Russian-Iranian Religious Dialogue: an Important Direction of Global Christian-Muslim Relations

27 February


On 21 February, the XII meeting of the joint Russian-Iranian commission on Orthodoxy-Islam dialogue opened at the Malachite Hall of the Danilovskaya Hotel in Moscow. It was dedicated to the role of religion in strengthening religious consolidation in the post-pandemic world.

The event was organized by the Office of the Counselor for Culture of Iranian Embassy in Russia and the Centre for Dialogue of Religions and Cultures. The opening ceremony was attended by Mohammad Mahdi Imanipour, head of the Organization of Islamic Culture and Communication of Iran; Kazem Jalali, ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran to Russia; Mohammadi Araki, member of the Strategic Council of Experts; Zahra Rashidbeigi, president of the Christian Religions Group of the Centre for Interreligious Dialogue; Masoud Ahmadvand, Cultural Advisor of the Islamic Republic of Iran to Russia; Metropolitan Kirill of Kazan and Tatarstan; Archimandrite Alexander (Zarkeshev), rector of the St. Nicholas Cathedral in Tehran; Archpriest Nikolai Emelyanov, vice-rector for strategic development, vice-rector for educational work, associate professor of systematic theology and patrology at the Orthodox St. Tikhon University of Humanities; etc.

Opening the twelfth round of dialogue between Islam and Orthodoxy, Metropolitan Kirill mentioned the current crisis of international law and the threat of global war. He noted that today Russia and Iran have to counteract hostile forces – foreign centres of power that seek to destroy independence and self-sufficiency of the both peoples.

Metropolitan Kirill called on orthodox Christians and Muslims to defend their spiritual values by responding to these events in the context of philosophical and theological thought, ‘People have come to realize that nobody will protect them, that international legal system has not justified itself and that the value of human life is negligible. Against this background, people have begun to turn to God as their only possible defender. Naturally, this trend has raised many questions and has demanded a theological explanation of what is happening and a search for answers.’

According to the archpastor, the popularization of consumer ideology and the cult of egocentrism have become the trigger for the crisis phenomena facing the world today.

The session was followed by a traditional reading of passages from the Quran and the Gospel.

The meeting continued with welcoming speech by Mohammad Mahdi Imanipour, who also reiterated the urgency of dialogue, stressing the importance of Russian-Iranian relations, primarily in their religious dimension. He also thanked representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church for facilitating the visit of the Iranian delegation and organizing the meeting.

In his speech, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Iran to Russia Kazem Jalali made many important points about the dynamics of Russian-Iranian relations, especially in an interreligious aspect.

He also noted the growing wave of intolerance and radicalism in the world along religious lines and the desire of outside forces to pit the religions against each other.

Then reports were presented on the 25th anniversary of the Russian-Iranian Commission work and theological dialogue between Orthodox Christians and Muslims, Russian-Iranian interaction in social and humanitarian area during the post-pandemic period, the role of religion and religious figures in global crises, interaction between secular and spiritual education systems and social ministry during the pandemic.

Mohammad Mahdi Imanipour spoke about the global growth of religiosity during the coronavirus pandemic and the importance of religious communities responding to the current challenges of extremism. He also mentioned social and educational function of religion and active involvement of believers in Iran in combating the pandemic.

The speaker emphasized the opposition of Russia and Iran to their adversaries who have declared an economic, information and ideological war against them. He concluded his report by suggesting the establishment of a council of religious leaders to coordinate the confrontation with common challenges and threats.

The key topics of Metropolitan Kirill’s speech were the development of social ministry and charity, especially during the quarantine period; the intensification of hospital ministry by the clergy and voluntary work by laymen in healthcare institutions.

Professor Fatima Tabatabai gave a lecture on “The Crisis of Faith and Religious Cohesion”. The speaker drew attention to the issue of personal and spiritual crises, especially among the youth in the context of the pandemic and natural disasters. She also proposed ways of solving crisis situations with the help of experience of interreligious interaction and pointed to the importance of overcoming one’s ego, cultivating love and avoiding inaction.



GSV "Russia - Islamic World"

Photo: Federation Council