Junior faculty at Al Azhar University in Cairo aim to advance pluralism and increase mutual understanding between Islam and the West.

What is Pluralism?

* First, pluralism is not diversity alone, but the energetic engagement with diversity. Mere diversity without real encounter and relationship will yield increasing tensions in our societies.
* Second, pluralism is not just tolerance, but the active seeking of understanding across lines of difference. Tolerance is too thin a foundation for a world of religious difference and proximity. It does nothing to remove our ignorance of one another, and leaves in place the stereotype, the half-truth, the fears that underlie old patterns of division and violence.
* Third, pluralism is not relativism, but the encounter of commitments. The new paradigm of pluralism does not require us to leave our identities and our commitments behind, for pluralism is the encounter of commitments. It means holding our deepest differences, even our religious differences, not in isolation, but in relationship to one another.
* Fourth, pluralism is based on dialog. The language of pluralism is that of dialogue and encounter, give and take, criticism and self-criticism. Dialogue means both speaking and listening, and that process reveals both common understandings and real differences. Dialogue does not mean everyone at the “table” will agree with one another. Pluralism involves the commitment to coming to the table, with one’s commitments, and staying at the table even when offended.

—*adapted from Diana L. Eck and the Harvard Pluralism Project
Learn more about the Harvard Pluralism Project here.
Gifford Lecture Series "The Age of Pluralism"
Diana L. Eck

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