I am in Rome for a two-day conference organized by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and several civil society institutions.
Participants, who include ministers, ambassadors, academics, practitioners and religious leaders from all traditions and faiths, discussed over two days if humanity could agree on shared values on human rights, pluralism, diversity, democracy and empathy. I was asked to look at these issues from an Islamic perspective.
What I tried show in my presentation was that the religion “Islam” does not have a political agenda, has respect for diversity and acknowledges the rights of women and minority rights and one can show examples of this in history. But it should also be added that from time to time patriarchal, intolerant, traditional attitudes stemming from particular cultures or societies, not religion, were also observed. Muslims were not able to interpret their religion from a benevolent, humanistic, tolerant and universalist perspective. But these roots in the original sources can always be revisited and reinterpreted if the intention exists.