Interfaith Dialogue: Are Islam and Christianity on a Collision Course?

Join Seyyed Hossein Nasr and John Esposito as they discuss Muslim-Christian Relations

Introduction

Ejaz Akram interviews two prominent scholars, one Muslim and one Roman Catholic, on the relationship between Islam and Christianity. They discuss the relationship between Islam and Christianity, and explore the possibilities of a dialogue

Seyyed Hossein Nasr

Seyyed Hossein Nasr is a professor of Islamic Studies at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He has authored some 40-plus books and over 500 articles.

Ejaz (E): What is the nature of Muslim-Christian dialogue? At this point in history, where do we seem to be heading in resolving differences with the Christians?

Seyyed Hossein Nasr (SHN): Bismillah Al Rahman Al Rahim. There are several planes on which relationships are taking place between Christianity and Islam. There is a plane of search for mutual understanding, a plane of rivalry, and the plane of out-and-out conflict and confrontation. For example, you can take the events in East Timor, Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechenya. I shall leave the open political confrontation aside, which is another issue.

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However, as far as religious relationships between Islam and Christianity [are concerned], since World War II, there has been more of an attempt on behalf of mainstream Christian churches. Not the evangelical movements. Mainstream Catholicism and Protestantism, and during the last 10 years, also the Orthodox Churches. This came first from the Christian side, not because of any external factor but because of the inner need of Christian theology to confront this issue because of the break-up of the homogeneity of the religious atmosphere in the West. Also, gradually the Muslims began to take interest in this.

E: In Islam, we have a very respectful treatment of Jesus Christ in the Qur'an, while Christians do not have the same regard for prophet Muhammad. Keeping in view also the Christian doctrine of no salvation outside of the church, do you think it makes it difficult for the Christians to achieve a dialogue?

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