda 21 of the United Nations during the Rio Summit in Brazil. They have challenged governments and other institutions on promoting and subsidizing environmental education, initiating and supporting actions for restora-

tion and preservation of the ecological balance, and enacting and enforcing legislation on the protection of the environment. The group came up with their recommendations, with much hope that their voice could be heard and concrete actions could go down to the base levels. Almost two decades after, we ask: What had happened with these recommendations? Have they gone down and acted upon in areas where they were expected to be implemented? If yes, how far? IV. Contribution of Tribes The concern for creation is not ours alone. The indigenous people have played their role. Indeed, they are more organized, more at home with creation. Who are the indigenous groups or peoples? They are the members of the tribes who are the first dwellers of the land, and those who have tilled the soil, fished the waters, and hunted the forest that Divine Providence or God has entrusted to them. On December 14-18, 2001 a consultation was made to reflect and discern from the spirituality and lifestyles of the indigenous peoples with the aim of deepening the discourse and commitment on deep ecology. This consultation was participated in by seven countries. This was the realization: The traditional way of life of.... Own culture and society (People... Vol. 3, p. 228). More than anything else, these are the results and recommendations of the consultation; i. That our dioceses foster formal and non-formal education of indigenous/ tribal peoples making provision also for



sociopolitical education programs so that they can analyze the situation in which they live, protest injustices, train future leaders, and grow in political awareness of the need for committed and effective civic life. ii. That we encourage and participate in programs in which the values and traditions of indigenous/tribal peoples can be celebrated in song, dance, drama, story-telling, etc. iii. That Associations of Tribal/Indigenous Peoples be formed in order to build solidarity through interaction with similar groups, to spread awareness of the causes of indigenous/tribal peoples, and to promote their concerns in Christian circles and structures. iv. That the Holy Father creates a Pontifical Council for Indigenous/Tribal Peoples Concern or at least a desk for the Evangelization of Peoples within the Sacred Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. v. That the FABC establish an Office for Indigenous Peoples Concerns, or at least an Indigenous/Tribal Concerns Desk within an existing FABC Office. In doing so, we strongly endorse the similar recommendation made at the 1995 Hua Hin consultation on Indigenous/Tribal Peoples. (Final Statement, Consultation on Indigenous/ Tribal Peoples in Asia and the Challenges of the Future, Pattaya, Thailand, December 14-18, 2001). Asian Social Instititute (ASI) was once again invited to participate on two indigenous education conferences. The first invitation was from the Philippine Australian Cross Cultural Exchange on Indigenous Education which was held in Baguio City from December 7-16,

2001. The purpose of the education was to share their indigenous experiences to provide cross-cultural exchange. And the second invitation was from the Regional Workshop of IP (Indigenous Peoples) which was held in Compostela Valley Province in Mindanao from January 16-22, 2002. ASI played the role of documentator and facilitator of the entire workshop. The main purpose of the workshop was focused on Curriculum Development for Indigenous Education. The participants held workshop discussions leading for the creation of a National Curriculum for indigenous peoples. The participants will pass the National Curriculum to government institutions particularly to the Department of Education and Culture for recognition and support. And once all these aspirations are concretized ASI will play the role as the trainors making manuals, books, references and trainings and at the same time courses that responds to the needs of indigenous peoples. All these endeavors are inclined to integrate indigenous peoples to the society, economy and politics. V. Applied Methodology in Theology These conferences, in one way or the other, have reshaped the role of theology in the discourse of meaning, happiness and ethics. Theology could not help but to concretized its abstractions of God and reality. This, therefore, requires a rethinking not on the doctrines of faith but on the method of making these doctrines catalyst of social and ecological reforms and sustainable development. This shift of paradigm in theologizing has inspired a lot of conferences to discuss how or-

thodoxy and orthopraxis can be united. A respectable theology today, therefore, is one that is sensitive and keen about the question of methodology. A good example of this endeavor was the conference on Methodology: Asian Christian Theology, Kathmandu, Nepal May, 2000. This conference concluded with the challenge that the an Asian Approach to the Sacred /is] via Symbolic Theology (406). This theological/pastoral reflection has been prepared by the Office of Theological Concerns (or today is known as OTC Office of Theological Concerns) of the Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences (FABC). The document is offered solely as a basis of continuing discussion with the wider community of pastors and professional scholars. (The members of the Office of Theological Concerns of FABC earnestly invite their readers to share with them their observations and criticisms in their interest of advancing the concerns of theological and pastoral reflection in Asia. Comments can be send to FABC, 16 Caine Road, and Hong Kong). Symbolic Theology primarily refers to the emblems by which Asians are in communion with God. This means that God has to be found in the context of mans everyday life and experiences. This method is popularly called the applied or contextual theology. Using this method, applied or contextual theology considers tribal spirituality and ecology as the locus of theology. For the Indigenous Peoples, the land and its surroundings provide the dynamics of experiencing God. Hence, their communion with the land and its surroundings is seen as their very relationship with God. In that

way, they are not only able to maintain sound ecology, but they are able to praise and worship God in their day to day life through their synergy with the land and its surroundings. For instance, take notice of how a movement in India serves as a source of theological endeavors as hereby stated: ...Resource for theology is found in the various Tribal movements. Tribal peoples are struggling to protect their identity, their value heritage, and their rights in situations where they are exploited, displaced and marginalized, such as Jharkand movements of the tribals in the Chotanagpur area in India. In their primeval vision of life, religion, culture, land, forests, agriculture, community, form one integrated whole. The sense of community, the relationship of people to the land and forests which are not commodity but gifts are given to all to be protected and conserved by all for all, is a precious heritage. These realities are for them and for us loci theologici, a theological arena where God and His Spirit speak. (Tribal Movements, Methodology: Asian Christian Theology) Though we are aware that their spirituality and lifestyles indeed are the key to sustainable development and sound ecology, ironically, they (Indigenous peoples) are the most exploited, displaced and marginalized. Hence, the challenge is not only to learn from them, but to become their voice and collaborators in working for justice and peace in their homeland. It is for this reason that the Church intends to develop a participative way of helping the masses and the tribes so that they can grow and develop themselves and keep their natural habi-



tat. Take the case of A.T. Ariyaratna and The Sarvodaya Sramadana Movement Sri Lanka. This movement was begun in 1958 by A.T. Ariyaratna in Sri Lanka. It began as development programmes that were local, self-help projects in which the villagers themselves could be collectively involved. In the process the villagers not only discovered their power and creativity, but also built themselves up as a community. There is a special programme to train Buddhist monks as animators of the Sarvodaya movement. The monks act as instructors to raise awareness and for this purpose use the background of the teachings of the Buddha. Though the movement drew inspiration from similar movements that were not specifically Buddhist, it has its roots in the Buddhist tradition. The goal of the programmme is Sarvodaya, understood as awakening which clearly refers to the awakening experience of the Buddha. It relates not just to a mystical experience but also to the lived reality of the modern world. The awakening can take place not just on the personal level but also at the village, the national and international level. As one works with people in their development one begins to experience the inter-connectedness of all reality, an experience which is, after all, one of the basic doctrines of Buddhism, i.e. dependent on co-arising. The movement has resulted in the transformation of the religious institution. The monk becomes an animator of a social movement as well as a ritual specialist. The village temple is not merely a place of worship, but becomes a base for

a community activity. The basic teaching of the Four Noble Truths is applied to the reality of daily life. Even the doctrine of karma is reinterpreted as a call to responsible action. (Sramadana Movement, Methodology: Asian Christian Theology) Following the example of Ariyaratna and The Sarvodaya Sramadana Movement, contextualizing theology would mean that clerics should actively participate in the transformation of the life of the people in all levels, particularly the economic, justice and peace aspect. Hence, Churches and Church workers the clergy - should not limit their dioceses as a place of worship but should transform them into community activities for livelihood projects, and justice and peace advocacy programmes. Another example of this new Asian methodology is the movement founded by Bhikku Buddhadasa in Thailand in 1932. Bhikkhu Buddhadasa was a Thai monk who became critical of Thai tradition and began to reinterpret if for the modern times. In 1932 he founded his Suan Mokh monastery (The Garden of Liberation). He began to present Buddhist truths in a new, readable way which was relevant to modern times; and his life and work had a profound effect on Thai Buddhist as well as Buddhist around the world. He may well have been one of the most seminal Theravada thinkers of modern times and has often been compared to such revered teachers such as Buddhagosha and Nagarjuna. He began to speak of `Dhammnic Socialism, i.e. that Nature itself, as understood by the Buddhist tradition, is

essentially socialist. His vision is based on a number of traditional Buddhist doctrines. First, the idea of non- self There is no permanent, immortal (and therefore uncreated) self as the center of personality. The ego is simply a network of relationships. Hence the self is empty, which means that it is empty of attachment to me and mine. In its natural state, mind is free of attachment and ignorance because it sees the emptiness of all things. Emptiness here does not mean nothingness, but rather the basic impermanence of all reality in this world. If one denies the ego in this way, one affirms the totality of the network and oneself as related to it. The relevance and significance of Theology in our time is precisely its rootedness in the experience of the people who embrace it. The new method should lead the believers to a liberation from slavery, i.e., in the form of poverty, sufferings and injustice. In short, a theological discourse is necessarily a social discourse. It means that faith and religion has to actively dialogue in the social af-

flictions of the people. Furthermore, this demonstrates how religion is slowly disproving the claim that Buddhist followers are indifferent to social issues. It is often claimed that Buddhism is a world-denying religion with little or no concern for what happens in this world and hence little concerns for such issues as social justice, economics and politics. Theoretically, this is incorrect, for the pursuit and acquisition of knowledge (jnana or prajnya) always leads to compassion, a concern for all the living beings of this world who suffer. At the practical level, there may be some substance to the accusation as lived Buddhism seems often to have neglected the practical implication of compassion beyond the giving of alms. This is no longer true. Buddhist in many countries of Asia are deeply concerned about the social implications of the teachings of Buddha and their concern has resulted in the formation of organizations such as the International Society of Engaged Buddhist. One can mention three individuals who have



attempted to apply Buddhist teachings to modern problems. (Buddhism and Social Concerns, Methodology: Asian Theology) The quest for the method is the quest of the identity of Asians as a believer of God in their various expressions. The understanding of our being Asian is the very locus of understanding and communing with God. It is within the same matrix that we develop the model of theologizing, the model by which, from its natural forms, God and man are one in nature. Hence, It will be the common task of all religions in Asia to set free the liberative elements in their perspective traditions and to combat the enslaving forms within religious traditions in Asia which strengthen the many forms of discrimination of people according to their caste, gender, ethnic belonging or religious beliefs. (The Process of Modernization, Technology, Signs of the Times, The Spirit at Work in Asia Today) VI. Culture, Religion and Common Task The method of contextualizing places theology in relation to other aspects, particularly culture and society. The blending of theology, culture and society (both political and economic) becomes a must in order to fully understand the truth and have a correct view of reality. Religion can no longer maintain its relative isolation against these dynamics, if it intends to make a breakthrough in serving the people. The common task belongs to culture, religion and society. It is written: Culture, religion and society are independent, interacting and mutually transforming. In our Asian continent, which is

the cradle for all the great world religions, culture and religion are integrated. Religion is the dynamic element of culture. Together they form the religio-cultural system, which interacts with the socioeconomic-political system of society, permeating every sphere of human life. Asian poverty is not purely economic concept, neither it is religiosity merely cultural. Poverty and religiosity are interwoven in the Asian ethos, in such a way that at a certain point they seem to coalesce in order to procreate the specific character of Asia (BISA VII, No. 6). (The Process of Modernization, Technology, Signs of the Times, The Spirit at Work in Asia Today) The meeting point of culture and religion is found and founded in the area of ethics. For it is in this field that the cultural and religious principles are synthesized as to form a system of life, responses, and mode of conduct. Hence, there is a call for ethics to achieve harmonious living by people of different faith persuasions and traditions so that peace, justice, and order which all men of goodwill dream of, be realized. (A Document of the Theological Advisory Commission of the FABC, Asian Christian Perspectives on Harmony, Hong Kong, April, 1995) VII. Call for Ethics for Harmony All these lead to question of ethics. In fact this is the most needed thing to be done where schools and government institutions should collaborate with each other. It is an imperative that humankind maintain a healthy relationship with the earth, and with all nature. As a result of not usually recognizing that need, hu-

man societies have inherent tendency to overshoot the limits that should be set by their resources, and to discount the cumulative but delayed consequences of environmental damage. From the beginning civilization in Mesopotamia until the present, human societies have time and again altered the ecosystem by technological and organizational means, thereby making available increased human sustenance at first, but eventually bending the system beyond its sustainable limits and reducing its human carrying capacity. (Ecological Care, in Asian Christian Perspective on Harmony, For All the Peoples of Asia, pp. 251-252) This recognizes the fact that school projects have public implications. The research on ethics by Catholic Schools can ramify government agencies so are the researches and other areas of endeavor. The Government can profit from the end product of such research, may it be sociological, scientific or historical. Catholics are serious to help the country by doing researches that unfold truth and give direction and orientation to public life. (V. Cajilig, Theology in Context: Forming Evangelizers, Research Center, University of Santo Tomas, 2002, pp. 196) Epilogue: We, believers in religion of our own should re-visit our vocation to exercise effort coming from acceptance of the task of common stewardship over creation. Our common spirituality, if ever there is, could be grounded on efforts of all members of diverse religious belief, from young and old, city dwellers

and village people, professional and non-professionals, civil and religious circles to do grand and small series of acts that would embody the fulfillment of the so-called vocation. Should dialogue among religions be done in the area of care of creation, the following could be good guidelines: from the minds of many in Asia which are imperatives as we can borrow from Ecclesia in Asia: 1. Together we listen to what nature is telling us and learn from it; 2. Together we face the challenge coming from the warning of nature; 3. Together we correct mistakes on how we have exploited and abused environment; 4. Together we join in the journey that follows the pathway leading to deep creation spirituality; 5. Together we pursue building relationship of fellowship and communion, of mutual respect and understanding; 6. Together enhance mutual trust 7. Together we search for mutual grounds such as: kingdom values, justice, peace, compassion, harmony and engage in cooperative activities; 8. Together we denounce the culture of death and promote the culture of life, culture of human right, and culture of peace and harmony. May concrete recommendations, after hearing all the other speakers, ensue from the meeting of minds by people of wisdom, commitment, devotion, compassion, prudence and freedom, which is to take place during the most blessed two days encounter during this symposium.




Abstract Religions function as a bridge if the common elements among them such as spirituality, moral principles and a notion of Judgment Day are more emphasized. This function was illustrated by la convivencia (coexistence or living together) put into practice in Toledo in particular during the Moorish rule of Spain. This paper is an attempt to examine whether Abrahamic eschatologies are complementary or contradictory to the pursuit of peaceful coexistence. It is argued that eschatology is no exception to the potential bridging function of religion. Etymologically derived from the Latin eschatos (last or farthest), eschatology refers to the branch of theology concerned with the final events in the history of the world or the ultimate destiny of mankind. One of its important subjects is the idea of a savior to come at the end of time. This awaited savior is known by various names and titlesSaoshyant, Messiah, Christ (in his Second Coming), and Mahdi, among many others.These beliefs obviously serve as a bridge as they give a sense of hope, determination and common universal vision and purpose for all peoples of diverse cultural currents and religious persuasions. Keywords: Abrahamic faiths, eschatology, peace, peaceful coexistence

Mansoor Limba, PhD Director Shajaratun Muntazirah Educational and Research Institute (SMERI) Cotabato City, Philippines



Introduction This paper is an attempt to examine whether multiculturalism in its normative sense is complementary or contradictory to the attainment of global peace in the light of the Islamic eschatological concept of mahdawiyyah (the Islamic belief in the coming of a global savior or redeemer, called the Mahdi, in the future). I argue that Islam depicts a scenario of universal peace with a mosaic of cultures in both dimensions of time and space. In this paper, instead of the Latinized Mahdism or Mahdiism, the transliteration mahdawiyyah of the Arabic word is used because the latter is historically and linguistically more accurate than the former. The former can be considered an anachronism that has little significance in an age in which cross-cultural understanding is a pressing concern. Moreover, the suffix -ism in Mahdism/Mahdiism is used to form an abstract noun. The word mahdawiyyah, however, is a term which signifies not a set of concepts or propositions per se, but rather an activity or movement. Conceptual Framework The attainment of global peace, as viewed by diverse schools of thoughts and social theories, is a showcase of cultural homogenization,

hegemonization, or heterogeneity in varying degrees. The realist narrative of the war of civilization against evil after the 9/11 is an attempt at homogenization. The liberal discourse of the international duties of liberal states and the narrative of Great Power responsibilities for promoting global reform are cases of hegemonization. The language of multiculturalism and religious tolerance is an instance of cultural heterogeneity and diversity. Wikipedia defines multiculturalism as the acceptance or promotion of multiple ethnic cultures, applied to the demographic make-up of a specific place, usually at the organizational level, e.g. schools, businesses, neighborhoods, cities or nations. It is understood either in its descriptive or normative sense: As a descriptive term, it has been taken to refer to cultural diversity As a normative term, multiculturalism implies a positive endorsement, even celebration, of communal diversity, typically based on either the right of different groups to respect and recognition, or to the alleged benefits to the larger society of moral and cultural diversity. Mahdawiyyah and Global Peace In a Prophetic tradition (hadith) upon whose authenticity Muslim schools of thought agree, Prophet Muhammad is reported to have said:

If there were to remain in the life of the world but one day, God would prolong that day until He sends in it a man from my community and my household. His name will be the same as my name. He will fill the earth with equity and justice as it was filled with oppression and tyranny. It is said that the establishment of this global rule will usher in a golden age for mankind characterized by spiritual and moral excellence, diffusion of knowledge, technological advancement, agricultural abundance, economic prosperity, and political stability. According to Prophetic traditions, people of the world will be so contented that The younger ones wish they were grown-ups, while the adults wish they were younger.The good become even more good, and even the wicked ones are treated well and The inhabitants of the heavens and the inhabitants of the earth will be pleased with him [i.e. the Mahdi] and such plants will be produced by the earth that the living will wish the dead could come back to life. Multiculturalism in Imam al-Mahdis (atfs) Personality As reflected in its eschatology, Islam depicts a scenario of universal peace with a mosaic of cultures in both dimensions of time and space. A central part of Islamic eschatology is mahdawiyyah or the belief in the coming of a savior (munjih) called Mahdi (the Guided One) in the future who will establish a global government.

As indicated in Islamic sources, the promised redeemer is of Arab, Persian, African, and Byzantium descent. Imam Ali ibn al-Husayn al-Sajjad, the eighth degree ancestor of the Mahdi, was half-blooded Persian through his mother, Shahzanan (otherwise known as Shahrbanawayh or Shahbanu) daughter of Yazdigard son of Shahriyar son of Choesroe, the Persian King (see Figure 1: Imam Ali ibn al-Husayns Parentage). Figure 1 Imam Ali ibn al-Husayn al-Sajjads Parentage Imam Muhammad ibn Ali al-Baqir, the seventh degree ancestor of the Mahdi, was the son of Imam Ali ibn al-Husayn and Fatimah bint al-Hasan ibn Ali ibn Abi Talib who were cousins. So, genetically, Imam al-Baqir was a threefourth blooded Arab and a one-fourth blooded Persian (see Figure 2: Imam Muhammad ibn Ali al-Baqirs Parentage). Figure 2 Imam Muhammad ibn Ali alBaqirs Parentage Imam Jafar ibn Muhammad al-Sadiq, the sixth degree ancestor of the Mahdi, was the son of Imam al-Baqir and his wife named Umm Farwah, daughter of Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr. Regarding Qasim ibn Muhammad, Shaykh al-Mufid narrates thus in Kitab al-Irshad, The Commander of the faithful, peace be on him, had appointed Hurayth b. Jabir al-Hanafi over part of eastern provinces. The latter had



sent to him two daughters of Yazdigard b. Shahriyar b. Choesroe. Of these he had given his son al-Husayn, peace be on him, Shahzanan and she bore him Zayn al-Abidin (Ali b. al-Husayn), peace be on him. He had given the other to Muhammad b. Abi Bakr and she bore him al-Qasim b. Muhammad b. Abi Bakr, so that these two (Zayn al-Abidin and al-Qasim) were maternal cousins. So, Umm Farwah, like her husband, Imam Muhammad ibn Ali al-Baqir, was three-fourth Arab blooded and one-third Persian blooded. As such, their son Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (a) was also such (see Figure 3: Imam Jafar ibn Muhammad al-Sadiqs Parentage). Figure 3 Imam Jafar ibn Muhammad alSadiqs Parentage Imam Musa ibn Jafar al-Kazim, the fifth degree ancestor of the Mahdi, was the son of Imam al-Sadiq through his slave-wife (umm al-walad) named Hamidah al-Barbariyyah (or Hamidah the Berber). To be exact, Imam al-Kazim was genetically 37.5% Arab, 12.5% Persian, and 50% African (Berber) (see Figure 4: Imam Musa ibn Jafar al-Kazims Parentage). Figure 4 Imam Musa ibn Jafar al-Kazims Parentage Imam Ali ibn Musa al-Rida, the fourth degree ancestor of the Mahdi, was the son of Imam al-Kazim through his slave-wife called Umm al-Banin al-Najmah from Maghreb. That is, genetically, Imam al-Rida was around 19% Arab, six percent Persian and three-fourth African (Maghribi) (see Figure 5: Imam Ali ibn Musa al-Ridas Parentage). Figure 5 Imam Ali ibn Musa al-Ridas Parentage Meanwhile, Imam Muhammad ibn Ali alJawad, the great grandfather of the Mahdi, was the son of Imam al-Rida and his Nubian slavewife called Sabikah (or Khayzuran). So, genetically, Imam al-Jawad was about 9% Arab, three percent Persian and 88% African (Maghribi and

Nubian) (see Figure 6: Imam Muhammad ibn Ali al-Jawads Parentage). Figure 6 Imam Muhammad ibn Ali alJawads Parentage Imam Ali ibn Muhammad al-Hadi, the paternal grandfather of the Mahdi, was the son of Imam al-Jawad and his slave-wife called Sumanah from Maghrib. Thus, Imam al-Hadi had genetically about five percent Arab blood, two percent Persian blood, and was 93% African (Maghribi and Nubian) (see Figure 7: Imam Ali ibn Muhammad al-Hadis Parentage). Figure 7 Imam Ali ibn Muhammad al-Hadis Parentage Imam Hasan ibn Ali al-Askari, the father of the Mahdi, was the son of Imam al-Hadi and his Nubian slave-wife called Hadith (or Salil) from Nubia. Given this, Imam al-Askari was genetically only about two percent Arab, less than one percent Persian and 97% African (Maghribi and Nubian) (see Figure 8: Imam Hasan ibn Ali alAskaris Parentage). Figure 8 Imam Hasan ibn Ali al-Askaris Parentage Finally, Imam Muhammad ibn Hasan al-Mahdi was the son of Imam al-Askari and a Byzantium lady named Narjis, among others, who was daughter of a certain Joshua whose genealogy goes back to the Cesar of Rome while her mothers lineage could be traced to Simon the Peter, the disciple of Jesus Christ. Thus, the promised Mahdi has over one percent Arab and less than a percent Persian blood. He is a half-blooded European (Byzantium) and around 49% African (Maghribi and Nubian). Figure 9 Imam Muhammad ibn Hasan alMahdis Parentage As can be seen from this brief survey of the Mahdis lineage, the mothers of seven of the Imams from the progeny of Prophet Muhammad were slave-wives or were taken as captives, viz. Hamidah al-Barbariyyah (mother of Imam alKazim), Umm al-Banin al-Najmah (mother of

Imam al-Rida), Sabikah (or Khayzuran) (mother of Imam al-Jawad), Sumanah (mother of Imam al-Hadi), Hadith (or Salil) (mother of Imam alAskari), and Narjis (mother of Imam al-Mahdi). Although Imam al-Mahdi is racially an Arab, genetically, he is more of a European and an African descent. With this, his very person is an embodiment of multiculturalism at least in its descriptive dimension. Multiculturalism in Imam al-Mahdis Followers It is also notably mentioned in the corpus of hadith (tradition) that the Mahdis immediate followers and trusted lieutenants are of diverse cultural backgrounds and nationalities; for example, Jesus the Messiah and Joshua (Jews), the Companions of the Cave (ashab al-kahf) (from Asia Minor), the believer from the family of Pharaoh (Egyptian) and the people of Rey, Khurasan and Qum (Persians) from among the non-Arabs. Regarding the Christ, the Commander of the Faithful Ali ibn Abi Talib said in a sermon (khutbah): Then the Mahdi (atfs) will appoint Hadrat Isa (a) as his representative in the offensive operations against al-Dajjal (the Anti-Christ). Isa (a) will set out to capture and suppress al-Dajjal. Al-Dajjal who will then be controlling the entire world, destroying agriculture and human generation, will call the people toward him and anyone who accepts him will be treated with favor and anyone who refuses to accept him would be killed. He will travel throughout the world, with the exception of Mecca, Medina and Bayt al-Muqaddas (Jerusalem), and all the illegitimate children from both the east and the west of the globe will rally around him. Al-Dajjal will set out toward the Hijaz and Isa (a) will intercept him at the passage of Harsha. Isa (a) will direct a horrible shout at him and strike him a decisive blow. Al-Dajjal will melt in a blazing fire like lead melting in fire. It is stated in the book, Khasais Fatimiyyah,

thus: In the government of al-Mahdi (atfs) thirteen women will be revived and return to the world to treat the wounded. One of them is Siyanah who had been the wife of Hizqayl (Ezekiel) and hairdresser of the daughter of Pharaoh. Her husband, Hizqayl (Ezekiel), was the cousin and treasurer of Pharaoh. It has been said that Hizqayl is a believer from the family of Pharaoh and believed in Musa (Moses), the prophet of his time. Another woman who is said to be revived and returned to the world to render service in the global military campaign of the Mahdi was the mother of Ammar ibn Yasir, Sumayyah from Africa. She was the seventh person to embrace Islam and on account of this, she was subjected to the most horrible tortures, thus becoming the first lady martyr in Islam. Mufaddal ibn Umar reported that Imam asSadiq said: During the advent of the Qaim of Muhammads Progeny (a), some people will come from behind the Kabah such as the twenty seven persons from the community (qawm) of Musa (Moses)those who rightfully give judgment; the seven persons from the Companions of the Cave; Yusha (Joshua) the executor of Musas will (wasi); the believer from the family of Pharaoh; Salman al-Farsi Moreover, contrary to the common notion that the Mahdi will deal with all the followers of other religions at the point of the sword, it can be understood from other hadiths that the confrontations and encounters of the Imam with the People of the Book would not always be the same. In fact, in some cases, he will allow them to remain in their religions by paying the jizyah. He will engage another group in discussion and debate, and in doing so, he will invite them to Islam. According to Tabasi, we can probably say that at the beginning of the uprising, he will engage in discussion with them and wage war with those who hide the truth:



Abu Basir said: I asked Imam al-Sadiq (a): Will Hadrat al-Qaim (atfs) remain in the Sahlah (Kufah) Mosque till the end of his life? The Imam (a) said: Yes. I asked: How will be the Ahl al-Dhimmah in his opinion? He replied: He will deal with them conciliatorily just as the Prophet (s) used to behave with them. As subjects (of the Islamic state) they will pay the jizyah. Ibn Athir said: At that time no Ahl al-Dhimmah will be left to pay the jizyah. Ibn Shawdhab said: It is because of this that they refer to Hadrat al-Qaim (atfs) as al-Mahdi (the Guided One) because he will be guided toward one of the mountains of Sham and from there he will take out the books of Tawrat (Torah). Through them he will discuss and debate with the Jews, and a group of them will embrace Islam through him. Multiculturalism in Time and Space Furthermore, these personalities who live for an extremely long period or in different times as explained by the eschatological beliefs in ghaybah (occultation), tawaffa (ascension) and rajah (partial resurrection) in the case of the Mahdi, the Messiah and some of the Mahdis followers, respectively, equally embody the time dimension of cultural diversity. Ghaybah means a state of occultation or hiddenness. Technically, it refers to the state

in which the Twelfth Imam subsists until his reappearance in the outer plain of existence in which we live in order to fill the world with justice and equity. His absence is divided into two terms or periods, viz. the Minor and Major Occultation. The Minor Occultation (ghaybat al-sughra) which began in 260 AH/872 CE and ended in 329AH /939 CE lasted about 70 years during which the Imam was indirectly in touch with the people by means of 4 deputies or mediums. Next is the Major Occultation (ghaybat al-kubra) which commenced in 329 AH/939 CE and continues up to the present until the time comes for the triumph of good over evil. In elucidating the rationale of the Minor Occultation, Sadr says, This minor occultation marks the first phase in the Imamate of the Expected Leader (peace be upon him). From the time that had been predestined, [and] from the time he assumed the role, he remained hidden from the outside world, distant from all the events that were taking place although being at the same time proximate to them in his mind and heart. We should bear in mind that had this occultation occurred suddenly, the result would have been a great shock among the popular masses, who believed in the Imamate since they were used to contacting their Imam in every period, to con-

sulting him for solutions to their various problems So the plan was this minor occultation, during which al-Imam al-Mahdi vanished from the universal scene, while keeping in touch with his popular bases and supporters through his delegates or representatives and the most reliable among his companions, who acted as a link between the Imam and those who believed in his line. More relevant to our present concern about multiculturalism in time and space is Sadrs explanation and justification of the Major Occultation, thus: Since the message of the appointed day is to change, in a comprehensive way, a world filled with injustice and tyranny, it is therefore natural that it is looking for an individual whose psychological attitude is superior to that whole world; a person whose age exceeds those who were born in that world and who were brought up in the shade of its civilization which he is to destroy and replace with one based on justice and truth. For whoever is brought up in a deeply-rooted civilization, that dominates the world with its values and modes of thinking, would be overwhelmed by it, since he would have been born while it had been in existence, and opened his eyes just to see its different aspects, and would have been brought up under its power and influence. Unlike that is a person who has

deeply penetrated history, who has come to life long before that civilization which completes the cycle of the story of humanity before the appointed day saw the light. He sees it as little seeds, hardly visible, then gradually growing and taking roots within human societies, waiting for the right moment to blossom and appear. Then he witnesses it, as it starts to grow and advance, sometimes relapsing, sometimes meeting with success, then when it begins to prosper and become gigantic, gradually dominating the destinies of the world, such a man who has lived through all these stages with sagacity and caution, watching this giantagainst which he has to struggleunder that long historical perspective which he has lived in reality, and not just read about in books of history, such an individual would consider it as a definite destiny. In short, the Mahdi is also a witness to every culture in the world and its evolution in the course of many centuries, nay even millennia. Regarding the ascension of Jesus Christ and his return at the end of time, it is thus stated in Surat Al-i Imran, verse 55: When Allah said, O Jesus, I shall take you[r soul], and I shall raise you up toward Myself, and I shall clear you of [the calumnies of] the faithless, and I shall set those who follow you above the faithless until the Day of Resurrection.



Under this Quranic verse, Qarai has this short commentary: Tawaffai means to exact fully something, to receive in full, to take ones full share, and in the present Quranic context it is used in the sense of taking away of the soul, either temporarily, as during sleep or permanently, as at the time of death In a tradition, Imam Ali ibn Musa al-Rida (a) explains that Jesus Christ (a) was raised alive from the earth to the heaven. Then his soul was taken away between the earth and the heaven. After he was raised to the heavens his soul was restored to his body, and hence the word of God, the Almighty and the Glorious, When Allah said, O Jesus, I shall take you[r soul], and I shall raise you up to Myself This belief explains the Messiahs living in a Jewish cultural context under a Roman rule prior to his ascension and his living in a global cultural context during his return in the future. Literally means return, rajah, in Islamic theology, denotes the return of a group of Muslims to this world after the appearance of the Mahdi and before the Resurrection, as alluded to in these Quranic passages: The day We shall resurrect from every nation a group of those who denied Our signs, and they shall be held in check The day when the

trumpet will be blown, whoever is in the heavens will be terrified and whoever is on the earth, except whomever Allah may wish, and all will come to Him in utter humility. As analyzed by Subhani, the verses above speak of two days, the first of which turns ones attention to the second. As regards the first day, there is mention made of the revival only of a particular group, while as regards the second day, the death of the whole of mankind is mentioned; we observe, then, that the first day is other than the Day of Resurrection. As mentioned in traditions, famous figures in the past, some of whom are mentioned in this paper, will be revived to assist the Mahdi in his revolution or assume pivotal role in his universal government. These figures as well as Jesus Christ who is the embodiment of tawaffa are witnesses to cultures and their evolution from their earlier lives to the new ones in the future. Conclusion The attainment of global peace, as viewed by diverse schools of thoughts and social theories, is a showcase of cultural homogenization, hegemonization, or heterogeneity in varying degrees. The narrative of the war of civilization against evil after the 9/11 is an attempt at homogenization. The discourse of the interna-



tional duties of liberal states and the narrative of Great Power responsibilities for promoting global reform are cases of hegemonization. The language of multiculturalism and religious tolerance is an instance of cultural heterogeneity and diversity. As reflected in its eschatology, Islam depicts a scenario of universal peace with a mosaic of cultures in both dimensions of time and space. A central part of Islamic eschatology is mahdawiyyah or the belief in the coming of a savior (munjih) called Mahdi (the Guided One) in the future who will establish a global government. As indicated in Islamic sources, the promised redeemer is of Arab, Persian, African, and Byzantium descent. It is also notably mentioned in the corpus of hadith (tradition) that the Mahdis immediate followers and trusted lieutenants are of diverse cultural backgrounds; for example, Jesus the Messiah and Joshua (Jews), the Companions of the Cave (ashab al-kahf) (from Asia

Minor), the believer from the family of Pharaoh (Egyptian) and the people of Rey, Khurasan and Qum (Persians) from among the non-Arabs. Moreover, these personalities who live for an extremely long period or in different times as explained by the eschatological beliefs in ghaybah (occultation), tawaffa (ascension) and rajah (partial resurrection) in the case of the Mahdi, the Messiah and some of the Mahdis followers, respectively, equally embody the time dimension of cultural diversity. In sum, the acceptance and promotion of multiple cultures is not contrary to the attainment of global peace as portrayed in Islamic eschatological sources. In fact, it can be said that multiculturalism is a requisite to the formation of global society and the realization of universal peace. Bibliography
A Brief History of the Fourteen Infallibles, 2nd Ed. Tehran: World Organization for Islamic Services, 1992.

Al-Qurashi, Baqir Sharif. The Life of Imam Ali bin Muhammad al-Hadi, trans. Abdullah al-Shahin. Qum: Ansariyan Publications, 2005. __________. The Life of Imam Ali bin Musa al-Rida, trans. Jasim al-Rasheed. Qum: Ansariyan Publications, 2001. __________. The Life of Imam al-Hasan al-Askari: Study and Analysis, trans. Abdullah al-Shahin. Qum: Ansariyan Publications, 2005. __________. The Life of Imam al-Mahdi, trans. Sayyid Athar Husain S.H. Rizvi. Qum: Ansariyan Publications, 2005. Harun Yahya, The End Times and the Mahdi. Maryland: Khatoons, 2003. Heywood, Andrew. Political Ideologies, 4th ed. New York: Palgrave Macmillan 2007. Hussain, Jassim M. The Occultation of the Twelfth Imam: A Historical Background. London: The Muhammad Trust, 1982. Linklater, Andrew. Unnecessary Suffering. In Worlds in Collision: Terror and the Future of Global Order. Ed. Ken Booth and Tim Dunne. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002.

Multiculturalism. Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/Multiculturalism, accessed April 14, 2010. Qarai, Ali Quli. The Quran with a Phrase-byPhrase English Translation. London: Islamic College for Advance Studies Press, 2004. Sadr, Sayyid Muhammad Baqir. An Inquiry concerning al-Mahdi. Tehran: World Organization for Islamic Services, 1980. Shaykh al-Mufid. Kitab al-Irshad: The Book of Guidance, trans. I.K.A. Howard. London: The Muhammadi Trust, 1981. Subhani, Jafar. Doctrines of Shii Islam: A Compendium of Imami Beliefs and Practices, trans. Reza ShahKazemi. London: Institute of Ismaili Studies, 2003. Tabatabai, Sayyid Muhammad Husayn et al. Messianism and the Mahdi. In Nasr, Seyyed Hossein et al. Expectation of the Millennium: Shiism in History. New York: State University of New York Press, 1989. Tabasi, Najmuddin. An Overview of the Mahdis Government, trans. Mansoor Limba. Tehran: Ahl al-Bayt (a) World Assembly, 2009. The Last Luminary. Tehran: World Organization for Islamic Services, 1980.




Fr. Leonardo Mercado, SVD Professor of Theology University of Santo Tomas and Christ the King Mission Seminary

Abstract What is the role of religions concerning economic and social issues of justice? The issues are many, such as livelihood for the poor, corruption in the country, discrimination against women, the push of tribal people from their places in the mountains because of the exploitation of their forests by miners and corrupt government officials. The list can go on. These issues challenge various organized religions for help. But before we answer the challenge, let us first clarify the theological premises, the concepts and models which have their corresponding effects, and a suggested joint course of action.

Some theological premises The following are what I see as important theological premises. First, religions are temporary because religions are only vehicles to the other world. For instance, Buddhism mainly has two groups of followers in their journey towards attaining Nirvana. They either ride in the big vehicle (Mahayana) for the mainstream Buddhists or in the small vehicle (Hinayana, Theravada) for their strict followers like the monks. But after the destination of Nirvana is reach, the vehicle is abandoned. Is there one heaven or many heavens? Is there a separate heaven for Muslims, another for Christians, for Buddhists, for Hindus, for followers of Traditional Religion and so forth? St. Paul says that faith (of which religion is an aspect), hope and charity are the only three important things (1 Cor. 13). But the greatest is love which alone will remain in eternity.

All the world religions speak in many forms about the Golden Rule. In the Last Judgment (Mt. 25) the basis for condemnation and salvation is not whether we belonged to one religion or the other. The basis is action, how we have fed the poor, given water to the thirsty, clothed the naked, and so forth. That is why human beings form the basis of interfaith dialogue and cooperation. According to Vatican II the basis of the freedom of religion is based on human dignity. Our world history has been marred by religious wars, some wounds still remain today. The problems and causes of dissension in European history have been exported to the rest of the world. Why quarrel of local issues in European history and transport them to other countries? Concepts and Models We accept Tillichs definition of religion as the ultimate concern, as the substance, the



ground, and the depth of mans spiritual life (Tillich 1964:8). Religion is not just something cerebral because it is inseparable from culture. It has implications in the economy, symbols, and the way of life and so on. However, another way of thinking wants to separates religion from the rest of reality, like separating the body from the spirit and soul, the church from the state. And as the religions become more organized, they develop full-time professionals like the pope, bishops, priests, deacons in the Catholic Church. Then there are ecclesiastical territories like dioceses and parishes. Membership in a religion also is sanctioned. In Germany Catholics must register themselves to the parish because it has implications in state taxes. In the United States of America, Catholics are expected to register themselves as families to their respective parishes, a practice which Filipino Catholics in the US are not accustomed. We find something analogous among the Evangelical or Protestant churches. But this dichotomy between Church and State is absent in Islam and Traditional Religions (Mercado 2005:131-150). Traditional religion is decentralized because it has no hierarchy or common set of doctrines. When we speak of inter-religious dialogue, the meaning usually refers to dialogue between the world religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam). This is because the world religions have scriptures, organizations, etc. Since their leaders are identifiable, they can easily call for meetings. But the norms of membership affect the followers of Traditional Religion, which is the oldest religion of all (Mercado 2000). They have no centralized authority, no scriptures, have varied rituals. In spite of having no centralized authority, Pope John Paul II invited some of their representatives in the Assisi world prayer for peace. In the Philippines there have been some local attempts of some Catholic bishops to dialogue with fol-

lowers of Traditional Religion. Let us be aware about the meaning of ecclesial membership which can either be taken in the broad meaning or the narrow meaning. According to Vatican II, the concept of Church means people of God. It is analogous to the ummah in Islam, the bodies of people who are the objects of the divine plan of salvation (Decasa 1999:13-14). Abraham Lincolns famous Gettysburg Address speaks of the state as by the people, of the people, for the people. But the term government can also be taken in the narrow sense. Hence those who work for the city hall are said to work for government. They do not work for the private or business sector. But those who work as employees of a parish church are classified as employees of the church. This muddling of models as narrow and wide has its consequences. One consequence is having expressions like government- sponsored program to eradicate poverty or churchsponsored help to eradicate poverty. If people belong to church and state, why make the distinction? The bottom line in dialogue is people (Mercado 2009:149-158). Questions on the problem of models The exposition above ushers some problems. The problem boils down to the choice of models, namely, the narrow model and the wide model. If we are meeting about interfaith dialogue, I presume that we are taking the model that religion is separate from public and private life? If we take the narrow model that each religion is an organization and separate from the government, it means that we are trying to craft an ad-hoc organization where this organization will muster the resources of each member for the sake of solving the problems of economic and social issues of justice. That means drawing up committees, delineate areas of responsibility, and so forth. If we take that direction, will it be a parallel program of the thrusts of the national government and perhaps other

world-wide organizations? But if we take the wide model, it will mean that the people will be absorbed into the common denominator as people. But if take this model, it might water down the influence of each religious group or perhaps the loss of identity on who takes the credit of projects and programs. A suggested course of action In my brief exposition above, I have shown that we must first be clarified about our models of religion. We are caught in bureaucracy and organizational luggage. We must be united together against the common front: problems of hunger, poverty and other issues. What counts, therefore, are the people. I recommend that religious leaders stress less the organizational concern and emphasize or empower the people of all religions to work together. In a big fire or flood, what concerns is the safety of all and not our religious petty concerns. I am thinking of the recent hostage crisis (where a disgruntled policeman, Mendoza, took hostage the Chinese tourists in a bus) where various television channels were more concerned first about media rating than helping the hostages. It ended in a big shame to the Philippine government and the people tasked to solve it. We can talk about inter-religious dialogue. But what concerns is action together. I suggest a combination of both models. It means that each religious group will motivate

and empower their respective members who in turn will join the other religious groups for a joint action of charity. That means each religious group forms the values in their respective followers to willingly work together with governmental groups, business groups, volunteer organizations. Under this combined model, the religious groups have their role but they stay in the background and they let their followers work together in the area where their help is needed most. In short, we work together in the name of the Golden Rule because we share only one planet and a common destiny. REFERENCES Decasa, George C. 1999. The Quranic Concept of Ummah and Its Function in Philippine Muslims Society. Rome: Editrice Pontificia Universita Gregoriana. Mercado, Leonardo N. 2000. From Pagans to Partners, The Change in Catholic Attitudes towards Traditional Religion. Manila: Logos Publications, Inc. ________. 2005. Essays on Filipino Philosophy. Manila: Logos Publications, Inc. ________. 2009. Dialogue and Faith, A Philippine View. Manila: Logos Publications, Inc. Tillich, Paul.1964. Theology of Culture. Ed. by Robert C. Kimball. New York: Oxford University Press.


M o s tin modern societies feel that environmental crisis and inju people tice is the issue of technology and public policy; what of manygot has this sec do with religious scholars who have begun to look into underlyi religions? The question came to the concern lar and theological and sociological causes for mans attitude issue, diff perception towards his environment. Concerningone and a call theside religio ent approaches have been raised. There are inother side, the call the rethinking worldviews worldviews. on the and ethics, and returning to religious


Dont Break the Wings of Angels(Religious Worldviews and Environmental Crisis: Islamic Perspective)
By Dr. Bagher Talebi Darabi, Faculty Member, University of Religions and Denominations (URD), Qom, Iran b.t.darabi@gmail.com

Islam and Christianity are supposed to be anthropocentric traditions. Writers like Lynn White Jr. see this as being the main cause for the environmental crisis of today. In 1967, Lynn White, observed: What people do about their ecology depends on what they think about themselves in relation to things around them. Human ecology is deeply conditioned by beliefs about our nature and destiny- that is, by religion ( White 1967). This paper tries to investigate the validity of Whites view that the environment crisis and disrespect for nature is inherent in the very nature of these religions. Dealing with the Islamic tradition, this essay will take into consideration the Islamic worldview and its cosmology and social approach to environment and justice/ environmental crisis and injustice. So the main question here in this paper is: What would Islam tell people about their relations with the environment? Most people in modern societies feel that environmental crisis and injustice is the issue of technology and public policy; what has this got to do with religions? The question came to the concern of many secular and religious scholars who have begun to look into underlying theological and sociological causes for mans attitude and religious perception towards his environment. Concerning the issue, different approaches have been raised. There are in the one side a call for rethinking worldviews and ethics, and on the other side, the call for returning to religious worldviews. This paper will be simply a beginning of further study of conceptual and symbolic resources, methodological concerns and practical directions for meeting this issue in accordance to Islamic view of point.There are rich resources in the tradition of Islam which is mainly can be found in Quranic conception such as vice-regency ( .) The concept of humans as vice-regents of Allah on earth suggests that humans have particular privilege, responsibilities and obligations to creations. These are resources already being explored by theologians and biblical scholars. There is still a crucial need for a sociological approach to this issue.



There is a saying attributed to the Prophet of Islam(s) which says: The branches of trees are as the wings of angels, do not break the wings of angels. The environmental crisis is not a new issue. What is new today is the scale of the crisis. It has become a worldwide crisis. However, most people in modern societies feel that this is the issue of technology and public policy. What has this got to do with religion? From the point of view of environmental studies, religious worldviews propel communities into the world with fundamental predispositions toward it, because such religious worldviews are primordial, all-encompassing and unique (Lawrence Sullivan, 2003). Todays environmental crisis is the concern of many secular and religious thinkers who have begun to look into underlying theological and sociological causes for mans attitude towards his environment. This is because of the important role religions play in shaping our attitude toward nature. In 1967, Lynn White observed: What people do about their ecology depends on what they think about themselves in relation to things around them. Human ecology is deeply conditioned by beliefs about our nature and destiny- that is, by religion (White, 1967). Confirming the importance of the role of religion and then seeking solution for this large scale crisis, two main different approaches have been raised: 1. The claim of need for ignoring or at least

rethinking worldviews and ethics; that is, the need to re-examining religions in the light of the current environmental crisis. 2. The claim of the need for returning to religious worldview about mans relationship with environment. Meanwhile there is a very important question. That is, do we really need to rethink worldview? Or shall we talk about returning to religious worldview? Despite this intellectual awareness, most people feel that this is the issue of technology and public policy. What has this got to do with religion? Historical Review: religion as problem Christianity is supposed to be anthropocentric tradition. Writers like Lynn White observe, Christianity, especially, in its western form, is the most anthropocentric religion the world has seen. He sees this as being the main cause for the environmental crisis of today. He decries not only the dualistic nature of mans relationship with nature but also the idea that it is Gods will that man exploit nature for his proper ends... as Man shares, in great measure, Gods transcendence over nature. In his words: Christianity in absolute contrast to ancient paganism and Asias religions (except perhaps, Zoroastrianism), not only established a dualism of man and nature but also insisted that it is Gods will that man exploit nature for his proper ends (White, 1967).

He also says: Our ecologic crisis is the product of an emerging, entirely novel, democratic culture. The issue is whether a democratized world can survive its own implications. Presumably we cannot unless we rethink our axioms. He maintains that: Both modern technology and modern science are distinctively Occidental. Our technology has absorbed elements from all over the world, notably from China; yet everywhere today, whether in Japan or in Nigeria, successful technology is Western. Our science is the heir to all the sciences of the past, specially perhaps to the work of the great Islamic scientists of Middle Ages, who so often outdid the ancient Greeks in skill and perspicacity: al- Razi in medicine, for example; or Ibn-al-Haytham in optics and; or Omar Khayyam in mathematics (White, 1967). He argued that Judeo-Christian theology was fundamentally exploitative of the natural world because: 1. The Bible asserts mans dominion over nature and establishes a trend of anthropocentrism. 2. Christianity makes a distinction between man (formed in Gods image) and the rest of creation, which has no soul or reason and is, thus, inferior. He posited that these beliefs have led to an indifference towards nature which continues to

impact in an industrial, post-Christian world. He concludes that applying more science and technology to the problem wont help, it is humanitys fundamental ideas about nature that must change; they must abandon superior, contemptuous attitudes that make them willing to use it [the earth] for our slightest whim. White suggests adopting St. Francis Assisi as a model to imagine a democracy of creation in which all creatures are respected and mans rule over creation is limited. Modern society and unsacred nature: religion as solution In contrast to Whites view, this is also true that in technologically sophisticated urban societies we have become removed from the recognition of our dependence on nature. We no longer see the earth as sacred. When man begins to talk of him/ herself without paying attention to God, the creator, and tries to govern his/her life by only the human- made laws, nature is being ignored, God is being forgotten and then the environment becomes profane. Unfortunately, most theologians and philosophers have remained silent or have bent backward in order to avoid offending the prevailing scientific mood of the day (Nasr, 1997). But we are not hopeless! Some voices still can be heard, they are calling us to be aware that the current environmental crisis which is caused by the domination of nature is, from the religious point of view, the usurpation of mans role as



the custodian and guardian of nature. Man has employed his scientific knowledge to exploit nature rather than to use it wisely in accordance with Gods will (G.D.Yarnold, 1959). Two important examples of this view are: 1. American educated Shiite Muslim scholar from Iran, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, drew attention to the spiritual origins of environmental abuse. As a Traditionalist Shiite Muslim, Nasr argued that the imbalances in nature being brought about by human activities were rooted in the destruction of the harmony between man and God. He believes that modern humans have lost the sense of the sacred that enabled them to know their true place in the universe (Nasr, 1997 and 2003). 2. Thomas Berry, a Christian well-known thinker and activist, observed that we have become autistic in our interactions with the natural world. In other words, we are unable to value the life and the beauty of nature because we are locked in our own egocentric perspectives and shortsighted needs. He suggested that we need a new cosmology, cultural coding, and motivating energy to overcome this deprivation. He observed that the magnitude of destructive industrial process is so great that we must initiate a radical rethinking of the myth of progress and of humanitys role in the evolutionary process (Berry, 1988, see Foltz, Islam and Ecology, p. xvii). We appreciate these intellectual concerns about environmental crisis. But there are some evidences that show some of those who are talking about the role of religions in environmental crisis today, do not have a clear definition of religion. There are still questions to be answered by them: what do you mean by religion? Do you see religion as a cultural system or a system of beliefs? Whether you see it as a culture or a system of belief, is there any God in it or you also, like some others, talk about Religion without God. Islamic Worldview and Environmental Cri-


This paper tries to investigate the validity of Whites view that the disrespect for nature is inherent in the very nature of religion. The main question here in this paper is: What would Islam tell people about their relations with the environment? Contemporary Islamic writers tend to articulate Islamic environmental ethics in practical terms. They often try to respond to Lynn Whites criticism of western Christianity. Whites essay, Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis, is often read as unqualified attack upon Christianity. White claimed that the roots of our ecological crisis are religious in essence. In other words, he saw Christianity as a powerful and unavoidable influence on environmental attitudes, which, in the past has had largely negative consequences, but which also holds the possibility of a positive response to ecological crisis. Despite Whites claim in comparing Islam to Marxism as two Judeo- Christian heresy , we discuss Islam as a divine religion and one of the great religions of todays world. We have to take into consideration the Islamic worldview and its cosmology and social approach to nature of man, his place in relation to God, his rights and responsibilities before God, and his relationship to the rest of the world with regard to his rights over it. Islam and Christianity, as two major religions of the world, may play important roles in resolving environmental crisis. As another monotheistic religion, Islam is somehow anthropocentric as well. Both religions are criticized by environmental activists for their approach. Both religions, like other religions of the world, have a worldview. This worldview is based on the belief in the existence of an all powerful creator who is the same God that the three monotheistic faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam believe in. Islam, in all its complexity and varieties of

approaches remains as the principal resource for symbolic ideas, spiritual inspiration and ethical principles for Muslims all around the world. As other world religions, Islam has provided comprehensive cosmologies and worldviews for interpretive direction, moral foundations for social cohesion, spiritual guidance for cultural expression, and rituals for meaningful life. The basis of an Islamic worldview is the idea of Tawhid, or the oneness of God. A worldview based on tawhid sees this universe as originating from God, returning to Him, and centered around Him. The reference point, the center of all things is God. Tawhid is the origin of a theological doctrine of ecology. All things seen or unseen are Gods signs (ayat) and act as witnesses to His existence. All things in the universe are His manifestations, all are from Him. The meaning of tawhid is the concern of some other religious thinkers as well. William Chittick, an American Christian thinker says: God the Ultimate reality is One, and everything other than God comes from God and is related to Him. No true understanding of anything is possible unless the object in view is defined in relationship to the divine. All things are centered on God (Chittick, 1991). Muslims are morally concerned about the environmental crisis for they, as religious and spiritual human beings, see themselves obligated to taking care of the earth. They believe that their religious and spiritual rights and duties make them see their domination on nature not just beneficently but as sacred as well about which they have a responsibility. Having such worldview, Nasr observes that: Secularized knowledge of nature divorced from the vision of God in nature has become accepted as the sole legitimate form of science by modern man, and this results in regarding nature as something to be used and enjoyed to the fullest extent possible. For modern man

nature has become like a prostitute- to be benefited from without any sense of obligation and responsibility toward her. He adds that the difficulty is that the condition of the prostituted nature is becoming such as to make any further enjoyment of it impossible. And, in fact, that is why many have begun to worry about its condition (Nasr, 1997). What can we say with regard to the anthropocentric view of Islam? The main criticism directed to Christianity and somehow to Islam is related to this issue. Human nature is of course the key facet of the worldview of Islam. Man fulfills a very important role in this cosmos. According to Islam, Allah created man and gave him/her the position of Vicegerency: ( ) 30: So the vicegerent should do what the Creator wants; creativity and responsibility about creatures is the main work of the Creator, the client! (Quran2:30). Accordingly, man has the duty to do his/ her best to make the environment and the nature safer and more fruitful and be submitted to His commandments and laws. Whenever he/she wants to do anything freely he/she should be aware that his/her free will is limited to the will of God (Javadi Amoli, 2007). Although man is a creation of God he/she is superior to the rest of Gods creation as he/ she has within him the Spirit of God. In this way he is unique among the creations of God. It is only man to whom the angels are commanded to prostrate. . ) 72-71 : ( When thy Lord said unto the angels: Lo! I am about to create a mortal out of mire, And when I have fashioned him and breathed into him of My Spirit, then fall down before him and prostrate.(Quran: 38: 71-72) Another aspect that separates man from the



rest of the creation is his/her acceptance of the trust offered by God. This trust was offered to all of creation and man was the only one who accepted it. .) 72 :( We did indeed offer the trust to the heavens and the earth and the mountains; but they refused to undertake it, being afraid thereof. But man undertook it (the trust)... (Quran, 33:72) In a matter of trust and trusteeship, the giver of the trust is giving a responsibility to the trustee. In other words the guardian of the trust has a high degree of freedom and accompanying responsibility in the use (or misuse) of the given trust. The trustee is expected to fulfill the trust in the manner that the giver of the trust expects of him. If man did not have the power to either use or misuse this trust given to him by God, then the whole idea of offering the trust, in the first place, would be futile. This is not an attitude that is unique to Islam as can be seen in the following quote from the Bible When a man has had a great deal given him, a great deal will be demanded of him; when a man has had a great deal given him on trust, even more will be expected of him. (Luke 12:48). It is, however, an attitude that is all pervasive in the Islamic worldview. Thus, man has the freedom to do what he wills with the power invested in him through these two means. One is his closeness to God in spirit and second is his acceptance of the trust. Mans superiority, control and power over nature and the rest of creation was thus a part of

this trust. After having taken the responsibility man had to show that he was indeed worthy of keeping it. If he forgets about the responsibility of the trust and instead takes full and destructive advantage of the power conferred upon him, the other side of his superiority takes over. Because he has the spirit of God within him, he now deems to set himself up in rivalry to God. He wishes to take control of the destiny of the world not as a trustee but as a demigod (Atiya and Irshaad Hussain (1991). )71 ... ( ...He was indeed unjust and foolish. (Quran, 33:72) Nature has been given to man as a trust and nothing more. His right of domination over it is not as a rebel against nature (Nasr, 1997). For modern man nature has become like a prostitute to be benefited from without any sense of obligation and responsibility toward her. Concerning the environmental crisis as a spiritual and ethical one, the role of religions and religious tradition will become much more important. But not as negatively as White argued about Christianity. Lynn White refers specifically to the problem inherent in the Christian tradition, but in a general sense extends it to all the monotheistic religions, as opposed to the pantheistic ones. Mans role of vicegerency, his mantle of superiority and his responsibility of trust are laid bare before him in the Quran, it is then his/her decision to choose which path to take. On the one hand he has before him all the treasures of nature to use and exploit as he wishes through the misuse of his knowledge. On the other hand

is the temperance of the responsibility which coexists with the trust and intelligence given to him by God. The worldview of man and the conceptual foundations which underlie that worldview decide which course man will take. I hope that this paper will be simply a beginning of further studies on conceptual and symbolic resources, methodological concerns and practical directions for meeting this environmental crisis in accordance to Islamic point of view. There are rich resources for rethinking views on environment in the mainstream tradition of Islam which can be mainly found in the Quranic conception such as the above mentioned VICEGERENCY (khalifatollah). The concept of humans as vicegerents of Allah on earth suggests that humans have particular privilege, responsibilities and obligations to creations. These are the resources that are already being explored by theologians and biblical scholars. References:
1. Nasr Seyyed Hossein(1997), Man and Nature: The Spiritual Crisis in Modern Man; Chicago , IL: Kazi Pub-

lication. 2. Khalid M.Fazlun (2003), Islam, Ecology and Modernity: An Islamic Critique of the Root Causes of Environmental Degaradation, in Islam and Ecology, edited by Richard Foltz, Fredrick M.Denny and Azizan Baharodin; Harvard University Press. 3. Tucker E.Mary,(2003); Islam and Ecology: Series Foreward, edited by Richard Foltz, Fredrick M.Denny and Azizan Baharodin; Harvard University Press. 4. White, Lynn Jr,( 1967), The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis. Reprinted with permission from Science 155( March 10,1967), pp.1203-1207. Copyright 1967 American Association for the Advancement of Science. In Richard C. Foltz, Worldviews, Religion and the Environment: A global Anthology, Thomson. 5. Sullivan E. Lawrence (2003), Islam and Ecology: Series Preface, edited by Richard Foltz, Fredrick M.Denny and Azizan Baharodin; Harvard University Press. 6. Yarnold G.D,( 1959), The Spiritual Crisis of the Scientific Age, New York, p.168.

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Social Justice
By: Dr. Younes Nourbakhsh Esmaeel Hajhashemi


(Religious Justice or Just Religion)

Abstract: The concept of justice is different from several views and relatively has extensive developments. In the Middle Ages when religion emerged in society, justice became more moral and religious-oriented but its relationship with the natural rights was not severed. But gradually the concept of justice developed and gained the political and social dimensions and the conceptual field of it expanded as well. Social justice is a sacred and exalted concept in all Abrahamic religions. Discussions on justice have a long precedent in the history of Islam. Since the compulsion and option debates were introduced, discussion on justice was considered too. The basic questions are: Is it possible to have social justice without freedom? What is Social Justice in the Islamic view? Altogether, I will explain the Islamic viewpoint in this research while reviewing the most important theory in the area of social justice and its conceptual developments.

Introduction The term social justice or (distributive justice) includes the concepts that mainly have been discussed in political philosophy and many views as well as interpretations are presented in this area. Social justice generally refers to the idea of creating an egalitarian society or institution that is based on the principles of equality and solidarity that understands and values human rights, and recognizes the dignity of every human being. Distributive justice considers the distribution of goods among members of the society at a specific time, and on that basis, determines whether the state of affairs is subjectively acceptable (Zajda &etc., 2006& Butts& etc. 2005). During centuries, the social justice held

a high position both in ancient Eastern and Western thoughts. In ancient Greece, social justice was mainly concerned with political philosophy, since the main pivot of Platos and Socrates views was the question of justice. However, with the emergence of the age of modernity, social justice lost its pivotal role in political philosophy, but remained as one of the important subjects of political philosophy. Before Christ and before the sovereignty of monotheistic religions, justice was considered compatible with natural law. In the Middle Ages when religion emerged in the society, justice became more moral and religious-oriented but its relationship with natural rights was not severed. Relationship between justice and religion was established both during the sovereignty of



Christianity and Judaism as well as in the age of Islam, and religion has emphasized on the areas of religious justice. Liberation theology is a movement in Christian theology which construes the teachings of Jesus Christ in terms of liberation from unjust economic, political, or social conditions. It has been described by proponents as an interpretation of Christian faith through the poors suffering, their struggle and hope, and a critique of society and the Catholic faith and Christianity through the eyes of the poor, (Berryman, 1987) and by detractors as Christianity perverted by Marxism and Communism. The Middle Ages ended with the emergence of a movement that is known as the renaissance and reformation. In the 19th century, after the introduction of the government as a source of justice by Hegel, the doctrine of socialist justice was presented, based on which, justice was defined in terms of just distribution of wealth and community possessions. In this doctrine distribution is based on individual needs and division is based on the amount of work and production is considered as the most important interpretation of community-based justice. In fact, Marxs idea was a repetition of Hegels theory of from each according to his ability, to each according to his need. According to Marxs view, law and justice cannot solve issues that are rooted in the contradictory nature of the bourgeois society and they must be resolved through class struggle. The reality is that to make theories of justice consistent with contemporary pluralistic world, many complex factors must be taken

into consideration. Social justice is not provided through only a minimum supply of life for housing, education, nutrition and health care. In the framework of community-based development theories cannot be helpful in realizing justice without the participation of all people in the society. Social Justice in modern Society Social movements of oppressed and excluded groups have recently asked why extension of equal citizenship rights has not led to social justice and equality. According to recent theories, the development process will be stable and successful whenever it is accompanied with increasing participation. The existing discourse on social justice doesnt only refer to the establishment of economic and class equality but also takes into consideration the racial, ethnic and gender differences. In his book of Justice and the Politics of Difference , Iris Young elaborates on the theory of justice that is formed with the support of the policy of difference. She supports a policy in which group differences are formally recognized. Furthermore, she explains the neutrality of liberalism in a manner in which accepting a single view causes the destruction of the interests of others. Thus, liberal neutrality is incapable of recognizing group differences and applying them in its policies. Enforcement of the difference policy is subject to that the sound of suppressed and marginal groups in social and political dialogues to be heard and meanwhile public authorities have a duty to support the effort of members of these

groups to participate in the public domain. Young introduces repression (that is an important part of his theory about justice) as the institutional barriers against his development and explain it through the terms such as exploitation, marginalization, cultural imperialism powerlessness and violence. In a democratically structured public where social inequality is mitigated through group representation, individuals or groups cannot simply assert that they want something; they must say that justice requires or allows that they have it. Group representation provides the opportunity for some to express their needs or interests who would not likely be heard without that representation. Marion says As a person of social privilege, I am not likely to go outside of myself and have a regard for social justice unless I am forced to listen to the voice of those my privilege tends to silence (Marion, 1989: 263). During this angry, sometimes bloody, political struggle in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, many among the excluded and disadvantaged thought that winning full citizenship status, that is, equal political and civil rights, would lead to their freedom and equality. Now in the late twentieth century, however, when citizenship rights have been formally extended to all groups in liberal capitalist societies, some groups still find themselves treated as second-class citizens (Ibid: 250). Dr. Amartya Sen an eminent Indian economist and philosopher first presented his view on justice when he discussed freedom. He begins his discussion on social justice with his views

on freedom and relates it to ones capability. Sen introduces the concept of positive freedom (the possibility of action) and states that an individual should be provided with a large number of choices. For example, wealth will expand the scope of individual choice and such a person can even ignore the material issues and consider the moral ones while another person may not have another option other than entering the field of intellectuality, because it does not have much capability in this area. Therefore, Positive liberty consists of the power and resources to act to fulfill ones own potential; as opposed to negative liberty, which is freedom from restraint (Berlin: 1969). Inherent to the concept of positive liberty is the idea that liberty is defined by the ability of citizens to participate in their government, or in voluntary cooperation in the case of anarchists. For instance, in the United States citizens have a hypothetical right to vote. To Sen, this concept is fairly empty. In order for citizens to have a capacity to vote, they first must have functionings. These functionings can range from the very broad, such as the availability of education, to the very specific, such as transportation to the polls (Sen, 1973). Durkheim argues that the concept of justice presupposes the idea of contract. This may be why he devotes so many pages of The Division of Labor in Society to the development of contract. In any event, the argument in Professional Ethics and Civic Morals is his most succinct statement on this matter: A just contract is not simply any contract that is freely consented to, that is, without explicit coercion; it is a contract by which things and services are exchanged at the true and normal



value, in short, at the just value ([1950] 1983, quoted in Schoenfeld, 1989: 119). Distributive justice or social justice is entering a new phase after John Rawls book Theory of Justice (1971). In his view, justice is not a value among other effective values in social organizations and human relations; but it is considered as the first and the best social value (2000: 53, 1971: 3). Rawls aim is to develop principles that we can use to assess the basic structure of society, or more exactly, the way in which the major social institutions distribute fundamental rights and duties and determine the division of advantages from social cooperation. By major institutions, Rawls means the political constitution and the principal economic and social arrangements. He is concerned with these institutions because their effects are so profound and present from the start (Amdur, 1977: 439). In the opinion of Rawls social justice is based on social contract (Rawls, 2000, P, XVIII). He does not emphasize the concepts of reality as well as rationality in social justice but he knows it as the rational choice of the people (Rawls, 1996 p, 113, pp. 156-170). He says: liberties not on the list, for example, the right to own certain kinds of property (e.g. means of production) and freedom of contract as understood by the doctrine of laissez-faire are not basic; and so they are not protected by the priority of the first principle and according to the second principle, social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that (Rawls, 1971: 303 & 2000: 54): a) They are to be of the greatest benefit to the least-advantaged members of society (the difference principle). b) Offices and positions must be open to everyone under conditions of fair equality of opportunity. His first statement of principle was made

in a theory of justice where he proposed that, Each person possesses an inviolability founded on justice that even the welfare of society as a whole cannot override. For this reason justice denies that the loss of freedom for some is made right by a greater good shared by others. A deontological proposition that echoes Kant in framing the moral good of justice in absolutist terms. His views are definitively restated in Political Liberalism where society is seen as a fair system of co-operation over time, from one generation to the next (Rawls, 2003: 15). Indeed Rawls argument has two parts. First, he sets out the constraints which he believes will guarantee a fair agreement or bargain. Then he attempts to demonstrate that rational men and women, reasoning in accordance with the various constraints, would inevitably agree on a certain set of principles. The most important constraints concern the knowledge available to the hypothetical contracts (Amdur, 1977: 440). In Political Liberalism (1993) Rawls maintains that the two principles are applicable to a liberal democracy under the circumstance of a reasonable pluralism of comprehensive religious, philosophical, and moral doctrines. Hereupon Wilkins (1997) argues that in order to secure the commitment of believers in reasonable comprehensive doctrines to political liberalism a third principle of justice needs to be adopted in the Original Position. Rawls acknowledges that neutral legislation by the liberal state may negatively affect some reasonable comprehensive doctrines, and Willkins offers a third principle of justice to help alleviate this problem. This principle is in keeping with the United States constitutional history especially where church-state relations are concerned, maintains that a constitutional regime should, insofar as possible, avoid adopting rules with harmful effects upon those compre-

hensive doctrines which satisfy the conditions of reasonable pluralism. In The Law of Peoples (hereafter LP), John Rawls turns his attention to the question of international justice. Another thinker is Michael Walzer who has focused on the criteria for justice and has presented the theory of Spheres of Justice: a defense of pluralism and equality. In his opinion, the theory of complex equality, which holds that the metric of just equality is not some single material or moral good, but rather that egalitarian justice demands that each good be distributed according to its social meaning, and that no good (like money or political power) be allowed to dominate or distort the distribution of goods in other spheres; and an argument that

justice is primarily a moral standard within particular nations and societies, not one that can be developed in a universalized abstraction (Walzer, 1983: xiv). The major criticism of Spheres of Justice is that its communitarian particularism means justice is defined and determined by the shared understanding of each particular community (Cohen 1986; Daniels 1985; Dworkin 1983; Galston 1989). This construal of justice in terms of the internal beliefs of distinctive communities allegedly results in relativism or conventionalism and deprives him of leverage for criticizing an unjust society (Stassen, 1994: 376). Of course, Stassen believes himself that: Walzers synthesis is genuine. It is not mere



liberalism. The liberal values of life and liberty are more social and have more positive content because they are redefined in a situated context. Because they are grounded in shared understandings and require respect for particular community concepts of the meaning of goods, they do not erode communitarian values as Enlightenment principles have done (Ibid: 397). According to Stassen Walzers incisive opposition to domination, including economic and sexist domination, is a strong liberation theme. He argues that the project that Walzer has started is more than a synthesis of disparate traditions. It has roots in the Jewish tradition of justice, reiteration, and Talmudic interpretation that predates the Enlightenment, and in the Puritan Revolutions tradition of democracy and human rights (Walzer 1965 and 1990b). Walzer believes there is truth in the shared understandings of communities that is not reducible to group interests, even though the shared understandings are neither discovered nor guaranteed by deduction from some rationally detached, hypothetical, universal original position (John Rawls) or ideal speech situation (Jurgen Habermas). Stassen says in most recent writing, Rawls and Habermas increasingly emphasize this reflective equilibrium or historically situated side of their method, and they accept the criticisms of their work lodged by Walzer and Seyla Benhabib (1994: 395). Reformation of the power structure in society occurs through the establishment of political democracy, development of market institution, being a development-oriented government, participation in enormous social decision making also division and sharing of power in various aspects of social, economic, political. Social Justice and power structure in society are the issues that directly depended on each other. Reformation of the power structure and sharing social decision making ability and economic

payments are appearing sustainable social justice in the long term. Social Justice from the view of Islamic texts and thinkers In the Quran, Social Justice is expressed as one of the goals of prophets when they were chosen as Gods messenger. Discussion on justice has long precedent in the history of Islam. So, the main and common purpose of all prophets was the establishment of justice at the level of human society. However, since Islam is a multi-dimensional religion and is considered a way of life which provides guidelines for different social and economic areas it has emphasized on justice more than other religions. But the difference between the Islamic approach, in general, and the Shiite Islam, in particular, is that Islam has not merely spoken about religious justice because the concept of justice has an independent reality. Therefore, it is the religion that should be just rather than justice being religious. To know about the importance given to justice by Islam one should look into the Glorious Quran and not anywhere else. As a matter of fact, the main cause of Muslims concern about justice in its different forms is the Quran itself. In this verse, it is stated: we sent our messengers with clear proofs so all humans may behave justly and the principle of justice among humans be established (Quran, 27: 57). Quran stated: O Mankind, We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes (these are not preference criterion), that you may know each other. Verily the most honored of you in the sight of God is he who is the most righteous of you (Quran, 49:13). In the Quran, all the Islamic principles and objectives from monotheism to resurrection and from prophecy to the Imamate, from the individual ideals to social goals are based on justice. For instance, this article can be found in the

following verses: Allah commands you justice and doing good (16: 90), Be fair; that is nearer to Godwariness (5: 8), and If you do judge between people judge justly.(4:58). From the view of the Quran, God created the human existence moderate; and justice also has a special place in the creation of human. There is a potential in the human existence that can realize whatever is worthy as well as good and bad for him. This is the Moral conscience. The mechanism that has been presented in Islam in order to prevent injustice and discrimi-

nation and also to realize justice includes denial of any particular privileges for rulers or specific social groups. Responsibility is a divine opportunity to serve the people not the opportunity to loot them. Another mechanism is attention to social mobility. Community members are free to promote on the basis of effort and merit from a social base to another one and the government should provide the fields of social mobility for those that have merit equally. In human societies there are always those who are deprived of material wealth and resources because of



natural or unnatural causes and are known as the poor or lower class. This group may be deprived of access to many social opportunities due to lack of wealth and financial power, and lack of protection of them will be effective in their backwardness, also wastage of individual and social rights. Islamic social justice demands that it uses the assets and capabilities of enjoying groups in order to improve the living standards of the lower class; and enjoying groups of society are obliged to provide a part of underdevelopment requirements and Islamic social justice not only considers it justly but also necessary. Islam emerged at the time when unjust social relations and outrageous social stratification dominated human society. The two great empires of that time that ruled over the major parts of the world had a ruling system which was based on oppressive social stratification. On the other hand, the Prophet (pbuh) was sent to promote Islam in a region where the worst form of social stratification prevailed. In Arabia, during those days, justice and equality were out of question and class difference stood at its peak. In that region, families lived which considered themselves more superior to oth-

ers and believed that they should have special privileges and as a result behaved arrogantly towards other people. It was in such a dusty discriminatory environment dominated by the class system that Islam came up with a justice-based religious system that was evidently in conflict with the foundations of inequality. Rahman (1970) argues the way of Muhammad and the Quran would be to bring about a social revolution on a moral basis - to create common welfare by common endeavour for sharing fruits equitably. According to him this is a difficult task but by no means an impossible one. A pure sense of social purpose and commitment can be created by a sincere and earnest change in the attitudes and orientation of all concerned - the industrialist, the trader, the government personnel, the teacher, the ulema and the worker. He says basic principles and social objectives should be elicited from the Quran and an integrated social reconstruction program formulated. The equitable sharing of austerities and sacrifices must be undertaken and must appear to be undertaken. Differences in mans abilities and skills and their just requital is patently

recognized by Islam but what Islam refuses to recognize is an unjust and inhuman disparity. (Rahman, 1970: 9). Discussion on justice has a long precedent in the history of Islam. The question of determinism and freewill was introduced, in a way, with the discussions on the concept of justice, because, on the one hand, there is a direct relationship between option and justice and compulsion and denial of justice, on the other hand. In other words, it is only under such circumstances that reward and just punishment for ones actions would make sense. Those advocating free will came to be known as the Mutazilites while the group supporting the idea of determinism were called Asharis. In the Asharis view God Almighty is the source and the criterion for justice while according to the Mutazilites justice is the truth that forms the essence of Gods plans and actions. According to the latter group, concepts like right, to be right and not to be right existed even before Islam (Motahari, 1377: 7475). However, it was Islam that defined laws and practices for the establishment of right and justice. On the other hand, in the view of the Asharis the concept of justice and injustice has no independent reality and should rather be defined by religion. Thus, when justice is the benchmark, the prevailing oppressive conditions of human society are no longer justified and one where it would be impossible to deceive the public with the justification that it is a religious decree. Some people define justice as equality and believe that equality means that all human beings should live under equal conditions. They say justice means all people should be equal in everything. However, this type of justice requires imposed equality in favor of who dont attempt to improve their status in the society. (Motahari, 1368: 149- 150) In fact, this is a Marxist outlook that sought to create a class-

less society by eliminating free competitions and market system that failed in practice and destroyed the natural order of the society which should be based on the free will and choice. Yet, it would be possible to regard justice as equality if what we mean by justice is providing equal opportunity to everyone in order to allow them to flourish their talents and aptitudes. In the opinion of Ayatollah Motahari, a contemporary philosopher and Islamic scholar, innate and natural rights are rooted in the fact that the system of creation leads the creatures toward the perfection for which they have been created and for the attainment of which, they have been blessed with certain talents. He emphasizes that natural talent is considered the basis of a natural right. For example, the human child has the right to study and go to school. But a lamb doesnt have that right, why? Because a human child is blessed with the aptitude for studying and being literate, but a sheep is not. Besides natural rights that the source of which is the book of nature and creation, owing to their different talents and aptitudes, human beings are also different from the legal point of view. But all humans should have equal social rights and should be treated equally. In other words, all humans have equal and similar civil rights and their differences lie in their acquired rights, which depend upon their work and efforts. A study of human nature shows that unlike bees humans arent born as chiefs or subordinates, superiors or inferiors, commanders or soldiers, workers or employer, etc. The organization of human life is not natural in essence. That is to say positions and the duties have not been pre-determined by nature. As a matter of fact, what is condemned is discrimination, which is against the essence of justice, and not differences and inequalities (Motahari, 1361: 101- 102). Islams approach to justice lies somewhere



between Marxism and liberalism. Marxists believe that social justice implies that everyone, in every situation and condition and with any sort of job and any talent, must enjoy similar livelihood. From the view of this group, all people should, in fact, receive ration. Everyone should work according to his capacity and in return should receive incomes as per their needs. In contrast, in liberalism social justice depends on individuals and their independence. In this opinion, one should be given the opportunity to flourish his individuality and his political and economic freedom should not be hindered. As Walter Connor (1979: 25) has observed, most socialist societies were characterized by an unresolved conflict between different conceptions of justice, evident in the policy disputes that separated those whom he describes as <ideological egalitarians from their <pragmatic reformist opponents (Marshal, 1996: 399). In emphasis on public virtue and justice, for example, civil Islam, if anything, recalls earlier Western traditions of civic republicanism (elements of which run through some variants of Western communitarianism today) rather than secular liberalism. To put the matter a bit differently, Muslim democrats tend be more civil democratic or Tocquevillian than they are (Atlantic) liberal in spirit. They also insist that society involves more than autonomous individuals, and democracy more than markets and the state (Henfer, 2001: 499). Conclusion: Justice is not only a personal virtue that can act as a positive driving force against the urges

of lust and ambitions and keep man in balance, but is also a social principle and criterion for social decisions and behavior. Justice is a virtue for both individuals and social institutions. The concept of justice as an issue with merely economic dimension has lost its credibility. Similarly, the notion that justice is an issue concerning distribution that could be achieved by the state through depriving individuals of their free will and private ownership has raised serious doubts. Justice could not even be regarded as a luxury and a secondary issue in a free market system that could be provided by a series of restorative measures in a liberal system. One of the basis of balanced community (society in which everyone could enjoy his rights) is the existence of an economic system, in which, besides individual interests, social interests and common goods, too, are taken into consideration. Another basis of social justice is the existence of a political system that can create the opportunity for individuals to be able to freely and according to their talents and interests, choose their own path and have equal opportunity to compete with others. In this sense, social justice joins hands with democracy and equal distribution of power in society. From the viewpoint of Islam, justice is not only a contractual agreement. Justice is based on the right and good. In Islamic texts the effect of social justice on increasing the life of the sovereignty is explained. The Prophet (peace be upon him) stated: If a society is fair and balanced then it will survive, although people are infidels, if in a society tyranny and ex-

tortion emerged due to differences and the ups and downs, consequently that society will not remain although people are Muslim according to opinion ... Besides emphasizing on justice and equality for all human beings and opposing any kind of discrimination Islam regards it achievable through the reformation of the political system, public participation in decision-making and creating equal opportunity for everyone, particularly the minority communities of every society, as well as the prevention of any form of monopoly of economic and political power. Exercising social justice and respect towards the rights of human beings calls for peaceful coexistence in every society and at the international level. References:
1. Quran 2. Amdur, Robert (1977) Rawls Theory of Justice: Domestic and International Perspectives, World Politics, Vol. 29, No. 3 (Apr., 1977), pp. 438-461 3. Berryman, Phillip (1987) Liberation Theology: essential facts about the revolutionary movement in Latin America and beyond 4. Berlin, Isaiah (1969) Four Essays on Libert, Collective Choice and Social Welfare, 1970, Holden-Day, 1984, Elsevier. 5. Durkheim, Emile( [1895] 1983), The Rules of Sociological Method and Selected Texts on Sociology and Its Method, New York: Free Press. 6. Hefner, Robert W. (2001),Public Islam and the Problem of Democratization, Sociology of Religion, Vol. 62, No. 4, Special Issue: Religion and Globalization at the Turn of the Millennium (Winter, 2001), pp. 491514 Published by: Oxford University Press. 7. Isaiah, Berlin (1965) Four Essays on Liberty, John Rawls (2003)Political Liberalism, Columbia University Press 8. John Rawls, A Theory of Justice (TJ), Cambridge etc. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1971, 9. Marion, Iris (1989), Polity and Group Difference,

Ethics, Vol. 99, No. 2 (Jan., 1989), pp. 250-274 10. Marshall, Gordon ( 1996), Was Communism Good for Social Justice? : A Comparative Analysis of the Two ermanies, The British Journal of Sociology, Vol. 47, No. 3, (Sep.,1996), pp. 397-420 11. Motahari, Morteza,Adle elahi (Divine justice) (1361),, Tehran: Sadra publish 12. Motahari, Morteza, Majmooe Asar (Collected Works), vol. 1 (1361),,Tehran: Sadra publish 13. Motahari, Morteza, Piramoone enghelabe eslami (about the Islamic Revolution) (1368),, Tehran: Sadra publish 14. Nursing ethics: across the curriculum and into practice By Janie B. Butts, Karen Rich, Jones and Bartlett Publishers 2005 15. Political liberalism, Columbia University Press, 1996 16. Rawls John (2000), A Theory of Justice, Oxford University Press. 17. Rahman, Fazlur (1970), Islam and Social Justice, Pakistan Forum, Vol. 1, No. 1 (Oct. - Nov., 1970), pp. 4-5+9, Published by: Middle East Research and Information Project (2010). 18. Sen, Amartya (1970) Collective Choice and Social Welfare, Holden-Day, 1984, Elsevier. 19. Sen, Amartya (1973) On Economic Inequality, New York, Norton, 1973. 20. Schoenfeld, Euge (1989) Durkheims Concept of Justice and its Relationship to Social Solidarity, Sociological Analysis, Vol. 50, No. 2, p. 111-127. 21. Stassen, Glen(1994) Michael Walzers Situated Justice, The Journal of Religious Ethics, Vol. 22, No. 2 , pp. 375-399. 22. Walzer, Michael, Spheres of Justice: A Defence of Pluralism and Equality, New York, Basic Books, 1983, p. xiv 23. Wilkins, Burleigh T. (1997), A Third Principle of Justice, Journal of Ethics, Vol. 1, No. 4, pp.335-374 24. Young, Iris (1990)Justice and the Politics of Difference (Princeton University Press, 25. Zajda, J., S. Majhanovich,S., Rust, V.( 2006), Education and Social Justice



Abstract Throughout human history, religion has been a source of conflict, violence, and division among people rather than a resource for peace, unity and harmony. Today, despite growing awareness to the contrary, religions (and even rival groups within religions) continue to claim to have sole possession of the truth, and those who disagree with them are wrong and are to be refuted, even physically repressed and persecuted. However, in the midst of all the existing hostilities and rivalries among people of faith, there is a growing realization and recognition that religion with its highest teachings and ideals -- has not only a calling but a clear moral responsibility to act for mutual respect, understanding and cooperation among all peoples in these challenging times. An increasing number of faith practitioners from different religious traditions around the world believe that acts of hostility and violence against those who do not share their culture and beliefs betray the true spirit and teachings of their faith. It is in this light of awareness that this presentation will attempt to bring to the fore the urgent call of great peace advocates and visionaries of faith around the world -- a call to be the change that we wish to see in the world! that Mahatma Ghandi thus compellingly expressed, one that is heard emanating from the deepest core of all faith traditions urging all to live up to the highest teachings and ideals of their respective faith traditions by practicing self-awareness and transformation, and contributing to the common endeavor of realizing our noblest human aspirations for peace, justice, and healing of the Earth and all living beings.

The Role of Religions in Bringing About Social Change

By: Marites Guingona Africa Founder and Executive Director The Peacemakers Circle Foundation, Inc.



In my endeavors to build relationships of mutual respect, understanding and cooperation between and among peoples of diverse cultures and beliefsespecially in grassroots communities in Metro Manila where Muslims and Christians live together as neighbors--I have come to recognize and appreciate the value of religion and its bearing on the affairs of people in community and society. Whether we like it or not, religion is a powerful force that can be used as a reason to exclude, hurt and annihilate fellow human beings, or as a healing and nurturing force that can bring about the change that we wish to see in our world. By and large, religion influences the way people perceive themselves in relation to the world around them, the decisions that they make and the actions that they take. Religion, or even the lack of it, impacts the quality of human relationships one way or another. And for those who are faithful adherents of it, religion can be perceived as an inimitable part of their identity. Throughout human history, religion has been used as a source of conflict and division rather than as a resource for peace, justice and healing. In these trying times, when the wellbeing of our entire human race and the planet Earth is threatened by the very advances in science and technology that we have in our power to useadvances that have produced sophisticated computers and gadgets that enable us to communicate with fellow human beings from opposite ends of the earth in matters of seconds; or annihilate the world and change the face of the Earth as we know it, in an instant--religion

has not only an urgent calling, but a clear moral responsibility to act for peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings. In the midst of the grave challenges that beleaguer our 21st century world, religions can no longer afford not to respond from the heart of its values and teachings if it is to remain true to its calling. People of faith from the different religions and faith traditions of the world need to realize and embody the ideals and teachings of their faith and engage in various forms of dialogue with people of other faiths. Religion, as a force for positive change, must serve as a sturdy container that holds humankind--in all its diversity--together without breaking. It can be the glue that can make unity in diversity possible in our midst. Faith communities facing the ravages of violence wrought by natural calamities, poverty, injustice and war, have in their power to bring to the fore their highest values and teachings in safeguarding the wellbeing of all living beings and the entire planet Earth; they can serve as the third side (as renowned author of The Third Side, William Ury, puts it) that can bridge opposing views and heal the wounds resulting from the polarities created by our human propensity for either-or dualistic thinking. Today, the need is urgent for peoples of faith to respond to the call for help in addressing the various pressing concerns of our time. Religions must encourage and inspire individual and collective action among its followers in favor of positive social change. We, people of faith from different religions and faith traditions of the world, must come

together in the Oneness of God to a common ground, a sacred space of mutual respect, understanding and cooperation in the midst of our diversity, and create safe spaces for various forms of dialogue to transpire among usthe dialogue of life, action, theological discourse and worshipso that we can encourage and help each other bring to the fore the highest teachings and ideals of our respective faith traditions to bear on the affairs of the world. In so doing, we protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our entire Earth community from the darkness of our fears that lead us nowhere but to the distortion of our faiths teachings, to attitudes and acts of prejudice, discrimination, and violence; and ultimately to our own destruction. All religions hold in themselves ideals, values and teachings that resonate with and speak to the noblest hopes, dreams and aspirations of humankind. Although the teachings of one faith tradition may be meaningful to some individuals or groups of individuals and not to others, diversity of religions is, I believe, part of the divine scheme of things and God speaks to all human beings in a language (and a faith tradition) that human beings, in their different and unique ways, would understand. Despite their differences in practice and beliefs, there is, at the heart of all religions, something that is inherent to faith shared and valued by all faith traditions: respect for all life, and the Golden Rule that articulates the universal noble attitude of heart that desires for others what one desires for oneself. The power of religion, therefore, lies not merely on its

appeal to the human beings inherent need for self-transcendence, for answers to fundamental questions about life and afterlife, and for finding meaning in life despite all its difficult challenges and paradoxes, but also in its capacity to promote mutual respect, understanding and cooperation, unity in diversity, and peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings. Religion is, therefore, a powerful force for social change in the world. It has been said that the only constant in life is change. People, relationships among people, their circumstances, and just about everything that we can think of, do change! Some changes are for the better, while others leave us with only a deeper yearning for what we desire and hope for. My interfaith dialogue and peacebuilding work these past twelve years has been inspired by the desire to respond to the need to bring about change for the better in the relationships among peoples of diverse cultures and beliefs. The compelling words of the renowned peace advocate Mahatma Gandhi--Be the change that you wish to see in the world!-fueled my endeavors with the conviction that I too can be part of the movement for a better world. It seems to me that, with our growing awareness of the challenges that plague our collective human existence, the desire for change on various areas of life is increasing in intensity on a global scale. In the Philippines, Benigno Noynoy Aquino III (P-Noy, as he is called by Filipinos) won the recent presidential elections by a landslide because Filipinos wanted change.



Elsewhere, peoples initiatives and projects addressing various concerns for change have been launched and promoted, local and international organizations and institutions that have been created in the past, or are just being created, are struggling to find ways of being relevant, and change has become a popular byword of our times. But, change comes slowly, unfolding ever so subtly on various levels in our midst that, more often than not, we hardly even notice it happening. For those expecting swift and discernible outcomes, patience tends to wear out easily and the easiest way of coping with frustration is to complain, criticize, blame, protest against, renounce, or remove those whom they perceive to be obstacles to change, or are faulty instruments of it. Few are wont to see themselves as part of the big picture of change unfolding, of being involved in the process and, therefore, partly responsible and accountable for its outcomes.

For those expecting little or nothing, everything or nothing may come as a surprise, and life goes on, as always, perhaps either happily or helplessly, whatever their disposition and circumstances may be. But, for those practitioners of faith who have committed to be instruments change, there is the challenge of active waiting to face, and the aspiration of being the change that they wish to see to live up to and realize. My own awakening to the need to actively participate in and contribute to the process of change in a sphere broader than my own happened twelve years ago when I began to question why people of faith fight each other in the name of God. I was struck by the thought that throughout human history, religion has been a source of conflict rather than a resource for peace among people. Why? I asked. Why cant religion--with its values, teachings and ideals about love, peace, charity, good will to all, submission to the will of God, etc.be a unifying

rather than a divisive force that alienates people from one another? And what is my Catholic Christian faith calling me to do in the midst of all the violence and destruction happening around me? How can I truly respond to the call to love? When my interfaith friends and I established The Peacemakers Circle Foundation in Metro Manila in 2001, our vision was inspired by the ideals articulated in the Preamble, Purpose and Principles of the United Religions Initiative (URI), a global interfaith community of people working in their respective grassroots locales to promote enduring daily interfaith cooperation, end religiously motivated violence, and create cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings. My passion for interfaith dialogue and relationship-building grew through the years, along with my growing commitment to the endeavor. But I learned early on that being a catalyst of change and an instrument of peace in my Catholic faith tradition was easier said than done. Being a peacemaker struggling to create cultures of peace, justice and healing among people of diverse cultures and beliefs demanded from me a deeper awareness of my own inner workings, and a much more conscious effort to be the change within (that I wished to see outside of me) than I was initially prepared for, or thought myself capable of. In my endeavors I have experienced a tendency, even among esteemed colleagues committed to change, to focus largely on peacemaking as a means to an end rather than also as an end in itself, on the goal rather than also the process. Though we speak of effecting positive change for peace, justice and healing in our midst, our ways of being--of thinking, feeling, and actingtowards one another remain wanting of change. We expend much of our time and energies trying to level the playing field searching for similarities among us that, in the process, we fail to listen to, respect and appreciate those whose

views or ways of being differ from our own. It is ironic that, in our desire to attain peace, we find it more expedient to deal with those whom we perceive to be obstacles to it in ways that belie the very principles and essence of peace. By and large, it is easier to demonize, exclude, and even remove them from our organizations, institutions, communities, etc., rather than to recognize and respect their position, interests, values and needs and make room for our differences to enrich our relationships and move our shared endeavors further forward. Indeed, it takes time and energy to listen to each other with the heart rightly, and to create safe spaces for our differences to be heard, respected, and even appreciated. More often than not, the willingness to humble ourselves and open up to the possibility of actually allowing our differences to enrich our relationships remains in the domain of the noble ideal requiring painstaking and tedious inner work to realize, and is therefore an option that is least taken. We do not seem to want to make time and invest in making peace an inimitable part of our ways of being in this world with one another. But, what then is the point? Why engage in dialogue and relationship-building with people of diverse cultures and beliefs if our efforts cannot bring about change for the better in the midst of our differences? Why call ourselves followers of our faithtrue Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews--if our faith cannot enable us to relate with fellow human beingsfellow creatures in the Oneness of God--with respect and appreciation not only for what we have in common as human beings, but also for the richness that our differences bring to our shared earthly place of dwelling? To be a true follower of our religion and a faithful practitioner of our faith is to be an interfaith peacemaker. It is not easy to be such, for peace is an ideal that many aspire for but fail to live up to. Peacemaking calls for one to embark



on a spiritual journey of constant self awakening, purifying and renewal that many find tedious and unnecessary. My Muslim friends call this inner struggle, jihad dun nafs, the struggle of overcoming the enemy within. The different religions and faith traditions have various methods and ways of battling the enemy within prescribed for its practitioners. At the common ground and sacred space that The Peacemakers Circle is striving to constantly create, this practice is called Inner Work. Inner work is essential to outer service. It is also an inimitable part of dialogue, particularly INTRA-faith dialogue. If interfaith dialogue is to succeed in promoting mutual respect, understanding and cooperation, and unity in diversity in our midst, INTRA-faith dialogue is necessary. Intra-faith dialogue is a process that enables practitioners of faith in their respective religions and faith traditions to re-signify their faith in the sitz im leiben or context of the current times. What is the meaning of my being a Christian, or a Muslim, or a Jew, a Buddhist, a Hindu, etc. in these 21st century world? What is the urgent call of my faith today? What are its core teachings and beliefs that honor Gods creation and enable me to live in the spirit of humility, love, justice, respect, understanding and cooperation even with others who do not

share my faith? Inner work, Intra-faith dialogue, and interfaith peace- and relationship-building are threefold aspects of the process necessary to bringing about the change that people of faith wish to see in the world. These are inimitable to the endeavor of re-signifying the faith so that it is able to respond to the difficult and myriad challenges of this 21st century world. In this endeavor, there are at least three essential characteristics that a faith practitioner--who is to be a catalyst of change--needs to cultivate and realize in the process. These are: clarity of vision, depth of conviction, and integrity of co-creative action. Of primary importance to being the change that we wish to see is our capacity to see with the heart rightly. In interfaith dialogue and relationship-building, clarity of vision in the light of faith allows us to see through the darkness of our fears and anxieties and find our way to that sacred place within usthat common ground-where we can truly meet with the other in the spirit of oneness despite our differences, and where our silences can speak and our hearts can truly listen. It is there where moral imagination is awakened and transformative action is inspired. Moral imagination, as defined by John Paul Lederach (renowned lecturer and trainer on Conflict Transformation and Peacebuilding,

and author of the book Moral Imagination: Art and Soul of Building Peace) is the capacity to imagine something while rooted in the challenges of the real world yet capable of giving birth to that which does not yet exist. Seeing with the heart rightly is essential to the moral imagination, as is the ability to create something new--new ways of attaining and realizing our highest collective human potentials for goodwhile being rooted in the difficult realities of our physical world. Clarity of vision inspires conviction, fuels passion, and gives a sense of direction to our actions. What we see with our heart rightly gives rise to questions within us that compel us to seek for answers. In this process of seeking to find answers, we find little fragments of our selves coming together, making healing, wholeness and self-renewal possible. This process of deepening in understanding and appreciation for our faith that interfaith dia-

logue and relationship-building brings returns us to a deeper remembrance of and appreciation for our divine origin and true destiny in God. With the light of our faith illumining our hearts and igniting our passion for all that is true and good for humankind and all living beings, conviction deepens, courage is fueled, and creative ways of responding to the myriad challenges to our collective wellbeing is inspired. Something new and good, and positively transformative can come to be. Indeed, if we people of faith from the different religions and faith traditions respect our differences and agree to come together (in the spirit of unity and diversity) in finding creative, life-giving, respectful, and just ways of honoring the sanctity of all life and responding to the challenges of our times, we can impact our world in ways that promote peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings.



The Focolare Movement

By: Dr. Younes Nourbakhsh Esmaeel Hajhashemi By: Dr. Lolita L. Castillo Assistant Professor, De La Salle University, Manila

on Interfaith Dialogue for Peaceful Coexistence

Abstract Amidst the background of World War II, the Focolare Movement began. By now, when we speak of Focolare Movement (in English, family fireside), we will be referring to the members and collaborators of this big family of about 5 million coming from 182 countries who are from the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church, about 300 Christian Churches, Animists, Buddhist, Taoists to name a few. This movement is inclusive as it seeks to build relationships among individuals, among groups and among nations. It proposes, promotes and builds peace among people of every language, race, nationality and religion. What creates peace? What creates peace is the love that lives deep in the heart of every human being. Love means participation in the very love that is the life of God. This love can mean benevolence expressed in the Golden Rule which is a tenet of many religions: Do unto others what you want them do to you. It is love, therefore, a human-divine love which does not exclude purely human love, and which brings harmonious relationships and peace. Then how can religions bring peace? I think it is through interfaith dialogue. These dialogues emphasize values of faiths and cultures. It is emphasizes going deeper in ones faith and living out the sacred writings, for example the Holy Bible for the Christians, the Holy Quran for the Muslims, the Sanskrit for the Hindus, etc. To build peace is an arduous task. However it is also a fulfilling task. We are meant to be global citizens and all called by the Most High to universal brotherhood. Building peace through interfaith dialogue is the most powerful means of giving humanity its highest dignity; a dignity which lies in being not just persons or communities living side by side and frequently in conflict with one another, but rather in being a single people, enriched by one anothers diversity and safeguarding each ones identity. In international relations, there is a general consensus on the part of leading figures concerning the needs to re-read the meaning of reciprocity, one of the cornerstones of international relationships. And reciprocity lies at the basis of this spirituality of the Focolare. It is a reciprocity which calls us to go beyond the logic of particular alliances, and instead to establish relations with everyone, as required by true love. It asks us to take the initiative, without pre-conditions and expectations. It leads us to see the other as our other self and therefore to view every type of initiative in these terms, whether it concerns disarmament, development, or cooperation. It is reciprocity capable of leading each person actively involved in international life to identify with the other and with the others needs and capabilities; not only in emergency situations but in the circumstances of everyday life. As we all know, it is not enough to exclude war; the conditions must be created in which every people can love the others country as its own, in a reciprocal, unselfish giving relationship.



The topic given me for this presentation is: The Role of Religions for Peaceful Coexistence. But, I have focused my talk on the experience of the Focolare Movement on Interfaith Dialogue for Peaceful Coexistence. Today I represent the Focolare Movement: a multi- ethnic, multi- racial and multi-faith movement. My presentation will be given in two parts: a 20--minute oral presentation and a 10-minute audio-visual. The Focolare Movement is but one of many organizations or movements that work for interfaith dialogue and peaceful coexistence. The word focolare is an Italian word that means fireplace, where the family gathers together. The Focolare Movement started in Trent, in Northern Italy in 1943 during the Second World War. Chiara Lubich, 23 years old, and some girls, friends of hers, ran to the airraid shelters, as bombs fell night and day. They took with them the small book of the Gospel which they tried to live to the letter as best they could. Hence, they grew in number. From eight girls to a community of 500 people who wanted to live the Gospel as well. Through their reciprocal love, they generated peace and many were attracted.The Focolare Movement now refers to members and collaborators of the Focolare, a big family of around 8 million from 182 countries, composed of Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Taoists and Animists and many others. Together, without losing their identities as

followers of their own religions, these members and collaborators of the Focolare Movement seek to build relationships for peaceful coexistence among individuals, groups, and nations of every language, race, and religion. Chiara Lubich affirms that the forces of Evil threatening peaceful coexistence cannot be opposed only by human, diplomatic, political and military means. Rather, Evil can be opposed by spiritual forces, with prayer, for example, with fasting, especially in the month of Ramadan or during Lent. In a world like ours, equality, solidarity, and justice are mandatory! There is a great need to move hearts! This is why we need to spread the idea and practice of brotherhood to meet this unprecedented challenge. Here Chiara Lubich declares that the contribution of religions is decisive. Where, if not in the great Faith Traditions can a strategy of brotherhood start, a strategy capable of determining a turning point even in international relationships? Undoubtedly, the international order could be influenced positively by actions springing from religious sentiments. Lubich asserts that spiritual and moral resources, the contribution of ideas, aspirations to justice, commitment in favor of the needy, along with political leverage of millions of believers could channel into the field of human relations for peaceful co-existence. In the face of a strategy of death and hatred, the only valid response is to build peace in justice. But there is no peace without brotherhood.

Only brotherhood among individuals and peoples can guarantee a future of living together in peace. Brotherly love is written in the hearts of every human being. The golden rule, said Mahatma Gandhi, is to be friends of the world and to consider as one the whole human family. And Martin Luther King: I have a dream that one day we will realize that all men were created to live together as brothers and that brotherhood will become the order of the day for businessmen and politicians alike. Along the same lines, the Dalai Lama, commenting what happened in the United States on September 11, 2001, wrote to his followers: The reasons (for the events of these days) are clear to us. (...) Weve forgotten the most basic human truths. () We are all one. This is the message that the human race has greatly ignored. Forgetting this truth is the only cause of hatred and war. In spite of the destruction then, one great, age-old truth can emerge even from the debris of destruction: that all of us on earth are one big family. Jesus prayed for unity before He died: Father, may they all be one (Jn 17:21). In revealing that God is our Father and consequently, that we are all brothers and sisters, He introduced the idea of universal brotherhood. In doing so He knocked down the walls which separated the same from the different, friends from enemies. Now undoubtedly each one of us, prompted by our own religious faith, has had positive ex-

periences. We must draw spiritual strength from our religions and help humanity today and lead it toward solidarity and peace. As people get in touch with the Focolare they try to practice that word (love) which is inscribed in the life of e every person, created in the image of God who is Love. God wants everyone to love as He does, making no distinctions. We cannot choose between the pleasant and the unpleasant, the beautiful and the not so beautiful, the white, the black or the yellow, the European or the American, the Christian or the Jew, the Muslim or the Hindu. Love knows no form of discrimination. A Muslim maxim says: God forgives a hundred times, but He reserves His greatest mercy for those whose piety has spared the smallest of His creatures. And what shall we say of the boundless compassion for every living being taught by Buddha, who said to his first disciples: Oh Monks, you should work for the wellbeing of many, for the happiness of many, moved by compassion for the world, for the wellbeing of men and women. For a Christian, everyone must be loved because it is Christ whom we love in each person. One day He Himself will tell us: You did it to me. Therefore, in all these it means: To love everyone without distinction. But this love has other characteristics which is known by all religions because it is contained in all the sacred books. If it is lived out, this



rule would be sufficient in and of itself to make universal brotherhood, a reality: To love each person as ourselves, to do to others what you would have them do to you, and not do to others what you would not have them do to you. The Golden Rule. Mahatma Gandhi affirmed: You and I are one and the same thing. I cannot hurt you without harming myself. In the Islam tradition it is known in these terms: None of you is a true believer until you desire for your brother or sister what you desire for yourself. The Gospel announces it in this way: Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. Thus this simple norm, sowed by the Spirit in all religions, contains a concentrate of all Gods commands. Great importance should be given to it then in interfaith dialogue. From this rule which is rightly called golden rule flows a norm which, if applied, could on its own provide the greatest impetus towards bringing harmony among individuals and groups. Another way through which Chiara Lubich

teaches how to practice true love towards others is expressed by a simple formula, made up of only three words: make yourself one. Making ourselves one with others means making their worries, their thoughts, their sufferings, their joys, our own. Furthermore, one must be the first one to love. This tests the authenticity and purity of love, therefore, its real capacity to generate peace and universal brotherhood. To be the first in loving means not to wait for the other person to take the first step but to make the first move, to take the initiative. We have been created as a gift for one another and we fulfill ourselves by striving to love our brothers and sisters with a love that makes the first move before any gesture of love on their part. This is what all the great founders of religions teach us with their lives. Jesus gave us the example, He who said: No one has greater love than this, to lay down ones life for ones friends. He really did give His life. Furthermore, when two or more persons live this love, the premise and most solid foundation for peace and brotherhood in the world is

fulfilled. We know from experience that whoever wants to move the mountains of hate and violence in todays world, faces an enormous and heavy task. But what is beyond the strength of millions of separated, isolated individuals becomes possible for those who firmly believe and put into practice mutual love, understanding and unity as the guiding force of their lives. There is a reason, a secret key, and a name for all this. When we enter into dialogue among ourselves of the most various religions, that is, when we are open to the other in a dialogue made of human kindness, reciprocal esteem, respect, mercy, we are also opening ourselves to God and, in the words of Pope John Paul II, we let God be present in our midst. This is the great effect of our mutual love and the secret force which gives vigor and success to our efforts to bring peace and universal brotherhood everywhere. It is what the Gospel announces to Christians when it says that if two or more are united in genuine love, Christ Himself is present among them and therefore in each one of them. And what greater guarantee than the presence of God, what greater opportunity can there

be for those who want to be instruments of brotherhood and peace? This mutual love and brotherhood gives great joy to those who practice it. However, it calls for commitment, daily application and sacrifice. And this is where one particular word, in the language of Christians, appears in all its brilliance and power. Its one that the world does not want to hear, a word it considers foolish, absurd, futile. This word is the cross. Nothing good, nothing useful, nothing fruitful for the world can be achieved without meeting and accepting weariness and suffering; in a word, without the cross. Committing oneself to live mutual love always, to bring peace and promote brotherhood is not something to be taken lightly! It calls for courage, knowing how to suffer. What I have explained is not a utopia. It is a reality that has been lived for more than half a century by millions of people, a pilot experience of that universal brotherhood and unity we all long for. Loving in this way has given rise in our Movement to fruitful dialogues: among Christians from many Churches, among believers of



various religions, and with people of the most varied cultures. Together we move toward that fullness of truth we all strive for. Our first noteworthy experience was in contact with the Bangwa people, a Cameroon tribe rooted in the traditional religion. They were on their way to extinction because of the high infant mortality rate and we had begun to live with them. One day their head, the Fon, and thousands of members of his people, gathered for a celebration in a large open space in the middle of the forest to offer us their songs and dances. Well, it was there that Chiara Lubich had the strong impression that God, like an immense sun, was embracing all of them with His love. Today, a citadel in the Cameroons in Africa has developed with Christians and Animists living side by side. Their king openly declared that the inhabitants who live the life of love never present any problems. They resolve everything among themselves with love; they do not fight over land boundaries they define them in harmony and live in peace. In fact, they do not rob from one another; they do not injure and much less kill; they find solutions to all their family problems because

they support the family with total solidarity; they defend life, which has always been greatly appreciated by the African culture, at all ages; they respect authority and again in accord with their culture, they have profound esteem for the elderly; they look after their health; they are incredibly generous; illiteracy is diminishing: And all these leads to peace. In 1982, a Japanese Buddhist leader, Rev. Nikkyo Niwano, founder of the Rissho Koseikai, invited Chiara to Tokyo to speak of her spiritual experience to ten thousand Buddhists. Afterwards, a great brotherhood began between the Focolare Movement and the followers of the Rissho Kosei-kai wherever they meet in the world. But the most surprising meetings with Buddhists came about with outstanding representatives of Thai monasticism. In our international citadel of Loppiano, in Italy where a thousand inhabitants seek to live the Gospel faithfully two Buddhists leaders who came for an extended stay, were deeply touched by the unity among all and by Christian love, which they were not familiar with. Thus the obstacles fell which up until then had prevented a true dialogue between them

Buddhists, and us Christians. When the two leaders returned to Thailand, they missed no opportunity to tell thousands of Buddhist faithful and hundreds of monks about their experience in meeting with the Focolare Movement. This gave life to a Buddhist-Christian Movement which is a segment of universal brotherhood. Later on, Chiara Lubich was invited to Thailand to address one of their Buddhist universities and in one of their temples to speak to nuns, monks and many lay men and women. Here again, they showed considerable interest, while the Christians, in turn, were edified by their characteristic detachment from everything, by their asceticism. And the dialogue with Muslims? Currently 6,500 Muslim friends collaborate. Again, what links us together is the life of love, in which Muslims find incentives and confirmations for living out and adhering more deeply to the heart of their Islamic spirituality. The

Focolare have held a number of meetings with Muslim friends which have been characterized above all by the presence of God. One is aware of this especially when the Muslims pray fervently and it gives Christians a great hope. The Christians and Muslims in the Focolare Movement has promised one another to continue the journey to the fullest collaboration possible and to extend it to others. Thus, other segments of brotherhood are formed. Our interfaith dialogue in the Focolare Movement had such a rapid and fruitful evolution because the decisive and characteristic element was the life of love which I spoke of earlier. Also today, among us Muslims and Christians let us then fill our hearts with love and zeal. With these, we can hope for all things, it can bring us to peaceful coexistence and we will contribute to universal brotherhood. May God embrace us all with His immense love. Now, the video documentary will follow.



Statement of the Two-day Symposium on Interfaith Dialogue September 15 16, 2010 Sponsored by: Cultural Section Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran Manila In cooperation with Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines Episcopal Commission on Interreligious Dialogue And De La Salle University Manila
This 2-day symposium highlighted the following: Role of religion in peaceful co-existence among communities (Religion and Human Rights, Religion and Peace), Role of religion in social and economic justice in societies, and Role of religion in environmental protection

Done at the Marilen Gaerlan Conservatory of De La Salle University on September 16, 2010. The participants and lecturers discussed the abovementioned topics and tried to find practical ways to evolve a culture of peace which will benefit both the individual and society. They also expressed the critical issue of the lack of social justice in the economy and the present crisis in the world. This symposium was initiated by the Cultural Section, Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran-Manila, in cooperation with the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines Episcopal Commission on Interreligious Dialogue, De La Salle University as well as the Center for Interreligious Dialogue of the Organization of Islamic Culture and Relations of Iran. This is in continuation of the previous symposia on interfaith dialogue held in the Philippines on February 8, 2005 at the Leandro Locsin Hall of the National Commission on Culture and the Arts and on February 6, 2007 at the Auditorium of the University of Santo Tomas. The Iranian delegation comprised

Dr. Mohsen Shojakhani, Deputy Director of the Center for Interreligious Dialogue of the Organization, Iran, Dr. Bagher Talebi Darabi, Faculty Member of the University of Religions and Denominations in Qom, Dr. Younes Nourbakhsh, a sociologist and Assistant Professor of Tehran University, Dr. Mahmood S. Tajar, a writer and researcher and Dr. Mansoor Limba, a writer and researcher from the Philippines. The Filipino delegation is composed of Fr. Vicente Cajilig, OP, Consultant of International Office of Catholic Education Asia, Fr. Leonardo Mercado, a professor of Theology at the University of Santo Tomas and Christ the King Mission Seminary, Dr. Lolita Castillo of the Focolare Movement, Ms. Marites GuingonaAfrica, Founder and Executive Director of the Peacemakers Circle Foundation, Inc. and Dr. Lilian Sison who is the Secretary General of the Religions for Peace Philippines and Dean of Graduate School of the University of Santo Tomas. All the scholars were able to present their papers at the symposium. The official opening of the Symposium on Interfaith Dialogue was



graced by the Iranian Ambassador to the Philippines, H. E. Ali Mojtaba Rouzbehani, Br. Narciso Erquiza, F.S.C., President of De La Salle University, Hon. Shahaboddin Daraei, Cultural Counselor of the Iranian Embassy, Br. Michael Broughton, FSC, Associate Vice-Chancellor for Lasallian Mission of De La Salle University and Fr. Vicente Cajilig, OP, the Consultant at the International Office of Catholic Education Asia. During this two-day symposium, Christian and Muslim scholars presented their papers focusing on different subjects like Human Rights, Peace and Co-existence among the followers of the heavenly religions, protection of the envi-

ronment and the challenges facing it, and other pertinent issues under the aforementioned subjects. Articles presented in five sections, held in the morning and afternoon, were elaborated on in a question and answer portion after each presentation. The dialogue was carried out in a scholarly and cordial atmosphere where there was mutual respect for the others view which further enhanced the development of spiritual relations among the participants, laying the foundation for better understanding and peaceful coexistence. Finally, the following have been agreed upon by the delegates: The indisputable role of reli-

gion in achieving a. Peace b. Justice c. Peaceful co-existence d. Human dignity e. Observation of human rights f. Protection of the environment not only for humans but for all creatures g. Respect for the rights of all religions and their followers h. The upholding of the sanctity of religion that could stop insults and aggression towards religions, heavenly books, religious characters and religious authorities. Also in this symposium the delegates agreed to continue with dialogue towards finding practical ways to nurture and evaluate mutual cooperation

of the centers of interfaith dialogue both in the Philippines and Iran and thus suggested the following: a. Signing of Memorandum of Agreement between the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines Episcopal Commission on Interreligious Dialogue and Deputy Director of the Center for Interreligious Dialogue of the Organization, Iran, the Organization of Islamic Culture and Relations Iran; b. Holding the next symposium on Interfaith Dialogue in 2011 in Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran; and c. Making the necessary preparations for the signing of an MOU between the Center for International Religious Studies of the University of Tehran, Iran and the Pontifical and Royal University of Santo Tomas, Manila, Philippines on performing common scientific researches on mutually agreed subjects. Finally, the participants of this symposium unanimously condemn the recent threat of an American pastor, Terry Jones, to burn copies of the Holy Quran on the anniver-

sary of September 11; a deplorable act which can never be condoned by any Christian who follows the supreme teaching of Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) and once more, as a united body, we emphasize the necessity for mutual respect in religion. The organizers of this event are very much honored by the presence of Hon. Br. Armin Luistro, Secretary of the Department of Education of the Philippines, during the closing ceremony and thank all the participants who contributed to the success of this symposium. Likewise, the participants expressed their gratitude to all who worked hard to make this event possible especially the Cultural Section of the Iranian Embassy, the CBCP ECID, De La Salle University, and most especially to the scholars who enriched the forum with their wellresearched papers and for having been given the chance to participate in such a scholarly gathering of invaluable significance.



on Interfaith Dialogue


After a series of meetings based on the provisions of the signed agreement between the Republic of the Philippines and the Islamic Republic of Iran on science, education and culture signed in Iran by then Foreign Ministers of the respective countries, and in continuation of the dialogues on interfaith held in the previous years, the Cultural Section, Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran Manila and the Center for Inter-religious Dialogue of the Islamic Culture and Relations Organization of the Islamic Republic of Iran on September 15 and 16, 2010, in cooperation with the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines Episcopal Commission on Inter-religious Dialogue and De La Salle University - Manila sponsored the Symposium on Interfaith Dialogue at the Marilen Gaerlan Conservatory of De La Salle University in Manila.

This is the third in a series of symposia that commenced with the February 8, 2005 Symposium on Interfaith Dialogue which was held at the Leandro Locsin Hall of the National Commission on Culture and the Arts in Intramuros. Said gathering was followed by the second symposium held at the Auditorium of the University of Santo Tomas, Manila on February 6, 2007. Like the two previous symposia, the recently concluded one was well attended by both local and foreign

participants. As is the common practice, all symposia officially started with the recitation of the verses of the Holy Quran and followed by an invocation done by the Christian partners. The opening ceremony of the two-day symposium was honored by the messages of distinguished characters both from the Philippines and Iran. Cultural Officer Reza Asgari, during his brief on the history of these dialogues, informed the audience that these symposia are a clear manifesta-



tion of the Islamic Republic of Irans, through the Cultural Section of its Embassy, firm determination to plan and implement appropriate cultural, religious, educational and social programs that promote awareness and respect for the diversity of cultures and beliefs since peaceful coexistence and harmony among the peoples can only be had if there is respect and understanding among them. First to officially welcome the participants was De La Salle Universitys President, Br. Narciso Erquiza, F. S. C. Br. Erquiza pointed out the fact that it is of extreme importance that the spirit of dialogue must be one where the other is welcome, in the name of the God who is in each of us. As he has said, the god in us must welcome the god in the other. Only with the awareness that within each lies the same God, then dialogue can be undertaken. Representing the Cultural Section of the Iranian Embassy, Hon. Shahaboddin Daraei gave the welcome remarks, emphasizing that the symposium was not organized based on a certain subject with political aims nor was it for any expediency purpose. The logic behind the symposium, according to him, was the logic of the Holy Quran, the logic of dialogue, the logic of the noble Prophet of Islam (p.b.u.h.), the logic of his descendants (a.s.) and the

logic of the Islamic civilization. Quoting verses from the Holy Quran, Hon. Daraei reiterated that the theme of the dialogue has been made by the Quran itself; and that the first to initiate dialogue among followers of the different Abrahamic faiths was Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) himself when he invited the Christians of Najiran in Medina at the height of Muslim power, not as a peace offering of a losing party in the balance of power but as a manifestation of Islams magnanimous respect for religions. Speaking on behalf of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines to welcome the audience, Fr. Vicente Cajilig, O. P. of the International Office of Catholic Education Asia underscored the difficulties facing advocates of interfaith dialogue comparing this to flying to the moon; a dream difficult to attain, requiring tough measures, but necessary for harmony and peace to prevail among the followers of different creeds. He also underscored the need for authenticity in this undertaking so that activities carried out would bear real fruits. The Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the Philippines, H. E. Ali Mojtaba Rouzbehani shared his view to the audience on the significance of interfaith dialogue in establishing peaceful coexistence among men during his keynote

address. Likewise, he indicated the negative view on religion, particularly Islam, owing to numerous lies fabricated against it by elements bent on dissociating humanity from religion. This, he stressed, is to the detriment of the whole of humanity since Islam has a complete program encompassing all aspects of mans life which is based on justice and the equality of man, designed to protect and nurture each individual upholding their right to exist, freedom, right to acquire proper education and training, and the right to be dignified regardless of tribe or nationality. The Consul of Iraq Embassy in Manila, Hon. Nazar S. Mohammad was also present during the opening session, and so were representatives from Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs, Philippine News Agency and Manila Bulletin. Different institutions were properly represented during the event. No less than the President of the Al-Mustafa International College Philippines, Dr. Hashem Seyyed Moosavi, attended the sessions together with faculty members and students of the college. Likewise, members and students of the following were present: University of the Philippines- Institute of Islamic Studies, San Sebastian College, Focolare Movement, The Peacemakers Circle Foundation, Inc., Cole-

gio de San Juan de Letran, University of Santo Tomas- Institute of Religion, National University, Bishops Businessmen Conference, Ateneo de Zamboanga University, and St. Rita College. The research works of Filipino and Iranian scholars were highlighted during the two-day affair which was broken down on five parts. These were under the themes of 1- Role of religions in peaceful coexistence among communities (Religion and Human Rights, Religion and Peace), 2- Role of religion in social and Economic justice of societies, and 3- Role of religion in environmental protection. The experts who flew in from Iran included Dr. Mohsen Shojakhani, Deputy Director of the Center for Inter-religious Dialogue of Iran, Dr. Younes Nourbakhsh, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Dean of Center for International Religious Studies of the University of Tehran and Dr. Bagher Talebi Darabi, faculty member of the University of Religions and Denominations in Qom, Iran. Also to speak from the Islamic point of view were Dr. Mahmood S. Tajar, an expert on Islamic and Persian civilizations and former lecturer at the University of the Philippines and Dr. Mansoor Limba, Director of Shajaratun Muntazirah Educational and Research Institute in Cotabato City. The topics were further discussed by the Consultant to the International Office of Catholic Education Asia, Fr. Vicente Cajilig, O. P., Dr. Lolita Castillo of the FOCOLARE Movement, Ms. Marites Guingona-Africa, Founder and Executive

Director of Peacemakers Circle Foundation, Inc., Dr. Lilian Sison, Secretary General of Religions for Peace Philippines and Dean of Graduate School of University of Santo Tomas and Fr. Leonardo Mercado, Professor of Theology at the University of Santo Tomas and Christ the King Mission Seminary. The sessions ended with the Philippine Secretary of Education, Br. Armin Luistro attending, and with the passing of a resolution stating the a) signing of Memorandum of Agreement between the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines Episcopal Commission on Interreligious Dialogue and Deputy Director of the Center for Interreligious Dialogue of the Organization, Iran, the Organization of Islamic Culture and Relations Iran; b) holding the next symposium on Interfaith Dialogue in 2011 in Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran; c) making the necessary preparations for the signing of an MOU between the Center for International Religious Studies of the University of Tehran, Iran and the Pontifical and Royal University of Santo Tomas, Manila, Philippines on performing common scientific researches on mutually agreed subjects; d) the participants unanimous condemnation of the recent threat of an American pastor, Terry Jones, to burn copies of the Holy Quran on the anniversary of September 11 emphasizing that such a deplorable act can never be condoned by any Christian who follows the supreme teaching of Jesus Christ (peace be upon him); and e) as a united body, their emphasis on the necessity for mutual respect in religion.



Seminar on Islam and Interfaith Dialogue II

The above book was published by the Cultural Section of the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of IranManila in 2007, February, as a memento and attestation of the great significance of the seminar Islam and Interfaith Dialogue II, aimed to convey the firm determination of the Cultural Section, Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran-Manila, to implement appropriate cultural, religious, educational and social programs that promote awareness and respect for the diversity of cultures and beliefs. The aforementioned seminar was sponsored by the Iranian Cultural Section, headed by then Cultural Counselor Hon. Mehdi G. Rokni, in cooperation with the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines Episcopal Commission on Inter-religious Dialogue and the University of Santo Tomas, on the occasion of the 28th Anniversary of the Victory of the Islamic Revolution of Iran. This book contains the messages of both Christian and Muslim authorities, among them the Apostolic Nuncio in the Philippines, H. E. Most Reverend Fernando Filoni, Vice-President of the Islamic Culture and Relations Organization of the Islamic Republic of Iran Dr. Seyyed Mohammad Javad Vaziri Fard, His Eminence Gaudencio B. Cardinal Rosales, Archbishop Fernando R. Capalla, Dr. Mohammad Ali Shomali, Fr. Sebastian DAmbra, and Reverend Fr. Leonardo N. Mercado. Also in this book are the messages of then Iranian Ambassador Jalal Kalantari, then Speaker of the Philippine House of Representatives Hon. Jose de Venecia, Executive Secretary of the Office of the President of the Republic of the Philippines Hon. Eduardo R. Ermita, as well as of scholars and researchers from the Philippines and abroad.