The program has been organized for the fourth time between the Risalat International Institute in London under the leadership of Dr Mohammed Shomali and the Ecumenical Institute at Bossey.
In a joint seminar between Bossey students and Shia students, the group received an introduction to the Bible, an introduction to the Qur’an, and the respective religions, and discussed what spirituality means in each of their contexts.
"This joint program with the WCC made us experience that peace is possible in this world through the love of God and his creation,” said Shia student Firdous Rizvi.
"I am extremely grateful to God for the WCC's work in interfaith dialogue and in particular for hosting this joint program,” said Shia student Dr Farooq Bandali. “I feel very hopeful towards continued Christian-Muslim unity!”
The students from both institutions had possibilities to contribute and to share their perspective in the different seminar sessions and to encounter with each other also during meals and breaks.
Bossey student Eva Abel said: "This was my first interreligious encounter which has left me yearning for more; my spirituality has been deeply enriched by the three days of interaction with our Shia brothers and sisters, and has completely shifted my mindset from where I thought that interreligious dialogue was not my cup of tea.”
Bossey student Nesapandian Jesu reflected on being able to learn that both religions teach God's Love to his people and creatures, and human love towards God and his people.
“The opportunities for women in learning religious studies up to a level of doctoral studies and their role in sharing two sessions are appreciated,” said Jesu. “I thought Muslim men only dominate all religious studies and roles. The expectation of the second coming of Jesus and Imam Mahdi is a new learning and they both expect peace and justice on earth.”
The group also visited the International Museum of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent, and received a guided tour of the WCC, as well as an introduction to the global fellowship’s programmatic work. They met with the WCC general secretary Prof. Dr Jerry Pillay.
Prof. Benjamin Simon from the Ecumenical Institute emphasized the necessity that the Institute offers this type of joint seminar also in the future: “Every single encounter of this kind is a contribution to peace in this world. We want to deepen and continue to facilitate and promote these interreligious relationships and encounters at the Institute,” he said.