Muslim Scholars At Vatican To Prepare For Meeting

Vatican, Mar. 4, 2008 ( – Five representatives of the “Common Word” initiative are in Rome this week, meeting with Vatican officials to prepare for a meeting at which Pope Benedict XVI (bionews) will speak with Islamic leaders.

The “Common Word” initiative originated with an appeal from 135 Islamic leaders for a deeper dialogue with Christians. Pope Benedict welcomed the idea, and issued his own invitation for representatives of the group to visit the Vatican for in-depth discussions. This week’s preliminary talks are designed to lay the groundwork for that meeting.

The Muslim scholars visiting the Vatican this week are Ibrahim Kalin, a Turk, from Georgetown University; Abd al-Hakim Murad Winter, a Englishman, from the Shaykh Zayed Divinity School at the University of Cambridge; Sohail Nakhooda, a Jordanian, the editor of Islamica magazine; Yahaya Sergio Yahe Pallavicini, an Italian, the imam at Milan’s al-Wahid mosque; and Aref Ali Nayed, a Libyan, from the University of Cambridge.

The Common Word project has now been endorsed by over 200 Muslim leaders. In his response to the initiative, Pope Benedict issued his invitation to the Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought in Jordan, headed by Prince Ghazi Ibn Talal.