In long conversations with Paul Jackson, I have deepened my understanding of Islam and Muslims in India. I learnt that the oneness of the transcendent God is at the heart of Islamic faith affirmation. For Muslims, the Qur’an in its entirety is the vehicle of a Word of God. Islam has enriched the lives and reflections of the Muslim believers over the centuries and enables them to reach the one God, to imbue their lives with God and thus to be way of salvation. I further learnt that ‘God’s majesty’, ‘our creatureliness’, and ‘our need to repent and be forgiven’ could be themes for our conversations.
At times, I have not failed to notice certain expressions of political Islam in their conversation with me. I feel that such expressions should not immobilize our understanding of Islam. We Christians should not see Muslims solely as warriors of Allah. Patiently engaging with them we could discover the gems of authentic religious wealth behind the crust of certain legalism, and thus we can learn to appreciate the real, healthy, and constructive aspirations of Muslims towards a deeper spiritual life.
Further I realized that friendship and relationship are at the heart of dialogue. Dialogue partners need to recognize the goodness in others, and they need to be in constant and sustained contact with each other for their relations to unfold and for dialogue to be meaningful.