Oct
23
2:30 PM14:30

Seminar: Crusaders and Franciscans - contemporary evangelical attitudes to Muslims and Islam

Greg Smith
Honorary Research Fellow, William Templeton Foundation

Abstract

Over the last fifty years British society has changed from a Christendom model where the default religious identity was Church of England to a religiously diverse society where religious identity is a significant marker for minorities in the population. Among Christians strong religious belief and belonging is most likely to be expressed by those who identify as Evangelical. In many parts of the world, and especially in the USA, Evangelical discourse on the subject of non-Christian faiths and especially to Islam suggests profound antipathy to their beliefs and sometimes hostility to their adherents.

In contrast evidence presented in this paper from a recent Evangelical Alliance panel survey suggests a range of nuanced views in the community of evangelical Christians in the UK. Although over 80% affirmed that Jesus is the only way of salvation and 84% thought Christianity is the only path to God, more extended comments show that a wide range of views exist, from the paranoid or exclusive to a view that is tolerant or broadly inclusive. The paper will examine the associations between these views and various demographic and theological factors and seek to explain the data in terms of the patterns of contemporary everyday inter-faith encounters, with specific emphasis on the Abrahamic faiths, especially Islam. The situation is discussed in a framework of dynamics and stability where religious contact between faith communities has both crystallized beliefs and identities and opened up new possibilities for alliances against the secular world.

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Jun
26
5:30 PM17:30

Lecture: British Muslims

Philip Lewis & Sadek Hamid

Philip Lewis - author of Young British and Muslim and Islamic Britain – and Sadek Hamid – author of Sufis, Salafis and Islamists and Young British Muslims: Between Rhetoric and Realities – give a public lecture on their new co-authored book British Muslims: New Directions in Islamic Thought, Creativity and Activism, published in June 2018. 

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Seminar: Interrogating the Christian-Muslim Conundrum in Boko Haram's Terrorist Campaign
Jun
5
2:30 PM14:30

Seminar: Interrogating the Christian-Muslim Conundrum in Boko Haram's Terrorist Campaign

Dr Michael Nwankpa
Founding Director and Director of Research, The centre for African Conflict and research, London

Nigeria with its neighbouring countries (Chad, Cameroon, and Niger) has endured a near decade (2009-till date) terrorist attacks from Boko Haram. Boko Haram is a Salafi-Jihadi group fighting to uproot Nigeria’s secular government and instate a full sharia state. Its attacks, threats and rhetoric have also been directed at international targets and symbols including its 2011 attack on the United Nations’ building in Abuja, several kidnappings of foreign nationals and affiliation with other transnational terrorist organisations such as the Islamic State (IS). Since 2009, Boko Haram’s terrorist campaign has led to the death of over 20 thousand people and the displacement of over 3 million. Yet, despite its stated goal, there is very little understanding of the group’s motivation. One of the many theoretical explanations for the group’s behaviour is its anti-Western and anti-Christian disposition. For many years, especially in the early years of the terrorist campaign, churches and Christians were indiscriminately targeted by Boko Haram. However, while there remains sustained attacks on churches and Christians, the roughly equal amount of (or even more) attacks on mosques and Muslims challenges the anti-Christian narrative. It is therefore crucial to interrogate the lingering Christian-Muslim question in Boko Haram’s terrorist campaign. Is there a chance that Boko Haram’s attacks on churches and Christians are fortuitous? Are the attacks on Christians and churches a distraction from Boko Haram’s original objective? Why is Boko Haram attacking mosques and Muslims? Is Boko Haram’s anti-Christian narrative justifiable? This paper attempts to answer all these questions.

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Seminar: "God is the light of the heavens and the earth" (Qur'an 24:35): textual, exegetical and interreligious points on the Qur'anic concept of light (Nur) 
May
29
2:30 PM14:30

Seminar: "God is the light of the heavens and the earth" (Qur'an 24:35): textual, exegetical and interreligious points on the Qur'anic concept of light (Nur) 

Farhana Mayer
D.Phil Candidate, St Stephen's House, Oxford

As indicated in the title, this presentation will have three focal points. Firstly, the Qur’anic concept of nῡr (light) will be examined in different Qur’anic passages, with particular attention on Q.24.35. In the second section, select Muslim commentaries on Q.24.35 will be presented, showing some of the diversity in Muslim interpretations reflective of the different religious viewpoints of the exegetes. Thereafter, Q.24.35-38 will be read, using intra-Qur’anic language-analysis and based on the Qur’anic view of Maryam (Mary) and ꜤĪsa (Jesus), as possible references to Jesus, Mary and Christian monks. The presentation will close with comparative points on how Q.24.35-36 may have been engaging with biblical texts such as Zechariah 4.1-3, 11-14; and John 8.12; 9.5.

This seminar was not recorded.

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May
22
2:30 PM14:30

Seminar: Do Muslims and Christians Worship the same God? Problems and promises of Miroslav Volf's views from a Reformed Christian Perspective

Steven Firmin
D.Phil Candidate, Pembroke College, Oxford

Miroslav Volf's book, Allah: A Christian Response argues that Christians and Muslims believe in and worship the same God, a claim that has generated both praise and scorn at the popular and academic levels. While I admire Volf's attempt, I will be arguing that his book over-focuses on the immanent concepts of doctrine and practice in answering the same-God question, leaving the place of God's transcendent action almost entirely untouched. To correct this, I will be drawing from the reformed tradition of Christianity stretching through Augustine, Calvin, and Bavink to articulate a relationship between God's transcendent action and immanent concepts of doctrine and practice. I will then situate Islam therein to argue with Bruce McCormack that the same-God thesis is not something Christians should normatively believe, but it is something that they may hope. 

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Seminar: Does the Anglican Church have a Theology of Religious Pluralism?
May
8
2:30 PM14:30

Seminar: Does the Anglican Church have a Theology of Religious Pluralism?

The Revd Dr Tess Kuin Lawton
Chaplain and Fellow, Worcester College, Oxford

The Second Vatican Council addressed Nostra Aetate to the subject of the relationship between Christianity and the world faiths, based on a detailed theological response from Karl Rahner, which was broadly understood as Catholic Inclusivism. In 1977 the World Council of Churches published ‘Guidelines on Dialogue with People of Living Faiths’, which also considered the Exclusivist theological response of Karl Barth and John Hick’s Pluralism. What was the Church of England’s response? Can it be understood within a particular theological framework? What were the ‘inter-faith issues’ which were raised for the National Church at this time? Revd Dr Tess Kuin Lawton will explore these issues using a close analysis of official documents and debates during a critical period of inter-faith awareness in the Church of England from 1966-1998, drawing conclusions for the Anglican approach to mission and diversity in the 21st century.

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Jan
18
5:00 PM17:00

Lecture: Christian Muslim Relations and Material Culture

Prof James Allan
Academic Advisor to the Centre for Muslim-Christian Studies

Watch the lecture

On 18th January, 2018, CMCS welcomed over 20 friends and guests to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, to attend a public lecture given by Professor James Allan, Academic Adviser to CMCS and retired Keeper of Eastern Art at the Ashmolean.

The lecture was part of a series linked to the Ashmolean’s ‘Imagining the Divine’ exhibition. It was well attended by nearly 100 people, including the CMCS guests. Professor Allan looked at the way surviving works of art and architecture reflected relations between Christians and Muslims around the Mediterranean between the 7th and 15th centuries.

Under the heading of “Conquest” it considered the way great religious buildings (e.g. those of Damascus and Cordova) and coinages were used to demonstrate the superiority of the relevant faith. The lecture moved next to “Booty”, and the use of captured spoils of war (e.g. the Pisa griffin, or the Gothic portal from Acre). Briefly touching on “Pilgrimage”, it then moved on to “Artisans for all”, and the way in which Christian and Muslim artisans produced works of art or architecture for patrons of both faiths (e.g. Fatimid lustre; Ayyubid metalwork; manuscripts and architecture). The Cappella Palatina in Palermo was used to illustrate Roger II of Sicily as a “Visionary (or Strategic) Ruler”, and the lecture moved on to “Gifts, and the European taste for the exotic”, illustrated by objects such as the Khusrau Cup, the reliquary of St. Petroc, and the chasuble of Thomas Becket. “Trade” followed, touching on Crusader coinages, the Sirce Limani shipwreck, Pisan bacini, Mamluk metalwork, Iznik pottery, and carpets. “Art by adoption and adaption”, was illustrated by polycandela, Mamluk blazons and Mudejar art and architecture. The lecture’s final section focussed on Mehmed the Conqueror, the Ottoman ruler who took Constantinople from Byzantine control, as an example of the role of “Personal Taste”.

In conclusion, it was suggested that the only real interaction between the members of the different faiths was in the artisan class, who shared a common visual culture, often worked side by side, and made and decorated goods for people of both communities.

Following the lecture CMCS guests were invited for a private tour of the ‘Imagining the Divine’ exhibition. Several CMCS staff members also attended, including Dr Ida Glaser and Dr David Coffey, whose visit from the US to Oxford fortuitously coincided with this event.

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Apr
28
6:30 PM18:30

Book Launch: Reading the Bible in Islamic Context

Edited by Daniel J. Crowther, ShirinShafaie, IdaGlaser and Shabbir Akhtar
Lower Common Room, Wycliffe Hall, 54 Banbury Road, Oxford, OX2 6PW

The book launch took place in April 2016 at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford University. It was chaired by Rev Dr Michael Lloyd, the principal of Wycliffe Hall. Rt Revd Dr Michael Nazir-Ali and Dr Shabbir Akhtar were among the respondents.

Stemming from a 2015 conference held at CMCS, this is a new volume edited by the Reading the Bible in the Context of Islam (RBCI) team. It explores the ways in which an awareness of Islam and the Qur’an can change how the Bible is read. The contributors come from both Muslim and Christian backgrounds, bring various levels of commitment to the Qur’an and the Bible as Scripture, and often have significantly different perspectives.

This book explores how an awareness of Islam and the Qur’an can change how the Bible is read. With both Muslim and Christian contributors, the first part contains chapters that compare the report of an event in the Bible with a report of the same event in the Qur’an. The second part addresses Muslim readings of the Bible and biblical tradition and looks at how Muslims might regard the Bible - Can they recognise it as Scripture? If so, what does that mean and how does it relate to the Qur’an as Scripture? Similarly how might Christians regard the Qur’an? The final part explores different analogies for understanding the Bible in relation to the Qur’an.

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