THE IMPORTANCE OF INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE IN NIGERIA: (MUSLIM- CHRISTIAN RELATIONS)
Tijani Ahmad Ashimi*
Inter-religious dialogue is gaining momentum and importance at both national and international levels to promote respect, tolerance and peaceful living. Inter-religious dialogue is perhaps more important in Nigeria than anywhere else, because Nigeria is the most populous country in the African continent, and it is a pluralistic and multi-religious society, mainly dominated by Islam and Christianity. Yet, in modern Nigeria, the relation between Muslims and their counterpart Christians is in continuous jeopardy, if not deteriorating. As such, the country has experienced religious violence between these two dominant religious groups, resulting in incalculable losses of human lives and material damages. So far, there has been no meaningful dialogue in modern Nigeria, except those based on academic conferences and individual efforts, which seem to be ineffective. There is no doubt that the best forum to promote Muslims-Christians relationship and the right tool to tackle the reoccurrences of religious conflict in the country is interreligious dialogue. This paper first demonstrates the meaning of inter-religious dialogue according to various scholars, explores Quranic and Biblical perspectives of interreligious dialogue, and discusses the need for interreligious dialogue in Nigeria, It ends with a discussion of effective methods and provides a guideline to achieve the goal of this forum in Nigerian pluralistic society.