Enabling all peoples to communicate with each other

To pave the way for justice and peace and to work for the rights of the oppressed, the poor and the marginalized in society.

Christian Muslim Dialog

The Annual Christian – Muslim Dialogue Conference

The Conference on "Arab Christian and Muslim Heritage in the Holy Land", 1983-Present
   (Also known as the Christian-Muslim Dialogue Conference)

The Conference on "Arab Christian and Muslim Heritage in the Holy Land" which held its first session in 1983 in Jerusalem was the first fruit of the effort by a number of Christian and Muslim founders.

The Heritage Conference is a unique conference in the Orient and in the West. The first session was not an isolated phenomenon or a one-time meeting. For the march which began in 1983 was prepared for seriously years before its meeting. The march continues, strong, giving and serving our society until this moment. This march or this intellectual movement is unique for the following reasons:

1.      The strong belief of the founders in this work as being one of the religious and national responsibilities

2.      The belief of the founders of this project that our meeting is not a dialogue like that between Christians and Muslims in general; rather, it is a daily meeting and dialogue, a dialogue of life and destiny.

3.      The meeting and dialogue among Christian and Muslim Arabs is not something new; rather, it is a continuation of the dialogues and meetings carried out by our fathers since the beginning of the call to Islam and until this day.

4.      We meet as the children of one language and one heritage. This stresses the continuity of work, dialogue and meeting. We live together and we make the destiny together. For this reason our dialogue is not a religious dialogue only; rather it has its social, human, educational, political and economical dimensions. These matters oblige all and make them responsible for this action and its continuity.

5.      The belief and conviction that the aim of AL-Liqa’ is not proselytizing but educational, that is, it aims to know the religion of the other as it is.

Thus the march of the Heritage Conference began and developed over the many years. This development was the answer to the challenges and difficulties which confronted those who are responsible for this program at Al-Liqa’ Center. Here I want to mention as an example and not exclusively some of these challenges among which are: the attempt by the Israeli occupation to paralyze this work. This was done either by calling some of the organizers and questioning them or calling the lecturers to the offices of the military government at the hours set for their lectures in the days of the conference or by imposing curfew on a certain area or by putting checkpoints…etc. On the other hand some Palestinian Muslim and Christian extremists and fanatics attempted to persuade the lecturers or the participants or the organizers of the conference not to attend or participate. However, despite these failing attempts, the march of Al-Liqa’ continued to grow.

We have concluded the proceedings of the twenty third session of this conference which was held in September of 2011. Al-Liqa’ Center has published the proceedings of the previous sessions in sixteen volumes which contain all the lectures and symposia, some of which are used at schools and universities, and all of them are considered a rich reference for a number of students who are writing their MA theses or Ph.D. dissertations about the Arab Christian – Muslim dialogue in the Orient in general and in Palestine in particular. Here, I want to point out that a number of studies in a number of Western universities had been conducted on Al-Liqa’ publications in recent years. It is important to mention that the proceedings of the conferences in recent years were published in special issues of Al-Liqa’ Arabic Language quarterly review.

The above mentioned conference did not satisfy itself by holding an annual gathering. Rather over the years, it sought to hold tens of monthly meetings in Palestinian towns and cities on the importance of religious understanding, coexistence and the respect for one another. In recent years, the conference committee and the management of Al-Liqa’ Center deemed it necessary to invite Muslim and Christian spiritual leaders with a number of interested persons to special meetings either during the blessed month of Ramadan or on Christmas. Joint Ramadan Iftar banquets organized by Al-Liqa’ Center established ties of love and brotherly relations among the children of the one people. Also the celebrations of Christmas in which Christians and Muslims participated had positive effect on our society and our children. Here we should not forget the positions of unity which the Christians and Muslims expressed through AL-Liqa’ Center in national and religious occasions. Tens of statements were issued by the Center in different occasions and press conferences were held to indicate the common position by Christians and Muslims on several national, religious and humanistic issues. This is in addition to the media role played by Al-Liqa’ Center through journalists who visited the Center or the Western institutions supporting the work of the Center or the friends of Center in Western countries. Here we want to point out that the Center participated in several international conferences which revolved around the dialogue among religions. In addition, a delegation from Al-Liqa’ Center paid a private visit to the Vatican where they met with His Holiness Pope John Paul II and some officials of the Christian – Muslim dialogue. This visit had a big media dimension whereby it indicated to the West the meaning and the concept of the strength of the unity of the Palestinian Arab people. The delegations always emphasized the importance of dialogue, knowledge by the one for the religion of the other and the importance of the continuity of meetings and dialogues as it is a civilized phenomenon which brings the peoples and the children of the one people together.

The reasons which encouraged a number of Christian and Muslim Palestinians to establish Al-Liqa’ Center did not end. We see that the role of Al-Liqa’ should be bigger and more comprehensive in this critical and difficult stage through which our people is passing. Crises are many, conflicts are increasing, and there is a desire to nurture sectarianism and divisive categorization. The years which have elapsed since our work started in 1982 are considered a corner stone in a large building which is still waiting men and women in this homeland to complete.

The responsibilities are many and the challenges are big. We have to continue to give and to be following up the matters from a responsible national and religious starting point. We hope that the unity of the children of this people will be reinforced and that all the conspiracies contrived against them it will fail. Our people young and old have the responsibility and before a divine responsibility to strengthen our love and our respect for each other, for our religion and for our homeland. At the time when peace and justice are absent, challenges and responsibilities are many and become large. Religion had a big role to achieve the bases of a just peace. Our prophetic voice should be clearer, demanding rights of our people and focusing on the role of the spiritual and religious leadership. Here we do not forget to mention the importance of mass media, the formal education and the parallel education in educating our children and upbringing them to love the homeland, and national unity. 

Thus, our love, respect and our belonging to our identity, land and homeland had motivated us to study our past heritage, literature and history so that our vision of the future becomes clearer. All of this aims to remove the pains and to realize the national dreams of our people through serving the work of God and man.