Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Academics’ journal aims to promote inter-faith dialogue

A team of professors from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar have produced an academic interfaith journal in English and Arabic to combat religious intolerance.

Professors Patrick Laude, Akintunde Akinade, and Mark Farha are committed to promoting inter-religious dialogue and understanding through the publication, titled Religions in English and Adyan in Arabic.

Religions was established by the Doha International Center for Interfaith Dialogue (DICID) chairman Dr Ibrahim al-Naimi on the recommendation of the Sixth Doha Interfaith Conference in June 2008.

“Thanks to the DICID’s support, we were able to produce a bilingual journal which is as exquisitely beautiful in form as it is of high quality in content,” remarked Farha, a professor of Middle Eastern politics at SFS-Qatar.

Laude, the editor-in-chief of Religions, along with Farha and Akinade, who serve on the editorial board and international advisory board respectively, spent more than a year selecting essays that cover the wide spectrum of inter-faith issues from a variety of perspectives and disciplines.

“In a world that has been ravaged and tormented by sacred fury and violence, there is perhaps no other subject that calls for serious academic engagement as inter-religious relations,” said Akinade, explaining the journal’s significance.

Religions provides an auspicious academic forum for scholars to critically reflect on issues that are germane to inter-religious relations, dialogue, and connections, he explained.

Religions is inspired by Qur’anic principles, said Laude.
“Given a global climate often perceived to foster religious conflict rather than co-existence, the editors believe strongly in the role that inter-faith dialogue can play in combating intolerance,” Laude said.
The journal’s content focuses on inter-faith issues between the three Abrahamic faiths, while engaging other religious faiths that share common principles and values. The authors of the essays gathered hail from five continents and a plurality of religious backgrounds.

The first issue also includes an article on Muslim-Hindu dialogue, while another describes a Buddhist festival celebrated at the Sri Lankan embassy in Doha.

“We wanted to open the journal not just to Muslims, Christians and Jews, but to Buddhists, Hindus and people of other faiths as well,” said Laude.

The recent effort by the SFS-Qatar faculty members signals a commitment to a longstanding mission by Georgetown University to promote inter-faith dialogue.

“As a Georgetown faculty member serving in Qatar I feel particularly committed to participate in this task both on the scholarly and educational levels,” maintained Laude.

The first issue came out late last year and the next issue is set to be published in October this year, just prior to the next international conference of the Doha International Center for Inter-faith Dialogue.

Its theme will be “Charity and Compassion: Interfaith Perspectives,” and will feature essays by such prominent international religious figures as Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, Tariq Ramadan, Karen Armstrong, Tu Weiming and Fr David Burrell.