How I Rediscovered Christianity Through Islam
By Philip Clayton
I always thought that the way to believe more deeply was to surround myself with other Christians. After all, isn’t that the traditional tool for religious socialization? Send the child to Sunday School, surround her with Christian friends and teachers, make it a Christian high school and college if possible … and then her faith will hold for life. Teaching a child to be Jewish, Muslim, or Hindu, it was said, works much the same way.
* * *
Muslim-Christian Dialogue Defined
by Charles Kimball
from the Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World
Intentional, structured encounters between Muslims and Christians are generally termed “Muslim-Christian dialogue.” Interfaith dialogue is a conversation in which two or more parties seek to express their views accurately and to listen respectfully to their counterparts. Since the second half of the twentieth century, organized dialogue meetings have proliferated at the local, regional, and international levels. The meetings vary significantly in their organization, focus, and venue, as well as in the composition of participants. Several motives have propelled the contemporary dialogue movement. These include desires to foster understanding, to stimulate communication, to correct stereotypes, to work on specific problems of mutual concern, to explore similarities and differences, and to facilitate means of witness and cooperation. The pragmatic need for better understanding and cooperation among adherents in the world’s two largest communities of faith—Christianity and Islam—is particularly acute. Together Christians and Muslims comprise almost half the world’s population, so the way in which they relate is bound to have profound consequences for both communities and for the world.
* * *
Pew Forum Report on Islam and Christianity in Sub-Saharan Africa
The vast majority of people in many sub-Saharan African nations are deeply committed to the practices and major tenets of one or the other of the world’s two largest religions, Christianity and Islam. Large majorities say they belong to one of these faiths, and, in sharp contrast with Europe and the United States, very few people are religiously unaffiliated. Despite the dominance of Christianity and Islam, traditional African religious beliefs and practices have not disappeared. Rather, they coexist with Islam and Christianity. Whether or not this entails some theological tension, it is a reality in people’s lives: Large numbers of Africans actively participate in Christianity or Islam yet also believe in witchcraft, evil spirits, sacrifices to ancestors, traditional religious healers, reincarnation and other elements of traditional African religions.
* * *
Seeking Muslim, Christian and Jewish Wisdom in the
Fifteenth, Twenty-first and Fifty-eighth centuries:
A Muscat Manifesto
David F. Ford
On Monday 20th April 2009
* * *
Striving Together in Dialogue: A Muslim-Christian Call to Reflection and Action
NOTE: This document is presented to offer a comparison between the state of Christian-Muslim relations prior to 9/11 versus the same relations today as this document was drawn up in 2000.
+ + +
This document has been published by the World Council of Churches and other partners, including Islamic organisations and specialised journals. It is the fruit of a Muslim-Christian meeting held in Amersfoort, Netherlands in November 2000. Convened by the World Council of Churches, it took stock of the various Christian-Muslim dialogue initiatives of this organisation since 1991.
During the nine years before the meeting, Christian and Muslim religious leaders, educators and activists had discussed the thorny and sometimes divisive issues of religion, law and society, human rights, religious freedom, community rights, mission and da’wa and communal tensions. This document draws largely on their questions, reflections and conclusions.
* * *
Faith and the Possibility of Christian-Muslim-Jewish Trialogue
Patrick J. Ryan, S.J.
Laurence J. McGinley Professor of Religion and Society
I have been privileged over several decades to study the scriptural sources and some of the subsequent theological development not only of the Jewish and Christian traditions, but also, at least since 1968, of the Islamic tradition. Here in America I have learned from Jews, and during many years in Africa I learned from Muslims. I have come to realize over the years that we use many of the same religious categories in ways that are in some sense the same and in some sense different. This evening I want to spell out some of the similarities and differences in the Jewish, Christian and Muslim understandings of faith, and to suggest why those similarities and differences can give us hope for a future of mutual understanding.
Growing Ecologies of Peace, Compassion
and Blessing: A Muslim Response to
‘A Muscat Manifesto’
byAref Ali Nayed
Lecture at the Cambridge Inter-Faith Programme, Faculty of Divinity
University of Cambridge
Wednesday 21st October 2009
In the Name of God, Compassionate, Kind. Blessings upon the Prophets of God
In the welcoming setting of Oman’s distinguished theological faculty, and the
sublime beauty of the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, Professor David Ford of the Cambridge Faculty of Divinity offered Muslim scholars a gift. He named the gift ‘A Muscat Manifesto’, and distilled in it the wisdom of decades of deep theological work and experience.1 The gift consisted of good advice on the features of good theology, the characteristics of good religious leadership, and guidelines for inter-faith relations.
Professor Ford, of course, spoke from the depths of his own Christian wisdom tradition, but his advice, coming from a sincere and loving heart, did transcend inter-faith boundaries, and touched the hearts of many Muslim scholars.2 What comes from the heart enters hearts. I pray that I can respond to ‘A Muscat Manifesto’ from the heart. Of course, the best heart-felt response to a gift is gratitude. So, it is my honour to publicly thank Professor Ford for his wonderful gift, and to elaborate the ‘thank you’ theologically, as best as I can.
‘A Muscat Manifesto’ provides the features or ‘key elements’ for ‘wise theology’. It also provides the characteristics for a more engaging religious leadership. It then goes on to provide guidelines for inter-faith relations. Let us start with the features of a wise theology.
Professor Ford offers four such features:
1. Wise theology is based on wise interpretation and understanding of scripture and tradition.
2. Wise theology is doubly engaged, in the present: with God (in prayer); and with our changing world (in living).
3. Wise theology is intelligent and creative in its understanding of things, divine and worldly.
4. Wise theology communicates itself to others effectively.
* * *
A Common Word
Last year a group of prominent international Muslim leaders issued an appeal for dialogue with Christian communities world wide. Below is a summation of what they called “A Common Word Between Us and You” followed by one of many responses from Christian communities, in this case the response of the National Council of Churches of Christ (USA).
For a full copy of the statement along with responses and discussion please visit A Common Word website.
In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
A Common Word between Us and You
(Summary and Abridgement)
Muslims and Christians together make up well over half of the world’s population.
Without peace and justice between these two religious communities, there can be no
meaningful peace in the world. The future of the world depends on peace between
Muslims and Christians.
Response from ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hansen
On October 11, (2007) a copy of a letter was delivered to me from Muslim scholars and religious leaders addressed to Christian religious leaders around the world. As presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and president of the Lutheran World Federation, I receive this letter in the sincere expression of faithfulness intended by its drafters, and with the hopeful expectation for peace that calls to us from the origins of our sacred texts and professions of faith. I encourage prayer and planning for communities of justice, peace, and security where Muslims, Jews, and Christians draw from these origins as from essential wells of living water.
The letter attests to both the love of God and our shared heritage of true hospitality to one’s neighbor. These commandments convey prophetic witness for mutual and vital co-existence that Christians and Muslims must embrace in one another. The letter further references how the commands to love God and neighbor are linked ‘between the Qur’an, the Torah and the New Testament.’ I encourage everyone everywhere to read the beauty of these passages found in the sacred texts of the Abrahamic faiths, which signify God’s vision for how and whom we love in a broken world. This common vision for Jews, Muslims, and Christians signifies fidelity and fellowship in a world where conflict offends our common heritage as children of God.
In 2005 I, along with an LWF delegation that included General Secretary Ishmael Noko, met with His Royal Highness Prince Ghazi, personal envoy and special advisor to King Abdullah II of Jordan. Our delegation was grateful for the sincere hospitality and friendship that were so freely displayed in our conversation. The delegation spoke at length with Prince Ghazi about the origins of the Abrahamic faiths in that region of the world. In another meeting, Akel Biltaji, advisor to His Majesty the King, stated, “We are honored to be servants and custodians of the Holy sites.”
I acknowledge this letter in gratitude and recognition of the need for its further study and consideration. I likewise accept it in the belief that Jews, Muslims, and Christians are called to one another as to a holy site, where God’s living revelation in the world is received in reverence among the faithful and not in fear of our neighbors.
I pray for God’s continued blessings among Muslims, Jews, and Christians alike, and thank God for such displays of wisdom and humility from their leaders.”
The Rev. Mark S. Hanson
Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
President, The Lutheran World Federation
* * *
An Ecumenical Response to
“A Common Word Between Us and You”
National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA
Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus.
“Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?”
He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul,
and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”
And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”
(Luke 10:25-28, NRSV)
Introduction: An Affirmation of Christian-Muslim Engagement
The churches that comprise the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA welcome with gratitude “A Common Word Between Us and You.” Addressed to leaders of Christian churches around the world, your letter expresses an intent to engage seriously with Christians in dialogue that is grounded in the authentic religious convictions of our respective communities. Based upon the love of God and the love of neighbor – the two great commandments central to Islam, Christianity, and Judaism – your letter invites Christians to join with Muslims to forge ties of peace. This is a bold and timely invitation. Out of Christian faithfulness, and with respect for Islam, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, whose member churches’ common Christian witness leads them to seek unity with one another and peace with justice for all people, offers this ecumenical response to you, our Muslim friends, as an acceptance of your invitation.