INTERFAITH DIALOGUE AND PEACE BUILDING
Philippine Council for Islam and Democracy
"Interfaith Approaches to Peace
and Development in Mindanao" Roundtable Discussions
07 September and 17 November 2004
Mindanao – the second largest island group in the Philippines located in the southern area of the country. Its 23 provinces are now home to roughly a quarter of the country’s population, which is 2000 numbered around 18.1 million.
The social landscape of Mindanao has long been defined by diversity. After centuries of western colonization, state attempts at integration, and continuing migration, the region is now shared by 3 major groups set apart from each other by their religious and cultural traditions: the Christians, the Muslims or the Moros, and the Lumads or the Indigenous Peoples.
Diversity – for the many communities that are characterized by it – can be both a blessing and a challenge. On the one hand, the positive interface between the cultural practices and faith traditions of the community’s diverse inhabitants can enrich community life. But on the other hand, the seemingly irreconcilable
religious ideologies of the different faiths can often make it difficult for their adherents to look beyond their differences and search for common grounds upon which a shared community life can be built.
Increasingly, in many parts of the world, differences in religion have been cited as a factor in conflicts between or within states. A similar observation has been made regarding the ongoing conflict in Mindanao.
This interweaving of religion and conflict has led to the emergence of interfaith programs in Mindanao alongside conventional efforts to resolve the conflict Interfaith dialogue, in particular, has become a vital tool for peacemaking, advancing as it does mutual understanding between people of different faiths and facilitating collaborative action across religious lines.