Comparative Religion

Building a Better Bridge: Muslims, Christians, and the by Michael Ipgrave

By Michael Ipgrave

A checklist of the fourth "Building Bridges" seminar held in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, may possibly 15-18, 2005, an annual symposium on Muslim-Christian family members cosponsored via the president's place of work of Georgetown college and the Archbishop's workplace of the Church of britain. comprises 15 chapters reading 3 subject matters: religion and nationwide identification in Christian and Muslim point of view; governance and justice in Christian and Muslim standpoint; and being concerned jointly for the area we proportion. This quantity offers the texts of the general public lectures which addressed each one of those themes, including nearby displays on problems with citizenship, spiritual believing and belonging, and the connection among govt and religion--both from the speedy state of affairs of Bosnia-Herzegovina and from 3 context extra afield: Britain, Malaysia, and West Africa. contributors incorporated Tariq Ramadan, professor of Islam reports, college of Freibourg; John Langan, SJ, Joseph Cardinal Bernardin Professor of Catholic Social idea, Georgetown; Frances younger, Edward Cadbury Professor of Theology, college of Birmingham; and Mona Siddiqui, senior lecturer in Arabic and Islamic stories, Glasgow collage. the 1st 3 development Bridges seminars have been released by means of Church residence, the exchange publishing arm of the Church of britain.

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In my experience of forty years’ priestly service to Catholic communities in Travnik, Zenica, and Sarajevo, I feel that my fellow Catholics expect from their priests support in their ethnicity as well as in their religious beliefs. I know that some well-intentioned foreign Catholics point to such religiosity as being ethnic or nationalistic, but it is the only way in which we can serve concrete individuals and congregations in their life situations. In the view of any believer, religion is indeed an important element of people’s identity, but it is not the only one.

By contrast, some churches, such as the Coptic Orthodox and the Syrian Jacobites, have nearly always existed as distinct communities within polities that have often been hostile to them. In India, the rulers were not always hostile, but the ancient churches there were always a clear minority. Throughout the story of the church there have been groups of Christians, such as the Lollards, the Hussites, and the Waldensians, who have emphasized the nature of the church as a distinct and gathered community that does not need the arm of civil authority to give it special protection and that cannot be identified with natural groupings, whether ethnic or territorial.

Muslims should reevaluate the terms of their involvement in the public sphere of their individual countries to take account of a full spectrum of issues if they are to move toward meaningful forms of participation. They should intervene to support the common good for all citizens. Islam is not—and never was—a ghetto for parochial religious bias. There is also some work to be done in the field of secular approaches to legitimate public participation. Public institutions in secular liberal democracies need to reach out to excluded and marginalized groups such as Muslims.

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