Professor Tariq Ramadan adds blessing to Muslim Scholars Call to Dialogue to World’s Jewish Community
Professor Tariq Ramadan adds blessing to World’s First Cross-Denominational Statement in modern times from Muslims to Jews
Yesterday afternoon (Monday 25 February), world-renowned Muslim scholar Professor Tariq Ramadan publicly signed a statement to the world’s Jewish Community calling for peace and understanding. The Letter has received the support of Muslim religious scholars and leaders from around the world and has already been welcomed by international Jewish leaders.
The event took place at the Woolf Institute’s Centre for the Study of Muslim - Jewish Relations (CMJR) in Cambridge, UK . The initiative behind the Letter comes from the Muslim scholars of CMJR, Dr Amineh Hoti and Sheikh Michael Mumisa who collaborated with leading Muslims from the UK and Overseas. The Letter describes itself as ‘a call for positive and constructive action that aims to improve Muslim—Jewish relations’.
Following a lecture on the ‘Nature of God’, Professor Ramadan spoke of the significance of the Letter: ‘I really think that this Letter is a signal that we are ready to call for dialogue…We need to get beyond ‘tolerance’ which is saying that ‘I put up with you but I would rather you were not here’ to a mutual knowledge and a mutual respect.’ He described dialogue with Jews as ‘a risk but a necessity’. Rabbi Jonathan Magonet, who responded to Professor Ramadan’s talk, said this was a significant moment in the Muslim-Jewish encounter.
The letter has already been welcomed by Jewish leaders. Rabbi David Rosen, International President, Religions for Peace and Advisor on Interfaith Relations to the Chief Rabbinate of Israel has said, ““I wholeheartedly welcome this most important initiative on the part of Muslim scholars and representatives. The striking commonalities of Islam and Judaism and those historic periods and places of remarkable cooperation and cross-fertilization between the two faith communities, have been tragically overshadowed and even hijacked by modern politics. The benefits from respectful dialogue and cooperation between the Muslim and Jewish communities can be a blessing not only to the communities themselves; but can have a profound impact on wider even global relations between religions and peoples, contributing to the well being of human society as a whole.”
Rabbi Danny Rich, Director of Liberal Judaism has said, “I welcome this letter as an opportunity to strengthen relations between Muslims and Jews who, it seems to me, have more in common than divides them, and who together could contribute to making the world a more decent place for us, our children and future generations to occupy. Liberal Judaism, of which I am the Chief Executive, is deeply committed to pluralism both within and outside the Jewish community, by which it means that ultimate truth is only known to our common Creator and that diversity within faiths and in the community as a whole is of itself of great value. On behalf of Liberal Judaism I am pleased to reassure the writers of the letter that Liberal Judaism will use its best endeavours to respond generously and positively to the letter’s sentiments, and will both meet the challenges and share the opportunities which follow from the letter’s distribution.
Dr Judea Pearl, professor at UCLA and president of the Daniel Pearl Foundation (named after his son, the Wall Street Journal reporter who was murdered by Islamic terrorists in 2002 in Pakistan), describes the Letter as ‘a welcome first step toward the goals we aspire to achieve through interfaith dialogues—peace, understanding and mutual respect. The Centre for the Study of Muslim - Jewish Relations should be commended for opening this channel of communication, especially in view of the fierce resistance that is often voiced against the very idea of dialogue.’ Dr Pearl describes the Letter’s progressive strategy for dealing with contradictory texts in the holy scriptures [i.e., systematically contextualizing morally objectionable texts to outdated conditions in antiquity] as having “the power of ushering reform without challenging the divine origin of the scriptures.’ But he warns that ‘the effectiveness of this strategy depends critically on finding authoritative spiritual leaders who can implement it in practice ...Unfortunately, many of these (educational) institutions currently support literalist interpretations which stand contrary to the conciliatory spirit of this Letter, and which are gaining momentum in vast areas of the Muslim world’. Recognizing that the Letter ‘tries hard to avert controversial issues’, Dr Pearl expresses a ‘disappointment, owed to the assymetical language’ of the Letter that proposes: “a peaceful resolution that will assure mutual respect, prosperity and security to both Palestinians and Israelis, while allowing the Palestinian people their rights to self-determination.” Dr Pearl notes that, conspicuously, ‘Whereas the rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination are affirmed explicitly, the rights of Israelis to the same status of self-determination are left undeclared, vulnerable to future assaults by enemies of co-existence.’
The signatories of the Letter include: Professor Akbar S Ahmed, Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies, American University Washington, DC; Dr Seyed Amir Akrami Secretary for Inter Religious Dialogue at the Organisation for Islamic Culture and Communication, Tehran; Professor Bunyamin Duran, Vice-Rector: Islamic University of Rotterdam, The Netherlands; Ambassador Mahmud A. Durrani, Embassy of Pakistan, Washington D.C.; Dr Shaykh Suhaib Hasan Secretary General of the Islamic Sharia Council, London; Sayyed Nadeem Kazmi, Director of International Affairs at the Al-Khoei Foundation (the largest Shia Institute in the UK); His Excellency Shaykh Mustafa Ceric, The Grand Mufti of Bosnia, Office of Raisu-l-Ulama; Lord Khalid Hameed, High Sheriff of Greater London, UK; Dr Musharraf Hussain, Chief Imam and Director of Karimia Institute, UK; Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra, Muslim Council of Britain; Professor Sari Nusseibeh, President of Al Quds University, Beit Hanina – Jerusalem; Shaykh Muhammad Imdad Hussain Pirzada, Founder and Principal of Jamia Al-Karam, Eaton Hall, Retford, UK; Professor Tariq Ramadan, Senior Research Fellow, St Antony’s College, University of Oxford, UK; Dr Ataullah Saddiqui, Director of Markfield Institute of Higher Education.
see also Muslim Scholars Issue Call to Dialogue to World’s Jewish Community http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/muslim_scholars_issue_statement_to_worlds_jewish_community/0015811
AN AUDIO VISUAL RECORDING OF THIS EVENT WILL BE AVAILABLE AT http://www.woolfinstitute.cam.ac.uk/cmjr
About the Woolf Institute of Abrahamic Faiths, the Centre for the Study of Jewish-Christian Relations (CJCR) and the Centre for the Study of Muslim-Jewish Relations (CMJR)
CJCR and CMJR are members of an independent educational charity, the Woolf Institute of Abrahamic Faiths based in Cambridge UK. Through teaching, research and dialogue they are dedicated to the academic study of Jewish-Christian relations and Muslim-Jewish relations respectively.
Under the auspices of the Woolf Institute, they aim to overcome prejudice and intolerance between Jews, Christians and Muslims, and to establish a more positive basis for relations.
CJCR was founded in 1998 by Dr Edward Kessler of St Edmund’s College, Cambridge. Its flagship educational programme is the University of Cambridge Master of Studies (MSt) in the Study of Jewish-Christian Relations, which it offers in conjunction with the University’s Faculty of Divinity and the Institute of Continuing Education. The first and only course of its kind, the MSt can be studied in Cambridge or predominantly via e-learning. CJCR also offers a range of other educational programmes and since 1998 has taught over 1000 students, many of whom have gone onto take positions of leadership. CJCR is also an Associate Member of the Cambridge Theological Federation (http://www.theofed.cam.ac.uk), which provides the Centre with teaching resources and accommodation.
CMJR was founded in 2006 by Dr Edward Kessler and Dr Amineh Hoti as a sister organisation to CJCR and is built on the same core principles of Teaching, Research and Dialogue. CMJR is pleased to work with the University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education whose Certificate programme in Islam, Judaism and Muslim-Jewish Relations is offered at the CMJR this academic year. CMJR also offers a menu of e-learning courses. The Centre published its Teacher’s Guide, Valuing Diversity in February 2008 and aims to prepare A Dictionary of Jewish-Muslim Relations, to sit alongside A Dictionary of Jewish-Christian Relations (Cambridge University Press:2005)
The CJCR and CMJR offices are located in the heart of Cambridge where they are hosted by Methodist Theological College, Wesley House.