FICRT, at the interfaith dialogue day in San Juan del Castillo

Jumaa AlKaabi, president of the FICRT Foundation, was one of the speakers invited to participate in an interreligious dialogue day held on July 5 at Casa San Ignacio in Madrid’s La Ventilla neighbourhood as part of a course organised by the San Juan del Castillo Foundation and the Jesuit Migrant Service, with Macarena Beda in charge of the event.

In addition to Jumaa AlKaabi, who represented the Muslim community, Raphaël Benatar, spokesman and secretary general of the Jewish Community of Madrid, and José María Pérez-Soba, PhD in History and Bachelor of Theology, who represented Christianity and also served as moderator, participated in the round table.

During his speech, Jumaa AlKaabi informed the audience about the FICRT Foundation’s activities and goals since its inception in 2017, including the promotion of tolerance, coexistence, and interreligious dialogue, as well as the teaching of Arabic language and culture.

“The three religions we represent share many characteristics: they are members of the Abrahamic family, they believe in tolerance, peace, and coexistence, and those of us who practise them can share joys and sorrows, as happened during the pandemic”. “At the time, we all came together to help each other, as the San Juan del Castillo Foundation did outstandingly, welcoming people of all races, nationalities, and religious denominations”,said FICRT president.

AlKaabi cited the United Arab Emirates as an example of tolerance, a country where people of 200 nationalities, religions, and ethnicities coexist, “living and working together, going to the same restaurants, and living in harmony without asking what religion or nationality they are”. A coexistence reminiscent of what occurred centuries ago in Cordoba, where Muslims, Christians, and Jews coexisted and prospered, building mosques, churches, and synagogues and allowing culture to flourish.

In reference to Spain, the president of FICRT stated that the Muslim community in our country numbers 2.2 million people and that the government has been regulating their rights, allowing them to freely practise their religion, since 1992.

“Muslim communities in Spain respect the law because Islam promotes tolerance, spreading peace, not imposing on others, giving the opportunity to know each other and not isolating each other”. AlKaabi explained.

Raphaël Benatar, for his part, provided an introduction to Spain’s Jewish community, which has 20,000 members and, in his opinion, is largely unknown due to the centuries that have passed since they were expelled from Spain by the Catholic Monarchs in 1492.

In the case of Christianity, José María Pérez-Soba emphasised the enormous change that Spanish society has undergone in less than a generation, resulting in the existence of a great plurality around this religion, despite its solid foundation.

Jumaa AlKaabi, president of FICRT, during his speech
Jumaa AlKaabi, president of FICRT, during his speech

Interreligious dialogue was a major theme of the debate. In this regard, Jumaa AlKaabi recalled the precedents set by the Cordoba Islamo-Christian congresses in 1974 and 1979. The congresses kicked off a process of convergence that ended on February 4, 2019. “On that day, Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al Azhar met in Abu Dhabi and signed the Document on Human Fraternity, which emphasises the need to unite in order to prosper and defend peace”, the FICRT president explained.

A document that, according to José María Pérez-Soba, inspired Pope Francis’ encyclical ‘Fratelli Tutti’. which emphasises interreligious dialogue and peaceful coexistence among people of different faiths.

Jumaa Alkaabi recalled the words of Swiss theologian Hans Küng: “there will be no peace between nations without peace between religions; and there will be no peace between religions without dialogue”. “It is only through dialogue that problems can be solved; if you don’t succeed once, you will have to try a hundred times”, he concluded.