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Catholicism and Interreligious Dialogue$
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James L. Heft

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199827879

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199827879.001.0001

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Muslim-Christian Dialogue in Difficult Times

Muslim-Christian Dialogue in Difficult Times

(p.57) 3 Muslim-Christian Dialogue in Difficult Times
Catholicism and Interreligious Dialogue

Daniel A. Madigan

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that in the current geopolitical realities Muslim-Christian dialogue takes place in a very difficult, but hardly hopeless time. What is often overlooked is that religions can’t dialogue; only believers can. Moreover, if, for example, someone objects to such a dialogue by claiming that no Muslim can speak for Islam, one may reply by asking whether any one Christian can speak for all of Christianity. Moreover, various Christian churches, especially since Vatican II, have carried on fruitful discussions with Jews, even though there is no single voice that can speak for Judaism, given the diversity among religious Jews. Why, then, could there not also be fruitful discussions with Muslims? The chapter explains why it is simply false to assert that Muslims do not have a history of Qur’anic interpretation, and a very sophisticated one at that. After a series of comments on Samuel Huntington’s widely quoted (but not so widely read) 1996 book The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order, it singles out for criticism a number of bad habits that impede dialogue, including the use of labels such as “we” and “they,” the ignorance of the very different political situations in which some Christians and some Muslims live, and the dubious nature of the call for “reciprocity” in dialogue. The chapter concludes by noting that both cultural and theological dialogue between Catholics and Muslims is not only possible, but is actually taking place.

Keywords:   Muslims, Christians, interreligious dialogue, Islam, Samuel Huntington, political situations

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