We begin in the conviction that our Muslim neighbors, as our neighbors of other faith traditions, are part of God’s marvelous creation, fellow human beings God would have us know and respect, even if we do not always agree.
With Muslims comprising some twenty percent of the total world population and Christians about thirty percent, it is inevitable that they encounter one another daily. What will be the nature of this encounter?
There are fourteen centuries of common history behind us. Some of it could be described as a legacy of recrimination and conflict, which is one of the root causes for much of today’s misinformation, misunderstanding and stereotypes, on both sides. Much of it, however, has been more peaceful and positive.
This has included cross-fertilization between the two communities, which has contributed to important developments in philosophy, theology, architecture, mathematics, science and trade.
We think it is important for our students and other church leaders to strive to understand Islam in its breadth and depth, our Muslim neighbors in their rich diversity, and the history of relations between the two communities.
We strive to foster a respectful and hospitable approach to Muslims, which includes not just learning about them and their religion, but from them.
We therefore call upon Muslim scholars and other leaders to help us, sometimes visiting with them in their places of worship and/or community centers.
Dr. Ghulam Haider-Aasi, a well known Muslim scholar, has been a highly valued colleague in this venture for nearly two decades. We consider personal engagement with and learning from representatives of other faith traditions a vital part of the learning process.