The San Juan del Castillo Foundation and the Jesuit Migrant Service organised a day dedicated to interreligious dialogue at the Casa San Ignacio, located in the popular Madrid neighbourhood of La Ventilla.
In the format of a round table discussion and with active participation by the attendees, the colloquium was attended by Jumaa AlKaabi, president of the FICRT Foundation, representing the Muslim tradition; Raphaël Benatar, spokesperson and secretary general of the Jewish Community of Madrid; and José María Pérez-Soba, doctor in History and Bachelor in Theology, representing Christianity and acting as moderator. The presentation was given by Macarena Úbeda, the person in charge of the event.
In his speech, AlKaabi presented to the audience the activities and objectives pursued by the FICRT Foundation since its creation in 2017: to promote tolerance, coexistence and interreligious dialogue; and to teach the Arab language and culture.
"The three religions we represent have many things in common: they belong to the Abrahamic family, they believe in tolerance, peace, coexistence and those of us who profess them are able to share joys and sorrows, as happened during the pandemic. At that time, we all came together to help each other, as the San Juan del Castillo Foundation did in a remarkable way, welcoming people, regardless of their race, nationality or religious confession," recalled the president of FICRT.
AlKaabi gave the United Arab Emirates as an example of tolerance, a country where people of different 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 that which took place centuries ago in the city of Cordoba, where Muslims, Christians and Jews worked and prospered together, building mosques, churches and synagogues, and allowing culture to flourish.
In the case of Spain, the president of FICRT explained that there are 2.2 million Muslims in our country and that, since 1992, the government has been regulating their rights, allowing them to freely profess their religion. "The Muslim communities in Spain respect the law, because it is in the nature of Islam, which promotes tolerance, spreading peace, not imposing itself on others, giving the opportunity to know each other and not isolating oneself," he said.
For his part, Raphaël Benatar gave an introduction to the Jewish community in Spain, which has 20,000 members and which, 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 highlighted the enormous change that Spanish society has undergone in less than a generation, which has meant that, despite the fact that it has a solid base, there is a great deal of plurality surrounding this religion.
One of the central themes of the debate was inter-religious dialogue. In this regard, Jumaa AlKaabi recalled the precedents of the Islamo-Christian congresses held in Cordoba in 1974 and 1979, which began a process of convergence that concluded on 4 February 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 highlights the need to unite in order to prosper and defend peace," explained the president of FICRT.
A document that, as José María Pérez-Soba recalled, was the inspiration for Pope Francis' encyclical 'Fratelli Tutti', which emphasises interreligious dialogue and peaceful coexistence between members 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". "Only through dialogue can problems be solved; if you don't succeed once, you have to try a hundred times," he concluded.