Report on the Sitting at Institute for Interreligious Dialogue in Tehran

Since January 19th to 21th, simultaneous with Eid-e-Ghadir, the second tripartite sitting of Institute for Interreligious Dialogue, Anglican Church of England and Lutheran Church of Germany was held in Tehran. We (my wife, my good friends at the institute and me) were the host and therefore we were busy from morning to night.  The first sitting had been held 3 months ago in London. The issue of dialogue among religions, with the purpose of approaching the shared points and deviating from religious confrontation is an undeniable need in the present world. In these three days, 6 topics in intensive sessions were discussed: the purpose of religious dialogue, the problems of minorities in different countries, discourse differences of Islam and Christianity, traditional and recent interpretations of religions, positive and negative historical points in the relationship between Islam and Christianity, role of governments and NGOs in dialogue.  

Many of the sessions were held at the Institute for Interreligious Dialogue. The Religious and Interfaith Center of Qom invited us for Thursday afternoon. The young scholars (clergymen), with the coordination of Mr Navab, dealt with the issue with such a broad view and liberality, which may not be expected. Their familiarity with English language, in particular the scientific words, had attracted the attention of the members. When in Qom, they wanted to visit the holy shrine of Hazrat Masoomeh (SA). One of the staff said that they cannot enter the shrine unless they are Muslim. But at last they managed to see the yards. 

On Friday morning, the ceremony was held at Synagogue. A comprehensive report was given by the Chief Rabbi, younger clergymen Mr Yashaee and Jews MP to parliament on the background of the Synagogue and Jews. At the beginning Rabbi recited some verses from psalms of the Prophet David in Hebrew language. In the afternoon we went to the Armenian Church in Tehran. 6 songs were performed by the choir group and then Mr Davidian the previous MP of Armenians to the parliament, who is also a clergyman, gave good explanations about the situation of Armenian. In the church yard, there is a memento of the Armenian massacre by Turkey. The head of the Caliphate Council said that our main problem with Turkey is that they have not apologized for that yet. 

On the last day, Mr Mavali Zadeh, the Director General of the Interior Ministry, Mr Mirdamadi the head of Interreligious Dialogue Center of the Communication Organization presented official report about the situation of minorities and dialogue among religions. The last session was also held with Mr. Khatami. The head of German and English group and me gave a report on the topics discussed. Mr Khatami who always gets excited when he meets the people of thought and culture had a comprehensive discussion by the use of Qoran verses about acceptance of other Abrahamic religions by Islam and Qoran. For the last lunch we were the guest of Communication and Culture Organization in the absence of its director. Anyhow, for some days I was busy with intellectual and cultural discussions and I was away from politics. How good it was! 

I hope I would write the important discussions of the meetings here. Since, I repeat again, you can hear death in the name of religion in different parts of the world, the dialogue among believers is the most beneficial peaceful project for the future of the world.


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