Islam and Global Dialogue: Religious Pluralism and the Pursuit of Peace


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Islam and Global Dialogue: Religious Pluralism and the Pursuit of Peace by Roger Boase

In this important and timely book, internationally acclaimed scholars and leading religious thinkers respond to contemporary challenges in different ways. Some discuss the idea of a dialogue of civilisations and the concept of a global ethic, others explore the interfaith principles and ethical resources of their own spiritual traditions.

All of them reject the notion that any single religion can claim a monopoly of wisdom, all are committed to the ideal of a just and peaceful society in which people of different religions and cultures can happily coexist. More space is given here to Islam than to Judaism and Christianity because, as a result of negative stereotypes in the media, it is the most misunderstood of the major world religions. Book Description: At a time when the world is becoming increasingly interdependent, multi-cultural and multi-religious, the concept of religious pluralism is under assault as a result of hatred, prejudice and misunderstanding from both religious exclusivists and dogmatic secularists.

This need reverberates through each chapter, be it written by a Jewish, Christian, or Muslim scholar. It makes for very powerful reading.

Dealing with religious pluralism, a topic that touches the most important facets of life, the book has a depth to it that is profound and moving. Katherine Bullock in The American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences Today, the World's religions are challenged by factions that preach religious exclusivism and theologies of hate. Islam and Global Dialogue is a major contribution toward the promotion of mutual understanding, religious pluralism, and tolerance and thus in the reassertion of religion's role in promoting global peace rather than conflict.

Esposito, University Professor of Religion and International Affairs and Islamic Studies, Georgetown University, USA 'In a period of bloody confrontations and religious radicalisms that nourish the self-styled clash of civilisations, it is necessary to read these pluralistic reflections on the matter by a brilliant group of Jewish, Christian and Muslim intellectuals and scholars. The book is a meritorious effort to promote dialogue and peace.

Highly recommended. Anyone who wants to know what serious Islamic voices are saying about global religious pluralism and the prospects for peacemaking and dialogue between religious cultures should read it. The names of contributors to Boase's book read like the modern Who's Who on the esoteric world of religious scholarship. Roger Boase has put together a remarkable book on the need for interreligious dialogue as the only way to 'lay the foundations for a more peaceful world.

This means that, as in a symphony, even though ea. Traditions and people of faith are continually revitalised by the return to roots and energy of new revival movements.

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It is coupled with a highly negative attitude toward other traditions. Exclusivism has to do not only with how we hold our own convictions, but also with how we regard the convictions of our neighbour. In a world of close neighbours, the exclusivist has a real problem: one will likely meet those neighbours. One might discover they are not Is Our God Listening? Or one might discover that they are equally ardent exclusivists.

The use of the possessive with reference to God does not seem peculiar. This voice has sounded long and loud in the churches — so much so that many imagine it is the only way Christians think about the matter. The evangelical message of Christianity is not exclusive, they would argue.

No indeed — the invitation is open and the tent of Christ is wide enough for all. In some ways other religious traditions have prepared the way for the Good News of Christ. While not wholly false, they are but partially true. All can be included in the great fellowship of love. Rather, the diversity of peoples and traditions is included in a single world-view that embraces, explains, and supersedes them all.

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For Christians, inclusivism at its best may mean articulating a sense of the mysterious workings of God and of Christ among people of other faiths. Everyone is invited in, and we are the ones who put up the tent. Others are gathered in, but on our terms, within our framework, under our canopy, as part of our system. Ours are the terms in which truth is stated. Not surprisingly, such inclusivism is a way of thinking that is common to people of faith in virtually every tradition. Many a Hindu would surely think of Vedanta as the culmination and crown, not only of Christianity but of all religious paths.

Islam includes everything that is there in Judaism and Christianity. As long as we hold the religious insights of our particular traditions, cast in our particular languages, to be in some sense universal, we cannot avoid speaking at times in an inclusivist way.

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It is important to recognise this. For instance, my Buddhist friends at the Cambridge Insight Meditation Centre do not perceive their understanding of the nature of human suffering and the potential of human freedom as a peculiarly Buddhist truth, but as a truth about the human condition which is universal and accessible to all who would look clearly at their own experience. Wake up and see for yourself. We not only come from the same stock, we are perpetually interpreting one another. The Christian tradition contains within its scriptures and traditions an interpretation of Judaism.

My Muslim cab driver in Washington was right, in a sense, about Islam including an understanding of the Jewish and Christian traditions. No one wants to be superseded. It perhaps began with the discovery of what was called the New World, but which was clearly new only to the newcomers. The indigenous peoples had been there for many centuries and had never heard so much as a whisper of the name of Jesus. How was the church to think of the destiny of their immortal souls?

Could a merciful God, whose providence extends throughout all creation, have condemned to hell all these who died outside the church but had never even heard of Christ? Even when they did have the opportunity to be acquainted with Jesus through the Gospel and the sometimes unappealing witness of the church, they were often not persuaded to cast off their own traditions of wisdom or spirituality. Indeed, the missionaries themselves sometimes glimpsed the wisdom of the Hindus or Buddhists among whom they worked and began to raise questions.

The new attitude took a long while to ripen. Yet she proclaims and is in duty bound to proclaim without fail, Christ who is the way, the truth, and the life John In him, in whom God reconciled all things to Himself 2 Cor.

Islam and Global Dialogue: Religious Pluralism and the Pursuit of Peace

Inclusivism is an appealing way of looking at things and there is much to appreciate in inclusivist viewpoints. Whether it is Christian, Hindu, or Muslim inclusivism, this bent of mind is mostly benign toward other traditions or faiths. The inclusivist does not exclude or condemn others, is not usually chauvinistic, defensive, or self-aggrandising. There is still something unsettling here. What about the self-understanding of the Muslim?

What about her testimony of faith? But the voices of people like Gangadaran do not really count in the Christian inclusivist frame of reference.


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The inclusivist viewpoint would also be challenged by the encounter with other inclusivisms. So is the Vaishnava Hindu who sees all truth and all paths as leading up to Krishna. In the Song of God, the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna vows to receive all prayers offered, to whatever god, in whatever name, for he is the recipient and lord of all worship: I am the way, sustainer, lord, witness, shelter, refuge, friend, source, dissolution, stability, treasure, and unchanging seed.

From each inclusivist point of view, it does. Those of us who are English-speaking women readily recognise inclusivist strategies through our own experience of language. The problem with inclusivism is clear. The danger of inclusivism is that it does not hear such voices at all. The inclusivist, wittingly or unwittingly, thinks of himself or herself as the norm and uses words that reduce the other to that which is different: nonChristians, non-whites, non-Western.

Inclusivists want to be inclusive — but only in the house that we ourselves have built. Its presuppositions are unchallenged by alternatives. When the inclusivist really begins to listen to the voices of others, speaking in their own terms, the whole context of theological thought begins to change along the continuum toward pluralism. We, after all, know perfectly well who God is, and if God is going to listen to the prayers of the Hindu uttered before the granite image of Vishnu, it is the God we know. Humility or simple honesty before God requires that we not limit God to the God we know or to the particular language and image through which we know God.

Religiously, the move to pluralism begins for Christians the moment we imagine that the one we call God is greater than our knowledge or understanding of God. There are faces of the Divine that must lie beyond what we ourselves have glimpsed from our own sheepfold. In a Christian pluralist perspective, we do not need to build walls to exclude the view of the other, nor do we need to erect a universal canopy capable of gathering all the diverse tribes together under our own roof. From a Christian pluralist standpoint, the multiplicity of religious ways is a concomitant of the ultimacy and manysidedness of God, the one who cannot be limited or encircled by any one tradition.

Therefore, the boundaries of our various traditions need not be the places where we halt and contend over our differences, but might well be the places where we meet and catch a glimpse of glory as seen by another. We will speak in the context of interreligious dialogue. The Buddhist will continue to speak of the Buddha and the Dharma, the teachings of the Buddha. Neither of us will speak as if the other did not exist or were not listening or could be absorbed into our own religious world-views. And each of us will begin to understand our own traditions afresh in light of what we have learned from the other.

It is a fact of our world. And it is one we must encounter creatively if we are to make sense of the world.

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Is God really at work in the lives and faith of others? Many delegates were not sure.


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  • A dozen substitute formulations were offered. There was scarcely time to consider the matter fully at the end of a steamy week in August.

    Islam and Global Dialogue: Religious Pluralism and the Pursuit of Peace

    But the apostle Paul was not uncertain. He did not leave others groping after the Divine. A refusal to take seriously the many and diverse religious testimonies to be found among the nations and peoples of the whole world amounts to disowning the biblical testimony to God as creator of all things and father of all humankind. There is much that is necessarily inclusivist in such a recasting of Christian language.

    And yet there is an important point of departure here. Within each tradition there are particular religious resources for the move toward the active, truth-seeking engagement with others that is the distinguishing mark of pluralism. And there are people in each religious tradition attempting to think afresh about their own identity within the context of interreligious dialogue. Hindus begin with the oneness and transcendence of what they call Sat — the Real, Truth. It is that which becomes known to human beings through many names and forms.

    It is that which human beings can no more comprehend as a whole than the blind men of the parable can comprehend the entirety of the elephant.

    Islam and Global Dialogue: Religious Pluralism and the Pursuit of Peace Islam and Global Dialogue: Religious Pluralism and the Pursuit of Peace
    Islam and Global Dialogue: Religious Pluralism and the Pursuit of Peace Islam and Global Dialogue: Religious Pluralism and the Pursuit of Peace
    Islam and Global Dialogue: Religious Pluralism and the Pursuit of Peace Islam and Global Dialogue: Religious Pluralism and the Pursuit of Peace
    Islam and Global Dialogue: Religious Pluralism and the Pursuit of Peace Islam and Global Dialogue: Religious Pluralism and the Pursuit of Peace
    Islam and Global Dialogue: Religious Pluralism and the Pursuit of Peace Islam and Global Dialogue: Religious Pluralism and the Pursuit of Peace
    Islam and Global Dialogue: Religious Pluralism and the Pursuit of Peace Islam and Global Dialogue: Religious Pluralism and the Pursuit of Peace
    Islam and Global Dialogue: Religious Pluralism and the Pursuit of Peace Islam and Global Dialogue: Religious Pluralism and the Pursuit of Peace
    Islam and Global Dialogue: Religious Pluralism and the Pursuit of Peace Islam and Global Dialogue: Religious Pluralism and the Pursuit of Peace
    Islam and Global Dialogue: Religious Pluralism and the Pursuit of Peace

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