Note: The Christian-Muslim Studies Network aims to advance academic scholarship and improve public engagement with the scriptural, theological, political, and sociological aspects of Christian-Muslim relations. This post is one of a series that illustrates the various ways that postgraduate students study and expand upon Christian-Muslim Studies and related fields.
Emmanuel Tettey has completed postgraduate studies with the Christian-Muslim Studies Network in Edinburgh and returned to Ghana for a research post in Christian-Muslim Studies on the ground.
After working with an Interfaith Resource Centre of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana for several years, Mr. Tettey has now taken a Research Fellow role at the Centre for Christian-Muslim Engagement in Africa (CCMEA) of the Akrofi-Christaller Institute in Ghana.
Mr Tettey received a Masters by Research in Christian-Muslim Relations and Islamic Studies. This course of study is highly self-directed and allows a student like Mr Tettey to craft precisely the degree he desired.
To complete the course, Mr Tettey wrote three essays exploring the ethics of law, concept of revelation, and exclusivist hermeneutics in Christianity and Islam. His masters dissertation focused on Christian-Muslim relations in the Ghanaian context, where the National Chief imam has developed unity and cooperation among Muslims despite sectarian difference.
‘As I told Dr Ralston when I was finishing, “I wouldn’t say I have gotten all that I would need, but the experiences that I have had have prepared me to do greater things in the future”‘, he said.
Speaking of his experiences with studies in Edinburgh, Mr Tettey said, ‘I would say that from the beginning, I was anxious to learn something new, but it also had to come with challenges because Christian-Muslim Studies is quite a new area’, Mr Tettey said. ‘Even though I has some prior experience researching Islam, looking at Christian-Muslim Studies from a the perspective of social and political engagement represented a new venture’.
Research in such a new and developing field offers few models to guide study, but also provides many opportunities for creative work. Mr Tettey described the support he received from academic supervision with Dr Joshua Ralston in navigating these challenges.
‘So it came with some challenges, but I was also self-motivated because I wanted to learn,’ Mr Tettey explained. ‘From the outset, I was interested not only in the theological aspect but also the social and political aspects of Christian-Muslim engagements’.
Mr Tettey was ready for the challenge of postgraduate work, being a Desmond Tutu scholar and having completed two masters degrees previously. He came to Edinburgh after completing both undergraduate and postgraduate studies in Ghana. He had received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Ghana and worked for six years in ministry before returning to study at the Akrofi-Christaller Institute, where he received a masters in Theology and Missions. He also received a masters in Strategic Planning and Management at the University for Developmental Studies in Ghana.
Studying under the British system, however, required a few adjustments. Mr Tettey described the support he received from academic supervision with Dr Joshua Ralston in navigating these challenges as very helpful.
‘I didn’t have a deep base in Islamic theology, for instance, and I also didn’t have a deep background is systematic theology, but some of the papers I learned needed these things’, Mr Tettey said of his masters studies. ‘So I had to learn these things, but I didn’t want to do shoddy work, so this meant I had to work extra hard’.
He has benefited from the extra work, however, in how he is now able to push research further on the ground. He also nurtures questions from studies in Edinburgh that yet require answers, perhaps in Accre, or perhaps elsewhere. One of these areas includes the question of law in Muslim-Christian engagement.
‘The issue of Islamic law is always an issue of contention in communities were the Muslim population is increasing’, Mr Tettey said. ‘On what basis or how could Christians and Muslims, in a non-polemical manner, have a discussion about divine law?’
The experience in Edinburgh has prepared him to explore these and other issues in part because of new familiarity with the breadth of scholarship.
‘Christian and Muslim engagement means different things to different people – in our Christian-Muslim relations class, I realized there were students of theology, law, Middle Eastern studies, political science, and international relations, and everyone came together’, Mr Tetty observed. ‘Now, I say to anyone who is interested in the comparative theology aspect, “You should also look at the social and political and other aspects as well’.
Mr. Tettey is studying for a Masters by Research degree in Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations. Two other degrees are offered within Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations at the University of Edinburgh. These include a two-year Master of Philosophy or Doctor of Philosophy degree.