First of all, we’d like to state that Islam is a tolerant religion that opens the way for reasonable dialogues with others. Muslims and non-Muslims enter into dialogues with one another so that they may find a common ground upon which they can coexist and cooperate without bearing grudges against one another. Allah Almighty 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 Allah and your Allah is One, and unto Him we surrender.) (Al-`Ankabut 29: 46) Narrowing the gap between religions or focusing on the points of differences is not the aim behind interfaith dialogue.
We would like to quote for you the following Fatwa issued by the European Council for Fatwa and Research; it reads: 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.
In this regard, the Council wishes to draw attention to the fact that if what is meant by the above phrase is to dilute or eradicate essential differences between Islam and other faiths, then this call is rejected. Allah says in the Glorious Qur’an: (And argue with them in a way that is better.) (An-Nahl 16:125)
allah also states: (And so judge (O Muhammad) among them by what Allah has revealed and follow not their vain desires, but beware of them lest they turn you far away from some of that which Allah sent down to you.) (Al-Ma’idah 5:49)
however, dialogue and co-operation between Islam and other faiths is acceptable; Allah says: (Say (O Muhammad): O people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians): come to a word that is just between us and you, that we worship none but Allah (alone), and that we associate no partners with Him, and that none of us shall take others as lords besides Allah.) (Aal `Imran 3: 64)
Following the example of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) who held a dialogue with Christians of Najran, dialogues can be held with peoples of other faiths on basis of the oneness of Allah, the mission of prophets and the origin of mankind. These dialogues should, however, be conducted in a healthy atmosphere, and they should be free from coercion, belittling others or hurting them.
Despite the differences between Islam and other divinely revealed faiths, there is an area where they can meet. For instance, all divine faiths acknowledge the concept of deity, prophethood and the Hereafter. They accept the principles of good manners and the social structure of the family. They hold similar views on environmental issues, human rights, rights of the oppressed, confronting despotism and injustice, rejecting genocide, aggression and fanaticism, and disseminating tolerance, etc.
What emphasizes dialogue and stresses co-operation is the dominance of the materialistic, permissive and atheist culture, and the crumbling of social order at a time when the entire world is connected to each other through the communication revolution which turned the world into a global village. The Glorious Qur’an says: (O mankind! We have created you from a male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you know one another. Verily, the most honourable of you with Allah is that (believer) who has piety.) (Al-Hujurat 49:13). The Holy Quran also states: (Help one another in Al-birr and Taqwa (virtue, righteousness and piety); but do not help one another in sin and transgression.) (Al-Ma’idah 5: 2)