Training for dialogue with Islam

The Catholic Bishops of Germany have a national information, resource and training centre for dialogue with Islam and Muslims, called CIBEDO, in Frankfurt.  I was invited to lead a seminar there in October 2014 to explore “The training of Christian workers for dialogue with Islam.”  The paper was presented in German and will be published by CIBEDO in their quarterly.  The English original can be downloaded by clicking on the link.

Christian Lives Given to the Study of Islam

This book captures the autobiographical reflections of twenty-eight Christian men and women who, in the wake of the Second Vatican Council and movements within the World Council of Churches, committed their lives to the study of Islam and to practical Christian–Muslim relations in new and irenic ways. Their contributions come from across the spectrum of the Western church and record what drew them into the study of Islam, how their careers developed, what sustained them in this work and salient milestones along the way. Their accounts take us to twenty-five countries and into all the branches of Islamic studies: Qur’an, Hadith, Shari’a, Sufism, philology, theology, and philosophy. They give fascinating insights into personal encounters with Islam and Muslims, speak of the ways in which their Christian traditions of spiritual training formed and nourished them, and deal with some of the misunderstandings and opposition they have faced along the way. In an analytical conclusion, the editors draw out themes and pointers towards future developments. Click below to read more…

Christian Lives Given to the Study of Islam

We have Justice in Common

In October 2007, an “Open Letter” was sent from Muslim religious leaders to Christian leaders inviting them to come to “A Common Word” between them about the primacy of loving God and loving one’s neighbour. The document was originally signed by 138 Muslim leaders from various countries but South and South-East Asia and Africa in general were under-represented, especially when it is considered that these are the areas of the world in which Muslims and Christians live in large number and engage in daily contact. In the light of this, the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung in Germany in October 2009 convened a colloquium of Christian and Muslim scholars and activists from these two regions to discuss the Open Letter and its impact on their local communities. The resulting report, edited by Christian Troll, Helmut Reifeld and Chris Hewer, called We have Justice in Common, was published in 2010. The name was chosen to reflect the overwhelming sense of the colloquium that the central ethical principle of justice needed to be added to any discussion of Christian-Muslim relations. The full text of the report is available to download here.
We have Justice in Common

An enduring vision: the Study Centre at Selly Oak

This article was written by Chris Hewer as a contribution to the two-volume
posthumous book to mark the contribution of Prof. David Kerr, the Founder-Director of the Centre for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations in Selly Oak, Birmingham (World Christianity in Muslim Encounter: Essays in memory of David A Kerr, Vol II, (ed.) Stephen Goodwin, London: Continuum, 2009 ). David died in his early sixties, just at the moment when he had settled to polish and publish the
contributions that he had made to the field orally during four decades. The article
seeks the rationale and spirit behind the founding of the Centre – as much needed
today as when it was founded.

For those of us involved in the world of Christian-Muslim relations, the name of David Kerr will for ever evoke the Centre for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations that he founded at the Selly Oak Colleges in 1976. As the reality of the Centre passes into memory, it is important in the context of the current Festschrift to record something of that vision from early documentation and the memories of those involved over the first decade…

Click here to read the full article “Study Centre at Selly Oak”

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

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

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”

Christians and Muslims towards the future

Christians and Muslims towards the future… This article explores the multi-faith nature of contemporaryBritain, the prophetic role of religions in a liberal democracy and the contribution that Christianity and Islam could make to discussions about the values that should underpin Britain in the 21st century…London stands at the threshold of one of the most exciting periods in its long and varied history. Due to the pattern of migration to this country and the conversion to Islam of Europeans, estimated at 25-40,000 in the UK, London must now be regarded as the third most diverse city in the world in terms of its Muslim population, after only Makka and Madina.

Click here to download “Christians and Muslims Towards the Future”