A traditional majlis that forms the centrepiece of the cross-cultural touring exhibition ‘The Majlis-Cultures in Dialogue’ hosted the United in Dialogue, Interfaith Consultation session, an important interfaith dialogue meeting featuring 12 religious groupings, at the Palace in Valletta.
Opening the meeting, President Marie-Louise Colerio Preca said the interfaith meeting – held as a consultation session for the Malta Interfaith Harmony Declaration to be signed in February 2019 – provided an opportunity for different faiths to make a statement from the heart of the Mediterranean that “all religions are rooted in respect, peace and love”.
The Imam from the Paola Mosque said the biggest challenges facing interfaith dialogue and interfaith friendship originated from misconceptions regarding Islam, as well as among Muslims themselves, and that it was the responsibility of leaders of faith groups to explain the realities and true teachings of their respective religions.
The Apostolic Nuncio to Malta and Libya, the most senior member of the Catholic Church present at the meeting, noted that he was committed to developing excellent contacts with the Islamic community in an effort to find common ground and improve understanding.
“Even though we carry the weight of our histories, there is something deeper that brings us together. We must not be blocked by the false obstacles of the past. Secular discourses must not hinder our ability to discuss religious ideas in a respectful manner,” he said.
Concurring, the representative from the Malta Muslim Council said that it was up to religious leaders to set an example of unity for young people and educate them to share the same spaces, while the Ahmadiyya representative urged religions to unite, “because unity is strength”.
Based on the concept of the traditional space of learning, discussion, dialogue and sharing present in every home in the Arabian Gulf, ‘The Majlis – Cultures in Dialogue’ exhibition opened in Valletta – currently Europe’s Capital of Culture – in September. The selected artefacts are a testimony to the beauty that has resulted from centuries of intercultural dialogue and visitors are encouraged to sit in the majlis to listen to stories and exchange ideas on what they see, discover and experience in the displays.
Commenting on the holding of the interfaith dialogue session, FBQ Museum chairman H.E. Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani said: “We are honoured to host the Interfaith Consultation organised by President Marie-Louise Colerio Preca in our majlis, as this is a great opportunity for the exhibition to deliver its greater purpose of connecting people, beliefs and cultures through dialogue.”
‘The Majlis – Cultures in Dialogue’ is being organised at the initiative of the Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al-Thani Museum – in collaboration with Qatar Museums, UNESCO Doha Office, the Qatar National Commission for Education, Culture and Science, and Qatar Shell.
It has been presented for the first time in Malta under the Patronage of His Highness Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar, and Ms Coleiro Preca, the Maltese National Commission for UNESCO and in partnership with Heritage Malta, BNF Bank, Refalo & Zammit Pace Advocates and Handson.
The exhibition is only the beginning of a much bigger project to connect people, beliefs and cultures by creating opportunities for respectful, yet incisive dialogues to take place.
After closing in Valletta, the exhibition will move to other European cities, including the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, on a tour that will continue to the US until 2021.