Ayatollah Reza Ramazani, Secretary-General of the AhlulBayt (a.s.) World Assembly, who had traveled to Switzerland at the invitation of the World Council of Churches (WCC), met with Dr. Ioan Sauca, Secretary-General of the Council.
During the meeting, which took place on the morning of Thursday, November 11, 2021, in Geneva, the two sides focused on activities that approximate religions, and interfaith dialogue.
We must introduce common values
“Our relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran has a very long history,” said Mr. Sauca at the beginning of the meeting, while welcoming the Secretary-General of the AhlulBayt (a.s.) World Assembly, “We have officially started this relation since 1995, and we hold a conference in Tehran or Geneva almost every 18 months. The scope of these meetings has even reached Qom and other cities in Iran.”
“Our effort and goal are to bridge between different religions because that is our mission. Like other religions, Christianity has different sects. We seek to introduce common values, which is the way to achieve interaction between religions,” added the Secretary-General of the World Council of Churches.
“In recent conferences, we have focused more on worship and joint pilgrimages, such as pilgrimage walks, including the Arbaeen Walk. It can be said that even without commonalities, one can strive to achieve common values, as the Pope has pointed out, this peaceful coexistence, and the goal and mission of all of us are to move in the direction set by God,” he said.
Islam and the truths of the divine religions are opposed to racism
While appreciating the invitation of the World Council of Churches, Ayatollah Reza Ramazani, Secretary-General of the AhlulBayt (a.s.) World Assembly stated, “Throughout history, many beliefs have been matters of the heart and soul, and everyone has believed in them according to his intellectual and spiritual talents. From this perspective, it is important to pay attention to human society, beyond the beliefs.”
“We should seek peaceful coexistence and our view of human beings should not be racist,” he added, “In the West, there are some racist views. In other parts of the world, some consider Arabs superior to non-Arabs, and some consider non-Arabs superior to Arabs! While these are wrong, and divine religions are opposed to racism. In Islam, regardless of color, race, or language, it is the dignity that is the essence of man, and what matters is his piety.”
“Man’s relationship with God and attention to spirituality, man’s relationship with himself, and his relationship with nature have principles. For example, man should not be materialistic and worldly in relation to himself. We believe that sensory man, that is, materialistic man, must reach the rational and intuitive level. Also, in the human-human relationship, human commonalities must be taken into account,” said the Secretary-General of the AhlulBayt (a.s.) World Assembly, emphasizing the importance of human growth and excellence based on the type of relations.
Regarding man’s attention to worship and spirituality in his relationship with God, he stated, “In different religions, worship has a special definition that is respected and should be strengthened.”
The atmosphere of coexistence and interaction should be dominated by moderation and avoidance of extremism
Referring to some Islamic supplications, the Secretary-General of the AhlulBayt (a.s.) World Assembly said, “Islam has taught us to pray for the sick: “اللهم اشفِ کل مریض” (O God! Heal all the sick!). That is, in this prayer, no distinction is made between a Muslim or a Christian patient. Or we pray about the hungry: “اللهم أشبع کل جائع” (O God! Feed all the hungry!). We also pray for those who have no clothes and are hungry, regardless of their religion.”
“In one of his interesting and profound words, Imam Ali (a.s.) says, “الناس إمّا أخٌ لَكَ في الدِّينِ، أو نَظيرٌ لَكَ في الخَلقِ”, “People are either your brother in religion or they are like you in creation”. Here the phrase “أخٌ لَكَ في الدِّين” refers to a religious brotherhood that encompasses all denominations and religions, meaning that all believers in Islam, despite their differences in beliefs and ideas, are brothers and should treat each other as brothers and in peace. The phrase “نَظيرٌ لَكَ في الخَلق” is also about the human aspect of all human beings. In the sense that all human beings have in common the essence of existence and human dignity, and this can be the basis for their peaceful coexistence with each other. Thus, these are commonalities that religious leaders can believe in, despite religious differences,” said Ayatollah Ramazani, referring to the order of Imam Ali (a.s.) to Malik Ashtar.
“Two verses in the Holy Quran command people not to have a guild view. One of these verses – “قُولُوا لِلنَّاسِ حُسْنًا” (speak kindly to people) (Quran, Surah: Al-Baqarah, Verse: 83) – is about how to deal with others. That is, God commands all human beings to treat others well. Another verse is about justice. In this verse, God Almighty forbids injustice. Therefore, humanity must be acquainted with such concepts and teachings, and this required that the atmosphere of coexistence and interaction should be dominated by moderation and avoidance of extremism,” he added.
“We must teach the message of peace from God to humanity,” Ayatollah Ramazani said, “Humanity suffers from alienation from itself, from God, and from other human beings. We believe that the only solution is that man must reconcile with himself, God, and human beings. This is an important moral and mystical issue that has been repeatedly emphasized in the teachings of the Prophet Moses (a.s.), the Prophet Jesus (a.s.), and the Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h). One of the important duties of religious leaders is to promote and teach that religion.”
The war of different denominations has nothing to do with the holy books
The Secretary-General of the World Council of Churches continued, “The points made by Ayatollah Ramazani are exactly the same as what we have in our tradition and religion. We also believe that human beings are inseparable from these three. That is why we have formed an association to fight racism. You spoke on the Quranic basis, and I spoke based on the Christianity teachings, but we both have the same view. We, humans, are brothers, and we cannot differentiate between ourselves because we all came from the same background and our principle is the same.”
“We have interfaith dialogue in different parts of the program, and it is possible for all Muslims to come together without any problems. We believe that the war between different religions and denominations, which has taken place throughout history, is due to cultural differences and has nothing to do with the holy books of religions. We, as the chair of the World Council of Churches, are pleased to have reached common conclusions,” Rev. Ioan Sauca continued.
Extremism must be fought
The Secretary-General of the AhlulBayt (a.s.) World Assembly said, “I also believe that extremism must be fought. All religious leaders have a duty to prevent oppression against human beings. One of the basic solutions for this is the cooperation of governments. Because politicians must implement the divine teachings of the prophets in political affairs.”
“No country should produce or use nuclear weapons. Because this is forbidden from the point of view of the divine religions. The explicit fatwa of Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, on the prohibition of the production and use of nuclear weapons also confirms this. However, unfortunately for some countries, having a nuclear weapon is seen as leverage to threaten and blackmail other countries and nations. But human beings should live in peace and security,” stressed Ayatollah Ramazani, considering the arms race in the world against the spirit of religions.
We must promote the most beautiful human values in human societies
“Reconciliation between human beings and the elimination of all oppression on earth is the most beautiful interpretation of justice,” he continued, “We must promote the most beautiful human values in human societies, and the realization of such values is the best result of such meetings. Also, all proclamations must be communicated through religious leaders. The sanctities of other religions should not be insulted. Insulting the sanctities of religions must be avoided. Because freedom of speech is different from insulting sanctities of religions and doing so hurts the hearts of believers.”
Ioan Sauca, Secretary-General of the World Council of Churches, also said, “Whenever any incident occurs, we issue a statement and communicate with the media. I believe that people should not suffer in social life, and we have the courage to respond to human rights and human dignity. I have made a statement and talked to the presidents about the dear nation of Iran, and the lifting of sanctions. Because the people of Iran have been deprived and oppressed.”
In the end, while expressing satisfaction with the new phase of dialogue between religious leaders, the Secretary-General of the AhlulBayt (a.s.) World Assembly said, “This is a very gratifying and promising issue, and God willing, we will all cooperate in this regard.”
It should be mentioned that Hojat al-Islam Dr. Saeed Jazari, the president of AhlulBayt (a.s.) International University, was also present in this meeting.