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SEMINAR RECORDINGS 2013

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When possible and with the permission of the speaker, the audio recordings of CMCS work-in-progress seminars are made available for streaming and download.
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If you download the audio file to your computer, please do not alter, edit or reproduce the recording in any way without getting the expressed prior consent of CMCS.
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DISCLAIMER: Any opinions expressed in these recordings do not necessarily represent those of the Centre for Muslim-Christian Studies.

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CMCS seminars provide a platform for comment and debate on the Muslim-Christian interface
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AUTUMN TERM

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15th October, 2013
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What Can We Say? Tackling Anxieties over Offence, Authority, Gender… Enabling Grassroots Muslim and Christian Women to Discuss Faith Together

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Speaker: Jan Pike, Reflective practitioner and independent scholar, Bristol
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An analytical reflection on the challenges faced when working to enable women of faith at grassroots level to share their own faith stories. What are the barriers to be overcome and how are they breached when ‘ordinary women of faith’, who live alongside each other in the same neighbourhood begin to explore ways of talking about their own faith with the other? What can be learnt and is anybody listening?
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Unfortunately, no audio recording is available but you can request the seminar notes and PowerPoint by emailing research@cmcsoxford.org.uk.

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22nd October, 2013
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Benedict XVI and Inter-religious Dialogue: the Case of Islam

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Speaker: Fr Rocco Viviano SX, Research Associate, Heythrop Centre for Christianity and Inter-religious Dialogue, Heythrop Colelge, University of London
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This paper presents the thought of Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI on Islam and on Christian-Muslim relations in order to reflect on how he contributes to the progress of present-day engagement of Catholics, and Christians in general, with Islam. Benedict XVI is both a theologian and Pope, and these two aspects have to be taken into account to appreciate the continuity between his theology and praxis. Moreover, to appreciate Benedict XVI and his approach to interreligious dialogue in depth it is important to understand the features of the modern papacy and the theological – especially ecclesiological – framework in which it operates. Ratzinger’s initial encounter with Islam takes place on the path of fundamental theological reflection. As he seeks to articulate the Christian faith in order to present it as clearly as possible, Ratzinger at some point focussed on the place of Christianity within the development of the religious history of humanity, within which he encounters the religions and Islam in particular. In seeking to understand Benedict XVI’s thought on Islam, we must begin with the place of Islam within the historical development of the religious spirit of humanity. For Benedict XVI, there is a “fundamental unity” between Christians, Jews and Muslims, which is based on a shared experience of God’s self-revelation, although this is understood and articulated in different ways. His notion of Christian-Muslim dialogue originates from this starting point. The specific “unity” between Christianity and Islam, visible in their “mutual respect and solidarity”, is fully realized when authentic dialogue and engagement take place.
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29th October, 2013
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Interfaith Dialogue in Qatar: Trends and Challenges

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Qatar-Dialogue

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Speaker: Asim Koldzo, MSt., University of Oxford, Prospective DPhil Candidate and Centre for Muslim-Christian Studies Scholarship Recipient
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Over the last decade, Qatar has set out to sponsor a number of high-profile interfaith dialogue initiatives such as the establishment of the Doha International Centre for Interfaith Dialogue (DICID), the organisation of Doha Annual Interfaith Conferences, and the opening of several churches. This research probes motivations behind and effects of this state patronage using both qualitative and quantitative methods. In doing so, three major questions are explored. One, what is motivating Qatar’s patronage of interfaith dialogue? Two, who are the main interfaith dialogue players inside Qatar and what form does this dialogue take? And three, most importantly, what are the effects of these initiatives on Qatar’s many religious communities?

In short, the research suggests that Qatar’s foreign policy is the main determinant of the emirate’s interest in interfaith dialogue; that the number of interfaith dialogue players is limited, with interfaith dialogue currently taking place on elite level only; and that huge potential for grassroots interfaith dialogue remains under utilised.

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The audio recording for this seminar is available by request only. If you would like to obtain the audio file please email info@cmcsoxford.org.uk with ‘Audio Request’ in the subject line.

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5th November, 2013
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Christian-Muslim Relations Before and After the Application of the Law of Blasphemy in Pakistan 

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BlasphemyBurning

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Speaker: Dr Farhana Nazir, PhD (University of Edinburgh)
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12th November, 2013
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Contribution of the Former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, to Inter-religious Dialogue and its Relevance to Turkish Religious Affairs

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Speaker: Esra Akay Dag, PhD Candidate, University of Bristol
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 Theology of religions and interfaith dialogue are two recent phenomena in the Christian world.  During the twentieth century, Christians have developed different types of theologies of religions and as a result they have given different responses to inter-faith dialogue.  On the other hand, in the Muslim world, Islamic theology of religions has not been studied systematically, but some groups of Muslims have responded to Christians’ call for inter-faith dialogue. Despite the lack of theological rationale, the Presidency of Religious Affairs, as the highest religious institution of Turkey, has responded positively to the Catholic Church’s call to dialogue, which started with the Second Vatican Council.

This paper presents Rowan Williams’ theology of religions and its effect on inter-faith dialogue. Although Rowan Williams represents the exclusivist wing of theology of religions, his form of theology gives legitimacy to non-Christian religions and accepts the real differences of other religions. The paper will suggest that Williams’ type of theology of religions can be an applicable model for Turkish Religious Affairs, through which the institution can form its own theology of religions for inter-faith dialogue.

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26th November, 2013
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Approaching Perceptions of Christians and Christianity Amongst Saudis

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Speaker: Abdullah Hammidaddin, Saudi Writer and PhD Candidate, King’s College, London
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 The launch of “The KAICIID Dialogue Centre” (King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue) in 2011 has been stirring some limited but very interesting discussions amongst Saudis on inter-religious dialogue. The limitation of those discussions has to do with the fact that the center operates outside Saudi Arabia. In this brief talk I want to share with you some of the reactions of Saudis to the initiation of that center and also to some of its activities. Equally importantly, understanding the context of those Saudi reactions may mean that they should be interpreted in ways very different to their apparent or surface meaning.

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SUMMER TERM

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21st May, 2013
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Teaching Islam in British Theological Colleges: an overview and analysis

Part of the Integrating Islam project.
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Speaker: Dr. Richard McCallum, Associate Researcher, Centre for Muslim-Christian
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In the context of world events the need to prepare Christian ministers and clergy in Britain to confidently engage with Muslims is taking on ever greater importance. This seminar provides a brief history of theological education in Britain as it relates to the teaching of other faiths and explores different historical and theological approaches. It then presents a contemporary overview of the teaching of Islam in British (mainly) Protestant theological institutions based on a recent empirical survey and demonstrates that the majority of colleges are indeed taking such provision seriously, offering specialist modules on Islam or at least including it in general modules on world religions. However, demands that would require all Christian theological students to receive at least some basic teaching about Islam and proposals for an interdisciplinary approach are not yet realities. The paper closes by exploring the challenges faced in integrating Islam into already overcrowded curricula and looks at possible creative solutions to the problems. 
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R. McCallum (21.05.13)
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30th April, 2013
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The Impact of Ottoman Reforms and Foreign Powers Interventions on Christian-Muslim Relations in Demascus: 1839-1876 CE

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Speaker: Rana Abu-Mounes, PhD candidate, University of Aberdeen
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The Ottoman Empire was a multicultural and multi-religious society since its early days in the fourteenth century. During its turbulent history, the followers of all three monotheistic religions found and experienced different atmospheres of coexistence and collaborations. Notwithstanding, the long-lasting Empire also witnessed a history of intolerance and tension towards non-Muslims, and especially Christians. One incident that has attracted a lot of attention is the clashes of the nineteenth century. The Ottoman Empire, during the nineteenth century, witnessed a constant effort of reform. This century also marked the start of the changing balance of power between the West and the East. The European powers were ascending in supremacy whereas the Ottoman Empire was descending in power and influence. However, both the weakness and reforms of the Ottoman government on one hand and the policies of foreign Powers on the other equally contributed in changing the atmosphere of coexistence and therefore resulted in shaping new attitudes for the followers of the two monotheistic religions, Muslims and Christians, toward each other. The Christian and Muslim communities who established themselves in the Levant hitherto respected each other’s beliefs and ways of life. Even though there were sporadic tension and suspicion between them, they generally lived peaceably together. Admittedly, certain parts of the Levant, such as Lebanon, were torn by internal strife, but this was strife of factions and families rather than faiths and creeds. The thesis for this presentation is: foreign intervention in the Levant rather than religion was the main cause of the conflicts in the area during the nineteenth century. My hypothesis is that even though it is easy to identify religion as the immediate cause of the clashes based on demographic considerations, a critical examination of the situation reveals the causes to be fundamentally economic and political. Thus, I would argue that the foreign powers were the active agents of change in the Christian-Muslim relations. They intervened in the society for economic reasons but used ideology, i.e. the missionaries, to facilitate these aspirations, and justified it by the so called ‘policy of protecting the minorities’. Using the state of Christian-Muslim relations in Damascus during the Ottoman Tanzimat as a point of reference, I attempt to the address the following Questions: How did the Ottoman reforms and foreign powers’ penetrations impact on the Christian-Muslim relations during the period of Tanzimat? What was the extent of tension between the two religious communities? And did these tensions lead to massacre between the Christians and Muslims? To address these questions, I will elaborate on the following three main themes: 1. The attitude of the Ottoman State towards its Christian subjects based on the content of the Tanzimat Edict of 1839 CE and the Reform Edict of 1856 CE. 2. The foreign powers’ intervention in the Ottoman society in Damascus. 3. The impact of both the Tanzimat reforms and foreign powers’ penetrations on the Christian-Muslim relations. 
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Rana Abu Mounes (30.04.130
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Image by mateus27_24-25 

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SPRING TERM

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19th February, 2013
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Dialogue and Politics in Revolutionary Egypt

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Speaker: Dr. Henrik Lindberg Hansen, recently complete PhD at The School of African and Oriental Studies, London
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The Arab Spring raises questions about the future of Muslim-Christian relation in the region. But to understand how Muslim-Christian relations are managed building different discourses of dialogue in Egyptian society it is necessary to look into the religio-political dynamics of the country. Sociologists and political scientists describe Egyptian society as based on corporatism, clientelism, and other concepts emphasizing informal networks both horizontally among for example families, work communities, or local neighbourhoods – or vertically ideally linking the elite of the country to the less fortunate through chains of dependency and favours. These informal networks are often delineated by religion, making religious leaders part of the negotiation of general societal relations (i.e. politics). The seminar will expound on how these religio-political relations were managed just before the Arab Spring, and then discuss how the Arab Spring influenced them. 
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 Henrik Hansen (19.02.13)
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5th February, 2013
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The Incarnation: bridge or barrier in Christian dialogue to Muslims?

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Mary&BabyJesus

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Speaker: Pat Brittenden, CMCS Scholarship Recipient, DPhil Candidate, University of Oxford
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Kenneth Cragg writes “It would seem naïve to ask whether the Christian’s faith in the incarnation and ‘the Word made flesh’ separates him from the Muslim. For manifestly in history it does. Christology, as the New Testament, the Fathers, and the Church through the centuries has confessed it, has consistently found, and spelled, rejection on the part of Muslims.” The Qur’anic testimony has been consistently been held by both classical and contemporary Muslim apologist as an irrevocable prohibition to the idea of the pre-existence or divinity of Christ and a compromise with the Islamic concept of the greatness and purity of God implied by God’s ‘association’ with humanity in the Incarnation. Yet for the Christian believer the Incarnation is the defining revelation of God. This paper will explore what appears to be nothing more than a ‘hopeless’ barrier throughout the history of Muslim-Christian relations through the contrasting contributions of two broadly evangelical Anglican clergymen with substantial experience of mission and dialogue with / amongst Muslims. The paper will begin with a brief presentation of the extent of the Incarnation as a ‘barrier’, by assessing Muslim objections to this doctrine and Western Christianity’s failings in communicating and demonstrating the Incarnation throughout our mutual history. Then, having established Cragg and Nazir-Ali’s respective positions in the ‘continuity-discontinuity’ continuum of Christian mission, it will present their theological perspectives on this doctrine as they engage with Islam. It will pay special attention to how they treat the Incarnation as a ‘bridge’ to the greatness of God and to God’s ‘association’ with humanity, inherent in Muslim rejections of the doctrine. Finally, based on the discussion above, it will explore a narrative of engagement in dialogue with Muslims that alters our perception of both Christian mission to Islam and the doctrine of the Incarnation. This is done through; (1) a ‘theo-dramatic’ understanding of the Incarnation in the 5th Act of God’s redemptive mission story, (2) the priority of orthopraxy in all assessments of the Incarnation in mission and finally, (3) a vision of the doctrine, not as a proposition but as a window through which Christians in mission and dialogue can invite Muslims to articulate and experience the doctrine of the Incarnation.
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 Pat Brittenden (05.02.13)
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Image by mateus27_24-25 

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15th January, 2013
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Kenneth Cragg’s Islam: The limits of cross-cultural interpretation

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KennethCragg

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Speaker:  Dr. Daniel Brown, Visiting Scholar, Oriental Institute, University of Oxford
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A central issue raised by Kenneth Cragg’s work is the problem succinctly posed by Alasdair MacIntyre. In the absence of any neutral court of appeal, MacIntyre asks, how can adherents of traditions fundamentally at odds with one another find ground for evaluation of the rival tradition. In answer he suggests that a protagonist gifted with sympathy and philosophical imagination might “learn how to think as if one were a convinced adherent of that tradition” and so enter the intellectual world of another tradition that he or she could explore the limitations and unresolved issues of that tradition on its own terms.Kenneth Cragg’s ambition to enter sympathetically into the intellectual world of Islam, and the single-minded determination with which he pursued this project for more than 60 years, make his work a compelling test case of MacIntyre’s proposal in the field of comparative theology. Is the kind of sympathy that MacIntyre proposes, and that Cragg endeavours to employ, in the end possible? To answer we must place Cragg’s methods and conclusions in the context of the Islamic intellectual tradition, and ask where and whether his work “fits” within that tradition.
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 Daniel Brown (15.01.13)
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Image by ccme

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