I just came across this Islam Q&A site where the question is raised: can a Muslim participate in interfaith dialogue if there is no way that they can use it as a platform for gaining converts?
Question: Here in America we are trying as best we can to call people to Allaah according to the way of the Pious Predecessors (al-salaf al-saalih). Recently there has emerged a very serious matter, which is the spread of committees to bring together the three heavenly religions – Islam, Christianity and Judaism – whereby each group sends a representative to try to bridge the gaps between these three religions and bring them closer together. They meet in churches and synagogues, and even pray together, as happened following the massacre in al-Khaleel (“Hebron”) in Palestine. These meetings are attended by a not insignificant number of followers from these three religions.After a very long answer, disparaging all religions besides Islam as being worthless and false, the Imam finally gets to the point:
Our question is: the Muslims are represented by scholars – or by people who are counted as being scholars – and there has arisen among us an argument as to the ruling on attending meetings such as these, where Muslim scholars shake hands with and embrace priests and monks. There is no opportunity for da’wah in these meetings; they are held in the name of bringing these three religion closer together. Is it permissible for a Muslim who believes in Allaah and the Last Day to attend such meetings, to enter churches and synagogues and to greet and embrace a priest or monk? For your information, this phenomenon has spread across America, and we hope that you can send us the solution, because we have agreed to accept your ruling between us to suppress this fitnah that exists at the national level. Wa’l-salaamu ‘alaykum wa rahmat-Allaahi wa barakaatuhu.
On the basis of the above, it is clear that the basic foundation of the laws and religions that Allaah has prescribed for His slaves is one and there is no need to bring them close to one another. It is obvious that the Jews and Christians have distorted and twisted that which was revealed to them from their Lord, to the point that their religions have become falsehood, kufr and misguidance.So the next time CAIR or some similar organization claims to be interested in "dialogue," you know exactly what they mean.
....How can any rational person who knows about their persistence in falsehood and their continuing to knowingly follow misguidance out of jealousy and their pursuit of their own desires, hope for a closer relationship between them and the truly believing Muslims?
... The person who thinks of bringing Islam, Judaism and Christianity together, or bringing them closer to one another, is like one who strives to bring together the opposites of truth and falsehood, kufr (disbelief) and eemaan (faith). ....
Moreover, the religion of the Jews and Christians has been abrogated by Allaah when He sent the Messenger Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and Allaah obliged all the people of the earth, Jews Christians and others, to follow him.
If they persist in following their religion, which has been abrogated, then they are adhering to falsehood, not to true religion. So it is not permissible for the Muslims to get close to them, because by getting close to them they are approving of their falsehood on the one hand, and misleading the ignorant, on the other. What Muslims should do is expose their falsehood just as Allaah has exposed them in the Qur’aan. And Allaah knows best.
Someone might say: can there not be a truce among them, or a peace treaty, so as to avoid bloodshed and the tragedies of war, and so that people may go about their business and earn a living, and that the world may be developed so that the call to truth and guidance may be given to all people, and so that justice may be established among all people? If someone were to say this, it is fair enough, and any efforts to achieve this would be valuable, for it is a noble aim, because it is possible and it would have a great impact on people. But this applies only when it is not possible to enforce the jizyah system, because Allaah says in Soorat al-Tawbah (interpretation of the meaning):
“Fight against those who (1) believe not in Allaah, (2) nor in the Last Day, (3) nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allaah and His Messenger (Muhammad), (4) and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islam) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued”
At the same time, we must also make sure that we are striving to support the truth. This should not be an attempt on the part of the Muslims to appease the mushrikeen or to give up any of the rulings of Allaah, or anything that would entail their compromising their own dignity. The Muslims must retain their pride and their adherence to the Book of their Lord and the Sunnah of their Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him); they must continue to hate their enemies of Allaah and not befriend them, following the guidance of the Qur’aan and of the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him).