(…) when we are talking about ‘Christians’ and ‘Muslims’ we must first make sure that we are talking about people who have an idea, which should be more or less correct, as to what the other is supposed to believe and what he is expected to do as a consequence of that belief. From personal experience and the examination of literature, I feel that we cannot take for granted that a dialogue, without information and perhaps without understanding, is possible between any individuals or groups on all levels. So the prerequisite is information.
There are, indeed, facilities for the instruction of members of various faiths in the beliefs and practices of others, and books are an obvious source. And there are many people, both Muslim and Christian, who have a good grasp of each others’ conceptions of surrender to God and other principles. But the widespread existence of bias, misinformation and lack of knowledge, as well as the enshrining in the very languages which we speak of phrases and formulae which maintain and reinforce the age-old prejudices implanted by ignorant or fanatical ideologists, militate against the effectiveness of dialogue, even if they do not exclude it, by the most subtle and one of the most effective of instruments, the subconscious, almost the subliminal, introduction of hostility.
The Elephant in the Dark
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