Loving God and Neighbor in Word and Deed: Implications for Christians and Muslims
Yale Center for Faith and Culture Reconciliation Program
In our increasingly interdependent world, religion remains a powerful force with the potential to either foster peace or provoke conflict. A unique and potentially history-changing opportunity has arisen with the publication of A Common Word Between Us and You in October 2007, an open letter to Christian leaders and communities from 138 influential Muslim clerics representing every school and sect of Islam from around the world. Compellingly, even if somewhat surprisingly, it states that what unites Christians and Muslims is their common commitment to love God and neighbor.
Among the most influential of the many Christian responses to the Common Word was a letter drafted in November 2007 by a group of scholars at Yale Divinity School, headed by Miroslav Volf, professor and director of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture, and coordinated by Joseph Cumming, director of the Center’s Reconciliation Program. Endorsed by more than 300 of the most influential Christian leaders from this country and abroad, “Loving God and Neighbor Together: A Christian Response to ‘A Common Word Between Us and You’” stressed that the dual commandment to love God and neighbor has the potential to reorient Muslim-Christian relations away from a “clash of civilizations.”
This reply, in turn, led His Royal Highness Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan, the primary drafter of A Common Word and President of the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought in Jordan, to engage enthusiastically with Professor Volf and the Center’s staff in planning a series of top-level interfaith workshops and conferences, the first of which is scheduled for July 24-31, 2008, on the Yale University campus, to be followed by others in October (Cambridge University), November (the Vatican), March 2009 (Georgetown University), and October 2009 (Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute, Jordan). We are hopeful that these meetings have the potential to redefine Christian-Muslim relations in the 21st century.
The Yale Workshop and Conference
The conference, “Loving God and Neighbor in Word and Deed: Implications for Muslims and Christians,” includes both a scholarly workshop and a broader conference. The larger conference, July 28-31, involving more than 60 Muslim participants (mostly from the Middle East), a similar number of Christians, and nine Jewish guests, will extend the discussions of the preceding scholarly workshop to a larger group of scholars and leaders. The workshop, closed to the press and public and scheduled for July 24-28, will involve approximately 60 Christian and Muslim scholars, along with three Jewish observers.
The objective of the Yale workshop and conference is built on the foundation laid by the two widely embraced documents. Together with H.R.H. Prince Ghazi, who is coordinating the participation of Muslim signatories, we have set as our goal the exploration of ways in which the common commitments can help rectify distorted perspectives Muslims and Christians have of each other and repair relations between the Middle East and the West. If Muslims and Christians, who together comprise more than half the world’s population, can acknowledge mutual commitment to loving God and loving neighbor the boost to a dynamic and peaceful interdependence in our globalized world would be immense.
There will be an open press conference at the conclusion of the event. Thursday, July 31, 12:00-1:00 pm.
For more information on this conference and the agenda, go to http://www.yale.edu/divinity/commonword/
For background see also:
Muslim Scholars Appeal to Christian Scholars for Dialogue and Peace on Eve of Eid, Sheila Musaji http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/unprecedented_plea_from_muslim_to_christian_scholars_on_eve_of_eid/
Update on “A Common Word Between Us and You” An Appeal From Muslim Scholars For Dialogue and Peace, Sheila Musaji http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/update_on_a_common_word_between_us_and_you_an_appeal_from_muslim_scholars_f/
Reflections on the Meeting Between Catholics and Muslims At the Pontifical Council for Interreligius Dialogue, Abdal Hakim Murad http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/reflections_on_the_meeting_between_catholics_and_muslims_at_the_pontifical_/
Light on horizon for interfaith peace Muslim-Christian dialogue offers hope, Douglas Roche http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/light_on_horizon_for_interfaith_peace_muslim_christian_dialogue_offers_hope/
Misgivings and skepticism about Muslim reach out, Abdus Sattar Ghazali http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/misgivings_and_skepticism_about_muslim_scholars_letter_to_christians/
A Common Word Between Us and You – A response by Professor David Ford, Director of the Cambridge Inter-Faith Programme http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/response_by_prof_david_ford_cambridge_interfaith_program_to_muslim_scholars/
Full text of Common Word letter http://www.divinity.cam.ac.uk/cip/documents/COMMONWORDFINAL091007.pdf
Official website of A Common Word http://www.acommonword.com/