Speaking to IRNA, Whitehead said that religion play a key role to resolve challenges of today’s society.
‘I think faith is an incredibly important way to bring a better understanding between different communities and different people’s and in particular a very important way to try and improve the friendly knowledge of understanding between the UK and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Faith plays and incredibly important part in the lives of millions of people in both countries.’
Commenting on Tehran-London relations, the scholar regretted that mutual ties between the two capitals were ‘very much based mistrust.’
‘Unfortunately our countries for the last 150 years have had a relationship that has been based very much on mistrust; If we want to improve that, if we want to improve the understanding between the UK and Islamic Republic of Iran we need to bring together people who communicate with large communities and large societies in each country so that by building those bridges between faith leaders, between communities we can bring about a better understanding.’
Whitehead stressed that many of the problems between Iran and Britain ‘are based on a lack of understanding or misunderstanding and I genuinely believe that faith is a very powerful way for us to share the things that we have in common; to share the challenges that we have in common, ad through that to build a better understanding and through that understanding build more trust.’
Commenting on the alleged relation between Islam and extremism, he said, ‘I think the problem again comes back to understanding and I think that if people think that way, then they do not understand Islam. Islam is a religion of Love, togetherness, mercy; it is not a religion of terrorism.
If we want people to really understand the beauty of Islam and what Islam really stands for we need to build a better understanding between the people of the UK and the people of Islamic Republic of Iran; the faith communities in the UK and the faith communities in the Islamic republic of Iran.
‘If we can build that understanding I think we will be able to come across the true message of what Islam is and we would be able to break down this completely false misconception of Islam being associated with terrorism.’