Wednesday, October 21, 2020 عربي|فارسي
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Religion and Health;

Dialogue between Islam and Greek Orthodox Christianity with emphasis made on the role of religion in countering the Coronavirus

Pursuing the interreligious dialogue between Iran and Greece, The Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue Center of the Islamic Culture affiliated to Islamic Culture and Relations Organization, with the Greek Orthodox Church, held a webinar on The Dialogue between Islam and Greek Orthodox Christianity titled "Religion and Health".

According to the Public Relations Department of Islamic Culture and Relations Organization (ICRO), a group of university professors, researchers and religious  figures of Muslim and Christian universities, discussed the captioned topic in a webinar arranged by joint cooperation of The Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue Center of the Islamic Culture and Relations Organization, the Iranian Cultural Mission in Athens, Greece Ministry of Education, Research and Religious Affairs and the Greek Orthodox Church.

Iranian Cultural Attaché in Athens, Mehdi Nikkhah Qumi, in his opening remarks, talked  about the way this webinar was held and stated that according to the previous procedures, this round of dialogue was to be held in Tehran, but due to the  outbreak of coronavirus and in coordination with the Secretary General of the Ministry of Education, Research and Religions affairs of Greece, it was decided that the preliminary round of dialogue on the subject of religion and health, should be held in a webinar.

The head of the Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue Center of the Islamic Culture and Relations Organization, Hojatoleslam Mohammad Mehdi Taskhiri, presented a brief report on the history of religious dialogue between this center and the Greek Orthodox Church and said that it is hoped that by improving the condition, these talks will continue again with the participation of concerned delegations in Iran and Greece.

He added that the topic of the discussion is very important and needed by today"s society. In our religions, we have many teachings to maintain our physical and mental health, which, if employed, can solve today"s problems. We hope that one of the results of these talks is to provide a solution for trust in the religious teachings presented to provide happiness for mankind.

Dialogue must be kept away from any prejudice

We live in a world characterized by increasing violence and all kinds of religious extremism," said His Holiness Metropolit Ignatius, Bishop of Greek city of Velos, and President of the Volos Academy of Theology. Every day we witness a crime in the name of religion and God, while the media and the Internet cover them up and fuel the horror every day.

He continued by saying that under present situation, what we need is dialogue and presentation of a pattern of peaceful coexistence among followers of various religions. We need new ways of communication, getting familiar and tolerating other religious and communities so that we can overcome prejudice and intolerance.

The Bishop of The Greek city of Velos noted that in the vast geography that we belong to and with the school of thoughts we have, we can easily overcome these problems. The Coronavirus crisis has provided a good opportunity to remind us of our commitment and to go beyond the phenomenon of religious prejudice and to work more closely for the welfare of the people.

He went on to say, as far as the Eastern Orthodox Church is concerned, I must remind you that when we are a true Christian, we are committed and extend love to people regardless of their race, gender, religion and social status, a love that even our enemies will learn from us.

His Holiness the Metropolit Ignatius emphasized that our situation will not change until religious leaders undertake their responsibility to fight for the lives and health of the people. 

The Role of Religion and Science in campaign against Coronavirus

The next speaker was Mohammad Husein Niknam, a permanent member of the Academy of Medical Sciences, who presented his paper titled "Cooperation of Religion and Science in combating Coronavirus". He said outbreak of Coronavirus has caused many changes in life style as well as the religious and spiritual behavior of people of the world and brought up many questions into the mind of those who have religious and spiritual beliefs.  He added that the relationship between religion and science in the fight against Coronavirus is also quite considerable.

According to Mohammad Husein Niknam, the experience of the interaction between religion and science in the Islamic Republic of Iran during the Coronavirus pandemic indicates that not only science and religion are not at odds with each other, but they can be partners and complementary to each other in dealing with this phenomenon.

Niknam added: The tranquilizing role of the religious belief in the difficult time of the Coronavirus pandemic indicates the positive effect of the cooperation of religion with the medical measures taken to overcome this disease.

He emphasized that social solidarity is another achievement of the religious community. The Supreme Leader"s helpful initiatives as the highest religious and spiritual figure, as well as the highest authority of the country, concerning the prominent role of religion in helping other preventive and medical treatments, indicate the enormous capacity of religion and religious leaders in dealing with this pandemic, added, Mohammad Husein Niknam.

Niknam stated that other aspects of religion"s role and contribution to science in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, are special jurisprudential rules that do not create any hurdle for scientific medical measures, such as the jurisprudential rules.

Then, the Deputy Head of Velos Academy, Asprolis, in his remarks titled "Orthodox Church and the Challenge of the New Coronavirus" said recently, humanity has faced a serious and unique challenge. The coronavirus outbreak has gradually become a pandemic and has caused panic and frustration and caused the death of hundreds of thousands of people so far. This has caused serious problems not only with regard to health and hygiene, but also politics, economy, trade and human relations.

He added: Unfortunately, the Coronavirus outbreak and the challenge it created showed that Orthodox theology and the Orthodox Church have weaknesses in dealing with such challenges and therefore, an opportunity has been provided to conduct further research and confront any threat to humanity as well as dealing with this pandemic based on the richness of religious and paternal traditions and use the results and experiences obtained, to deal with similar cases.

The Deputy Head of Volos Academy noted that the church, based on its theology and teachings, should strive to promote morality and respect for the Creator, who has given life to man with full generosity. Prayer, worship based on church principles, is in fact a service to God and the Church Fathers, and not just a social program, but can be an important step in securing God"s satisfaction and a mutual gift to the thankfulness of the human being, thus it can be considered as a gift for the preparation of the reappearance of Jesus Christ (AS).

Islam emphasizes on the protection of human body and soul

Professor, Hojatoleslam Eslami Ardakani, of University of Religions and Schools of Thought in Qum, presented his paper titled "Health and Respect for the Body from the Perspective of Islam". He started his comments by talking about spiritual life and spiritual care and then referred to different ways of reacting to the spread of Coronavirus pandemic.

He went on by elaborating on two aspects of human being: the body and the soul of man and the emphasis of Islam on their protection. In his remarks, the professor Ardakani emphasized that in Islam, the preservation of the body has been highlighted more than preservation of the soul, because that"s the body that protects the growth, health and development of the soul..

The Rev. Stavros Kofinas, of the Greek Orthodox Church, was the next speaker of the webinar who said that in an era when freely expressing  living a life based  spirituality and religion" is subject to by public restrictions, and in situation where nations are facing identity crisis and human relations have been severely interrupted, it is not surprising that the extent of interest and search for life based on true spirituality has increased dramatically. In fact, the need for spirituality that is felt among the people today.

He added that the Orthodox Christianity is neither based on humanist nor fundamentalist spirituality. Orthodox Christianity focuses on a spiritual life, a life in which man lends all his existence to God"s love. There is no doubt that a person whose life is tied to a true spirituality, as a Christian man, as much as he cares about the health of himself and other human beings and cares about it, has the same view on how to deal with the problems and hardships during the course of his life.

The Rev. Stourus Kofinas stated that the main pilar of spiritual life in Orthodox Christianity is the ability of man to freely love God and his fellowman, which requires modesty and compassion towards others.

It should be noted that the first round of dialogue between Islam and the Greek Orthodox Church was held in Athens in 1990.  The seventh round of the talks, titled "Moral and Human Values from the Perspective of the Quran and the Bible" was held in May 2018 in Velos, Greece. The meeting was presided over by Abuzar Ebrahimi Torkaman, the Head of the Islamic Culture and Relations Organization and the Metropolit Demarrias and Elmiros Ignatius, and a large number of Iranian and Greek scholars. In the said three-day meeting, 12 scientific papers on the topics of "moral and human values from the perspective of the Quran and the Bible and the history of the relationship between Islam and Orthodox Christianity" were presented.




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