Academic journal article Journal of Ecumenical Studies

But, There Is No Other Way: Reconciliation among Muslims, Serbian Orthodox, and Catholics-An Islamic View

Academic journal article Journal of Ecumenical Studies

But, There Is No Other Way: Reconciliation among Muslims, Serbian Orthodox, and Catholics-An Islamic View

Article excerpt

I begin my presentation pessimistically and will attempt to conclude it more optimistically. The twentieth century, according to some serious critics of modern culture, passed in an atmosphere of great historical pessimism. (1) It seems that we are seeing the first years of the third Christian millennium in the same mood. Numerous events from our recent past, such as the occurrence of militant religiosity, religious terrorism, secular terrorism (ethnic, nationalistic or separatist, or ideological terrorism), the phenomenon of post-Cold War global policy and anti-globalism movements, the unsolved Palestinian issue, terrible discrepancies between developed and undeveloped countries, oppression of the weak by the strong (genocidal war)--all convince us that the world continues in an extremely distorted spiritual and physical balance. Moreover, such tensions can be found within the same social and religious groups, for example, tensions between the churches of different denominations of Christianity or those between Shi'as, Sunnis, Wahabis, and the mystical-esoteric understanding of Islam in the Muslim world.

In the era of a technically feasible holocaust, including the depletion of the Earth, which has always been such a blessing to us, we have argued at numerous conferences around the world about the exclusive right to truth. It seems that, taking into consideration the above-mentioned facts, the dialogue between Christians and Muslims is more vitally necessary than ever before. This is proved by the fact that from a small spring it has become a great river: starting with random contacts, continuing through roundtables, and resulting in large gatherings organized throughout the world. In a rather short period of time, many books and studies have been written in which Muslim and Christian authors have pointed out the necessity for revision of traditional attitudes about each other, for the sake of the creation and for the human being in a more decent and humane world.

History is telling us that Muslims have often interpreted Christian devotion to God exclusively through the prism of Christian campaigns and the occupation of the Holy Land of Palestine, through imperialistic policies directed toward the Western as well as the Eastern Christian world. When we transfer this to our historical context, it would mean that Christian belief in God has been characterized by conquests and genocidal wars, perpetrated first by Serbs and, later, by Croats.

At the same time, in the minds of Christian theologians, Muslims have been thought to be living as the followers of superstition and magic teaching, as the outcome of the forces of evil or of Judeo-Christian syncretism, and, in the modern variant of Turkish conquests in the continent of Europe, as adherents of fanaticism, regressivism, and now terrorism.

To that end, for example, Muhammad Talbi, (2) professor at the University in Tunis; Muhammad Ayoub (1935); (3) Muhammad 'Abdullah, a member of the Central Council of the Islamic World Congress; (4) Seyyed Hosein Nasr; (5) and others, some of whom live in the world of plural religions (France, U.S.A.), have invited the removal of the numerous prejudices and convictions that the Christian world has about Islam and Muslims, as well as those that Muslims have about the Western and Christian world and its civilized heritage. Many Roman Catholic/Western writers have changed from a theology of truth (extra ecclesiam nulla salus--outside the church there is no salvation), to a theology of humanity's consisting of different beliefs (Facienti quod in se est, Deus non denegat gratiam--to the one who is doing within one's power, God is not denying grace), which has opened broader communication within the ecumenical world.

Such Christian authors as John Hick, (6) Paul Knitter, (7) and Hans Kung (8) joined the radical philosophical-theological redefinition of christological dogma, which, according to them, represents the biggest obstacle to the objective "inclusion" of Muslims within the history of salvation, or, better, the religious "economy" of salvation. …

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