The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, will today announce the outcome of two days of intensive talks between Muslims and Christians at Cambridge University.
The closed-door discussions are the latest stage in a series of conferences to continue dialogue between the two faiths, prompted by the ‘Common Word Between Us and You’ letter sent by 138 Islamic scholars, clerics and intellectuals to Christian leaders in October 2007.
The ‘A Common Word And Future Muslim-Christian Engagement’ meeting opened on Sunday night with presentations by Dr Williams and the Grand Mufti of Egypt, Sheikh Ali Gomaa.
Dr Williams said that Muslims and Christians could agree on the principles of loving God and loving their neighbour, as well as the need to eradicate poverty and suffering, according to The Times. He added, however, that substantial theological differences remained in terms of understanding the meaning of Jesus’ death.
“Even in its narratives of Jesus, [Islam] questions or sidelines the story of the death of Jesus as Christians tell it – an issue that is still a live one as between our faiths,” Dr Williams was quoted as saying by The Times.
He went on to note that differing concepts of sacrifice and martyrdom meant that Muslims and Christians did not share the same understanding of “love your neighbour”.
“And how far an Islamic ethic would see love of neighbour as essentially involving the kind of self-abnegation privileged by Christianity is a point worth exploring,” he said, according to The Times.
Professor Ford, Director of the Cambridge Inter-Faith Programme, said the talks would 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”.