Iran pushes inter-faith unity

THE Cultural Centre of the Embassy of Islamic Republic of Iran in Zimbabwe recently published a book titled “Inter-religious dialogues in Zimbabwe” with the aim of promoting synergies, tolerance and co-existence among Christians, Muslims and believers of African Traditional Religion.

The book is a result of two interfaith dialogues, facilitated by the Cultural Centre, in Harare in June 2014 and December 2016.

Among the contributors to the book is Primary and Secondary Education Minister Dr Lazarus Dokora, who writes on the provisions of freedom of worship in Zimbabwe’s Constitution.

Other contributors are the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe president Archbishop Johannes Ndanga, Heavenly World Peace country representatives Mr Claud Cassels, and Fatima Zahra founder Mr Abdullah Makwinja.

Some of the topics covered are “The role of religious tolerance in promoting global peace,” “What inter-religious dialogue is and what it is not”, “Place of religious NGOs in creating peace”, and “Spirituality of Islam”.

“Dialogue is to address and find solutions to a problem or an issue and the issue at hand is to find world peace, avoid strife, conflicts, violence, terrorism and wars. Both the Bible and the Holy Qur’aan and writings from ATR supports peace and development. It is prudent to major in what we all believe and overlook our differences. That way we will be promoting peace and world development,” the book highlights.

The role of ATR and Islam in social transformation in Zimbabwe is explored indepth, tracing the two religions’ roots.

“There are a lot of affinities between ATR and Islam in Zimbabwe with regards to family law. Although Zimbabweans have converted to Islam, they have retained the traditional beliefs and practices in many different ways; that is syncretism.

“This means that the relationship between ATR and Islam in Zimbabwe has been largely marked by co-existence, tolerance and accommodation.”

Officially launching the book in Harare, Iran Embassy cultural counsellor Dr Mohsen Shojakhani said his country was a pioneering state in the area of inter-religious dialogue.

He said the Centre for Inter-Religious Dialogue of the Islamic Republic of Iran was established over 20 years ago, during which time it has brought together the Vatican, World Council of Churches, the Russian Orthodox Church, Saint Gabriel Institute of Austria, and Buddhists.

“It goes without saying that dialogues are an important factor in having an inter-related society and is a vital enterprise for having a better world. Without good and reasonable relations at international, national and local level, it would be difficult, if not impossible to have a safe, secure and successful world,” Dr Shojakhani said.

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