Christians And Muslims: Agreements And Disagreements On God And Christ

When various Christians try to engage Islam, pointing out that despite the various (and significant) differences which exists between the two faiths, they still worship the same God, other Christians quickly speak up and say it is impossible because of those very differences. It is as if they believe God is created by one’s own thoughts about God, justifying Feuerbach and others like him in saying God is created in the image of humanity instead of humanity in the image of God. If mere opinion about the various characteristics of God establish belief in a different God, no two people will worship the same God, as no two people have identical notions about God. However, God is beyond us, and our opinions about God do not form or shape who God is but only reveal what we think about God. Those differences can be important as bad ideas about God can lead to all kinds of terrible actions by those who believe them, and for this reason arguments concerning which representation of God best exemplifies the divine nature can matter, but they do not matter in relation to the question of whether or not people are seeking after and believing in the same God. Christians and Muslims share God in common, and indeed, believe many of the same things about the divine nature, including elements which come from revelation (and so not reason alone):

The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God.[1]

FULL ARTICLE FROM PATHEOS BLOG

In Muslim-majority UAE, an interfaith beacon is found

Rabbis expect a new interfaith complex will further promote cross-religious dialogue

Though the United Arab Emirates is famously known for its luxurious malls and towering Burj Khalifa skyscraper, a diverse interfaith project may soon become one of the nation’s most notable structures.

The Abrahamic Family House, a religious complex which will house a mosque, a synagogue, and a church, is currently under construction in Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi.

Named after Abraham – the shared patriarch of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam – this historic interfaith complex is the first of its kind in the Muslim-majority UAE, and offers a display of religious unity not often seen in the Middle East.

The structure, designed by Ghanaian-British architect Sir David Adjaye OBE, features three houses of worship composed of equal cubic volumes and exterior dimensions to ensure that no one building outweighs another.

Though the complex’s sites share these similar features, each one is completely unique – drawing on a variety of religious motifs to influence the architectural themes within.

The composition of the mosque is intended to evoke the sequences of Islamic worship, the synagogue’s interior draws from the layered leaves of Sukkot palm fronds, and the church uses light and water to pay homage to elements within Christianity.

“The design aims to both meaningfully represent, and support diverse communities… unlocking a contemporary spirit that draws from tradition but looks towards the future – a future defined by acceptance, inclusion, and peace,” the project’s website explained.

FULL ARTICLE FROM I24 NEWS

Official new pamphlet aims to help Latter-day Saints understand, treat Muslims better

Elder David A. Bednar repudiates stereotypes about Muslims. Pamphlet outlines common values shared by the 2 faiths.

A new 35-page pamphlet called “Muslims and Latter-day Saints: Beliefs, Values, and Lifestyles” appeared online Wednesday on websites and apps of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Why it matters: Muslim and Latter-day Saint leaders work together across the world because of their shared values. Latter-day Saint leaders have said they want church members to better understand Muslims, work and live together with them and help root out bias against Islam.

  • The pamphlet’s publication was first announced in October at a BYU conference on Islam. Learning more about Muslim neighbors “will help us be more kind and more accurate in what we say and feel about each other,” Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said at the time.
  • Elder David A. Bednar of the Twelve used the conference to repudiate all disparaging statements made by Latter-day Saints about Muslims, including those that repeated stereotypes. He called stereotypes wrong and offensive: “Such biases cause those who feel that way to overlook the kindness and goodness of the overwhelming majority of all Muslims,” he said.
  • Elder Bednar said the booklet was produced over several years with the help of Muslim imams.

FULL ARTICLE FROM DESERET.COM

Seattle’s Interfaith Community Sanctuary includes Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus

Jamal Rahman is cofounder and Muslim Sufi imam at Interfaith Community Sanctuary in Seattle. He is a popu­lar speaker and author on Islam, Sufi spirituality, and interfaith relations. Interfaith Community Sanctuary won second prize in the 2020 UN World Interfaith Harmony Week Prize from A Common Word.

Tell us about how Interfaith Community Sanctuary became a reality. Where did the idea come from?

In 1992, I was very keen to establish community in Seattle. I left my previous career and began teaching self-development classes. I was trained in Sufism, the mystical side of Islam, so that’s what I taught. I was surprised by how many people came to take the classes.

In seven years we had a few hundred people. From there we started to ask: What does it mean to have an interfaith worship service? We were people of different religions, mostly Christians but also Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus. All of us were looking for a connection to something higher and deeper.

What kind of worship could we do that unites everyone? There are a few things that transcend the boundaries of religion. One is silence. There’s no such thing as a Jewish silence or Islamic silence; it’s just silence. So, we decided, let’s just practice silence in each of our Sunday worship services.

Second, music. Everybody loves music. We had chanters from different traditions, so we added chanting. I would always quote Rumi, “Music is the sound of the spheres. We have been part of this harmony before.” And once we chant and sing and play music, it keeps our remembering fresh and it doesn’t matter what your religion is.

Food is how we came to know the other on a human level. We built that in as well. So we focused on silence, chanting, and food.

Over time, we came to say that we focus on essence, not form. We asked: What is the experience, the taste, we want? We would also say that we wanted to move from a knowledge of the tongue to a knowledge of the heart. That can come from personal relationship, connection, spiritual companions in your life, music, silence, and sharing different spiritual practices.

Every tradition says a person is to become a better human being, a more developed human being. And everyone wants to be of service to God’s creation in a genuine way. Rabindranath Tagore has this wonderful poem: “I slept and dreamed: / Life was joy. / I awoke and found life was service. / I served and lo, service was joy.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CHRISTIAN CENTURY

In Cairo, I sat in on a scriptural reasoning group with Christians and Muslims

Moving beyond amicable consensus to productive discomfort

Early in 2020, before international travel became impossible, my wife and I visited friends who work on interfaith relations and theological education in Egypt. While there we had an unexpected opportunity to sit down with a group of Muslims and Christians for intensive study of our sacred scriptures.

Around the turn of the century, the practice of “scriptural reasoning” or “textual reasoning” was being promoted by theological students and faculty in North America and Europe. David Ford, Peter Ochs, C. C. Pecknold, and others built a tradition that continues in small groups and academic conferences around the world. In the West the initiative began with Jewish-Christian dialogue, later reaching out to include Islam as well. In the contexts in which I became familiar with it—from the reports of colleagues who worked in Bangladesh, during a visit to Oman, and then in Egypt, none of which has a significant Jewish presence—it is a Muslim-Christian collaborative venture.

While staying in Cairo we were invited to serve as hosts for a group that has gathered every month or two for a few years. It’s coordinated by Naji Umran, a Canadian missionary with Resonate Global Mission (the mission agency of the Christian Reformed Church in North America), and his Muslim colleague Hany al-Halawany, a lawyer and interfaith activist. We had been offered the use of a spacious apartment by American church educators Steve and Frankie Wunderink while they were away, a welcoming space for our conversation. Hoping we could emulate the warm hospitality we encountered in every Egyptian home and office we visited, we explored all the fruit shops and bakeries of Abaseya, our bustling central Cairo neighborhood, and laid a table with tropical fruits and Middle Eastern pastries.

Along with the two American visitors and the two organizers, the group that gathered included a Christian pastor and two sheikhs (synonymous with “imam” but more commonly used in Egypt). A few more had been expected, but the vagaries of Cairo traffic kept them from joining us. Issaq Saad is a Presbyterian pastor and a member of the interfaith council of the Synod of the Nile. Sheikh Shaher serves as a cleric and teacher at Al-Azhar Mosque and its affiliated university, world-renowned centers of Islamic life and learning. Sheikh Mohammed Hegazy leads a mosque in Qalyub, just north of Cairo.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CHRISTIAN CENTURY

An interfaith examination: Islamic Thought Through Protestant Eyes

Book Club: In an enlightening examination of religions, Mehmet Karabela’s Islamic Thought Through Protestant Eyes elaborates how, in the aftermath of the Protestant Reformation, Islam became a key theological concern in Western Europe.

What if the Protestant Reformation was as much about Islam as it was with Catholicism? We all know the story, a German priest called Martin Luther angered by what he saw as the excesses of the Catholic Church and certain doctrines it espoused, nailed 95 pieces of theses to the door of a church symbolising his objections, unwittingly triggering the reformation leading to the creation of Protestantism.

Protestantism started out as a protest against Catholicism turning into a full sect with different beliefs, practises and doctrines, but while anti-Catholicism might have been a key feature of the Protestant movement, Islam played a lesser-known role in the formation of the Christian sect. Mehmet Karabela’s Islamic Thought Through Protestant Eyes aims to fill the gap in historical knowledge on how engaging with Islam helped shape Protestant beliefs and doctrines.

“The obsession with Islam was partially driven by fear of things like the Ottoman Empire, but also intense curiosity, especially in light of the rejection of the intellectual authority of the Catholic Church, there was a sense they needed to make sense of the world with new eyes”

Some historians such as Kecia Ali have argued modern Islam is increasingly protestant with a growing emphasis on things like relying only on the Quran, Hadiths and the first generation of Muslims as authority figures, a position born out of interaction with western Christianity through things like European colonialism, American-led globalisation and other related forces.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NEW ARAB

Church of Pakistan looks to promote interfaith harmony through Christian-Muslim dialogue

The Church of Pakistan (CoP) has proposed to replicate the Christian-Muslim dialogue between the Anglican church and leading scholars of Egypt’s Al-Azhar University to foster interfaith harmony and peace in Pakistan.

According to a statement issued by the office of the Church of Pakistan (CoP) Moderator/President Dr Azad Marshall, the proposal was floated during a meeting between the Anglican church leadership and the scholars of the prestigious university of Islamic learning on the sidelines of a high-level event in Cairo where the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby launched the new Anglican province of Alexandria. 

The statement said that Archbishop Emeritus of the Anglican Province of Alexandria Mounir Hanna shared the idea of setting up a research center in Egypt comprising Muslim and Christian religious scholars based on their interactions over the last two decades. Al-Azhar University’s Grand Imam Mohamed Ahmed el-Tayeb welcomed the idea and assured his full cooperation, the statement added. 

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NATION (PAKISTAN)

Three books offer hope-filled views on Christian-Muslim relations

Pillars: How Muslim Friends Led Me Closer to Jesus” by Rachel Pieh Jones. Plough Publishing (Wal-den, New York, 2021). 264 pp., $ 17.99.
“Islamophobia: What Christians Should Know (and Do) about Anti-Muslim Discrimination” by Jordan Denari Duffner. Orbis Books (Maryknoll, New York, 2021). 243 pp., $22.
“A World of Inequalities: Christian and Muslim Perspectives,” edited by Lucinda Mosher. Georgetown University Press (Washington, 2021). 253 pp., $34.95.

I recommend all three of these timely books for anyone who wishes to understand the history and present reality of Christian-Muslim relations both within this country and around the world.

The title of Rachel Jones’ “Pillars” echoes the five basic pillars of Muslim faith: There is no god but God, prayer, almsgiving, fasting and pilgrimage.

The book is a personal journal, organized in five sections reflecting the pillars, of the author’s life in the heart of Africa, Somalia, where she and her husband moved to take part in a humanitarian effort to help the local Muslim inhabitants to learn more and achieve a better lifestyle.

She and her family endured many difficulties, from being looked down upon and excluded to fears of the violence that killed three of her Christian friends. But Muslim women come to her aid, teaching her how to interact with Muslim women and men, and bringing her family into their homes so she could better understand.

Jones and her Muslim friends journey together through the Muslim year, learning about each other through dialogue, listening to each other and, hesitatingly, praying together to the one God whom Christians and Muslims both worship.

This very personal story will introduce readers to Muslim religious traditions and, more importantly, to people with whom readers can relate and learn from.

“Islamophobia” details the present-day reality of a negative and largely false set of ideas about Muslims and Islam that has been part of Christian culture since at least the Crusades.

Ignoring what the holy book, the Quran, which is largely based upon the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament, actually states, Islam is portrayed as a religion that sees itself as having replaced Christianity and Judaism and is aimed at their destruction and creating a totalitarian structure to take over and rule the world.

Muslims are depicted as anti-women’s rights, as racists and evil slaveholders, as if Christians never “owned” slaves. While some Muslims might hold such views, and some Muslim societies have reflected them, this is not what the Quran teaches.

We Catholics, and Christians in general, have equally been guilty of such departures from the teachings of Jesus. So we must learn not to scapegoat Muslims by blaming them for the faults of our own history, and to a sad extent, the present.

The final third of the book, “Crafting a Christian Response,” provides the reader with a number of things Catholics and all Christians can do today to break the cycle of fear/hate of Muslims, both individually and communally.

Author Jordan Denari Duffner notes the good things that the Holy See has done but argues, correctly in my view, that more can and should be done.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CATHOLIC SENTINEL

A Jew, a Christian, a Muslim and a Baha’i: Welcome to Abrahamic House, an interfaith living community

(Washington Jewish Week via JTA) — Picture four young adults of different faiths sharing one house for one year. That’s not the premise of a new reality TV show. It’s just reality.

Abrahamic House is an interfaith fellowship program in which four people ages 21 to 35 share a home for one to two years. In exchange for subsidized rent, the residents organize programs and community events.

It’s a concept inspired by the Moishe House group-living program, but instead of involving only Jews, Abrahamic House is home to a Jew, a Christian, a Muslim and a Baha’i.

“We are trying to build bridges,” said Abrahamic House founder Mohammed Al Samawi, 34.

At the moment, there’s only one Abrahamic House — in Los Angeles. And the inaugural class of residents moved in just before COVID-19 hit. But a second house will open Sept. 1 in Washington, D.C. Now all it needs is a (physical) house and people to live in it.

Applications for the D.C. Abrahamic House are open. Once the four fellows have been selected, they will be offered three possible sites for their house, Al Samawi said.

With Abrahamic House, Al Samawi wants to promote collaboration among adults from often hostile religions, and to challenge their stereotypes of each other. With any luck, such success will spread to the broader community.

FULL ARTICLE FROM JTA.ORG

Promoting Peace Between Christians and Muslims In Ghana

IT SEEMS to me that neither science nor religion is good or bad in themselves. It is people who make good use or bad use of them. Thus, the goodness or badness of science and religion depends upon the goodness or badness of humans who use them to solve or create life’s problems.

The Bible advocates peaceful coexistence as it exhorts believers in these words, “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbour…You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Leviticus 19:17-18). The Lord Jesus emphasized that loving God and our neighbours is the greatest commandment.

Prophet T.B. Joshua teaches that a person’s neighbours include those who do not share the same faith with him or her. This means differences in faiths should not serve as catalyst for religious conflict or oppression. Ghana’s Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, a Muslim recently expressed delight over peaceful Christian-Muslim relations in Ghana, describing it as enviable religious tolerance.

The Vice President was speaking at the commissioning of the National Mosque in Accra recently. The 5000-capacity Mosque complex described by Mrs. Gina Blay, Ghana’s Ambassador to Germany as hybrid in her Twitter post, was funded by the Turkish Government. Surprisingly, however, the imposing Muslim edifice was commissioned by a Christian.

FULL ARTICLE FROM MODERNGHANA.COM