Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, August 15th, 2020

Cultural Interactions Likely to Promote Religious Tolerance

Promoting religious tolerance and respecting one’s faith, race, and color will pave the ground for peaceful coexistence and uphold the spirit of brotherhood. In a community, all individuals are supposed to be able to exercise their rights and freedoms regardless of their religious, ethnic, and racial background.
On the other hand, discrimination on the basis of one’s caste, color, or creed and lack of religious tolerance will trigger hate, violence, and conflict.
It is said that cultural exchanges will create room for tolerance and patience. For example, the ancient Silk Road, which provided a platform for cultural exchanges, played an essential role in promoting religious tolerance. The Silk Road traders carried their religion and faith with them and constructed religious edifices wherever they traveled, which cemented commercial ties and promoted mutual understanding and mutual trust. The diffusion of culture, including literary, science, medicine, and tradition also played a key role the development of Asian region. After all, Islam and Buddhism were also spread in China and Malaysia and Indonesia by the Silk Road merchants.
Dance and music were also carried through the Silk Road from one location to another. “Musical traditions are portable, but they are also durable, and stubbornly take root in the lands where they were born. One of the most powerfully surviving features of the old Silk Road today is the variety of music performed, on instruments old and new, indigenous and imported, everywhere from the shores of the Mediterranean to the shores of the Pacific.”
The Silk Roads were a “complex network of trade routes” that gave people the chance to exchange goods and culture. That is, cross-cultural contacts allowed individuals and peoples to adapt to the cultural values of one another. Meanwhile, the Silk Road traders tried to learn the language of one another for not only trading goods and but also exchanging ideas.
As the “center of the Asian crossroads”, Afghanistan played a highly significant role in the history of the Silk Road. The Buddhist shrines and Buddha statues, found in Afghanistan, suggest that Afghanistan was a peaceful country, where caravans and Buddha monks could exercise their faith and religions without obstacles.
Meanwhile, Islamic Sufis could exercise and carried their faith in different parts of the world. The full diversity of Muslim traditions, schools of thought, and civilizing influences flourished along the Silk Road. Thus, the Silk Road not only enriched the merchants, who carried and exchanged goods, but the people of countries and cultures all across Eurasia.
With this in mind, regional states in general and Afghanistan in particular need to promote cultural exchanges through enhancing trade and transit. If nations have more cultural interactions and people-to-people contacts, their horizons will be broadened and they will learn to be tolerant towards one another and respect the cultural values of one another.
The Silk Road was termed the “Road of Dialogue” in the UNESCO Plan to promote trade and dialogue.
Currently, the bulk of the challenges in Afghanistan, including the violence and conflict, are believed to stem from lack of religious tolerance. Afghanistan, which has been the hotbed of tolerance, knowledge, and science, is harmed by radicalism and destroyed by violence.
If the Afghan government upholds trade routes and networks, the culture of dialogue will also be promoted, which will necessarily lead to peace and stability. Afghanistan needs to open wider to the outside world, similar to that of China, and pave the ground for further interactions and exchanges.
Cultural exchange is not necessarily the only way for promoting religious tolerance. Afghans have to promote their knowledge and social and human rights awareness. Moreover, they should promote their legal awareness and try to practice legal principles in their individual and collective life. Constitutionally, all Afghan citizens are equal in rights and dignity regardless of their racial and sexual backgrounds and no one should be discriminated. Thus, providing equal opportunities for Afghan citizens to learn knowledge and get education will lead to de-radicalization in the country.
To promote religious tolerance and eliminate discrimination on the basis of one’s faith, race, or sex, cultural interactions have to be upheld, the cultural of dialogue should be established, and there will be equal opportunities for all individuals to have access to education. So, the government has to pay especial heed to the aforementioned issues to mitigate the ongoing violence and conflict.