Muslims, Christians, and the Challenge of Interfaith Dialogue

By Jane Idleman Smith | Go to book overview

7
The Pluralist Imperative
Muslim Perspectives

“Does Islam accept pluralism?” or “Do Muslims think that other religions can be true?” or perhaps simply “Does the Muslim who lives down the street think that I'm going to hell because I'm not a Muslim?” In recent years as a teacher of Islam and Christian-Muslim relations I have been asked variations on this basic question many times, and my Muslim colleagues trying to explain Islam to Americans assure me that the same is true for them. The answer, alas, is not always easy to give. I recall my participation in a Christian-Muslim dialogue conference in Islamabad, Pakistan a few years ago when a Muslim colleague to my left was doodling on his list of conference attendees. To my shock I realized that he was writing “kafir” (unbeliever, rejecter of the truth) next to the names of all of the Christians. I knew that such was not the attitude of all of the Pakistanis present at the conference, and certainly not true of its organizer. But just as many conservative Christians regretfully conclude that all those who don't know the truth of Christ will fare poorly in the end days, so many Muslims reach the same conclusion but from the perspective of Islam.

“If you believe your religion to be true,” commented a Muslim cleric at a Fulbright seminar in 2002, “and you believe it is your duty to share this truth with others, then why would you think that religious pluralism is a good thing?” These remarks seem to express the attitude of many Muslims toward questions of truth in other religions. Sociologist Patricia Chang, reflecting on this response,

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Muslims, Christians, and the Challenge of Interfaith Dialogue
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction ix
  • 1- Encountering Each Other 3
  • 2- The Legacy of Engagement 23
  • 3- Islam - A Truly American Religion? 41
  • 4- Models of Christian-Muslim Dialogue in America 63
  • 5- When Dialogue Goes Wrong 83
  • 6- The Pluralistic Imperative - Christian Perspectives 101
  • 7- The Pluralist Imperative - Muslim Perspectives 121
  • 8- New Directions in Dialogue 141
  • Notes 161
  • Bibliography 173
  • Index 179
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