What Are Christian Mystics Doing at a Mosque?

imagesOver the last 20 years I have been inspired to ponder the benevolent potential of interfaith work when I have seen mystically oriented Christians and Muslims successfully dialoguing to show their goodwill. For those interested in spirituality, interfaith encounter and dialogue between mystics that includes a focus on spirituality is potentially quite interesting. Bernard McGinn sees mysticism as a “particular kind of encounter between God and the human” and he offers a rather expansive perspective on the essential goal of mysticism, stating that, “… everything that leads up to and prepares for this encounter as well as all that flows from or is supposed to flow from it for the life of the individual in the belief community is also mystical…”(Bernard McGinn, ‘The Foundations of Mysticism,’ Crossroad Publishing, New York, 1992, page xvi.) Christian-Muslim dialogue between mystics can be part of this whole experience as described by McGinn in the sense that it can focus the attention of persons on the relationship with the Almighty and what is important in the religion.

Amongst the crowd in various mosques in North America, one never really knows exactly why some Muslims reach a higher spiritual level than others. They may be individually fortunate Muslims or they may also choose to benefit from the spiritual discipline and guidance of belonging to certain Sufi orders.Unless you are in a mosque community that is intolerant towards Sufism (those exist), individual Muslim mystics in the local mosque crowd may also affiliate with one or more of many Sufi orders that approach Islamic mysticism systematically in a disciplined way. (See here.)



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