Religious and spiritual experience as “key” to dialogue between Christians and Muslims and as a response, actually as an “antidote” to a world that tends to oppose members of different faiths and cultures to each other. This is “one of the important outcomes” – don Andrea Pacini of the Theological Faculty of Northern Italy says to SIR – that have come out of the 5th meeting of the national delegates of the European Bishops Conferences for relationships with Muslims that took place in Shkoder. The purpose of the meeting, which is going to end in Tirana today with a visit to the Bektashi sanctuary in Kruja, was “looking at Islam not just as a set of behavioural rules, but as a religion, with its own spirituality, its own religiosity and its own theological thinking”.
They were helped do that by the Sunni Imam, Lauren Luli, deputy president of the Muslim community in Albania, and by His Grace (Haxhi) Baba Edmond Brahimaj Kryegjyshi, leader of the Bektashi community, who were at the meeting. Everyone appreciated the speech given by mgr. Claude Rault, bishop emeritus of Laghouat Ghardaïa (Algeria), who told about his experience of interreligious dialogue between Christians and Muslims based on spirituality. Loreta Aliko, president of the State Committee of Faiths, was at the meeting too. “One of the important outcomes of this workshop – don Pacini explains – is the proof that a careful, progressive development of the dialogue of religious experience between Christians and Muslims is key to making progress in the other dimensions of dialogue, the theological, cultural and cooperative, as well. It is in the processes that we will be able to start at every level in the dialogue of spiritual experience that there will be a really deep contact between believers and a true root of renewed religious harmony, which may be expressed at social, cultural and legal levels that are as many important spheres, in which the convergence between Christians and Muslims must be expressed for our society to be really harmonious”. Contact in spirituality and an exchange of religious experiences – don Pacini says – are a “response” to the contrasts that people prefer to see nowadays between followers of different religions and cultures. “And it’s even more than that”, he adds. “It is an antidote to thinking, even within the religious communities, of dialogue as of a cultural or political or social strategy. If, as believers, we really want to build forms of common societies that meet the imperatives of peace, the rejection of violence, the proactive building of goodness, of solidarity, of fairness, of freedom, we cannot help becoming rooted again in that which is the spiritual dimension, which is what any religion is all about. What do religions have if not the imperative of an inner life, in which the relationship with God is experienced and then expressed in the dimension of history”.