G20 Interfaith Viewpoint: Understanding the Different Perspectives of Religious Groups

17 August 2020

The G20 Interfaith Forum brings together some of the most influential religious leaders, policymakers and thought leaders to find solutions to challenging global issues around sustainable development and humanitarian aid. But in order to do this, inclusive lines of collaboration are needed, which welcome diverse perspectives.

As part of the G20 Interfaith European regional consultations, His Eminence Grand Mufti Nedzad Grabus looks at how religious communities can help policymakers to build bridges of understanding, overcome prejudices, and foster pluralism within their communities in order to establish strong partnerships around common values.

Grabus is co-president of Religions for Peace, a Vice President of the European Council of Religious Leaders and President of the Meshihat Islamic Community. He also serves as co-chair of the KAICIID-supported Muslim-Jewish Leadership Council, which advocates religious freedoms anchored in European law, through joint campaigns to defend the rights of religious minorities across the continent.

For us as religious people, it is important to have connections with politicians. We have many possibilities at theological institutions and at the academic level to exchange our ideas, but how do we attract the people who have a specific power in society to change something?

In modern Western societies, this can be difficult. In a democracy, we have a specific understanding of the division of the power. Sometimes people who lead society believe that people from the religious side have enough of a voice in their own churches or mosques or synagogues to speak about their own problems. There is an intermediate field of influence in our daily life in schools or business positions.

How well do we understand the position of religious communities in the society in which we live in? If we live in an open society, we have possibilities to fight for our rights to express our views to present our understanding of the different issues.

I have had positive experiences with people from the political parties who want to listen to our religious understanding. But of course, sometimes it’s very difficult to implement, or to change, some issues when we speak between religions which have different views about different issues.

Building bridges of understanding

When we speak about religious leaders, and when we speak about interpretation of religion, we as a people of faith, and we who very often speak only about our own faith, have to take into account that there are people who sometimes have a prejudice about other religions. It is important for every person who wants to speak about their own religion to be honest, to be transparent, to be a reliable person.

When we speak about education or mutual respect, when we speak about hate speech, when we speak about other issues, such as equality of peoples, we need to do it in a way that all people can understand our perspective on these issues.

Sometimes we fight only for our own understanding. But when we speak about an interreligious approach, we need to realize that we are not a political party. We are people of faith. We often rely on the transcendental power. Of course, we believe in God. This kind of understanding can support us in trying to find a way to cooperate between people of different faiths.

Religious people must be reliable actors, so that the people who have political power will take them seriously. If we change or shift our discourse every day, and if we do not know what we want in presentations about our religion, then, of course, the political actors will not follow any of our ideas and they will not be on the side to understand our will and our wishes to do something better for our societies.

The full length original article can be found in English on the IF20 Viewpoints Blog