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Common Ground

Islam, Christianity, and Religious Pluralism

Paul L. Heck

Publication Year: 2009

Christian-Muslim interaction is a reality today in all corners of the globe, but while many celebrate the commonality of these traditions, significant differences remain. If these religions cannot be easily reconciled, can we perhaps view them through a single albeit refractive lens? This is the approach Paul Heck takes in Common Ground: To undertake a study of religious pluralism as a theological and social reality, and to approach the two religions in tandem as part of a broader discussion on the nature of the good society. Rather than compare Christianity and Islam as two species of faith, religious pluralism offers a prism through which a society as a wholeùsecular and religious alikeùcan consider its core beliefs and values. Christianity and Islam are not merely identities that designate particular communities, but reference points that all can comprehend and discuss knowledgeably. This analysis of how Islam and Christianity understand theology, ethics, and politicsùspecifically democracy and human rightsùoffers a way for that discussion to move forward.

Published by: Georgetown University Press

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

THIS BOOK began as a lecture series, delivered at John Carroll University, spring 2007, under the sponsorship of the Walter and Mary Tuohy Chair of Interreligious Studies. I thank the benefactors of the fund and authorities of the university, in particular David Mason, director of the fund, for warmly supporting me during the lectureship. I also acknowledge the kindly welcome of the Department of Religious...

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INTRODUCTION: Religious Pluralism Today

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pp. 1-6

IN 2007 A GROUP OF MUSLIMS presented the Christian world with a message titled ‘‘A Common Word between Us and You.’’ This message, an expression of interreligious solidarity at a time of religious tension, spoke of a shared Christian-Muslim commitment to love of God and love of neighbor...

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CHAPTER ONE: Does the Qur’an Belong in the Bible?

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pp. 7-42

OUR STORY BEGINS at the court of Rayy, a city not far from Tehran, where in the tenth century a famous debate about prophecy took place. Abu Hatim argued for the truth of prophecy and Abu Bakr denied it. Both were natives of Rayy and therefore shared the surname al-Razi. Abu Hatim al-Razi, an intellectual associated with the Isma‘ili...

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CHAPTER TWO: How Much Good News Can We Take?

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pp. 43-74

A 2007 SURVEY by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life in the United States noted the increasing importance of those with no religious membership, roughly 16 percent of the population. Interestingly, most of them, 12 percent of Americans, believe in God but do not identify with a particular religious community. It is common to hear people claim to be spiritual but not religious. Americans have long...

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CHAPTER THREE: The Face of God: A Social Good?

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pp. 75-109

HEAVEN AND HELL have long featured in the Christian-Muslim imagination. Satan is no less real than God. However, although religious teachings are meant to guide one to a happy outcome in the hereafter, there are reservations about making final statements on the status of souls in the life to come. The church does on occasion declare...

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CHAPTER FOUR: Jihad: Is It Christian Too?

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pp. 110-144

AT DIFFERENT POINTS in his letters, Saint Paul speaks of his struggle to announce the good news made manifest in Jesus Christ. The term to describe this struggle in the Arabic translation of the Bible is jihad. Although Paul admits his own weakness, he claims that his is not a human jihad (2 Cor. 10:3). His efforts to make the word of God...

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CHAPTER FIVE: Islam: More or Less Democratic than Christianity?

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pp. 145-184

IN THE QUR’AN, God delegates care of the world not to a single individual but to Adam and his progeny, making all people his representatives (caliphs) on earth. Is this a divine mandate for democracy? The Qur’an is not a political tract. The point, rather, is the human responsibility to live morally. Echoing this, a hadith stipulates obedience...

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CHAPTER SIX: God’s Rights: A Threat to Human Rights?

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pp. 185-217

NEITHER THE BIBLE nor the Qur’an decisively condemns slavery. In the past, most Christians and Muslims saw slavery as part of God’s order. Today, human trafficking is big business, but no credible religious authority backs it. It is considered an offense to the dignity and equality of all peoples. In contrast, although gender equality in public life is now the norm in many places, the largest branches of...

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CONCLUSION: Islam: Not a Separate Species

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pp. 218-224

A MUSLIM cannot partake in the Eucharist. A Christian cannot go on pilgrimage to Mecca. A Muslim will always question the cross. A Christian will ask why the need for another prophet. Muslims refer to themselves as God’s slaves, Christians as God’s children. Theological differences are significant, but various aspirations are shared, in

Index

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pp. 225-240


E-ISBN-13: 9781589017207
E-ISBN-10: 158901720X
Print-ISBN-13: 9781589015074
Print-ISBN-10: 158901507X

Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2009

Series Editor Byline: