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Muslims' participation in interfaith dialogue: challenges and prospects.

Existentially, human beings are willingly moving toward "one world" in which every religious tradition has to contribute positively in mutual understanding, coexistence, and the well-being of others. Wilfred Cantwell Smith (1) said that "to be a Christian in the modern world, or a Jew or an agnostic, is to be so in a society in which other men, intelligent, devout, and righteous, are Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus." (2) In such a circumstance, the need for dialogue between people of different convictions is obvious. The prudence and enlightened expediency, occasioned by the shrinkage of our world, demands that human beings should strive for better mutual understanding with their neighbors through dialogue. In this way, a culture of appreciation of others' loyalties, ideals, and values can also be developed.

Muslims are waking up to the necessity of continuing dialogue with adherents of other convictions and persuasions. In so doing, they are not only responding to an important need of the hour, but they are also engaging in a task that seems to be manifestly in keeping with the spirit of their religious traditions. However, there are challenges in their active participation and contribution to the movement of dialogue. The question that this essay hopes to address is whether there are resources within the Islamic traditions that can help transform those obstacles into opportunities.

I begin with a brief description of dialogue from an Islamic perspective. Following this overview, I shall move into the sources to explore the legitimacy and importance of interfaith dialogue within al-Qur'an, the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad, (3) and interpretations of both classical and contemporary scholars. Based on this, the final sections will engage the tradition to search for solutions to overcome the obstacles to successful interfaith dialogue. The conclusion will suggest possible strategies for bringing Muslims more fully into interfaith dialogue.

I. Basic Concepts of Interfaith Dialogue

A. Definition of Dialogue

The term "dialogue" has many meanings and uses, depending upon the context and the disciplinary perspective. We might mean it literally, religiously, philosophically, anthropologically, etc. The term is derived from the Greek verb "dialegomai," which refers to an action through which we can reach the "logos" (the idea) in philosophical terms. According to Socrates, "dialegomai' takes the form of question and answer, which is to carry a conversation directly toward reaching a decision or settlement. (4) The English verb "to confer" is very close to this meaning in its basic use such as "to give," "to meet," "to exchange views," or "to negotiate." According to Plato and Aristotle, the meaning remains generally the same, with the emphasis on "treating" something or "conferring." For Philo, dialogue meant "conversation" or "speech." (5)

In a religious context, this term implies the idea of reasoning about the reality of divine truth. It is in this sense of the word "reasoning" that the verb is used in Acts 17:2, wherein Paul is said to reason with the Jews from the scriptures for three Sabbaths. The same meaning of "dialegomai," is implied in Acts 17:17; 18:4, 19; and 24:12. The following text of Acts better characterizes this usage: "Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the market place daily with those who happened to be there." (6)

Vjekoslav Bajsic, (7) while drawing attention toward the anthropological dimension of this term, wrote in 1972 that
   dialogue has the power of forming togetherness... By attributing
   importance to the partner from the beginning, I change my problems
   and [the other's] problems into our problems. Certain interests
   reveal themselves as "our" interests while community is being
   created through common action. Therefore one may define dialogue as
   a conversation of man with man about the essential matters." (8)


Dialogue is different "from debate in which representatives [of each religious tradition] try to prove that the position of their communion is right and others wrong." (9) Leonard Swidler (10) analyzed these definitions and concluded, "Dialogue is a conversation ... between two or more persons with differing views, the primary purpose of which is for each participant to learn from the other so that he or she can change and grow." (11) It is to be noted here that debate is about winning, while dialogue is aimed at understanding that must hold the possibility of transformation.

B. Definition of Dialogue in Islamic Perspective

Various terms such as "mukalma," "mujadalajadl," "mufawadhat," "hiwar," "muhajah," and "hadith'' have been used in Islamic resources for notions of dialogue. The base of these terms is their use in al-Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad. The term "Al-JadF' is used on several occasions in al-Qur'an to mean conversation and argumentation aimed on winning the other by negating the other's opinion on the basis of strong arguments. (12) The term "al-tahawr" has been used with several meanings, such as returning from one place to another, moving from one thing to another, consulting, consultation, referring to, reference to, etc. Other terms used with this meaning are "al-mahawarah" and "al-tahawr." (13) "Jadl' is conversation for the purpose of winning over, while "al-Mahawrah" is calm consultation and conversation without enmity. Therefore, "al-Mahawarh" is close to the meaning of dialogue. (14) "Al-hlwar" is used in al-Qur'an three times with the meaning of dialogue (15) and is closer to the contemporary meanings of dialogue. (16) Ibn Manzur (17) has defined it as "conversations between people for the exchange of their views." (18) The meanings of this Arabic term are close to the contemporary terminology dialogue (19) in which conversation is aimed at better understanding between the representatives of different traditions or cultures. While Imam RazT (20) used "mukalmd' and "mujadala" to mean conversation, he differentiated between the two and insisted that dialogue (mukalma) based on logical argument is preferable to debate (mujadala). (21)

Dialogue in Islamic perspective is one of the most important means of understanding. Ismail Raji al-Faruqi (22) defined dialogue in the presence of "Da 'wah" and "mission" as "a dimension of human consciousness (as long as that consciousness is not spiritual), a category of the ethical sense (as long as that sense is not cynical). It is the altruistic arm of Islam and Christianity, their reach beyond themselves." (23) Dialogue, he held, disciplines our consciousness to recognize the truth inherent in realities and figurations of realities beyond our usual ken and reach. If we are not fanatics, the consequence cannot be anything but enrichment of all concerned. Dialogue, in short, is the only kind of interhuman relationship that is worthy of humankind. (24) Mohammed Talbi (25) defined dialogue as a state of mind, an atmosphere, an opening, an attitude of friendship or comprehension. (26) Seyyed Hossein Nasr (27) called dialogue
   'a very honourable term', especially 'in the West and in
   philosophical traditions'. The meaning of the term, he points out,
   in 'Platonic and Socratic' discourse is understood 'as a means of
   discovering the truth'. But 'as used since the Second World War',
   in the religious sphere, it 'has come to mean discussing various
   aspects of religion among followers of each religion with the aim
   of a better understanding of the two sides.' (28)


What is clear from the various views of these Muslim scholars is that dialogue and conversation29 are critical for developing greater understanding and finding a basis for greater cooperation.30 Furthermore, it is apparent that this notion of dialogue is drawn from Islamic teachings.

II. Needs and Possibilities of Interfaith Dialogue in Islamic Theology

The variety of approaches disclosed during the praxis of dialogue are classified into four dialogical attitudes: "exclusivism," "inclusivism," "parallelism." and "pluralism." (31) Exclusivists participate in dialogue to show that they hold their faith as the only true path of salvation. Inclusivists recognize the possibility of truth in others, but they consider them not so corrupted as they recognize that others' faith can be included in their own, that their faith tradition is more comprehensive or universal and thus has room to "include" the faith of the other. Parallelists allow other faiths to run parallel without interference. The most suitable attitude for dialogue is pluralism, (32) which aims at proper understanding and searches for common grounds of cooperation and coexistence. (33) Except the diehard fanatics who would like to convert all to their doctrine, it is apparent to everyone that religious pluralism is a fact of today's world. (34) Presently, due to events such as the attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001, it is presumed that Muslims are exclusivists who do not allow for discourse and debate. Islam is perceived in many cases to be intolerant and culturally inflexible for peaceful coexistence and incapable of genuine pluralism. However, some Muslims are reluctant to participate in interfaith dialogue because they believe that it would be a form of submission to Westernization or Americanization. In the midst of this dichotomy, the discussion here will try to explore the real position of Islamic theology and Shari'ah on interfaith dialogue.

The Islamic tradition possesses extensive resources that lend themselves to the concept of religious pluralism. (35) Islamic thinkers have traditionally accepted the legitimacy of multiple revelations. According to Islamic beliefs, prophethood is a channel for communication between God and human beings, God's creatures. Since the need for divine guidance is essential, revelation and prophethood go back to the very beginning of human life on earth. The human ancestor Adam was the first recipient of revealed guidance, and Muhammad was the last. Islam believes that the core of the messages of all the prophets and messengers was the same: (36) submission to God in light of guidance communicated by the prophets. All prophets were Muslims (submitters to God), and Islam is not merely the religion preached by Muhammad but was also the religion of all the true prophets of God such as Noah, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Jesus, and their followers. (37) Some contemporary Muslim scholars are even ready to include Buddha in the list of prophets. (38) The prototype of a prophet in Hinduism could be Rama and Krishna. (39) Some of the prophets whose names are central to the texts of the Bible have also been recognized in Islamic traditions as prophets, such as David, Solomon, and especially Abraham. (40) According to Islamic belief, every nation has been visited by a "wamer" (prophet), so all the religious traditions of the world presumably had an authentic starting point. (41)

The Islamic doctrine of interfaith dialogue is based on its recognition and acknowledgement of truth in other religions, particularly Christianity and Judaism. The legitimacy of interfaith relations in Islam reached a logical conclusion, namely, self-identification with the pre-Islamic monotheistic religions. (42) Islam is the youngest of the Abrahamic traditions, and, instead of denying the validity of other human experiences of transcendence, it recognizes and even confirms its salvific efficacy within the wider boundaries of monotheism. (43) As al-Qur'an (44) has described:
   Those who believe (in the Qur-an),
   And those who follow the Jewish (scriptures),
   And the Christians and the Sabians,--
   Any who believe In God
   And the Last Day,
   And work righteousness,
   Shall have their reward
   With their Lord: on them
   Shall be no fear, nor shall They grieve. (45)


Al-Qur'an has valued the righteous works of the non-Muslims:
   Not all of them are alike:
   Of the People of the Book
   Are a portion that stand
   (For the right); they rehearse
   The Signs of God all night long,
   And they prostrate themselves
   In adoration. (46)


Rashid Rida (47) found that these verses indicate Sunnah of Allah in dealing with diversified communities. (48) He believes that the truly pious and religious people are known only to God; therefore, no one, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, is justified in practicing "religious nationalism" (al-qawmiyyah al-diniyyah) when it comes to the question of ultimate salvation. (49)

According to Fazlur Rahman, (50) the verses (2:62; 5:69) assure that whoever (whether Muslims, Jews, Christians, or Sabeans) believes in God and the Last Day and does good deeds will be saved. He observed that al-Qur'an gives its final answer to the problem of pluralism in 5:48. Briefly, humankind was a single unity, but this unity was later split up in accordance with God's plan. Thus, the Muslim community is recognized as one among the several religious communities. (51) This opinion advances the idea that al-Qur'an was not revealed to abrogate the previous scriptures but to confirm them. Thus, al-Qur'an asks the People of the Book to take the notion of tawhid (52) seriously, but it does not ask them to abandon their own religion. (53) It is to be noted that, the theory of abrogation notwithstanding, a measure of sanctity (hurma) continues to pertain to the Tawrat (54) and the Injil. (55) In the opinions of some jurists, sanctity of the Tawrat and the Injil is the reason why Jews and Christians are allowed to retain their faith. The situation is similar to the abrogated verses of the Qur'an, which retain their sacred nature despite the abrogation of the ruling included in them. (56) Islamic law does indicate that Muslims are not bound to follow the Tawrat, but it does not stop Christians and Jews from seeking guidance from their sacred scriptures. This is evident from the fact that, on the conquest of Khaibar, the Prophet had reportedly ordered that all copies of the Tawrat, captured as booty, should be returned to the Jews. (57)

Al-Qur'an designates religious communities preceding Islam as "Ahl al-Kitab," (58) and the followers of these religions were given citizenship in the Islamic state with the title of "ahl al-dhimma." (59) Although the expression explicitly refers to Jews and Christians, it implicitly refers to followers of all other religions that conceive of the receipt of revelation. It implies that the status of Ahl al-Kitab can be extended to all religious communities. (60) Maybe this was the reason that the status of ahl al-dhimma, which was originally laid down for the scriptures or Ahl-al-Kitab from Jews and Christians, was extended to followers of almost all pre-Islamic religions. The mention of Sabians (61) as Ahl-al-Kitab made it legally possible to extend the tolerance accorded to Jews and Christians much more widely. (62) Uthman (63) extended this status to the Berbers and Abdul Malik (64) to the Lingayats and Brahmins of India. (65) Hanafi, Maliki, some Hanablis, Imam al-Awza'i, (66) and, according to some reports, Ibn Hanbal (67) himself recognized that all non-Muslims living under Muslim rule are ahl al-dhimma (68) With this status, they were allowed religious freedom and communal autonomy.

The Islamic attitude toward interfaith dialogue can be seen in the treatment by Muslims of the followers of other religions. Jews and Christians are at the top for accommodation within Islamic society. Samaritans are treated as a Jewish group because they observe the law of Tawrat. (69) In the earliest books of law, the Christians are mentioned as one group, but Ibn Qudama (70) enumerated various Christian denominations, such as the Jacobites, the Nestorians, the Melchites, the franks (faranjiyya), the Byzantines, and the Armenians. (71) The treatment of the Zoroastrians as Ahl-al-Kitab is particularly interesting because many of their beliefs are against the clear Islamic traditions. They were allowed to retain their fire temples and to continue practicing their idolatry and contracting their incestuous marriages. The Prophet directed Muslims to "treat them as they would treat the People of the Book." (72) On the basis of this Hadith, 'Umar b. al- Khattab (73) levied Jizya on Zoroastrians. (74) Regarding the treatment of the followers of other scrolls, such as the scroll of Ibrahim and Musa (suhuflbrahimwaMusa), the first scroll (al-suhuf al-ula), and the zabur, (75) Muslim jurists have considered their followers to be People of the Book. Ibn Hanbal observed that people who believe in any book revealed by God should be considered People of the Book and should be treated as the Jews and the Christians were. (76) This explanation of jurisdiction of Ahl-al-Kitab will be helpful in the understanding of interfaith relations in Islamic law and theology.

A. The Legitimacy of Interfaith Dialogue in Al-Qur'an

The permission for and legitimacy of interfaith dialogue in Islamic theology is recorded in al-Qur'an (77) and the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad. Several actions of the early caliphs also show how this intimacy served as the core value of Islam in the Early Islamic Period. The Muslims' charter of interfaith dialogue is promulgated in al-Qur'an:
   Say: "O People
   Of the Book! Come
   To common terms
   As between us and you:
   That we worship
   None but God;
   That we associate
   No partners with Him;
   That we erect not,
   From among ourselves,
   Lords and patrons
   Other than God."
   If then they turn back,
   Say ye: "Bear witness
   That we (at least)
   Are Muslims (bowing
   To God's Will)." (78)


Ibn Kathir (79) held that this verse addresses Ahl-al-Kitab for Christians, Jews, and others who follow them. He said that this verse may have been revealed twice, before the Peace treaty of Hudabiyya and after the conquering of Makkah. (80) All rulings related to interfaith dialogue seem to be combined in this verse, which invites into dialogue and conversation on the basis of the common core of the message of God in all religions. (81) Due to the importance of this verse, Prophet Muhammad included it in his famous letters that were sent to the various contemporary kings and rulers. (82) The texts of these letters are available in Islamic sources. (83) Imam Bukhari (84) reported the text of the letter that was sent to Byzantine Emperor Heraclius. (85) In this letter, the Prophet of Islam appealed to the Christian ruler by citing the above verse (3:64). The text of the letter is as follows:
   In the name of Allah the Beneficent, the Merciful (This letter is)
   from Muhammad the slave of Allah and His Apostle to Heraclius the
   ruler of Byzantine. Peace be upon him, who follows the right path.
   Furthermore I invite you to Islam, and if you become a Muslim you
   will be safe, and Allah will double your reward, and if you reject
   this invitation of Islam you will be committing a sin by misguiding
   your Arisiyin (peasants). (And I recite to you Allah's Statement:)
   "O people of the scripture! Come to a word common to you and us
   that we worship none but Allah and that we associate nothing in
   worship with Him, and that none of us shall take others as Lords
   beside." (86)


Numerous scholars (87) have given interpretations of "come to a word common to you and us." (88) Sebastian Gunther (89) observed, "For those familiar with the Bible, the Prophet's reference brings to mind the first of the Ten Commandments,"(90) "I am the Lord your God ... You shall have no other gods besides me" (Ex. 20:2-3). Islam, Christianity, and Judaism not only have common religious beliefs but also have similar ethical values. (91) Gunther noted that the prophetic message is a strong encouragement for us to recognize and make full use of the great potential inherent in the principles and values that are shared among civilizations, cultures, and faith communities. He proposed that an outlook, built "on this prophetic word, might indeed help animate a frank, sincere and constructive dialogue among communities and faiths, while at the same time reinforcing the idea that respect for our differences and appreciation of cultural diversity and pluralism are sources of strength, not causes for division."(92) The Ten Commandments, which include oneness of God, prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and pilgrimage, were revealed to Moses and are similar to the teachings of Islam and Christianity. These are also the basic rules of the three divine religions. So, with these similarities all human beings can come to the common ground without any conflict and religious extremism. (93) Contemporary scholars involved in interfaith dialogue are continually trying to find common ground on which dialogue can be initiated. (94) For example, the life of Jesus is a controversial issue between Muslims and Christians, but both agree that he was the son of the Virgin Mary. The crucifixion is the principle area of disagreement. Nasr suggested that these kinds of issues could be settled with the use of traditional epistemology. "One could say" he remarked, "that such a major cosmic event as the end of the earthly life of Christ could in fact be 'seen' and 'known' in more than one way, and that it is God's will that Christianity should be given to 'see' that in one way and Islam in another." (95)

Islamic theology not only urges Muslims to participate in interfaith dialogue, but it also provides them guidance in the methods of dialogue. The Qur'an instructs:
   Invite (all) to the Way
   Of thy Lord with wisdom
   And beautiful preaching;
   And argue with them
   In ways that are best
   And most gracious:
   For thy Lord knoweth best,
   Who have strayed from His Path,
   And who receive guidance. (96)


Imam Razi observed that this verse is an invitation to the message of God through dialogue (mukalma) based on wisdom. He described that it is not the responsibility of the prophet to convert the people to Islam, but the prophet's duty is just to convey the message of Allah in a plausible way. (97) Ibn Kasir's theological interpretation was that dialogical conversation must be done with softness and courtesy. He said the same way was directed (98) to be adopted by the prophets of God, Moses and Haroon, when they were sent to the Pharaoh of Egypt. (99) Abdullah Yousuf Ali (100) said that "this wonderful passage" has "laid down principles of religious teaching, which are good for all time." (101)

In another verse, Allah directed Muslims:
   And dispute ye not
   With the People of the Book,
   Except with means better
   (Than mere disputation), unless
   It be with those of them
   Who inflict wrong (and injury):
   But say, "We believe
   In the Revelation which has
   Come down to us and in that
   Which came down to you;
   Our God and your God
   Is One; and it is to Him
   We bow (in Islam)." (102)


Imam Razi explained that this verse means no disputation with them (Ihl al- Kitab) with the use of a sword, even if they do not embrace Islam, except when they come for war. (103) Ibn Kathir concluded that this is a valid commandment because the same types of instructions regarding dialogue are communicated in verses 16:125 and 20:44. He held that this verse is effective for the person who engages in dialogue with people of other faiths, proposing that interfaith conversation should be done in a plausible manner so that it could be successful. (104) Abdullah Yousuf Ali felt that, "[i]n order to achieve our purpose as true standard-bearers for God, we shall have to find true common grounds of belief, as stated in the latter part of this verse" [29:46]. (105) The verses under discussion shaped Muslims' historical attitude of tolerance toward the people of the Book and Muslim respect for the biblical prophets. (106) It also promotes religious unity and cooperation among the monotheistic faiths. (107)

In spite of the clear instructions and framework for successful interfaith dialogue in Islamic theology, some Muslim extremists have claimed that Christians and Jews could never be friends of Muslims; therefore, dialogue with them is a fruitless effort. Some extreme forms of the puritans desired "that Muslims must show enmity and hostility toward the unbelievers (mushrikun)." They have insisted "that a Muslim should not adopt the customs of unbelievers and should not befriend them." This orientation argued that "it is entirely immaterial what a non-Muslim might think about Muslim practices, and in fact, it was a sign of spiritual weakness to care about whether non-Muslims were impressed by Muslim behavior or not." (108) This extreme position of some puritans explained Islam's self-sufficient notion as a belief system that does not see any reason to engage or interact with the other, except from a position of dominance. (109)

Unfortunately these puritan exclusivists and self-righteous types "leave no room for discourse and debate." (110) They base their anti-dialogue arguments on such verses as these:
   O ye who believe!
   Take not the Jews
   And the Christians
   For your friends and protectors:
   They are but friends and protectors
   To each other. And he
   Amongst you that turns to them
   (For friendship) is of them.
   Verily God guideth not
   A people unjust. (111)

   O ye who believe!
   Take not for friends
   Unbelievers rather than
   Believers: do ye wish
   To offer God an open
   Proof against yourselves? (112)


The early exegetes understood these verses generally in the context of not trusting non-Muslims in religious matters. Others, who associate alliance or friendships with intimate confidence, explain the verse as enjoining Muslims not to give away the secrets of the Muslim state to Jews and Christians. (113) These verses were revealed in different circumstances; however, they do not prevent Muslims from appreciating the virtues and merits of the People of the Book. (114) Nor do these verses prohibit Muslims from undertaking interfaith dialogue, but the out-of-context interpretation of them made it possible for the anti-dialogue forces to create impediments to interfaith dialogue. As has been discussed, Judaism and Christianity were recognized as legitimate religions and valid faiths. (115) The sharp reproaches levied against Jews and Christians in these verses are, for most part, directed at particular attitudes or actions of particular persons or groups with whom the Prophet had direct dealings, not their faith or religious affiliations.

It has been observed that the misunderstanding of these verses is due to the incorrect translation of the word "Awliya" as "friends." Another qur'anic verse is evidence that its correct translation should be "protectors" or "guardians." Al-Qur'an says:
   O ye who believe! Take not
   For protectors your fathers
   And your brothers if they love
   Infidelity above Faith:
   If any of you do so,
   They do wrong. (116)


Contemporary scholars are of the opinion that the permission of marriage with the women of the People of the Book would be illogical if friendship with them were prohibited. (117) Permission to marry a woman but not to love her or be friendly with her as a person would be contradictory. They are of the opinion that in theses verses Awliya used to support the belief of the People of the Book at the expense of Islamic belief. (118) Therefore, these passages have to be seen alongside calls for unity of faith in one God. (119) These verses were addressed to the Prophet personally in the formative period of the revelation and reference the feelings of the Arabian Jewish and Christian communities toward him. Generalizing its meaning to exclude all positive relations between the Abrahamic faiths in all possible contexts is mistaken and also against the harmonious relations that often existed in Islamic civilization between the three faith communities. (120)

B. The Legitimacy of Interfaith Dialogue in the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad

The Sunnah (121) of Prophet Muhammad, which is the second source of Shari'ah, provides us with several examples of dialogue and conversations of Prophet Muhammad with non-Muslims, particularly with Christians and Jews. The first such event is the meeting of Muhammad bin Abdullah with Bhira Rahib (122) during his trade journey to Syria with his uncle. It is reported that he recognized him as a future prophet and wished success for him. (123) In the narrative it is said that, after receiving the first revelation, Prophet Muhammad went to meet Waraqah Ibn Naufal. (124) Their conversation is reported in various Islamic sources. (125) The Prophet started conversation with the People of the Book in Makkah before hljra. He sent one delegation of Muslims of Makkah to Christian Ethiopia in order to save them from the persecutions of Quraysh of Makkah. Islamic sources reported a dialogue held between the delegation of Muslims with the King of Abyssinia, Negus. (126) In this conversation, the Muslim delegation was represented by Ja'far al-Tayyar bin Abi Talib, (127) the cousin of the Prophet. (128) The Prophet Muhammad's role as a political arbitrator skilled in the art of dialogue is well known. It was in this capacity that he was invited to settle a feud between two tribes, the Aws and the Khazraj, thus enabling his followers to escape persecution in Mecca by migrating to Madina. After the arrival of the Prophet in Madina, his dialogue with the Jews of the city and other tribes of Madina resulted in an agreement of Muslims with them on Mlthaq e Madina, which is treated by some Muslim scholars as the first written constitution in the world. One clause of Mithaq protected the religious liberty of the parties, stating "for Muslims their religion and for Jews their religion." (129) In this document, Jews of Madina were considered part of ummah. (130)

The dialogue between Prophet Muhammad and a delegation of Christians of Najran in 633 C.E. is a unique example of the legitimacy of interfaith dialogue in the Islamic tradition. Ibn Ishaq (131) reported that a delegation of sixty people from the Christians of Najran132 came to meet Prophet Muhammad. They met the Prophet in his mosque at the time of their worship. The Prophet did not allow interruption of their worship and let them worship while facing East, contrary to the Muslims. Then, the Christian delegation engaged in dialogue with the Prophet on religious matters. They asked questions about the Jesses (Essa). Instead of replying immediately, the Prophet waited for wahi. The next day, the following verses of al-Qur'an were revealed as an answer to their questions about Essa: (133)
   The similitude of Jesus
   Before God is as that of Adam;
   He created him from dust,
   Then said to him; "Be":
   And He was.

   The Truth (comes)
   From God alone;
   So be not of those
   Who doubt.

   If any one disputes
   In this matter with thee,
   Now after (full) knowledge
   Hath come to thee,
   Say: "Come! let us
   Gather together,--Our
   sons and your sons,
   Our women and your women,
   Ourselves and yourselves:
   Then let us earnestly pray,
   And invoke the curse
   Of God on those who lie!" (134)


The dialogue was a success. A treaty of friendship was signed with the promise of protection to the lives, wealth, property, and belonging of the Christians of Nijran and their associates with the protection of Allah and Allah's Prophet. They were allowed to enjoy full freedom in religious and administrative matters. (135) Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya (136) derived from this event that non-Muslims could visit mosques and perform their worship in the presence of Muslims. Ibn Hajar Asklani (137) also derived from this event legitimacy of conversations with Ahl al Kitab. He declared that dialogue was obligatory when it brought benefit for the Muslims. (138) Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya held the same opinion. (139)

The basic rule for the success of interfaith dialogue is that every participant in dialogue considers oneself an ordinary creation of God who will be judged before God according to one's deeds, not one's ancestry. Al-Qur'an says:
   Not your desires, not those
   Of the People of the Book.
   (Can prevail): whoever
   Works evil, will be
   Requited accordingly.
   Nor will he find, besides God,
   Any protector or helper.

   If any do deeds
   Of righteousness,--
   Be they male or female And
   have faith,
   They will enter Heaven,
   And not the least injustice
   Will be done to them.

   Who can be better
   In religion than one
   Who submits his whole self
   To Gad, does good, [he is muhsin (140)]
   And follows the way
   Of Abraham the true in faith?
   For God did take
   Abraham for a friend. (141)


The circumstances of revelation of these verses show that Muslims and the People of the Book started claims of superiority over each other. The People of the Book were saying that our Prophet came before you and our Book was revealed before yours. Meanwhile, Muslims were claiming that our Prophet is the last prophet and our Book has abrogated previous books. Here, the verses revealed and clarified that self-glorification and self-congratulation does not benefit anyone, because nobody becomes superior to anyone else simply on the basis of conjectures, fancies, and claims. Instead, everything depends on deeds. No matter how noble and superior one's prophet and Book may be, it is the deeds of the adherent that will count on the Day of Judgment. (142) Ibn Ashur (143) observed that this verse has decided the disputed claims of Jews, Christians, and Muslims regarding ultimate salvation and clarified that it would be based on good deeds, noble behavior, and following the way of Ibrahim. (144) This spirit of ecumenism within the Abrahamic traditions, which has been shown in qur'anic verses, has always retained the potential to assert itself in interfaith relations. (145)

The nature of interfaith relations during the period of Prophet Muhammad and his successor caliphs has also encouraged interfaith interaction. The kind, careful, and gentle treatment of the non-Muslim subjects of the Islamic state is the core of Islamic rulings. (146) The Prophet said: "Who ever oppress a non-Muslim subject or taxed him beyond his capacity, then I shall be the opposite party to him in the litigation on Doomsday." (147) 'Umar b. al-Khattab, the second caliph of Islam, advised at his deathbed: "I exert my successor regarding the treatment to be meted out to the people protected (that is, non-Muslim subject) by the Messenger of God. They should receive the fullest execution of their covenant and their life and property should be defended even by going to war, and they should not be taxed beyond their capacity." (148) Once 'Umar b. al-Khattab passed along a street where an old, blind, poor Jew was asking for charity. He asked him why he was asking for charity. The man replied, "I have to pay the capitation tax; I am poor and an old man." At this 'Umar took him to his own house and gave him something from his private coffers, then he sent the following directive to the head of the state treasury: "Look at him and his like. By God! We should never be doing justice if we eat his youth and leave him deserted in the old age. The government taxes are meant for the poor and the indigent. The poor are Muslims and this one is an indigent from among the Scriptures." Then 'Umar b. al-Khattab remitted the Jizya from him and his like. (149)

Harun al-Rashld (150) asked his chief justice Abu Yousaf (151) about the treatment of non-Muslim subjects. He replied: "O commander of the faithfuls! May God help you! It is necessary that you should treat these people who were protected by the Prophet Muhammad with leniency, and care about their conditions so that they are neither oppressed nor given trouble nor taxed beyond their capacity, nor any thing of theirs is taken from them except for a duty encumbering them." (152) Abu 'Ubayd (153) insisted that the dhimmis must not be burdened beyond their capacity, nor must they be caused to suffer. (154) Bernard Lewis (155) acknowledged that Muslim tolerance of unbelievers was far better than anything available in Christendom, until the rise of secularism in the seventeenth century. (156) It is to be noted that in the early centuries of Islam the majority of civil servants were non-Muslim citizens of the Islamic state. (157)

C. Interfaith Dialogue in the Views of Contemporary Muslim Scholars

Like classical Muslim scholars, contemporary Muslim scholars are also in favor of the participation of Muslims in interfaith dialogue. Nursi (158) believed in interfaith dialogue and thought that true humanity, dignity, and justice could be established only by a mutual understanding based on cooperation between the revealed religions. To encourage this common endeavor, he reformulated the expression of Ahl al-Kitab into "ahl al-maktab" (the literate people). (159) In line with Nursi, Fetullah Gulen (160) has believed in the importance of dialogue with the People of the Book, (161) his starting point in this regard being basmalah (the initial phrase of qur'anic surahs). These words, according to him, require human beings to show compassion not only to their fellows but also to all living beings. (162)

Contemporary Muslim scholars consider Da'wah as evidence of the favorable Islamic trend toward dialogue. Khurshid Ahmed (163) has seen it as a part of dialogue, which involves "knowing, learning, reaching, talking, discussing, persuading each other." (164)

Nasr noted that Da'wah is an opportunity "to present the message of Islam and the message of tawhid wherever possible.... without coercion." In relation to Da'wah, mission, and dialogue, Nasr has found "some clash" among them. "In order to have dialogue, [one] must transcend... trying to convert everyone to [one's] religion." His preferred term is "witness," for "through witness of one's religion 'someone may receive the call of God and embrace Islam.'" "In Nasr's view, dialogue in a wider sense is a part of Da 'wah. He suggests that Muslims 'have to reach a level of understanding... of the doctrine of Tawhid and the role of Islam in world as a whole' [so as to] 'provide a wider vision where they will be happy if they have good Christians amidst them who understand them without becoming Muslims.'" He declared that "today many Muslims 'have lost the universality... of their religion,' [but if they] 'went back to the best' of their 'own traditions' then Da'wah would not be understood in the sense of 'bitter enmity against Christianity, Judaism and other religions; 'much of that is political.'" (165)

Mohammed Talbi thought that Islam much more urgently needs this comprehension. Islam, he elaborated, has long lived within "safe boundaries," but in today's new circumstances it can no longer afford to remain isolated. "Thus dialogue for Islam." he argued, "is first and foremost a necessary and vital reestablishment of contact with the world at large." (166)

The above-mentioned arguments from the Qur'an, Sunnah, and interpretive views of scholars of Islam demonstrate persuasively that Islam confirms the existence of truth in other religious traditions and, thus, lays the groundwork for relations with all peoples. It has been explained that not only Jews and Christians, having once been the recipients of revelation that is identical to that of Islam, but also the whole of humankind may be recognized by Muslims as equally honored, since they, by virtue of revelation and also as equally responsible, acknowledge God as the only God and offer God worship, service, and obedience to God's eternal laws. The Islamic concepts that provide sufficient grounds for conducting interfaith dialogue could be used for better opportunities of understanding and harmony among the followers of the various religious traditions.

III. Challenges and Prospects of Muslims' Contribution in Interfaith Dialogue

The dialogue among faiths generally, and between Muslims and the West (167) particularly, has been ongoing for many centuries, but until a short time ago little effort was made toward real understanding of others. Serious efforts of dialogue for mutual understanding are comparatively recent phenomena, but these efforts still face many challenges. There is still a deficit of trust between Muslims and the West. This deep division between Islam and the West is captured by the low level of optimism reported in the study of attitudes. The average score in a 2007 study for the twenty-one countries surveyed was thirty-seven (where 100 is the most optimistic), reflecting an alarmingly low level of optimism regarding dialogue between Islam and the West. The majority in Muslim countries still believed that interaction between Western and Islamic communities is getting worse. (168)

Presently, Muslims on the whole have failed to respond to this challenge, despite the fact that they are well equipped to engage in dialogue on the basis of clear acceptance and permissibility for it in the commandments of Al-Qur'an and Al-Sunnah. There are certain apprehensions among some Muslims about interfaith dialogue, such as whether it is a genuine effort at reconciliation or yet another method of missionary strategy to serve the purpose of evangelization. Some suggest that the qur'anic injunction, "To you be your Way, / And to me mine," (169) should be the norm; dialogue, an exception. "Some view dialogue, which emerged in the West, as part of secular heritage of the West.... when Muslims deal with Christians in the West, they are in fact dealing with secularism." (170)

Western media have created the image of a primitive and barbarous Islam in the mental mirror of the average Westerner. In the words of Talbi, "[W]e are invited to stand by with folded arms, in order not to spoil the game of those who are projecting images at the distorting mirror." (171) He pointed out that
   the political, cultural, and socioeconomic image of the Muslim is
   more or less roughly reflected in the Western mirror, which shows
   either an emir squandering millions on luxury and orgies, or a
   suppliant making bad use of the aid so "generously" granted, or the
   needy immigrant who does not succeed in becoming a part of the
   society that has accepted him or her and who, driven to a marginal
   existence, excites more or less strong feelings of rejection. (172)


Persons from all sides have contributed to distorting history and to painting "a picture of Islam that arouses dislike and hatred." (173) Talbi demonstrated how the misunderstanding has become a tradition: "Both the past and the present have combined to place obstacles in the way of mutual and respectful understanding." (174)

The West, in Nasr's opinion, has not considered anything Islamic "to be of any intellectual or spiritual significance for Western man." The West has pushed aside "moderate and normative Islam as being something blase and passd." This attitude, he argued, "pushed to the side more and more those who are really interested in dialogue." (175) He has argued that Islam is not going to change its worldview simply because another civilization has decided to disband religion and put human rights above divine rights. He answered that "each civilization has a right to answer itself and before God and before its own destiny and its own people, so it cannot dictate to another civilization as the West is doing today." (176)

Muslims and their partners in dialogue, particularly in the West, are surrounded by misunderstanding and badly formed perceptions that have taken the shape of barriers to the process of dialogue. This mistrust by many Muslims emerges out of history. In relation to dialogue, they identify six elements of the historical equation between colonialism and Christianity: crusade, curiosity, commerce, conversion, conquest, and colonialization. (177) Yaqub Zaki, (178) in his article "The Politics of Islamophobia," suggested that "hatred of Islam and Muslims seems to be endemic in the European psyche... even if at times it turns epidemic." We are now living in this era of epidemic. (179) In addition to historical and religious motivations underlying misunderstanding, there are other psychological, cultural, or socioeconomic factors. This situation leads to the conclusion that "any attempt at a "dialogue,' therefore, seems to be either vain or utopian." (180) The deficiency of mutual understanding is a major problem in the relations between Islamic and Western-type cultures. Islam is perceived in many cases to be intolerant and culturally inflexible, not ready to make compromises for the sake of peaceful coexistence with the West. Islam is presented as an ideology of aggression, conservatism, and unproductiveness. (181)

On the one hand, most people in the West are unaware of Europe's cultural and intellectual debt to Islam. It is still the most misunderstood of the major world religions, and conspiracy theories about its civilization have been widely propagated. In this milieu of suspicion, even such scholarly exercises as Samuel Huntington's (182) Clash of Civilizations,183 Francis Fukuyama's (184) End of History and the Last Man, (185) and Felipe Fernandez Armesto's (186) Millennium (187) are seen by Muslims as part of a global conspiracy against Islam from the "bludgeon-Islam-out-of- existence" school of thought. (188) On the other hand, the situation is helping the extremists and exclusivists in Muslim societies to use a "them and us" mentality for hijacking Islam and killing innocent people in the name of religion. Their actions cannot be justified or legitimized by Islamic theology, (189) but the causes and consequences of their action will have everything to do with how and where Islam will go in the twenty-first century.

Akbar Ahmed pointed out, "What 9/11 illustrated was the ability of a few determined individuals to pull their entire civilisation, whether it agrees or does not agree with their thinking or actions, into a confrontation with other civilisations." (190) Anthony Sullivan also noted that "[Ejxtremism is not limited to the Arab Middle East, or indeed to the Muslim world. In fact, it may well be that since 11 September 2001, it is in the United States itself where ideological extremism may have become most obvious, and where obstacles to understanding between civilisations have now assumed their most intimidating forms." (191) Some Western theorists have made an unexpected contribution to the discussion of Islam by underlining the role of religion in contemporary society. Roger Boase stated that Western misconceptions about Islam are "simply a modern version of the old orientalist theory of Islamic despotism, and again unfortunately it is a fallacy to which some fanatical Islamists subscribe. So the real dichotomy is not between Muslims and non-Muslims, but between extremists and exclusivists, on the one hand, and inclusivists and pluralists, on the other." (192)

The absence of a true representative body for dialogue among Muslims is also a barrier to conducting dialogue. Ataullah Siddiqui observed that in this situation "dialogue organizers approach the 'official Ulama' to represent Muslims. Once the Ulama become 'representative', Muslims question whom they are representing.... They are cautious in dialogue rather than vocal representatives of the Muslim community, and they confine their presentation as far as possible to quotations from the Qur'an and the Ahadith." (193) Al-Faruqi emphasized that dialogue cannot succeed where one party is "host" and the others "invited guests." Every party must be host and consider itself so. He stressed that there can be no upper hand and lower hand, but all hands must be equal. (194)

The prospects of interfaith dialogue are fully dependent on overcoming such challenges as mistrust, misconceptions, and lack of authority. While it may not be possible to solve all apprehensions, appropriate actions aimed at interfaith understanding could be helpful in overcoming the majority of these problems. Disagreements and differences among the nations are symbols of diversity, and the need for conversation emerges from it. Bajsic wrote:
   Conversation can take place only when there is some disagreement,
   either of a negative kind in which someone knows something and the
   other does not, or of a positive kind in which there is a
   difference in thinking and assertions. If there is complete
   identity of thinking there can be no real conversation but only a
   confirmation of agreement, reciprocal recitation, and mutual
   silence or boredom. (195)


Talbi pointed out that the primary objective of dialogue is "to remove barriers and to increase the amount of good in the world by a free exchange of ideas," for which he found inspiration in Nostra aetate, (196) wherein Vatican II issued an unprecedented and welcome announcement. (197) This document can truly be regarded as a turning point in Muslim-Christian relations. Therefore, Muslims should understand that a hostile attitude is not the only dimension of their relationship with the Christian West. The recent recognition of Muhammad as a prophet by some Christian scholars may be the key that unlocks doors to better understanding and even reconciliation between Muslims and the West. Muslims need to reciprocate for a formal and far-reaching change in the attitude of the established Christian churches toward Islam. The interpretive scholarship of Louis Massignon, (198) Miguel Asin Palacios, (199) and Jacques Jomier, (200) among others, contributed to these changes. Muslims also need to realize that the proclamation of Nostra aetate (201) was followed by action. One of the first positive steps taken was to eliminate anti-Muslim references in textbooks used in parochial schools. Another important contribution was to establish the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. Under the guidance of the churches, several very fine books have been written by practicing Christians and by learned representatives of the churches explaining Islam and its teachings and telling the story of the Prophet Muhammad from a Muslim perspective. Such books have been models of tolerance, objectivity, and sensitivity; their bibliographies have also included references to Muslim sources. (202)

Talbi identified prospects that are important for Muslims. Their participation in dialogue with non-Muslims may yet generate another dialogue within Muslim communities at various levels. He argued that "the dialogue could play the role of shaking Muslims out of their false sense of security and could make their hearts and ears more attentive to the message of God." He opposed those who dissociate themselves from their past heritage, what he called the "wealth and positive advances made by the Ummah, yet he is not in favor of clinging to the past. The precise purpose of dialogue, whatever the circumstances, is to reanimate constantly our faith, to save it from tepidity, and to maintain us in a permanent state of Ijtihad that is a state of reflection and research." (203) Talbi has tried to bridge the gap between Islam and secularism by discussing separation of law and theology in Christianity and its unity in the shape of Shari'ah in Islam, suggesting that
   if dialogue is to have any meaning and if we are really to profit
   by our differences instead of passively and negatively enduring
   their consequences, Islam must realize that there is an
   ineradicable Caesar-side to every person that is indispensable for
   the creative dynamics of history, while the West must realize that
   Caesar is also only a human being and that, as such, he is in the
   final analysis subordinate to God, the true Ruler of everything
   that exists (Malik al-mulk) (Qur'an, III, 26), who is the source of
   all being and all power. (204)


To return to Nasr:
      There are three other prospects of dialogue, in Nasr's view.
   Dialogue 'plays an important role in buttressing our own faith'. In
   dialogue, another person encounters another person from another
   religion 'in whom he sees the mark of authentic faith and piety and
   wisdom and even on the highest-level sanctity. To reject that as
   being untrue or unreal causes a danger for that person to lose his
   or her own faith'.

      Secondly, Nasr argues, there are many Christians in the West,
   whose 'faith has been attacked by nineteenth-century secularist
   philosophies or the Age of Enlightenment before that', but who when
   they discover living traditions 'outside of Christianity in which
   faith is very strong and wisdom and divine knowledge have not been
   lost', in such encounters they discover their 'own religious
   universe'....

      Thirdly, Nasr stresses that 'all religions are in a deeper sense
   interrelated and therefore instead of fighting against each other,
   for them [to discover] their transcendent and divine ground or
   principle or origin of all religion is the best answer to ... [such
   people as] Feuerbach (205) and Marx (206) and a lot of the
   grandfathers of anti-religious philosophy in the last century.
   (207)


Smith identified "understanding of the faith of other people, without weakening our own" as important for dialogue. (208) Swidler added that "the primary purpose of dialogue is that each participant learns from the other so that both can change and grow." (209) Milko Youroukov stated, "'Understanding' and 'learning' ... are not possible without tolerance." (210) Monika Konrad Hellwig (211) observed "that the point of the dialogue is not proselytizing but the clarification of one's perception of the position of the others, in order thereby to clarify one's perception of one's own position and engage in more realistic and authentic relationships." (212)

In spite of the importance of all these perspectives on dialogue, Muslims are still not able to benefit from them because they are not fully prepared for it. The present movement of dialogue has still not matured, and there are many problems threatening its worldwide success.

IV. A Framework for Conducting Interfaith Dialogue

The scholars involved in dialogue, along with identifying problems faced by Muslims in their active participation in interfaith dialogue, have also tried to suggest a suitable framework to overcome these problems. Some of their suggestions follow:

Youroukov proposed tolerance as a solution to the problem of extreme fundamentalism: "For the adherents of interreligious dialogue, tolerance should become a basic criterion to judge attitudes toward one another and toward others' respective religions." (213)

Talbi thought that the problem of fundamentalism could be overcome by the willingness to listen to others and "a certain openness, respect, and humility." He wrote further:
   Tolerance is associated with the medieval mentality; at that time,
   it represented a certain degree of progress. Robert's dictionary
   defines it as the fact of "not forbidding or requiring, although it
   would be possible to do so." Tolerance, therefore, is not a right.
   It is an act of pure indulgence by someone in a dominating
   position. It implies inferiorities and condemnation. We tolerate
   error, although we are entitled to prohibit it in the name of
   Truth. What is tolerated is perceived as an evil that cannot be
   extirpated except at the price of a greater evil.... Respect,
   instead, is a right and presupposes the complete and absolute
   equality of the partners. Only respect can guarantee the dignity of
   all. In respect there is neither inferior nor superior. In
   tolerance there is the one who tolerates, at a higher level, and
   the one who is tolerated, at a lower level, while this disparity is
   eliminated in respect. (214)


Talbi stated clearly that dialogue should not be looked upon as "art of compromise." He demanded that it have sincerity and freedom of expression, without hostility, fearing that a lack of equal status among partners in dialogue and unequal preparedness could be dangerous for the success of dialogue. He suggested that our hopes should not anchor themselves in the convergence of our faith and the colloquia that we organize but, rather, that we should have faith in the Creator. (215) He held that the problem of historical risks could be approached through our respective historical traditions. (216)

Hellwig suggested that
   any genuine dialogue ... depends on the willingness of some
   scholars and religious representatives to achieve a psychological
   distance from ... historical and practical stumblingblocks, by
   willingness to consider not the achievements of the other parties
   but the aims and desires intrinsic in the religious position of
   each. More habitually each group evaluates its own position by its
   ideals and the position of the others by their performance. From
   this nothing but further prejudice and failure of understanding can
   arise. (217)


The participants in dialogue are representatives of their communities. Their participation can be fruitful only if they represent the mainstream of their culture. Zalman M. Schachter (218) observed: "There is a myth, begotten by marketplace and parliament, that the individuals involved in dialogue will have power given to them to change the thinking of the faithful of their own community. The Jewish community has given me no such power. If I go too far out, I will be repudiated by my own community." (219) He thereby warned those dialoguers who cross the limits that are prescribed by their communities. He considered loyalty to one's faith an essential characteristic for participants in dialogue. (220) Internal dialogue before participation in interfaith dialogue could provide a sound opportunity of preparedness. This kind of internal dialogue can be used for making appropriate strategy, and the participants can enrich their arguments.

Raimon Panikkar observed that "only those who can critically undergo an internal dialogue within themselves are ready for religious dialogue" with others. (221)

Whoever believes in truth also has the tendency to communicate it--something that is quite normal--but Talbi warned that it should not be a "mission" conceived of as one-way traffic. He detected the same tendency among Muslims, which creates difficulties where one partner in dialogue accuses the other of using less than honorable means. He suggested that it is essential to hold "some colloquia with the purpose of defining the deontology respectful of the freedom of the other, respectful of God and respectful of human rights." (222)

The core of dialogue, Nasr suggested, is "that if you want to talk to another person and get meaningful results, you must see what he is, right now, in himself, not what you would like him to be in order for you to talk to him." (223)

Universal truth could be another point of agreement. Nasr has argued that truth comes before peace, and peace follows from truth. (224) Appreciating the opinion of Hans Kung (225)--"There will be no peace among the peoples of this world without peace among the world religions" (226)--Nasr considered it a step toward the understanding of Islam, a step further than various Christian theologians, both Catholics and Protestants, before him. Yet, theological problems remain the same. Dialogue has not yet been more than goodwill or a good gesture. The theological issues--the Prophet, revelation, God and God's mercy, history, Christology--remain under the constraint of "polite diplomacy." Nasr contended, "Even today, with all the platitudes, diplomatic declarations, and even humanitarian gestures towards Islam, and even in the Vatican declaration of (1962), the Prophet of Islam is always left aside." (227) He emphasized that the relation of the Prophet to the Qur'an is central. Describing the various views within Islam, he urged that "the Qur'an is the word of God and not the word of the Prophet." (228) Nasr stated that non-Islamic Western analysis based on the separation between the Qur'an and its traditional commentaries over the centuries will not help dialogue with Muslims, simply because the development of various aspects of the traditions throughout the centuries is based upon the Qur'an. (229)

The majority of world religions believe in God. While they may differ about God's characteristics, they are agreed on God's existence. All religious scriptures witness God's presence. This agreement on the existence of God can be a base for dialogue between the followers of different religious traditions. All followers of the religions believe in God, and they are ready to cooperate with one another in this regard. These beliefs can be a tool for creating more religious tolerance and respect for the followers of other traditions. Therefore, as Alexander Andonov proposed, we should look for ontological common ground so we could understand one another and transfer meanings among Christians, Muslims, and nonbelievers, since "this common ground is the ontological Subject-ness of all living creatures." (230)

Schachter felt that the notion of holiness in sacred books, particularly such revealed books as the Qur'an and the Bible, are not so different from each other. He wrote:
   There are few conversations in the universe as deeply satisfying to
   the heart as the dialogue of the devout. Unfortunately, such
   dialogue took place mostly among the people of each religion
   separately. If this profound sharing were to take place between
   zaddik, saint, and dervish, monk, murid, and hasid, we would have a
   model of what one of the highest forms of conversation could be....

      ... one's own tradition may lack a certain way, approach,
   attitude, or advice that another tradition has deeply fostered....

      In the literature, in retreats and workshops, and by attendance
   at worship with others, Christians and Jews can learn about Zikr;
   Moslems and Jews can learn from the stately rising and abating
   rhythm of the Mass; and both Christians and Moslems can learn much
   from Shabbat and davvenen for their own holy resting and praying.
   (231)


The above-mentioned framework obviously is not a point at which dialogue might be expected to begin, but neither may it be ruled out categorically as a possible area of dialogue. The self-interest and mutual distrust of power groups may pose almost insurmountable obstacles, but the reason for dialogue on these issues exists in the teaching concerning a goal for all history, the ultimate unity of the whole human race before God, and the divine demand for social justice that does not exclude the poor and powerless.

Conclusion

This essay demonstrates that interfaith dialogue, in the widely accepted meaning of conversation between the followers of different religious traditions for the purpose of understanding, is necessary for human beings. Both the manifestation of divine wisdom and the shrinkage of the world into a global village require setting up rules for mutual understanding between the people of different faiths. Due to the pluralistic nature of Islam, Muslims have no theological restrictions on engaging in dialogue. The Islamic doctrine of interfaith dialogue is based on its recognition and acknowledgement of truth in other religions. The legitimacy of interfaith relations in Islamic theology and Shari'ah is based on its self-identification with other religions, particularly Christianity and Judaism. Islam values the righteous works of the followers of other religions and never claims that salvation is restricted only to Islam. The basic tenets of Islam declare that humankind was a single community that was later split into various communities in accordance with the divine plan, and Muslims are one of those.

The Islamic concept Ahl al-KTtab not only explicitly provides a framework for interfaith interaction with Christians and Jews, but it also implicitly extends to all religious communities. The permission and legitimacy of interfaith dialogue in Islamic theology is revealed in al-Qur'an, while the Sunnah of the Prophet provides the role model for the active application of this legitimacy. The commandments of Islamic law and theology facilitate a frank, sincere, and constructive dialogue between communities and faiths. It shows that dialogue for the purpose of resolving conflicts and the endurance of harmony and peace in this world are inevitable. The careful and close study of Islamic sources reinforces the idea of respect for differences and an appreciation for cultural diversity. It demonstrates that pluralism is a source of strength for humanity, not a cause for division and hatred.

In spite of the dialogical nature of Islam, on the whole Muslims have failed to engage in dialogue. Their hesitation to contribute actively to dialogue is rooted in socioeconomic and political misunderstandings and problems. The "bludgeon-Islam- out-of-existence" school of thought in the West and extremists and exclusivists in Muslim societies are trying to hijack the relations between Muslims and others, particularly the West. Events such as 9/11 have illustrated that, in the presence of trust deficits, historical notions, phobias, conspiracy theories, and hatred, a few individuals can cause confrontations between civilizations by their actions. The differences between Muslims and the West take religious dimensions sometimes, but it really is not a clash between Islam and the West but between the extremists and exclusivists on both sides with the pluralists on both sides. This study proves that killing innocent people in the name of religion has nothing to do with Islamic theology; however, the causes and consequences of the actions of individuals have brought religions and civilizations into dispute.

Global dialogue at every level is the best way to prevent extremists from hijacking Islam or any other religion as an innocent victim. Muslims in particular have a duty to share with the world the practical spiritual wisdom that they have inherited, instead of allowing misconceptions to generate a "them and us" mentality that is already leading to a polarization of the world. They also need to act reciprocally to positive steps taken by other communities, such as Nostra aetate. Presently, dialogue will be more fruitful and beneficial for Muslims; therefore, their active participation in it is obligatory--as it is in the opinion of such famous classical scholars as Ibn Hajar Asklani and Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya.

It is necessary that, as part of their long-term policy, Muslims try to solve the challenges that are creating impediments in their active participation in interfaith dialogue. As short-term measures, they have to prepare seriously for dialogue with the creation of agreed-upon authority. This kind of authority can be possible under the umbrella of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which is in principal already agreed on it, but practically nothing has been done. The history of dialogue witnesses that Muslims usually have participated in dialogue as invited guests, and the invitees selected their representatives. This creates mistrust in dialogue by the majority of Muslims. To restore the confidence of mainstream Muslims, it will be appropriate if Muslim countries, organizations, and universities not only academically search areas and means of dialogue but also arrange dialogue and participate in it, not as guests, but as hosts. It is also recommended that Muslims enter into internal dialogue along with participation in dialogue with others. This will provide them an opportunity for self-criticism and preparation. It will streamline their strategies in dialogue and help them to solve the crises of representation. The dialogue between Muslims and others is usually limited to dialogue between Muslims and Christians or sometimes with Jews. Dialogue between Muslims and Eastern civilizations--Hindus, Buddhists, Chinese, and Japanese--are also needed at present.

Current developments in science and technology require parallel progress in the relationship of followers of different religious and cultural traditions. The time has affirmed the continuous need for joint efforts by all major civilizations to promote a culture of dialogue on the basis of difference, diversity, tolerance of plurality, mutual respect, freedom of expression, and sincere readiness at the grassroot level. Agreement on the agenda on the basis of such common interests as spiritual satisfaction, transcultural norms, justice, and submission to the Creator of the universe will lead dialogue to succeed. Such dialogue is the only hope for saving the world from the clash of civilizations; otherwise, worldwide conflicts and violence will continue taking religious dimensions after feeding from misconceptions, misunderstandings, and misrepresentations. The confidence of human beings on the movement of dialogue will push us forward, and we will be able to talk on other matters that are important to all nations, such as ecology, holy places, medical ethics, food technology, etc. Worldwide efforts against hunger, disease, and natural disasters can be unified only after a better understanding and harmony among the faiths comes about through dialogue.

* The initial draft of this essay was submitted to J.E.S. several years ago. In light of the opinions of the referees, it has been revised. The author is deeply indebted to Prof. James Buchanan, Director of the Edward B, Brueggeman Center for Dialogue at Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio, for his sincere and friendly help in revision. He also appreciates the referees and the editors of J.E.S. for their contribution to improvement of the essay.

(1) Wilfred Cantwell Smith (1916-2000) was a Canadian professor of comparative religion who was characterized by the Harvard Gaxtte as one of the field's most influential figures of the twentieth century

(2) Wilfred Cantwell Smith, The Faith of Other Men (New York: New American Library, 1963), p. 12.

(3) In Islamic tradition, the name of a prophet must be followed by "God's blessing and salutation be upon him" as a religious protocol and courtesy; therefore, where the name of a prophet is mentioned in this essay, it may be considered understood that it is followed by this courtesy.

(4) See Gottlob Schrenk, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. Gerhard Kittel, tr. and ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids: MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1964), vol. 2, p. 93.

(5) See Simon Homblower and Antony Spawforth, eds., The Oxford Classical Dictionary, 3rd ed. (New York and Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 1996), p. 462; and Milko Youroukov, "Dialogue between Religious Traditions as a Barrier against Cases of Extreme Religious Fundamentalism," in Plamen Makariev, ed., Islam and Christian Cultures: Conflict or Dialogue, Bulgarian Philosophical Studies 3 (Washington, DC: Council for Research in Values and Philosophy, 2001), pp. 59 and 75.

(6) Acts 17:17.

(7) A Roman Catholic priest and former professor of philosophy at the Catholic Theological Faculty of Zagreb, who specialized in cosmology and problems of dialogue, Bajsic died in 1994.

(8) Vjekoslav Bajsic, "The Significance and Problems of Dialogue Today," J.E.S. 9 (Winter, 1972): 35-36.

(9) Tracy Early, "Interfaith Dialogue," in Paul Kevin Meagher, Thomas C. O'Brien, and Consuelo Maria Aheme, eds., Encyclopedic Dictionary of Religion (Washington, DC: Corpus Publications, 1979), vol. 2, p. 1820.

(10) Leonard Swidler, founding editor of the Journal of Ecumenical Studies, is world-renowned for his involvement in interfaith dialogue.

(11) Leonard Swidler, "The Dialogue Decalogue: Ground Rules for Interreligious Dialogue," J.E.S. 20 (Winter, 1983): 1.

(12) Muhammad b. Makram b. Ali Ibn Manzur, Llsan Al- 'Arab, ed. Yusuf al khiyat (Beirut: Dar Al Jil wa Dar Lisan Al-'Arab, 1988), vol. 1, p. 720.

(13) Ibid., vol. 5, pp. 296-303.

(14) Ahmed Bhr, "Effect of Dialogue on Change," paper presented in the conference on "Islamic Da'wah and Contemporary Changes," April 16-17,2007, p. 120.

(15) Al-Qur'an 18:34,37; and 58:1.

(16) Al-Qur'an has used different root forms of this term in several places; see, e g., 18:34, 37; 58:1; 55:72; and 56:22.

(17) Ali ibn Ahmad ibn Manzur al-Ansari al-Afriqi al-Misri Jamal al-Din Abu al- Fadl (1233-1312 C.E.) was an Arabic lexicographer and author of a large Arabic dictionary, Lisan al-'Arab.

(18) Lisan al-'Arab, vol. 3, p. 162.

(19) See George Percy Badger, English Arabic Lexicon (London, Regan Paul, 1881), p. 235.

(20) Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn Umar ibn al-Husayn al-Taymi al-Bakri al- Tabaristani Fakhr al-Din al-Razi (1149-1209 C.E.) was a Persian Sunni Muslim theologian and philosopher who wrote in Arabic. He devoted himself to a wide range of studies and is said to have expended a large fortune on experiments in alchemy.

(21) Al-Razi Fakhar al-Din Muhammad ibn 'Umar (d. 1209/606), Al-Tafsir al-Kabir (Beirut: Dar Ihya' al-Turath al-'Arabi 1420 A.H.), vol. 20, pp. 287-288.

(22) Ismail Raji al-Faruqi (1921-86) was a professor at the University of Chicago, Syracuse University, and Temple University. He was among leading Muslims who contributed to dialogue with non-Muslims.

(23) Ismail Raji al-Faruqi, "Islam and Christianity: Diatribe or Dialogue," in Ismail Raji al-Faruqi, Lslam and Other Faiths, ed. Attaullah Siddiqui (Leicester: The Islamic Foundation, 1998), p. 248.

(24) Ibid.

(25) Talbi (b. 1921) is a Professor Emeritus of the Arts and Science Faculty of the University of Tunis, Tunisia, and a past president of the National Cultural Committee of Tunisia. His contributions appear in a number of valuable articles, books, and encyclopedias.

(26) Mohamed Talbi, "Islamo-Christian Encounter Today: Some Principles," MECC Perspective, nos. 4/5 (July-August, 1985), p. 10.

(27) Nasr, a prominent Islamic philosopher of Iranian origin, is Professor of Islamic Studies at George Washington University and author of many scholarly books and articles in the fields of Islamic Esoterism, Sufism, philosophy of science, and metaphysics.

(28) Ataullah Siddiqui, Christian-Muslim Dialogue in the Twentieth Century (Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire, and London: Macmillan Press Ltd.; New York: St. Martin's Press, 1997), p. 155, quoting an unpublished interview of Nasr by Siddiqui in London, December 9, 1992.

(29) Conversation means two-way communications between two or more persons holding different views on religious cultural history and upbringing; see Edmund Chia, ed., Dialogue: Resource Manual for Catholics in Asia (Bangkok: Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences, Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, 2001), p. 181.

(30) Pearson Longman, Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English (New York: Longman Publishing Group, 1978), pp. 301-302; available at http://www.ldoceonline.com/.

(31) See Raimundo Panikkar, The Intra-Religious Dialogue (New York: Paulist Press, 1978), p. xiv.

(32) See Youroukov, "Dialogue between Religious Traditions," p. 64.

(33) See Raimundo Panikkar, "The Invisible Harmony: Universal Theory of Religion or a Cosmic Confidence in Reality," in Leonard Swidler, ed., Toward a Universal Theology of Religion, Faith Meets Faith (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1988), p. 125.

(34) Carl W. Ernst, Following Muhammad: Rethinking Islam in the Contemporary World (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2004), p. 44.

(35) Ibid., p. 45.

(36) Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Ideals and Realities of Islam (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1979), pp. 84-88.

(37) See A1-Qur'an 2:127-133; 3:51-52,84; 6:161-163; 10:83-84,90.

(38) Manazir Ahsan Gilani and Muhammad Hamidullah have argued the possibility of recognition of Buddha as one of the prophets. See Manazir Ahsan Gilani, Maqalat e Gilani (Lahore: Sheik Zaid Islamic Centre, Punjab University, 2004), pp. 30-40; and Muhammad Hamidullah, Emergence of Islam (Islamabad: Islamic Research Institute, 1999), p. 203.

(39) Nasr has argued that, outside Abrahamic tradition, the spiritual type of the prophet should be compared in Hinduism to Rama and Krishna. They were, in a different climate. Avatars and role models as the kings and householders. Their actions and sayings are recorded in the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. See Nasr, Ideals and Realities of Islam, p. 69.

(40) Ernst, Following Muhammad, p. 45.

(41) A1-Qur'an 35:24.

(42) Ismail Raji Al-Faruqi, "Towards a Critical World Theology," in Toward Islamization of Disciplines, Islamization of Knowledge Series 6 (Herndon, VA: International Institute of Islamic Thought, 1995), p. 436.

(43) Sachedina Abdulaziz, The Islamic Roots of Democratic Pluralism (Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 2001), p. 27.

(44) The E.T. from Al-Qur'an used herein is from Abdullah Yousuf Ali.

(45) Al-Qur'an 2:62

(46) Al-Qur'an 3:113.

(47) Muhammad Rashid Rida (1865-1935) was an Islamic reformer whose ideas would later influence twentieth-century Islamist thinkers in developing a political philosophy of an "Islamic state " He was one of the most influential and controversial scholars of his generation and was deeply influenced by the Salafi movement founded in Cairo by Muhammad Abduhu.

(48) Muhammad Rashid Rida, Tafsir al-Manar (Cairo: Al Hiya al Misriya, Al-Amma lil kitab, 1990), vol. 1, p. 278, commenting on Qur'an 2:62.

(49) Ibid., vol. 4, p. 56, commenting on Qur'an 3:113.

(50) Fazlur Rahman (Malik) (1919-88) was a well-known scholar of Islam, who established the Central Institute of Islamic research in Pakistan in 1961. He taught at such notable Western institutions as Durham (U.K.) University, McGill University (Montreal), and the University of California at Los Angeles. He was a proponent for reform of the Islamic polity.

(51) Fazlur Rahman, Major Themes of the Qur'an (Minneapolis, MN: Bibliotheca Islamica, 1991), pp. 165-167.

(52) "Tawhid is the defining doctrine of Islam. It declares absolute monotheism- -the unity and uniqueness of God as creator and sustainer of the universe" (John L. Esposito, ed., The Oxford Dictionary of Islam [New York and Oxford, U.K: Oxford University Press, 2003], p .317).

(53) See Ismail Albayrak, "The People of the Book in the Qur'an," Islamic Studies 47 (Autumn, 2008): 301-325.

(54) "Tawrat the Arabic name for Torah, is "[m]entioned in the Quran eighteen times as true revelation that preceded the Gospels and the Quran" (5:46; 61:6; 3:48, 5:110) (see Esposito, Oxford Dictionary of Islam, p. 321).

(55) "Injil," the Islamic name for the Gospels, which are considered divinely revealed but superseded by the Qur'an (see ibid., p. 42).

(56) Abu al-Hassan Ali b. Muhammad b. Habib Mawardi, Al-Hawi al-Kabir fi fiqh madhhab al-imam al Shafi ... wahuwa sharh mukhtasar al-Muzani, ed. Ali Muhammad Mu'awwad and Adil Ahmed Abd al-Mawjud (Beirut: Dar al-Kutab al-ilmiyyawa Mu 'assasat al-Kutub al haqafiyya, 1992), vol. 9, pp. 220-221.

(57) Taqi-al-Din Ahmed b. Ali Maqriziy, Imta al-asmabima li-rasool min ambawa al-Iqval, ed. Mehmud Muhammad Shakir (Qatar: Lajnat Talifwa Nashr), vol. 1, p. 323.

(58) The word "ahl always signifies a family relationship. The ahl of a person are his or her family--spouse and children. Therefore, "Ahl al-Kitab" should be translated as the "family of the book' (al-Qur'an 2:213).

(59) The concept of "dhimma" is described as a "Juristic description that is presumed by the legislator to exist in a human being and according with which [the person] becomes able to obliged and be obliged." After attaining this legal capacity, non-Muslims become citizens of an Islamic state, and Muslims may marry their women and may consume meat slaughtered by them. They enjoy a sort of autonomy; their cases are adjudicated by their co-religionists in accordance with their personal law, and their life and property are protected by the Islamic state even as those of Muslim subjects. See Muhammad Hamidullah, The Muslim Conduct of State: Being a Treatise on Siyar, that is Islamic Notion of Public International Law, consisting of the Laws of Peace, War, and Neutrality, together with Precedents from Orthodox Practice and Preceded by a Historical and General Introduction, 4th ed. (Lahore: Sh. Muhammad Ashraf Publishers, 1961), p. 112; and Mustafa Ahmad Al-Zarqa, Al-Fiqh al-lslami Fi Tawbihi Al-Jadid, Al-Madkhalal-Fiqhial-am (Damascus: Dar al-Fikr liltiba'ah, 1967), vol. 2, p. 737.

(60) Ghulam Haider Aasi, Muslim Understanding of Other Religions: A Study of Ibn Hazm's Kitab al-Fasl fi al-Milal wa al-Ahwa wa al-Nihal (Islamabad: International Institute of Islamic Thought, 2004), p. 16.

(61) The Sabians of Middle Eastern tradition include a variety of monotheistic religions; Gnostic (Mandeans) and Hermetic (Harranian) as well as Abrahamic religions are mentioned three times in the Qur'an with the People of the Book. See al-Qur'an 2:62.

(62) Bernard Lewis, The Jews of Islam (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1984), p. 18.

(63) Uthman ibn Affan (574-656) was the third caliph and is regarded as one of the "Four Righteously Guided Caliphs." He governed from 644 until 656 and is especially important for having overseen the process by which the official compilation of the Qur'an was completed.

(64) Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan (646-705) was the 5th Umayyad caliph. A well- educated man and capable ruler, Ibn Khaldun considered him one of the greatest Arab and Muslim caliphs.

(65) See Al-Sarakhsi, Shar 'ha Kitab al-Siyar al-kabir li-Muhammad b. al-Hassan al-Shabani, ed. Sala al-Din al-Munajad ((Hyderabad: Matba'ah daera al-Ma'arif al-Nizamia, 1335 AH), vol. 4, p. 139; and Hamidullah, Muslim Conduct of State, p. 118.

(66) Abu Amr Abd al-Rahman ibn Amr Al-Awza'i (707-774) was the founder of the Awzai School of Islamic Jurisprudence, which flourished in Syria, the Maghreb, and Muslim Spain but in the ninth century was overcome by the Maliki School of Islamic law.

(67) Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Hanbal Abu 'Abd Allah al-Shaybani (780-855 C.E./164- 241 A.H.), founder of the Hanbali school of Islamic Jurisprudence, was a strong spokesperson for the usage of hadith.

(68) Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, Ahkam ahl al-dhimma, ed. Yousuf bin Ahmed al Bakri and Shakar bin Tifiq (Damam: Ramadi lil Nashr, 1987/1418), vol. l, pp. 79-84.

(69) See San'ani' Abd al Razzaq b. Hamam, Musannaf ed. Habib al-Rahman 'Azmi (India: al-Majlas al-Ilmi, 1401), Hadith No. 10043, vol. 6, p. 74; Ya'qub b. Ibrahim Abu Yusuf, Kitab al-Kharaj (Cairo: al-maktaba al-salafiyya wa maktaba'tuha, 1352 C.E.), p. 122; Muhammad b. Idris Shafi'i, Kitab al-Umm (Beirut: Dar al-Ma'arifa, 1990/1410), vol. 4, p. 182; Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, Ahkam ahl al-dhimma, vol. 1, pp. 90-92, 245, 431; and 'Abd Allah b. Ahmed b Muhammad Ibn Qudama, al- Mughni (Cairo: Maktabat al-Qahira, 1367 A.H.), vol. 9, p. 328.

(70) Imam Mawaffaq ad-Din Abdullah Ibn Ahmad Ibn Qudama al-Maqdisi (1147-1223) wrote many treatises of Hanbali jurisprudence and doctrine and, along with Ibn Taymiyyah, is considered one of the two most significant proponents of Hanbalism.

(71) Ibn Qudamah, al-Mughni, vol. 9, p. 329.

(72) Muhammad b. Idris Shafi'i (d. 204 A.H.), Al-Musnad, Kitab al-Jihad (Beirut: dar al Kutab al-ilmiyya), vol. 1, p. 209.

(73) 'Umar ibn Al-Khattab (579-644) was one of the most powerful and influential Muslim caliphs in Islamic history. He succeeded Abu Bakr (632-634) as the second Rashid of the Rashidun Caliphate in 634. Under his Caliphate (634-644), Islamic rule expanded at an unprecedented rate, ruling the whole Sasanian Empire and more than two-thirds of the Byzantine Empire. According to Jewish tradition, Umar set aside the Christian ban on Jews and allowed them into Jerusalem to worship.

(74) See Al Bukhari Abu Abdullah Muhammad bin Ismael, Al Jamiya Al Sahi (Beirut: Dar Ibn Kathir, 1987), Kitab al Jizya, Bab No. 1 Hadith No. 3157; and Abu Yusuf, Kitab al- Kharaj, p. 142.

(75) These names are mentioned in Al-Qur'an; see 20:133; 53:36; 80:13; and 87:18-19.

(76) Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, Ahkam ahl al-dhimma, vol. 2, pp.432-433; Badr al- Din Muhammad b. Bahadur b. Abd Allah al-Shafi Zarkashi, Sharh al-Zarkashi'ala Mukhlasar al- Khirraqi fi al-fiqh ala madhhab al-imam Ahmed b. Hanbal (Riyad: Maktabat al-Ubaykan, 1993/1413), vol. 6, p. 449.

(77) A1-Qur'an literally means "reading" or "recitation." It may be defined as the book containing the speech of God revealed to Prophet Muhammad in Arabic and transmitted by continuous testimony, or tawatur. It is a proof of the prophecy of Muhammad, the most authoritative guide for Muslims, and the first source of the Shari'ah. The Qur'an consists of manifest revelation (wahy zahir), which is defined as the communication from God to the Prophet Muhammad, conveyed by the angel Gabriel, in the very words of God.

(78) A1-Qur'an 3:64.

(79) Abu Al-Fida 'Imad Ad-Din lsma'il bin 'Umar bin Kathir (1301-73) was a famous author of one of the most widely used explanations of the Qur'an today.

(80) Abu'l-Fida' 'Imad al-Din Isma'ilibn 'Umar ibn Kathir al-Qurashi al-Dimashqi (d.774), Tafsir al-Qur'an al 'azim, ed. Sami b. Muhammad Salama (Dar Tiyyaba li Nashr wa tuwzeh, 1990/1420), vol. 3, p. 120.

(81) Muhammad Syed Tantavi, Al Tafsir al Wasit li al-Quran al-Karim (Cairo: Nahdhat Misar li taba'at wa al nashr, 1997), vol. 2, p. 135.

(82) Muhammad Rashid Rida, Tafsir al-Manar, vol. 3, p. 270, commenting on Al- Qur'an 3:64.

(83) The text of the letter of the Prophet sent to the ruler of Egypt, Maquqas, was also similar to the text of the letter sent to Heraclius, the Emperor of Byzantine. See Abu'l-Fida' 'Imad al-Din Isma'ilibn 'Umar ibn Kathir al-Qurashi al-Dimashqi, al Sira al Nabawiyya (Beirut: Al ma'arfah li al-taba'at wa nashr, 1976/1395), vol. 3, p. 514; and Ahmed bin Muhammad bin Abi Bakar Al- Qustalani, Al-Muwahib al-Ludnia Li al-Manhaj al -Muhammadia (Cairo: Al-maktaba al-tufiqiya), vol. 1, p. 545.

(84) Abu 'Abd Allah Muhammad ibn Isma'il ibn Ibrahim ibn al-Mughirah ibn Bardizbah al-Ju'fi al-Bukhari (810-70), commonly referred to as Imam al-Bukhari, was a Persian Islamic scholar who authored the hadith collection known as Sahih al-Bukhari, regarded by Sunni Muslims as one of the most sahih (authentic) of all hadith compilations.

(85) Heraclius (575-641), the Byzantine Emperor from 610 to 641, was responsible for introducing Greek as the Eastern Empire's official language. His rise to power began in 608, when he and his father, Heraclius the Elder, the Exarch of Africa, successfully led a revolt against the unpopular usurper Phocas.

(86) Al-Bukhari, Sahiih al-Bukhari, Vol. 1, Book 1, No. 6; E. T.

(87) Many scholars are trying to identify a "common world." Valuable research has been done to identify the common teachings of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. It is believed that al-Qur'an does not contain a passage commonly known as the Ten Commandments; however, al-Qur'an in 2:83-84 and 7:142135 mentions commandments revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai. Gunther has tried to identify these common commandments on the basis of arguments from basic Islamic sources. He pointed out that many medieval Islamic sources mentioned ten words as "Al-'ashrkalima"' or "Al kalima Al-ashr" (Sebastian Gunther, "O People of the Scripture! Come to a Word Common to You and Us (Q. 3:64): The Ten Commandments and the Qur'an," Journal of Qur anic Studies, vol. 9, no. 1 [2007], p. 48, n. 10). He observed that "medieval Muslim commentators [advanced] the idea that these Qur'anic passages are also recorded or paralleled in the Torah. However, they do not assert a direct connection with the Biblical Ten Commandments" (Gunther, "O People," p. 31). Other important studies on this theme include Waleed El Ansary and David K. Linnan, eds., Muslim and Christian Understanding: Theory and Application of "A Common Word" (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010); Miroslav Volf, Ghazi bin Muhammad, and Melissa Yarrington, A Common Word: Muslims and Christians on Loving God and Neighbor (Grand Rapids, MI, and Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2010); Christian W. Troll, Dialogue and Difference: Clarity in Christian-Muslim Relations, tr. David Marshall (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2009); and Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Guidelines for Dialogue between Christians and Muslims (Mahwah, NJ, and New York: Paulist Press, 1990).

(88) On the basis of this verse, the "a common word between us and you" initiative was launched on October 13, 2007, initially as an Open Letter signed by 138 leading Muslim scholars and intellectuals (including such figures as the Grand Muftis of Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Oman, Bosnia, Russia, and Istanbul) to the leaders of the Christian churches and denominations of the entire world, including Pope Benedict XVI. See "A Common Word between Us and You," 5-Year Anniversary Edition, MABDA English Monograph Series 20 (Amman: The Royal Aal Al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, 2012).

(89) Gunther is a professor and Chair of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Gottingen in Germany.

(90) Gunther, "O People," p. 46.

(91) Martha A. Morrison and Stephen F. Brown, Encyclopedia of World Religions (New Delhi: Crest Publishing House, 2004), vol 8, p. 6.

(92) Gunther, "O People," p. 46.

(93) Iqbal S. Hussain, Islam and Western Civilization: Creating a World of Excellence (Lahore: Humanity International; Littlehampton, U.K.: Apex Books Concern, 1997), p. 172.

(94) See, e g., an editorial by Raimundo Panikkar, "Inter-Religious Dialogue: Some Principles," J.E.S. 12 (Summer, 1975): 407-409.

(95) Seyyed Hossein Nasr, "Comments on a Few Theological Issues in the Islamic- Christian Dialogue," in Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad and Wadi Zaidan Haddad, eds., Christian-Muslim Encounters (Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 1995), p. 464.

(96) Al-Qur'an 16:125.

(97) 'Umar, Al-Tafsir Al-Kabir, vol. 20, pp. 287-288.

(98) Ibn Kathir, Tafsir al-Qur'an al'Azim, vol. 4, p. 613.

(99) Al-Qur'an 20:44.

(100) Abdullah Yusuf Ali (1872-1953) was an Indian Islamic scholar who translated the Qur'an into English. Bom into a wealthy merchant Dawoodi Bohra family, he studied English literature at several European universities, including the University of Leeds.

(101) Abdulla Yusuf Ali, The Holy Quran Text, Translation and Commentary, U S. ed. (Elmhurst, NY: Tahrike Tarsile Qur'an, Inc., 1987 [lst ed., 1934]), p. 689, n. 2161.

(102) Al-Qur'an 29:46.

(103) Al-Razi, Al-Tafsir al-Kabli, vol. 25, p. 62.

(104) Ibn Kathir, Tafsir al-Qur an al 'Azim, vol. 6, p. 283.

(105) Ali, The Holy Quran, p. 1041, n. 3472.

(106) lsma'il Ibrahim Nawwab, "Muslims and the West in History," in Zafar Ishaq Ansari and John L. Esposito, eds., Muslims and the West: Encounter and Dialogue (Islamabad: Islamic Research Institute, 2006), p. 39.

(107) Abdel Haleem, The Quran: A New Translation (Oxford, U.K., and New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), p. 34.

(108) Khaled Abou El Fadl, "The Human Rights Commitment in Modem Islam,' in Joseph Runzo, Nancy M. Martin, and Arvind Sharma, eds., Human Rights and Responsibilities in World Religions, Library of Global Ethics and Religion 4 (Oxford, U.K.: Oneworld Publications, 2003), p. 310. See, e.g., Sayyid Qutb, Milestones on the Road (Indianapolis, IN: American Trust Publications, 1991); and Ahmad S .Mousalli, Radical Islamic Fundamentalism: The Ideological and Political Discourse of Sayyid Qutb (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1993).

(109) In the first half of the twentieth century, a variety of Muslim jurists who were aware of Western intellectual development resisted this position of isolation. For instance, many of the articles published in the Azhar journal, Nur al-lslam, in the 1930's and 1940's attempted to engage, interact, and discourse with world thought. This was evidence that many Muslim scholars, at that time, tried to stay informed about the latest developments in European thought.

(110) Mehran Kamrava, "Introduction: Reformist Islam in Comparative Perspective," in Mehran Kamrava, ed., The New Voices of Islam: Rethinking Politics and Modernity--A Reader (Berkeley, CA, and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2006), p. I.

(111) Al-Qur'an 5:51.

(112) Al-Qur'an 4:144; see also 8:73 and 60:1.

(113) Nasir al-Din Abu Said 'Abd Allah b. 'Umar b. Muhammad al-Shirazi Baydawi, Anwar al-tanzil wa asraral-ta wil (Beirut: Darlhya al-Turas al 'Arabdi, 1418 A.H.), vol. 2, p. 130.

(114) See Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, Munazarat (Istanbul: Yeni Asya, 1993), p. 32; and Albayrak, "People of the Book in the Qur'an."

(115) "See notes 81 to 95, above.

(116) Al-Qur'an 9:23.

(117) Murat Yilmiz, The Necessity of Interfaith Dialogue from Qur'anic Perspective (Karachi: Sheikh Zayed Islamic Centre, University of Karachi, 2008), pp. 106-107.

(118) M. A. Muhibbu-Din, "Principles of Islamic Polity towards Ahl al-Kitab and Religious Minorities," Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs 24 (April, 2004): 166, with reference to H. I. Gwarzo, "The Life and the Teachings of Al-Maghili with Particular Reference to the Saharan Jewish Community," unpublished Ph.D. thesis (London: School of Oriental and African Studies, Department of Near and Middle East, University of London, 1972), p. 168.

(119) Muhammad Ayoub, "Nearest in Amity: Christians in the Qur'an and Contemporary Exegetical Tradition," in Muhammad Ayoub, A Muslim View of Christianity: Essays on Dialogue, ed. Irfan A. Omar (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2007), p. 190.

(120) 'Umar Faruq Abd-Allah, "Islamic Culture and Imperative," Journal of Islamic Law and Culture 8 (Fall/Winter, 2003): 99.

(121) Literally, "Sunnah" means a clear path; it has also been used to imply normative practice or an established course of conduct. Sunnah refers to all that is narrated from the Prophet Muhammad, his acts, his sayings, and whatever he tacitly approved, as well as all the reports that describe his physical attributes and character.

(122) Bahira, or Sergius the Monk to the Latin West, was a Syriac or Bahrani Gnostic Manichean Nasorean or Nestorian Arian monk, who, according to tradition, foretold his future prophetic career to the adolescent Muhammad. This encounter was held in the town of Bosra, Syria, during his travel with a Meccan caravan, accompanying his uncle Abu Talib ibn 'Abd al-Muttalib.

(123) Ibn Hisham, al Sira at Nabawiyya, ed. Mustafa al-Saqqa, Ibrahim al Abyari, and Abdul Hafeez al Shalabi (Misar: Matba'a Mustfa al-babi wa auladuhu, 1955/1375), vol. 1, p. 180.

(124) According to Islamic sources, Waraqah was an Ebionite priest living in Mecca who had made detailed studies of the Gospels and the Hebrew scriptures. It is thought that he was one of the believers in the Age of Ignorance, meaning that he was a believer before the prophecy of Muhammad.

(125) Ibn Hisham reported that he said to the Prophet Muhammad: "If whatever you have stated is true, it resembles the nomos of Moses. If I am alive by the time your nation treats you badly and exiles you from the city, 1 will support you and strive to resolve your difficulties" (Ibn Hisham, al Sira al Nabawiyya, vol. 1, p. 238).

(126) According to Arabic sources, Ashama ibn Abjar was Emperor or al-Najashi of Aksum at the time of Muhammad and gave refuge to several Muslims in the Kingdom of Aksum. The term "al-Najashi" has the variant al-Negashi; it corresponds to the ancient Aksumite title Negus, with the variant Negash.

(127) Ja'far ibn Abi Talib (590-629 C.E.), also known as Ja'far al-Tayyar, was the son of Abu Talib (the uncle of Prophet Muhammad) and the elder brother of Ali, the fourth Rashidun Caliph of Islam and the first Imam of the Shias.

(128) Ibn Hisham has narrated the details of this dialogue in a separate chapter; see his al Sira al-Nabawiyya, vol. 1, p. 335.

(129) Hamidullah, Emergence of Islam, p. 197.

(130) "In ... the Constitution of Medina, the Prophet Muhammad legislated for a multi-religious society, based on equality, tolerance, and justice, many centuries before such an idea existed in Europe" (Roger Boase, "Ecumenical Islam: A Muslim Response to Religious Pluralism," in Roger Boase, ed., Islam and Global Dialogue: Religious Pluralism and the Pursuit of Peace [Aldershot, Hants., U.K., and Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing, 2005), p 259).

(131) Muhammad ibn Ishaq (704-68 C.E.) is among the early biographers of the Prophet who documented his life in a book.

(132) Ibn Hisham, aI Sira al-Nabawiyya, vol. 1, p. 33.

(133) See Al-Bukhari, Sahiih al-Bukhari, Kitab al Jihad, Hadith. No. 2791; and Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, Zadda! Ma'ad Fi hadi Khir al Ibad (Al kwait: Maktaba al Minar, 1994), vol. 3, pp. 554-556.

(134) Al-Qur'an 3:59-61.

(135) Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, Zadd al Ma ad Fi hadi Khir aI Ibad, vol. 3, p. 356.

(136) Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr, also known as Ibn Qayyim (1292-1350/691-751), was a jurist, commentator on the Qur'an, and theologian, whose scholarship focused on the sciences of Hadith and Fiqh.

(137) Al-Haafidh Shihabuddin Abu'l-Fadl Ahmad ibn Ali ibn Muhammad Ibn Hajar (1372-1448/773-852), was a medieval Shafiitei scholar of Islam who represented the entire realm of the Sunni world in the field of Hadith; he is also known as Shaykh al Islam.

(138) Ibn Hajar Ahmed bin Ali bin Hajjar al-asklani, Fatha al Bari fi Sharha Sahiih al-Bukharl (Beirut: Dar al-muarifat, 1379 A.H.), vol. 8, p. 95.

(139) Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, Zadd al Ma'ad Fi hadi Khir al Ibad, vol. 3, p. 356.

(140) This term is used in the meaning of chastity, which is a "[l]egal concept describing the personal status of an individual who is free (not a slave) and who either has never committed an act of illicit intercourse or has consummated a lawful marriage to a free partner" (Esposito, Oxford Dictionary of Islam, pp. 212-213).

(141) Al-Qur'an 4:123-125.

(142) 'Umar, Al-Tafsir al-Kabir, vol. 11, p. 226; Mufti Muhammad Shaft, Ma'arif al-Quran, tr. Muhammad Shamim (Karachi: Maktaaba e Darul-Uloom, 1998), vol. 3, pp. 577-578.

(143) Muhammad al-Tahir ibn 'Ashur (1879-1973), an eminent figure in the institution of Tunisian scholars for most of the twentieth century, is highly regarded as a Muslim reformist of the modem era

(144) Muhammad al-Tahir Ibn Ashur, Tafslr al-Tahrirwa al-Tanwir (Tunis: Al-Dar al-Tunisiya linashr, 1984), vol. 5, pp. 208-209

(145) Sachedina Abdulaziz, The Islamic Roots of Democratic Pluralism (Oxford, U.K., and New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), p. 33.

(146) For details, see al-Bukhan, Sahih al-Bukharl, HadTth Nos. 3162 and 3166, ed., Mustafa Dib al-Bagha (Beirut: Dar Ibn Kathir, 1987/1407), vol. 4, p. 98.

(147) Abu Yusuf, Kitab al-Kharaj, p. 68; my translation.

(148) Ibid., p. 70.

(149) Ibid., p. 71.

(150) Harun al-Rashid, named in English "Aaron the Upright" (763-809), was the fifth Arab Abbasid Caliph. His rule (786-809) was marked by scientific, cultural, and religious prosperity. Islamic art and music also flourished significantly during his reign, and he established the legendary library, Bayt al-Hikma (House of Wisdom).

(151) Yaqub ibn Ibrahim al-Ansari, better known as Abu Yusuf (729-798 C.E.) was a student of Abu Hanifah (d. 767), who helped spread the influence of the Hanafi School of Islamic Law through his writings and the government positions he held.

(152) Abu Yusuf, Kitab al-Kharaj, p. 70.

(153) Abu 'Ubayd Qasiim bin Salam (774-838/157-224) was a famous author of a classical treatise on taxation and a great scholar of Hadith, fiqh, and Arabic literature.

(154) Abu 'Ubayd, Kitab al-Amwal, ed. Khalil Muhammad Haras (Beirut: Dar al- Fikar, n. d.), p. 53.

(155) Bernard Lewis, a British-American historian and the Cleveland E. Dodge Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University, where he specialized in oriental studies, is a contemporary public intellectual and political commentator.

(156) Lewis, Jews of Islam, p. 24.

(157) It is well known in Islamic law that, according to the opinion of al- Mawardi and Abu ya'la al-Farra, non-Muslims could be appointed to any administrated post in the Islamic state, provided that the ultimate responsibility was assumed by a Muslim. See Al-Mawardi, Kitab al-Ahkam al-Sultania wa al-wilayat al-diniya, ed. Ahmed Mubarak al-Baghdadi (Kuwayt: Maktabat Dar Ibn Qutayba,1989); and Abuya 'la al-Farra (d. 458), al-Ahkam al-sultania, ed., Muhammad Hamid al-Fiqi (Beiurt: Dar al-Kutab al-Ilmiya, 2001/1421).

(158) Bediuzzaman Said Nursi (1877-1960), a famous theologian of Kurdish origin, is an author of the Risale-iNur. He considered modern science and logic to be the way of the future. Nursi inspired a faith movement that has played a vital role in the revival of Islam in Turkey.

(159) Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, Sozler (Istanbul: Sozler, 1993), p. 396.

(160) See Zeki Saritoprak and Sidney Griffith, "Fethullah Gillen and the 'People of the Book': A Voice from Turkey for Interfaith Dialogue," The Muslim World 95 (July, 2005): 333.

(161) Thomas Michael, "Bediuzzaman Said Nursi' in Dusiincesinde Musluman- Hiristiyan Diyaloguve Isbirligi," International Bediuzzaman Said Nursi Conference, Istanbul, September, 1998, p. 2.

(162) See Albayrak, "People of the Book in the Qur'an."

(163) Prof. Khurshid Ahmad (b. 1932) was a member of the Pakistani Senate and is deputy head of Jamaat e Islami of Pakistan.

(164) Siddiqui, Christian-Muslim Dialogue in the Twentieth Century, p. 125.

(165) Ibid., pp. 158-159, quoting from the unpublished interview (see n. 28, above).

(166) Mohamed Talbi, "Islam and Dialogue: Some Reflection on a Current Topic," in Richard Rousseau, ed., Christianity and Islam: The Struggling Dialogue, Modem Theological Themes: Selections from the Literature 4 (Scranton, PA: Ridge Row Press, 1985), p. 45.

(167) "The 'West' refers mainly to Europe and lands of significant European settlement, primarily North America, but also Australia and New Zealand. The definition is geographical-historical rather than cultural" (Islam and the West: Annual Report on the State of Dialogue, 2008 [Geneva: World Economic Forum, West and Islam Dialogue Community (C-100), 2008], p. 10).

(168) These results are based on a 2007 Gallup Organization Survey of Population Perceptions and Attitudes that sought to measure the state of dialogue between Islam and the West. See ibid., p. 4.

(169) Al-Qur'an 109:6.

(170) Siddiqui, Christian-Muslim Dialogue in the Twentieth Century, p. 51.

(171) Mohamed Talbi, "Possibilities and Conditions for a Better Understanding between Islam and the West," J.E.S. 25 (Spring, 1988): 170.

(172) Ibid.

(173) Ibid., p. 174.

(174) Ibid., p. 176.

(175) In "Christianity and World Religions: Discussion," The Muslim World 11 (April, 1987): 129.

(176) Siddiqui, Christian-Muslim Dialogue in the Twentieth Century, p. 158, from "Interview."

(177) M. A. Anees, "Historical Light on the Present Situation of Christian- Muslim Relations," Part II, Newsletter of the Office of Christian-Muslim Relations, Hartford Seminary, no. 38 (July, 1988), p. 2.

(178) Zaki is the Deputy Director of the Muslim Institute founded by the late Dr. Kalim Siddiqi. Bom in Scotland and educated in Barcelona and Granada, he is a converted Muslim.

(179) Available at http://www.erusam.com/images/dosya/the_poIitics_of_islamophobia.pdf.

(180) Claire Briere and Olivier Carre, Islam, Guerre a l'Occident! (Paris: Autrement, 1983), p. 34.

(181) Youroukov, "Dialogue between Religious Traditions," pp. 64-65.

(182) Samuel Phillips Huntington (1927-2008) was an influential conservative political scientist whose works covered multiple sub-fields of political science. He gained wider prominence through his Clash of Civilizations thesis of a post-Cold War new world order.

(183) Samuel P. Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996).

(184) Yoshihiro Francis Fukuyama (b. 1952), an American political scientist and political economist, is famous for his theory of the worldwide spread of liberal democracies and free-market capitalism of the West.

(185) Francis Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man (New York: Free Press, 1992).

(186) Felipe Fernandez-Armesto (b. 1950) is a British historian and author of several popular works of history.

(187) Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, Millennium: A History of the Last Thousand Years (New York: Touchstone, 1995).

(188) Those who think this way treat Islam as a dark force in history, while Muslims treat this theory as a conspiracy against them. See Akbar S. Ahmed, "America and the Challenge of Islam," The Hedgehog Review 5 (Spring, 2003): 21-22.

(189) "The killing of innocent civilians is specifically forbidden in the Qur'an. Killing a single innocent individual is like killing all of humanity, warns the Holy Book (5:32)" (Akbar S. Ahmed, "Islam and the West: Clash or Dialogue of Civilizations?" in Boase, Islam and Global Dialogue, p. 105).

(190) Ibid.

(191) "Antony T. Sullivan, "Conservative Ecumenism: Politically Incorrect Meditations on Islam and the West," in Boase, Islam and Global Dialogue, p. 139.

(192) "Boase, 'Ecumenical Islam," p. 249.

(193) "Siddiqui, Christian-Muslim Dialogue in the Twentieth Century, p. 52.

(194) "Ismail Raji al-Faruqi, "Foreword," in Ismail Raji al-Faruqi, ed., Trialogue of the Abrahamic Faiths, Papers Presented to the Islamic Studies Group of the American Academy of Religion (Herndon, VA: International Institute of Islamic Thought, 1986).

(195) Bajsic, "Significance and Problems," p. 33.

(196) Talbi, "Islam and Dialogue," p. 65.

(197) Nostra aetate, issued in 1965, is the "Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non Christian Religions," particularly Islam; available at http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vati can_council/documents/vat-ii_decll_19651028_nostra-aetate_en.html.

(198) Louis Massignon (1883-1962) was a French Catholic scholar of Islam and its history, who tried to understand Islam from within and thus had a great influence on the way Islam was seen in the West; among other things, he paved the way for a greater openness inside the Catholic Church toward Islam as was documented in Nostra aetate.

(199) Miguel Asin Palacios (1871-1944), a Spanish scholar of Islamic studies and the Arabic language, was a Roman Catholic priest who was primarily known for suggesting Muslim sources for ideas and motifs present in Dante's Divine Comedy. He wrote on medieval Islam, extensively on al- Ghazali.

(200) Jacques Louis Gaston Jomier (1914-2008) joined the Dominicans of the Province of Paris in 1932 and was ordained a priest in 1939. Between 1973 and 1985 he served on the Secretariat for Non-Christians at the Vatican.

(201) "Since in the course of centuries not a few quarrels and hostilities have arisen between Christians and Moslems, this sacred synod urges all to forget the past and to work sincerely for mutual understanding and to preserve as well as to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom" (Nostra aetate, no. 3).

(202) Nawwab, "Muslims and the West in History," p. 39.

(203) Talbi, "Islam and Dialogue," p. 70.

(204) Talbi, "Possibilities and Conditions," pp. 165-166.

(205) Ludwig Andreas von Feuerbach (1804-72) was a German philosopher and anthropologist best known for The Essence of Christianity, which provided a critique of Christianity that strongly influenced generations of later thinkers, including both Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.

(206) Karl Heinrich Marx (1818-83), a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist, is best known for The Communist Manifesto (1848) and Das Kapital (1867-94), among his many books.

(207) Siddiqui, Christian-Muslim Dialogue in the Twentieth Century, p. 156, from "Interview."

(208) Wilfred Cantwell Smith, The Meaning and End of Religion: A New Approach to the Religious Traditions of Mankind (New York: Macmillan, 1963), p 14.

(209) Leonard Swidler, "Interreligious and Interideological Dialogue: The Matrix for All Systematic Reflection Today," in Swidler, Toward a Universal Theology, p. 12.

(210) Youroukov, "Dialogue between Religious Traditions," p. 67.

(211) Monika Konrad Hildegard Hellwig (1929-2005) was a German-born British academic, author, educator, and theologian, who spent much of her life in the United States. A former religious sister, she pursued her academic career and became a professor at Georgetown University. She was later named President/Executive Director of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (1996-2005).

(212) Monika Konrad Hellwig, "Bases and Boundaries for Interfaith Dialogue: A Christian Viewpoint," J.E.S. 14 (Summer, 1977): 430.

(215) Youroukov, "Dialogue between Religious Traditions," p. 64.

(214) Talbi, "Possibilities and Conditions," p. 180; emphasis in original.

(215) Talbi, "Islamo-Christian Encounter," p. 9.

(216) Ibid., p. 10.

(217) Hellwig, "Bases and Boundaries," p. 427.

(218) Rabbi Zalman M. Schachter-Shalomi, commonly called "Reb Zalman" (1924- 2014), was bom in Poland and raised in Vienna. He was one of the major founders of the Jewish Renewal Movement.

(219) Zalman M. Schachter, "Bases and Boundaries of Jewish, Christian, and Moslem Dialogue," J.E.S. 14 (Summer, 1977): 408.

(220) Ibid., p. 409.

(221) Panikkar, "Inter-religious Dialogue," p. 408.

(222) TaIbi, "Islamo-Christian Encounter," p. 9.

(223)"Christianity and World Religions: Discussion," p. 122.

(224) Seyyed Hossein Nasr, "A Muslim's Reflection on Hans KUng's Studies in Comparative Religion," The Muslim World'll (April, 1987): 149.

(225) Hans Ktlng is a Swiss Catholic priest, theologian, and author. Since 1995, he has been president of the Foundation for a Global Ethic (Stiftung Weltethos) and, since 1996, an emeritus professor of the University of Tubingen.

(226) Hans KUng, Christianity and the World Religions: Paths of Dialogue with Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism (London: William Collins Sons, 1987), p. 443.

(227) "Christianity and World Religions: Discussion," p. 98.

(228) Ibid., p. 95.

(229) Ibid., p. 99.

(230) Alexander Andonov, "Islam, Christianity, and Unbelievers: Ways of Mutuality," in Makariev, Islamic and Christian Cultures, p. 87; in his n. 16, he defines "Subject-ness" as "the ontological capacity of reality to self-create and to advance self-creation."

(231) Schachter, "Bases and Boundaries," p. 412.

Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq (Muslim) is the Director General of the Islamic Research Institute and Professor of Shariah & Islamic Law at International Islamic University, Islamabad, Pakistan, where he has been a Dean of the Faculty of Shariah and Law, 2010-14, and Chair of the Department of Shariah (Islamic Law), 2008-10. He was a Senior Fulbright Fellow and professor at the Edward B. Brueggeman Center for Dialogue at Xavier University, Cincinnati, OH, 2013-14. He is an active member of various international professional organizations, such as the Secretariat of World and Traditional Religions Kazakhstan, the International Moderation Forum Jordan, South and South East Asian Association of History of Religions, and World Justice Project USA. He specializes in Islamic Law and Jurisprudence, International Islamic Law, interfaith relations and dialogue in Islamic Law, Islamic Civilization studies, human rights in Islamic perspective, and Muslim family laws. He holds a B.A. and an M.A. in Islamic Studies from Bahauddin Zakariya University, Multan, Pakistan; an M.A. in Arabic from the University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan; and a Ph.D. (1998) in Comparative Fiqh (Islamic Law) from the Institute Superieuer du Theologie, Ezzituna University, in Tunis. He has had post-doctoral fellowships at the University of Glasgow, U.K., and other fellowships at the University of Deusto, Bilbao, Spain; and the University of Warsaw, Poland. He also taught and chaired the Islamic Law Dept, of Allama Iqbal Open University, Islamabad, 1999-2008. He has organized and presented at numerous conferences and workshops throughout Pakistan and internationally and has authored dozens of research articles in Arabic, Urdu, and English, published in journals of international repute. He is compiler and author of various books such as Advancing of Social Justice for Women (International Islamic University, 2010), Introduction to Al Sharia Al Islamia (Allama Iqbal Open University, 2001), Procedural Law of Islam (Allama Iqbal Open University, 2001), Criminal Law of Islam (Allama Iqbal Open University, 2001), and Teaching of Islamic Studies (Allama Iqbal Open University, 2002).
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