OCTOBER 18, 2012
by Maggie Johnson ’14, Contributing Writer
Since the terrorists’ attacks of September 11, 2001 Muslim-Christian relations have been strained; people of the two faiths interact less and understand each other less, says Mahmoud Ayoub, an author who has worked with the U.S. State Department since 1999 on diplomatic programs in the Middle East and South East Asia.
Speaking to an audience Tuesday at Daniel Chapel, Ayoub said some Muslims have even been the target of
Mahmoud Ayoub spoke at Fumran Tuesday on “A Muslim view of Christianity”. (Thomas Nantz)
hostility and suspicion on the part of a population that understands little, if anything, about them.
Ayoub’s lecture, titled “A Muslim View of Christianity”, was sponsored by several political and religious organizations as a part of Furman’s World Religions Symposium, a series of presentations and discussions dedicated to issues of faith.
Some Christians, Ayoub said, have a narrow and skewed perspective of a religion practiced by nearly a quarter of the world’s population. This perspective, he said, hinders interaction understanding between Muslims and followers of other faiths.
Ayoub, a graduate of the American University of Beirut, the University of Pennsylvania, and Harvard, has authored many books on the subject of Islam’s relationship with other religions.
His talk explored ways to nurture ties between Islam and Christianity through interfaith dialogue and focusing on the similarities between the two religions.
“Those closest to Muslims are those who call themselves Christians,” says Ayoub. “Besides Muhammad, Christ receives more attention in Islam than any other prophet.”
For Ayoub, an important step to closing the divide is for both faiths to accept the other’s religious texts as valid contributions to the chronicling of the Abrahamic religious traditions.
“Islam hopes to achieve an ecumenical community of faith,” says Ayoub, “not for people to give up their religion but to accept each other as followers of God.”
“Religion, in the end, is a personal choice.”