This week Yale University Divinity School is hosting the first in a series of interfaith events to take place around the world.
Itâ€™s a sunny morning and attendees of the Common Word Conference break for coffee in a tented courtyard at Yale. Gathered here are more than 150 of the worldsâ€™ leading scholars and clerics from the Christian and Muslim faiths. Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad teaches Islamic Studies at Cambridge University and says that this weekâ€™s events provide him and his colleagues the chance to listen to each other, to break bread, and to shake hands.
â€œA lot of Christians have misunderstandings about Muslims as being sort of violent terrorists, and similarly a lot of Muslim fears about, particularly American Christian militarism towards the Muslim world. And this is really kind of an opportunity for a deep sigh of relief that we meet with the leaders of the other community and we can see that they are human beings like ourselves with their own wisdom, their own insecurities, their own misunderstandings so itâ€™s very important.â€
The Common Word Conferences are named after an open letter signed last year by 138 Muslim clerics from around the world. The letter was addressed to Christian Leaders and communities, inviting them to come together with Muslims on what the two faiths have in common: Love of the One God and Love of the neighbor. Scholars at the Yale Divinity School responded, agreeing on the need for an interfaith dialogue.
Rev. Doctor Robert Schuller, most famous for his weekly Hour of Power Christian telecasts, told the group why he believes interfaith communication is important.
"At the age of 81, I have profound respect for people who are sincere in their faith, on the assumption that there must be something there or it would not have survived and on the assumption that I donâ€™t know all the answers, and some of my answers are wrong."
Conference participants plan to take what theyâ€™ve learned back to their home parishes, Mosques, and Universities, so the new bonds formed here wonâ€™t be left behind.