Op/Ed: "Interfaith Guidelines on Human Rights, Pluralism, Democracy, and Authority" by Dr. Robert S. Crane

August 6, 2006

Source: The American Muslim


On August 6, 2006 The American Muslim published an opinion piece by Dr. Robert D. Crane, a Muslim activist and former advisor to presidents, "One must be careful in dialogue with Christians and Jews or anyone else not to buy into un-Islamic concepts merely to show that one is friendly and moderate, because then one would lose the respect of others and even one’s own respect for oneself. As the Director of the Dialogue Commission of the leading interfaith organization at the urban level in the world, the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington (IFC) in the mid-1980s, I brought together the most outstanding leaders of interfaith dialogue to learn from their experiences and to prepare a manual on the do’s and don’ts of dialogue. The number one rule was never to seek agreement for the mere sake of agreement, because this would produce only least-common-denominator platitudes and lead to nowhere. This cowardice, in turn, would give dominion to those who have a self-serving agenda incompatible with the search for truth and wisdom... The two most profound guidelines for interfaith dialogue are pluralism and praxis. The highest guideline for interfaith dialogue is respect for pluralism. Pluralism means that we listen to others because everyone has so much to offer. Most Muslims have a lot to learn from Christians and from many Jews, but we Muslims also have a lot to offer and should not fail to do so. The second most important guideline is praxis. Talk is cheap and totally useless or even distracting and counter-productive unless it results in action in the pursuit of peace through justice. Freedom and democracy are great slogans, but they are empty unless they serve not as ends in themselves but rather as means to the higher purpose of justice."