Photo: WCC

Photo: WCC

‘History’ and ‘Time’ were the thirteenth and fourteenth subjects covered in a workshop which took place in Erlangen, Germany, 12-14 December as part of a project “Key Concepts in Interreligious Discourses.”

The project, initiated by the Friederich-Alexander University is the vision of Prof. George Tamer, who holds the chair of Oriental Philology and Islamic Studies at the university, and is a member of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Central Committee. It began in 2015 and, via regular workshops taking place several times a year, has since explored a range of topics including human rights, justice, freedom, scripture, doctrine, environment and economy.  At each workshop, significant scholars representing the Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious traditions present their reflections which are then discussed and refined by the participants. The scholars are then asked to develop their contribution into substantial chapters to be published in a series of books, each book focusing on one particular topic.  The first book in the series will appear early in 2019.

In his speech of welcome to the latest workshop, Tamer commented, “The aim of our scholarly endeavour is to deliver a reliable scientific foundation for all forms of interreligious dialogue. We are convinced that harmonious relationships between religious communities, particularly those related to the three religions we are concerned with, are indispensable for peace in major parts of the world. We are also convinced that there is no better way to achieve harmony and cooperation between Judaism, Christianity and Islam than strengthening mutual understanding between these religions on the basis of clear knowledge about what they share and what they differ in. Interreligious knowledge of the self and the other is the best way to build stable bridges between Jews, Christians and Muslims. Then: ‘Man is the enemy of that what he or she does not know.’ This old Arabic wisdom is the motto of our research unit.”

This project is growing and developing: recently the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt and the University of Balamand have become official partners in the work with the Friederich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nurnberg. This partnership was celebrated during the course of the recent workshop. The WCC has sought to offer support to the project via its interreligious department, especially through regular participation in the workshops. Dr Clare Amos, former programme coordinator for interreligious dialogue at the WCC, and a member of the advisory board for the project, has been responsible for the chapter offering a Christian perspective in the book on human rights. Amos commented, “It has been a privilege to participate in a number of these innovative workshops over the last few years. I admire Professor Tamer for having the vision and determination to establish this project. I particularly relish the way that he ensures the participation of young postgraduates from the research unit who are actively involved as respondents in each workshop. It provides an important opportunity for their learning and professional development, and it is much appreciated by the scholars who offer presentations.”

WCC’s work on Strengthening inter-religious trust and respect