Muslims Host Common Ground Meeting

Posted by Ann Fontaine on August 5, 2008

While Anglican bishops were meeting in Canterbury, senior Christian and Muslim scholars and leaders were meeting in the United States seeking common ground in their different faiths to foster better understanding between Islam and the West according to Reuters.

Hosted by Yale University Divinity School, the conference is the first public dialogue launched by Muslim intellectuals in the Common Word group that appealed to Christian leaders last year for discussions among theologians to promote peace.

Most U.S. participants are Protestant theologians and church leaders, including some prominent evangelicals, but some Catholics and Jews also are taking part. The Muslims, both Sunnis and Shi’ites, hail from around the world.

Their conference comes just more than a week after King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, home of Islam’s strict Wahhabi sect, hosted an unprecedented meeting of Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists in Madrid and pledged to pursue interfaith dialogue.

The Common Word project, started last October by 138 Muslim scholars, says Christianity and Islam share two common core values — love of God and love of neighbor. The group says discussions on this among experts can help defuse tensions between the faiths.

The Common Word group, a multinational platform for mainstream faith in a religion with no central authority, will meet Anglicans in October and Pope Benedict in November.

“In the modern era, we have never had anything like this where such a large group of people from all kinds of religious, ethnic and cultural backgrounds agreed on an issue such as this,” said Ibrahim Kalin, a spokesman for the group.