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Making dialogue benchmark of our nation

By Hashim Msusa

Published in The Nation on Sunday

The existence of diverse society, is a recipe to deserting views, be it social, political, traditional, and more. Instead of antagonizing, Islam perceives dialogue as having potential in achieving recovery in a divide.

Among other definitions, dialogue is a conversation on a common subject, says for example a subject on a parliamentary bill. Not limited to that but also between groups with differing views. The primary purpose of which is for each participants to learn from the others so that both can change and grow.

Prudently, there must be criteria in achieving recovery in a crisis. As we dialogue, there must be equality and common goal. Those in the dialogue ought to be stakeholders in identifying common challenges. Ideally there are no winners in a dialogue. This makes it a potential tool for settling crisis.

Indeed, there are no winners in a dialogue, because the primary purpose of dialogue is to learn, to change and grow the perception and understanding of reality. We enter into dialogue not to force change others. Therefore, dialogue should be a benchmark for a decent living. With dialogue schools will not close over trivial matters.

Observably, Mustafa Kasim Erol and Ahmad Kurucan in their coauthored book “Dialogue in Islam” writes: “Dialogue is a natural manifestation of our humanness.” The Noble Qur’an tells us that the fundamental oneness of all human beings enables us to engage with and understand one another.

Importantly, the reason why resorting to dialogue is because it stresses a long – term perspective. To find sustainable solutions requires time and patience. Therefore, dialogue lays the groundwork for future and more formal talks.

As a nation we should value dialogue and make it our default choice. Dialogue hatches peace and helps explore solutions to all kind of shared problems. Dialogue enables us to share thoughts and values in a peaceful and civilized way.

No doubt that dialogue is an inclusive. Instead of individuals, groups, parties voice concerns in isolation, dialogue brings together a diverse set of voices to create a microcosm of the larger society. When we enter into dialogue, we reduce prejudice and inter-group tension.

We must guard against egotistical desires, and seek constructive insight and solution. What is required is wisdom. In the Noble Qur’an we read, “Invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching.” (16:125) The mark point should be wisdom as we enter into dialogue.

People are required to overcome deserting views through goodwill and commitment to live together whatever the odds. The response to diversity through dialogue is a goal divine will has set for humankind. In the Noble Qur’an we read, “And if your Lord had so willed, He could surely, have made mankind one community, but they will not cease to disagree.” (11:118)

In a broader perspective of valuing dialogue, years of recession and rising unemployment forced Argentina president Eduardo Duhalde to convene national dialogue in 2002. The dialogue did not heal the social-economic crisis overnight, but it did relieve tensions and develop set of social reform.

To move forward we must recognize diversity of life forms. However we must join together to bring forth a sustainable peace. Ali, the fourth Caliph (May Allah be pleased with him) said (to the people of Iraq), “Judge as you used to judge, for I hate differences (and I do my best) till the people unite as one group.” We should dialogue in order to achieve unity of purpose.