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World Religions’ Universal Message
Reference Dialogue: Parliament of the World's Religions

This session brought together Aisha Rafea, Aliaa Rafea and Seyed Ali Kianfar - renowned representatives of the Sufi community – and Reverend Charles Gibbs, Director of the Initiative of United Religions. Their aim was to deliver an informal declaration on the principles shared by both religions – Christian and Sufi Muslim – and on religions in general. The two female speakers stressed the need, on the one hand, to delve deeper into religious traditions as a means to achieve peace, and on the other, to thank God for the gift of life and the opportunity to know oneself better through spiritual development. Reverend Gibbs started by apologising to the remaining speakers for the abuses committed by Christianity throughout history. He emphasised the importance of opening up to the languages of Islam, Buddhism and other religions, and called the audience’s attention to the fact that his fellow speakers, who did not come from English speaking countries, were using English consistently in their presentations. In a particularly poetic language – typical of Sufi tradition - Dr. Shah Nazr Seyed Ali Kianfar argued that the problem facing all religions is the first word uttered by all human beings: God. In his view, "to discover the unique character of nature is a religion in itself." In other words, to develop the spirituality that is inherent to all human beings, names are unnecessary, let alone to become obsessed and locked up in them. The universal message of religions is that spiritual and religious experiences are one.

Issue:
To deliver a Universal Message on behalf of all religions.

Proposal:
To ask forgiveness for historical abuses of Christianity, just to name one example. To disseminate and acquire the languages used to express different religious traditions. To try to discover the unique nature of the human being, from the Sufi approach, and to understand this as a key religious experience and the common principle in all religious traditions.

Conclusions:
According to the speakers, the Universal Message of religions would have to stress the need to delve deeper into religious traditions, to acquire historical awareness and accept past errors; to disseminate the different languages of the World’s Regions and to not loose perspective by adhering to names and words.

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