Two centuries ago Lord Stanhope said that tolerance was once sought as a favor and then demanded as a right, and that “a time will come when it will be spurned as an insult.” The time has come that we should move beyond the level of tolerance to the level of genuine rejoicing at the tremendous enrichment that understanding and appreciation of the myriad differences among our faiths and styles of life. When we reach this level of celebration, we really are in dialogue with others. Chiara Lubich, the founder of Focolare Movement said: Dialogue goes beyond just tolerating others. It means profoundly respecting them, welcoming them, welcoming their different ideas and discussing them in the light of our own, and above all, building a relationship as in a true family.” True dialogue finds a place in your heart for the other.
The Turkish thinker and Muslim theologian Fatehullah Gülen has sown the seeds of dialogue in fertile soil: in the heart and minds of his followers. He taught them that the world is faced with three evils: poverty, illiteracy and violence. He asked his followers to work against these social evils with definite commitment towards promoting peace and education for the wellbeing of all people. He emphasized that their work be marked with a dimension of self sacrifice. The followers of Gülen live and work in more than 100 nations. In the first two articles Tom Kunnunkal and Herman Roborgh share their experiences with the members of this movement in Turkey. Tom does not hesitate to call the movement a human miracle.
The next essay is from Bob McCahill, a missioner working among Muslims in Bangladesh. He explains how privileged he is to live among the poor sharing their lot. His main mission is to accompany them to the hospitals and getting the needed medical help from doctors at the government medical facilities. Billy Aryo Nugroho an Indonesian Jesuit in his article narrates how Jesuit scholastics and madrasa students share their dream for a peaceful and prosperous Nation.
In the next article Samuel Packiam, designated to be the Director of Henry Martyn Institute of Islamic Studies in Hyderabad tell the interviewer that Christians and Muslims should build relationships through common study, work, prayer and silence. We should do things together – through servicing, witnessing, peace-making. The next is a beautiful narrative of Joe Kalathil about his visit to Pakistan and his continuing effort to build peace among people of different communities.
In the next essay, Pilgrimage to Akbar’s tomb, Victor Edwin explains the familiarity with which emperor Akbar related with the Jesuits and his patience with some intolerant attitude of Jesuits who were in Akbar’s court. He suggests that everyone who is interested in dialogue with Muslims should visit the tomb of Akbar who was a model for dialogue in the 16th century. The final story that appeared in the Asia News “Trappist nuns in Azeir, a sign of hope for Syria at war”, tell us how these nuns remain a symbol of peace amidst people who are devastated by war and violence. Their work and prayer brings hope to the war ravaged nation. We wish all the readers a peaceful new year 2013.