Yale Students – Muslims and Christians in Dialogue
A number of Muslim and Christian students at Yale University (2009-10 academic year) gather regularly every Monday night discussing the similarities and differences between Islam and Christianity. The discourses were co-led by Omer Bajwa, Chaplain for the Yale Muslim Student Association, and Imran A.Babar, leader of the Yale Graduate Student Christian Fellowship.
Dr.Kateregga and Dr.Shenk’s book, A Muslim and A Christian in Dialogue, provided framework for this discussion. The book comprises of twenty-four chapters, with twelve each for the respective Muslim and Christian contributions.
Dr. Shenk is a Christian scholar, and Dr.Kateregga is a Muslim scholar. They became close friends several decades ago and the themes of these dialogue began to emerge within real class room experience where they taught world religions together. Both have been involved in interfaith conversation for many years and this book is a glimpse into their journey together as friends in dialogue.
At Yale, as many as fifteen to twenty individuals participated in the dialogues, with each event involving up to a dozen people. The participants were of various nationalities, such as Caucasian American, Pakistani, Indian, Egyptian, Malaysian, Persian, UAE, and Turkish.
Team Work Developing Questions for Dialogue
In 2007, I attended a series of lectures by Dr. Shenk in Asia. A few weeks after I started my classes at Yale in Fall 2009, I began participating in this dialogue and discovered that the group was using A Muslim and a Christian in Dialogue book that Dr. Shenk and Dr.Kateregga wrote as its reference. Many questions emerged during this one year dialogue. The idea to compile these questions came into my mind back then.
The following year, Mariam Amin Shehata, Imran Babar and I, all Yale graduate students, worked in a team to continue developing these questions, with Dr. Shenk’s help filling some gaps. We submitted our final draft during summer school holiday in 2011. The new edition of this book, published in November 2011, includes these questions.
There are twelve sets of questions all together and each set was written for the two chapters of almost the same topic. For example, six questions were developed for Chapter 1: There is no God but Allah and Chapter 13: The Lord God is One.
We believe that individual voices contribute tremendously towards a better understanding on Islam, Christianity, Muslim Christian relations and dialogue. For that reason, we develop questions that do not only ask doctrinal and theological matters, but also questions related to life stories and experiences.
The Team – Developing Questions for the Book
Mariam Amin Shehata is a graduate student and Fullbright scholar from Yale Divinity School and Al-Azhar University in her hometown country in Egypt. She is a Hafiz (memorizes Quran) and will be completing her Masters of Arts in Religion in May 2012.
Imran Ali Babar is a Pakistani-American. He co-led the Yale Graduate Student Christian Fellowship for four years and obtained his PhD in Molecular Biology from Yale University in May 2011.
I graduated with Masters of Arts in Religion in May 2011. My bio-data is posted under the “Author” category in this blog.
A Guide Book for Muslim and Christian Dialogue
I am now writing A Guide Book for Muslim Christian Dialogue as a part of my Post Graduate Fellowship project at Yale Center for Faith and Culture. I have invited students from all over the world to answer some of the questions that Mariam, Imran and I developed.
Besides Yale University, some of them are studying at: Harvard University (USA), Cornell University, Hartford Seminary, George Town University, University of Notre Dame, University of Wisconsin Madison, Gadhja Mada University (Indonesia), International Conference of Islamic Scholars, University Malaya (Malaysia), Trinity College Dublin (Ireland), Trinity Theological College (Singapore), Oxford University (UK), Cambridge University, Al-Azhar University, Cairo (Egypt), and University Kated, Kabul (Afghanistan).
This guide book will be used in the coming Faith Leadership Training Program in Asia.
With the participation from young and potential faith leaders worldwide, the same friendship and journey that Dr. Shenk and Dr. Kateragga had experienced is now being experienced among us. We still have a long way to go, but we know that this will be a great adventure of building peace together as we continue to converse and support each others work.
I hope that this blog will be our virtual community where we share our knowledge, experiences, and build friendship.