A major international conference of Muslim and Christian scholars and religious leaders began at Cambridge University this weekend.
“A Common Word And Future Muslim-Christian Engagement”, opened last night (Sunday, October 12th) with presentations by both the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, and the Grand Mufti of Egypt, Sheikh Ali Gomaa.
The event is the second in a series of conferences which aim to continue the dialogue between the two faiths prompted by the release of A Common Word Between Us And You – a letter from 138 Islamic scholars, clerics and intellectuals published in October 2007.
This letter was a statement of peace and friendship which stated that the two most important teachings for both Muslims and Christians are the love of God and love of one’s neighbour.
In July 2008, the Archbishop of Canterbury, after extensive consultation with scholars and leaders from many churches, sent a substantial letter in response: A Common Word for the Common Good.
The Cambridge event will, in the light of these two letters, examine a programme of practical steps that the two religious faiths can take to ensure that they deepen mutual understanding, action and friendship.
“The Common Word letters are probably the most important step forward in Muslim-Christian relations in 50 years,” Professor Ford, Director of the Cambridge Inter-Faith Programme, said.
“They engage with each other from the core of each faith and they face up to many big issues, including practical matters of violence, religious freedom and how to collaborate for the sake of peace. They also touch on some of the deepest religious issues to do with God, prayer, love of one’s neighbour and dealing with global problems.
“The Cambridge conference will carry this process further. We aim to offer a model of partnership between Muslims and Christians at the highest level of intellectual engagement and the deepest level of scriptural attentiveness.”
The conference was due to open at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, last evening, where the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Grand Mufti of Egypt, Sheikh Ali Gomaa, were both expected to give addresses to an invited audience of about 40 religious scholars and leaders from four continents.
There will follow two days of closed, intensive discussion and study before a final press briefing at Lambeth Palace on Wednesday, October 15th.
The Cambridge conference is part of a series of consultations around A Common Word. The first took place at Yale University in July, 2008. Future gatherings will take place in Rome in November 2008, at Georgetown University in March 2009 and Jordan (date yet to be decided).
Cambridge Inter-Faith Programme
Reproduced courtesy University of Cambridge Office of Communications