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Document Details :
Title: Moslims & christenen
Subtitle: Een gemeenschappelijk woord?
Author(s): VALKENBERG, Pim
Journal: Tijdschrift voor Theologie
Volume: 50 Issue: 3 Date: 2010
This essay discusses the origin and the reception of the document A Common Word Between Us and You, published by 138 Muslim theologians and religious leaders in October 2007, as an important milestone in contemporary Muslim-Christian relations. From the Muslim point of view, the document, published by the Jordanian Royal Aal al-bayt Academy, is part of a series of publications that gives voice to a largely representative selection of moderate Muslims. From a Catholic point of view, it is a very interesting interpretation of Christianity on a par with the Jewish Dabru Emet document, published in 2000. For this reason, the essay discusses the agenda of the present Pope in his statements on Islam, exemplified by his Regensburg address (September 2006). While most Christian reactions to the Common Word document, such as the Yale Response, were very positive – the Vatican remained silent for a long time and proposed to concentrate not on ‘love of God’ and ‘love of neighbor’ as common ground for dialogue, but on human dignity and respect for life as conditions for dialogue. Even though it is very clear that the ‘double commandment’ to love God and the neighbor as oneself has a very central place in the (Jewish and) Christian tradition, many Catholics and Evangelicals are wary of declaring this as common ground between Christianity and Islam. A recent letter to the synod of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands (PKN) shows a similar cautiousness about theological dialogue with Islam. Valid as these theological considerations may be, they may be the wrong message in a context of rising Islamophobia in Europe. This essay suggests that the very idea of a common ground between the two religions may be misleading, and that it is not the best translation of the text from the Quran that is at the basis of A Common Word. Quran 3,64 is better translated as ‘come to an equitable word between you and us’. In Muslim-Christian dialogue we should try to find insights from our own tradition that are equivalents or words of justice to what the other tradition offers us instead of looking for a common ground. In this way, we may learn from differences and ‘words of equity’ that do justice to the singularity of the different Abrahamic traditions.