There are many phrases used to describe inter-faith dialogue such as “narrowing the gaps between religions”. However, the right way to describe these dialogues is to use terms like co-operation, dialogue, participation or the like.
Addressing the issue of Muslim-Christian cooperation and ways of enhancing it, the well-known Muslim scholar, Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, states the following:
There are many common fields that we can work together to widen and to enhance.
Focus on Common Factors
This refers to the the focus on common factors between us and people of other divine revelations. This is why Allah says: [ And argue not with the People of the Scripture unless it be in (a way) that is better, save with such of them as do wrong; and say: We believe in that which hath been revealed unto us and revealed unto you; our God and your God is One, and unto Him we surrender.] (Al-`Ankabut 29: 46)
As we come together through dialogue we need to remember the points on which we have common ground, not those on which we differ.
There are Muslim extremists who claim that there are no common grounds between us and Christians and Jews, but this is a wrong perception of the Islamic viewpoint. Otherwise, why would Allah allow us to marry Christians and Jews? Why were the early Muslims sad when the Persians defeated the Romans-the former were magus (worshippers of fire) while the latter were Christians?
Later on Allah revealed in the Qur’an a verse that gave the Muslims glad tiding that the Romans would gain victory in the near future and that victory would be a source of happiness for them. Allah Almighty says: [ Within ten years Allah’s is the command in the former case and in the latter and in that day believers will rejoice. In Allah’s help to victory. He helpeth to victory whom He will. He is the Mighty, the Merciful.] (Ar-Room 30: 2-4)
This shows that Christians and Jews, despite being non-believers of Prophet Muhammad’s message to humanity, are yet closer to Muslims than others who are idol worshippers.
Cooperation to Oppose Atheism and Promiscuity
Together we can stand together to confront the enemies of religious faith and those who call for atheism, promiscuity, materialism, abortion, homosexuality, unisex marriages, bloodshed, misappropriation of others’ property, and enhancing materialistic trends in man at the expense of his spiritual elevation.
We all need to stand together as one forum against those who want to ruin humankind by their calls and action and to reduce it from humanity to animalistic levels. Allah Almighty says: [ Hast thou seen him who chooseth for his god his own lust? Wouldst thou then be guardian over him? Or deemest thou that most of them hear or understand? They are but as the cattle, nay, but they are farther astray!] (Al-Furqan 25: 43-33)
And we witnessed Al-Azhar and the World Muslim League come together with the Vatican to stand as one front during the conference on Population, held in Cairo, in 1994 and in the Women’s Conference in Beijing 1995 to oppose the non-religious sentiments, and the attempt of breaking the family ties, destabilizing the natural instincts that Allah Almighty has created to guide human beings to the straight path.
Advocating Just Causes and Standing by Weak Nations
We have to come together to advocate just causes and to stand by oppressed citizens who have their rights taken away from them, such as the Palestinians, Muslims in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Kashmir as well as the blacks who are the victim of discrimination in the US and elsewhere.
Islam is against oppression and stands by those oppressed people regardless of color or religion.A committed Muslim usually stands Full Square behind truth, justice, good and freedom. When it comes to facing injustice, a Muslim is required to face it courageously.
Spreading the Spirit of Tolerance not Fanaticism
This should include spreading spirit of tolerance, kindness and mercy when dealing with people from other religions not the spirit of fanaticism, cruelty and violence. Addressing the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) Allah Almighty says: [ We sent thee not save as a mercy for the peoples.] (Al-Aniyaa’ 21: 107)
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said: “I have been sent as a guiding mercy.”
Referring to the Children of Israel (Banu-Israel) in the Qur’an, Allah Almighty says: [ Then, even after that, your hearts were hardened and became as rocks, or worse than rocks…] (Al-Baqarah 2: 47)
While addressing his wife `Aishah, may Allah be pleased with her, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) says, “Allah loves kindness and gentle approach in all cases.”
In conclusion, we can say that, the compassionate human trend included in the biography of Jesus is held in high esteem by both Muslims and their creed. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) never addressed Jesus, Allah’s peace and blessings be upon them all, save by saying, “My brother Jesus.”