The Christian-Muslim Studies Network invites the public to New College, University of Edinburgh for a round table discussion that explores the role that Christian-Muslim conversation and shared action have had in Lebanon and the broader Middle East. The evening discussion will move beyond news headlines and simplistic views of Lebanon and offer first hand accounts of the millenial old wisdom and recent experiences of inter-religious debate, conflict, and co-existence in the Middle East.
The centrepiece of the event, which begins at 17:30, is the book launch for Divine Hospitality: A Christian-Muslim Conversation, published by the World Council of Churches and Alban Books. The book narrates the framework for dialogue, solidarity, and mutual learning developed by the co-authors, Rev Prof Fadi Daou and Dr Nayla Tabbara.
This book is the product of a rich partnership between Prof Daou and Dr Tabbara, a Maronite priest and a Sunni Muslim scholar. Both come from Lebanon, a centuries-old stronghold of Eastern Christianity known for religious diversity. Both watched that diversity dissolve into a decade long civil war. But both believe the answer to the world’s many questions about faithful coexistence lie within the rich traditions of their respective faiths.
“This discussion represents an unusual opportunity for the general public in Edinburgh to learn about what Christian and Muslim communities in Lebanon developed together through centuries of dynamic engagement, debate, conflict, but also mutual learning and co-existence.” said Dr Joshua Ralston, Director of the Christian-Muslim Studies Network at the University of Edinburgh School of Divinity.
With funding from the Luce Foundation, the Christian-Muslim Studies Network seeks to advance critical scholarship of these interfaith dialogues both in Edinburgh and abroad. The Network explores new frameworks for dialogue that enable Muslims and Christians to appreciate one another’s distinct value without diminishing their own.
This event, hosted by the Christian-Muslim Studies Network at New College, brings their experiment off the pages and into public discussion in Edinburgh. Local faith leaders, global scholars of Christian-Muslim studies, and members of the public will listen and contribute to the rich and challenging debate.
“In an age of global tensions surrounding Christian-Muslim relations, often people are unaware of the long and rich tradition of Christian-Muslim engagement in the Arab world.” Dr Ralston said. “This event presents a window into the rich and complex encounter between Christians and Muslims in Lebanon, which remains a dynamic and developing context for political, social, spiritual, and theological encounter.”
In undertaking this project, Dr Tabbara and Rev Prof Daou displayed their confidence in their own faiths’ ability to embrace the stranger as a friend. They have termed this belief a “divine hospitality,” making it the foundation of their own interfaith dialogue in scholarship and in religious life.
The co-authors chair the Adyan Foundation in Beirut, where they have established award-winning social and educational programmes for peace in a country ravaged by recent conflict. Prof Daou is Professor of Christian Theology, Interreligious Dialogue, and Geopolitical Religion, while Dr Tabbara is Professor of Religious Studies and Islamic Studies in Lebanon.
Divine Hospitality: A Christian-Muslim Conversation and other works that examine these same, highly-topical issues from other angles will be on hand for anyone who wishes to further explore further. Authors will also be available to sign their books.
The event will commence with a chaired discussion in Martin Hall at New College, which will be followed with a drink reception and book signing in Rainy Hall .
Further information about ongoing interfaith dialogue between Muslims and Christians, including past events sponsored by the Christian-Muslim Studies Network, can be found at www.christianmuslim.net.