Interfaith and intercultural dialogues have been an important aspect of human interaction for millennia. In today’s diverse Europe where tens of languages are spoken and many faiths are practised in any major European city, it is even more vital for young people to actively engage in dialogue with one another regardless of their backgrounds.
Dialogue is not about trying to defeat or convince others but about understanding and learning about them. Islam encourages us to value diversity and insists that the world’s beauty lies in its racial and religious pluralism, otherwise God would not have created it so (10:99 and 5:48). The Qur’an (Muslim holy book) states: “O mankind! Lo! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another” (49:13).
Intercultural and interfaith dialogue can provide a platform for youths of different backgrounds to understand and cooperate with each other. Particularly in these current times, where misunderstanding of Islam and fear of Muslims is widespread, it is vital that all European youth actively and openly engage with one another in order to get past the stereotypes and enrich our understanding of each other’s values and principles.