Claude Salhani, political analyst and editor of The Middle East Times, looks at the various issues at play in contemporary proselytism. The first in a 6-part series on apostasy and proselytism, Salhaniís article considers the debate between freedom of religion (including the right to practice, preach and proselytise) and other political and diplomatic concerns in the case of the South Korean missionaries in Afghanistan.
(Source: Common Ground News Service (CGNews), 18 September 2007)
In this second article of a series on apostasy and proselytism, Hisham al-Zoubeir, a writer and researcher of classical Islamic thought, looks within Islam and Muslim history to find a precedent for religious co-existence. Though the Prophet Muhammad did not call for the reconciliation of different faiths so that they are melded into one, al-Zoubeir argues that there was a call "to respect the religious other by respectfully engaging this other".
(Source: Common Ground News Service (CGNews), 25 September 2007)
In this third article of a series on apostasy and proselytism, Halima Krausen, director of the Initiative for Islamic Studies and an Imam in Hamburg, considers the behaviour of religious communities vis-a-vis that of other "tribes" when it comes to the issue of "leaving the group", i.e. conversion. Looking beyond historical ties of group loyalty and religious impetuses to proselytise, Krausen explains how we can get "beyond tribalist rivalry and the exclusivity of paths to a vision of a common goal".
(Source: Common Ground News (CGNews), 02 October 2007)
Ellen F. Davis, professor of Bible and practical theology at Duke University, considers why the belief that "religion is a matter of personal salvation and therefore concerns only God and the individual has not been widely shared by most peoples and cultures throughout history." In contrast to well-publicised tensions that exist over the issue of apostasy, Davis shares a little-known example of how Christians and Muslims in Sudan are experiencing "a diminution of hostility to conversion".
(Source: Common Ground News Service (CGNews), 9 October 2007)
In this fifth article in a series on apostasy and proselytism, Rev. David Gray, a Christian pastor who directs the Workforce and Family program at the New America Foundation, suggests that the fears of parents and church leaders who worry that youth may reject their faith as a result of interfaith dialogue are unfounded. In his experience, "faith that is tested, contrasted and explained is faith that is most likely to be internalised and to endure."
(Source: Common Ground News Service (CGNews), 16 October 2007)
In this last article in the series on apostasy and proselytism, Shaykh Abdallah Adhami, an Arab-American imam and a leading scholar of Islam, notes that historically "most major systems of law have affirmed that apostasy must be punished". Yet, looking from the point of view of religion, and specifically of Islamic law or shari'a, he considers whether human judgement over "the private realm of apostasy" is possible.
(Source: Common Ground News Service (CGNews), 23 October 2007)
The women of Tunisia have a decisive role to play in shaping Tunisia's future. Fatma Ben Saïdane reminds women of the power of their vote and the importance of civic engagement.
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