Tariq Ramadan’s life as public intellectual and leader among European Muslims has been dramatic. Looming in his personal background is his grandfather, Hasan al-Banna, who was the founder in 1928 of Egypt’s most famous Islamist group, the Muslim Brotherhood.
Having been a student of Islamic philosophy and teacher of Islam for a quarter century, I was baffled by the skewed presentation of Islam that Pope Benedict XVI offered in his speech at Regensburg, Germany, in September 2006. As a student paper, it would have failed for lack of organization.
Recently 98,000 ministers found a gift in their mailboxes: a special edition of Efraim Karsh’s Islamic Imperialism, compliments of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. Why such generosity? “We learned a lot from this book and wanted to share it with religious leaders,” an IRD spokesperson said when I called to inquire.
After focusing early in his life on topics in analytic philosophy and religion, David Burrell, C.S.C., turned to studying comparative issues in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. He is the author of Knowing the Unknowable God: Ibn-Sina, Maimonides, Aquinas (University of Notre Dame Press, 1986) and Freedom and Creation in Three Traditions (Notre Dame, 1993).
In a decision being hailed as a major step toward female equality in the Islamic world, the grand mufti of Egypt has said that Muslim women have no obligation to prove their virginity to prospective husbands.
When someone asks me why Muslims don't denounce terrorism, I suggest that he or she Google the words “fatwa against terrorism” (80,000 hits), or name cities in the Muslim world that held major demonstrations against the 9/11 attacks (Tehran, Karachi). Most Muslims do not approve of terrorism. Their response to it is fear—fear of extremists who seem unconstrained by mainstream Islamic law, fear of a son or daughter becoming a "holy warrior," fear for the future of an entire faith community.
Trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary have voted not to hire professors or administrators who promote charismatic Christian practices, such as speaking in tongues. The board overwhelmingly adopted a statement October 17, two months after a fellow trustee noted his personal use of tongues during a sermon in the chapel of the Fort Worth, Texas, seminary.
I have been involved for 25 years in fruitful conversation with Muslims, and I have read the Qur’an and a lot of literature about Islam. But I confess that Emperor Manuel II Paleologus (Paleologus meaning Old Word) was not on my mind before Pope Benedict XVI launched his entry into the newsrooms of the world.
Now that the dust has settled from l’affaire Regensburg, it’s a good time to think about what makes for genuine interfaith dialogue. One thing is clear: the reactions to Pope Benedict XVI’s address, as reported by the media, allowed little scope for dialogue. People took sides with tedious predictability.