A reflection on love of neighbour in Islam and Christianity against the background of ‘A Common Word’

Louis Alexander
Multi-faith Chaplaincy Team, Guy’s & St. Thomas’ Hospital Trust, London

Religious leaders around the world hailed the 2007 publication of A Common Word Between Us and You (ACW) as a groundbreaking contribution towards the achievement of reconciliation and lasting peace between Islam and Christianity. ACW has prompted scores of learned papers, books and conferences. Yet virtually all the dialogue has been at the academic level. Seven years on ACW has hardly touched the ordinary faithful. Most working ministers and imams are totally unaware of it. Why is that? Is it simply poor marketing, or was the ACW initiative fundamentally flawed from the outset and therefore doomed to failure?.

This paper seeks answers to these questions by exploring love of neighbour in the light of Christian responses to ACW. These range from the euphoric to the cautious to the highly critical. Included are the learned theological responses from Yale University, Archbishop Rowan Williams and the linguistic studies of Gordon Nickel and Joseph Nnabugwu which analyse whether what the Muslim authors of ACW are saying is the same as what the Christian readers of ACW understand.