A Journey into Understanding Islam

For much of the last dozen years, I have been running courses, writing and
talking to people to help them to understand Islam and Christian-Muslim
relations. For six years in Birmingham (1999-2005), when I was the Adviser
on Inter-Faith Relations to the Bishop of Birmingham, my focus widened to
include practical and structural relations between all the major faiths in that
great cosmopolitan city. For the last five years (2006-2010), I worked in
London with a narrower focus – precisely to develop adult popular education in
understanding Islam for Christians and others, understanding Christianity for
Muslims, Christian-Muslim relations in history and today, and exploring the
multi-faceted world of Muslims and the West. This work was generously
funded by a syndicate of four charitable bodies, both Muslim and Christian, of
which the St Ethelburga Centre for Reconciliation and Peace was one, and so I
was known as the St Ethelburga Fellow in Christian-Muslim Relations. But the
story does not begin there!

Click here to read the full article “Journey into Understanding

The contribution of Islamic social values to the future of British society

Crucible: The Christian journal of social ethics devoted its July-September 2008
number to “Islam in Britain: challenge and opportunity”. The following article was
written by Chris Hewer. It explores some of the key social values that Islam might
have to contribute to the future of British society without doing the work of Muslim
scholars in addressing their tradition and working out the application in detail.

The 2001 Census gave the Muslim population of Britain as approximately 1.6m
people. There are reasons to think that this might have been rather a low figure and, with the passage of nearly seven years, we can reasonably estimate the current total to be in the order of 2 million. The key statistic that the last census produced was the age profile of Muslims in Britain…

 

To read the article “Islamic Social Values” click on this link.

A brief introduction to Islam

The Church of Ireland held a national in-service training day in Dublin in 2006
at which Chris Hewer spoke and later contributed the following paper to the
Church of Ireland Journal, June 2006. It serves as a useful first introduction to
Islam.

Muslims never understand Islam as a new religion that began with the
revelation of the Qur’an to the Prophet Muhammad in the 7th century CE.
Rather, to understand Islam, we need to go back to the starting point of all
theology, that is the doctrine of God. According to Islamic understanding, God
is one, indivisible, eternal, transcendent, omniscient, and omnipotent (Q. 6:59,
34:22). God is like no other being and does not share divinity with any created
being or thing (Q. 112). Indeed the sin of shirk, that is to associate partners
with God, in the one sin that God will never forgive (Q. 4:48)….

Click here to read the article “Introduction to Islam”

Hard Questions

The Church of Ireland held a national in-service training day in Dublin in 2006
at which Chris Hewer spoke and later contributed a paper (see Introduction to
Islam on this website). There were several “Hard Questions” left hanging on
this day, which were answered in collaboration with Dr Jabal M Buaben, the
Director of the Centre for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations in
Birmingham. They were published in the Church of Ireland Journal, June
2006.

Questions such as:

How can Muslims balance believing in God as “The Merciful, The
Compassionate” with assenting to the execution of a man or woman for
adultery?

Can you explain the use of the fatwa: for instance in the case of Salman
Rushdie and The Satanic Verses or the man recently condemned to death
for converting to Christianity?

We hear of many conflicting reports about the treatment of Muslim
women in different countries; what is from Islam and what is cultural?

Are suicide bombers correct in their understanding that Paradise awaits
them as martyrs in the cause of Islam?

What really constitutes jihad in Islamic teaching? Is all the talk of “Holy
War” today justifiable according to the Qur’an and are there other ways
of reading the text?

Click here to read the full article “Hard Questions”

Communicating an understanding of Islam

Let me set you a challenge: how would you put together ten sessions to help
secular people with no concept of what religion entails to understand
Christianity? Where would you start? Let’s add to the question: what if the
people followed their own religion and so had some concept of what it is to “be
religious”? Would that make a difference? Finally, what if the people were
Jews or Muslims and so had a direct relationship to Christianity (and maybe
some misperceptions too!). What difference would that make? These questions
help to explore the kind of communication issue with which I have been
struggling for the last twenty years: how to help Christians understand Islam.

Click here to read “Communicating an Understanding of Islam”