Both Christianity and Islam operate within certain conceptual models or paradigms. All too often, when someone from one faith seeks to understand the other, they try to make that faith fit their own paradigm instead of entering into the paradigm of the other, which is the only way for there to be real understanding. This emphasises ‘The importance of a paradigm shift in understanding Christianity and Islam’.
The Catholic Bishops of Germany have a national information, resource and training centre for dialogue with Islam and Muslims, called CIBEDO, in Frankfurt. I was invited to lead a seminar there in October 2014 to explore “The training of Christian workers for dialogue with Islam.” The paper was presented in German and will be published by CIBEDO in their quarterly. The English original can be downloaded by clicking on the link.
An invitation was given to write a piece of theological reflection from a Christian perspective on my experience of Christian-Muslim dialogue but the sting was in the tail… in only 750 words! This led to several attempts and, rather than delete them, I compiled them together without any particular sequential theme running through them other than the topic. This compilation can be downloaded from Written Resources – Articles.
In October 2007, an Open Letter (www.acommonword.com) was sent, signed by 138 Muslim religious leaders, to a range of Christian leaders inviting them to come to work together to build peace between Christians and Muslims on the basis of a verse of the Qur’an (Q. 3:64). This was a significant Muslim initiative in Christian-Muslim relations. Five years on, this reading guide is offered to readers to help unpack some of the context, content and complexity of A Common Word and to indicate points on which Christians might like to reflect in thinking of an appropriate response. To read more, click on the link below
This book captures the autobiographical reflections of twenty-eight Christian men and women who, in the wake of the Second Vatican Council and movements within the World Council of Churches, committed their lives to the study of Islam and to practical Christian–Muslim relations in new and irenic ways. Their contributions come from across the spectrum of the Western church and record what drew them into the study of Islam, how their careers developed, what sustained them in this work and salient milestones along the way. Their accounts take us to twenty-five countries and into all the branches of Islamic studies: Qur’an, Hadith, Shari’a, Sufism, philology, theology, and philosophy. They give fascinating insights into personal encounters with Islam and Muslims, speak of the ways in which their Christian traditions of spiritual training formed and nourished them, and deal with some of the misunderstandings and opposition they have faced along the way. In an analytical conclusion, the editors draw out themes and pointers towards future developments. Click below to read more…
In October 2007, an “Open Letter” was sent from Muslim religious leaders to Christian leaders inviting them to come to “A Common Word” between them about the primacy of loving God and loving one’s neighbour. The document was originally signed by 138 Muslim leaders from various countries but South and South-East Asia and Africa in general were under-represented, especially when it is considered that these are the areas of the world in which Muslims and Christians live in large number and engage in daily contact. In the light of this, the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung in Germany in October 2009 convened a colloquium of Christian and Muslim scholars and activists from these two regions to discuss the Open Letter and its impact on their local communities. The resulting report, edited by Christian Troll, Helmut Reifeld and Chris Hewer, called We have Justice in Common, was published in 2010. The name was chosen to reflect the overwhelming sense of the colloquium that the central ethical principle of justice needed to be added to any discussion of Christian-Muslim relations. The full text of the report is available to download here.
We have Justice in Common
The question of freedom to change religion, regarded as a “universal right”, brings
particular problems for members of the religion that someone leaves; for them it is
often regarded as apostasy. This article grew out of a briefing paper written by
Chris Hewer to help Christians understand apostasy from a Muslim perspective. It
was taken up by Professor Khalid Alavi who, in the late 80s, was a visiting
professor at the Centre for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations in
Birmingham but later became the Director of the Da’wah Academy at the
International Islamic University in Islamabad, Pakistan. The article was published
in Dawah Highlights, Islamabad: Da’wah Academy, 2004.