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Christians and Muslims
Where We Live - with John Dankosky
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Christians and Muslims engage in a dialogue.


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51:58 minutes (24.95 MB)
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Ingrid Mattson, Professor of Islamic Studies and Christian Muslim relations at the Hartford Seminary : Photo by Catie TalarskiIngrid Mattson, Professor of Islamic Studies and Christian Muslim relations at the Hartford Seminary : Photo by Catie TalarskiVatican officials say that Catholic and Muslim leaders plan to meet in Rome this spring to start a new dialogue between the faiths. The need for renewed talks follows Pope Benedict's controversial 2006 comments about Islam and Holy War. It sparked a worldwide religious debate - and prompted a prominent group of Muslim scholars to send the pope an open letter in response. The Muslim group then expanded their message last year with "A Common Word Between Us and You." Aimed at declaring common ground between the faiths. A response by Christian scholars followed this past November. "Loving God and Neighbor Together" was drafted by Yale Divinity school and published in a full-page New York Times ad.

Today, where we live, we'll continue this dialogue - with signatories from each of these important documents - Islamic leader and Hartford Seminary Professor Ingrid Mattson and Harold Attridge, Dean of Yale's divinity school.

To see pictures of Where We Live's in-studio guests, please go to our Flickr page.

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As a mother raising a young Muslim family in CT, I realize that my dear Christian friends who are mothers face primarily the same challenges in raising their children as myself, namely the challenges associated with certain secular and materialistic aspects of our American culture. Observant Muslim and Christian parents are striving to raise their children to live moral, spiritual lives working towards the improvement of our shared society and of our world. The Common Word document offers me great hope and a wonderful example to relay to my children.




Moslems and Jews in Arab countries

Ingrid Mattson is wrong about Jewish Arab relations

Jews were never totally accepted as equal citizens in Arab countries. And THE MAIN REASON THAT THERE ARE SO MANY JEWS FROM ARABIC COUNTRIES IN ISRAEL IS THAT THEY WERE VIOLENTLY DRIVEN OUT BY THE ARABS STARTING IN THE 1950'S. Most Jews had to leave with just what they could carry. It is not because of their great life in the Arab countries.

Please do not allow untruths to be aired without challenging them.

Katalin R.Baltimore

Issues in Dialogue between Christians and Muslims

These letters between the two communities seem to have generated a lot of excitement and hope, which is a good starting point for a meaningful dialogue. However, I am afraid that so far the dialogue between these two faiths is primarily based on exchanging good will gestures. Unfortunately, that, by reducing both to statements which may not hold true in their respective religious thought and its evidence in history. For instance, how many Muslims can religiously justify the freedom to leave Islam; what religious evidence does Prof. Mattson have to make her assertions? Also, when she acknowledges that religious conflict in Islam is based on its Holy Texts, what other authority, superior to that of the Holy Scriptures of Islam, exists in Islam for her to be optimistic about a peaceful world and still remain a faithful Muslim? On some accounts she is absolutely wrong: women in Islam do not have the same rights as men and the religious minorities in Islam are considered Dhimmis and are levied taxes for not ascribing to the Islamic faith.
On the Christian side, it is sad to see that for the sake of the possibility of peace -- which Prof. Mattson rightfully acknowledges as an "Empirical Statement", that is, a 'need' based on the realization that if there is no peace between Christians and Muslims, there will be no world peace -- the Christians are willing to give up the centrality of the "great commission" and many other basic precepts of faith, in order to accommodate a faith like Islam that has a theological exclusive claim deeply rooted in its scripture, tradition and history.
Honestly, I cannot see the current model for religious dialogue offering any hope for peaceful coexistence. Religious dialogue should be honest, historically as well as theologically. And it should seek to expose the Truth, which, I believe is the only path to peace, justice, reconciliation, and freedom.

Ingrid Mattson is not wrong about Jewish Arab relations

Arab Jews lived and flourished in the Arab world and during the Islamic "empire" for the lack of a better word from the 7th century until the fall of the ottoman empire. They were only forced out after the creation of the state of Israel because of their treachery. They bagan to spy on and work against their countires in Eygpt, Syria, Jordan, and occupied Palestine itself. Ask any American Jew what their nationality is and they will say they are Jewish not American. Their loyalty is to other jews and not to their country and that is why they were expelled. Several were caught in the act of espionage like Cohen that was executed in Damascus, Syria just before the 1967 war.

You are correct, untruths like yours should not go unchallanged.

Abdul rafraf mutauage

Jewish Relations

How strange it would be to ask someone: are you an Arab or a Christian? Are you an American or a Muslim? Are you American or Arab? Are you Christian or white? Are you Jewish or American? 

Ingrid Mattson IS wrong about Jews in Arab lands

Yes, Mattson is wrong about Jews in Arab lands.

Jews (and Christians) were always second-class citizens (or worse) in Muslim lands. They paid extra taxes, had to wear special badges (the "Jew" badge originated in Muslim lands, not in Nazi Germany -- and there was a "Christian" badge, too), they could not build new synagogues or worship openly, were not permitted to ride horses, etc., etc. This Muslim gentleman should study history, not repeat myths.

The violence against Jews, in British-mandate Palestine and elsewhere in Arab lands, started long before Israel became a state in 1948. Again, examine history: There were Muslim riots against Jews in the 1920s and '30s, and many Jews were killed and injured while the British stood by and did nothing. In WWII, the Arabs sided with Hitler (the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem visited Hitler in Berlin), who gave them most of the anti-Jewish propaganda we hear today from Muslims. Jews were driven out of Arab lands during pogroms that also killed many of them, and robbed many of their property. Close to 1,000,000 Jews were dispossessed and had to flee to Israel. The Jewish communities in Iraq had been there for over 2,000 years, predating Islam by far. If you want to see proof, see the DVD "The Forgotten Refugees," that features film clips of the anti-Jewish riots in places like Baghdad.

As for this man's accusations against American Jews: total lies. Jews have been in America since the 1600s. Jewish-Americans are no less loyal than Italian-Americans or Irish-Americans. Jews have fought for America in every war, and have integrated into American society. We are not "Jews first"; we are Jewish Americans.

I'm sure this Muslim gentleman doesn't like to hear others say that Muslims are Muslims first, and then Americans, only loyal to the "worldwide umma," and wanting to promote one Islamic state throughout the whole world. If he doesn't like to hear people say this about Muslims, he should stop spreading similar lies against Jews. If he generates hatred toward any group, it will come back to him and his own.

Professor Mattson was NOT wrong and the facts support her

Professor Mattson was NOT wrong and the facts support her. Watch the PBS documentary ‘Islam, empire of faith” and you will hear a long line of western professors from the US and Europe corroborating her position. Professors that studied history and have no axe to grind; unlike you Mr. or Ms. “Anonymous.” You don’t even have the courage to use your name? Like the heading to your entry declares (not verified) – your entire premise is faulty and your basis weak, You are counting on the sad fact that unfortunately the majority of Americans are completely ignorant of world history and are self absorbed which makes them an easy target for peddlers of half truths.

You allege the Muslims invented the “Jew” badge? Care to prove said claim? How about offering a single legitimate source to back such an outlandish claim? What’s next, it was Muslims that gave the Nazi’s the idea to incinerate their unsuspecting victims? Don’t you think AIPAC would have splattered such a claim all over the newspapers and TV, even if your claim had an ounce of truth to it (not that ever stopped AIPAC in the past)?

Yes, there were riots in the 1920a and 1930s in British occupied Palestine and that was not because of any anti-Jewish sentiment per say, but because in 1917 the British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour declared that at the conclusion of WWI, a Jewish homeland would be created in Palestine and right afterwards ship loads of Eastern European Jews began to flood Palestine. What would you do if a foreign occupier began giving your country away to other foreigners? Stand by and watch?

A lot of people far more notable than this clergy you name traveled to Berlin and met with the German chancellor. Did they all learn their anti-Jewish sentiment from him also? British Prime minister Neville Chamberlain met with him several times, are we to conclude from your warped logic that he was anti-Jewish as well?

Pogroms NEVER occurred on ANY Arab land. As the Russian roots of the word indicate, they happened mainly in Russia and other European countries. The only incident that can be remotely considered happened in Granada, Spain. Don’t just take my word for it; Professor Bernard Lewis in his book The Jews of Islam Princeton University Press describes the massacre of Granada in1066 as a “rare occurrence in Islamic history.” Whom shall we believe, you “Anonymous – not verified” or a Jewish authority on Islam and the Middle East?

Your reference to Baghdad has no relevance to your assertion, so why even bring it up? Inhabitants then were neither Arab nor Muslim.

As for the Muslim gentleman’s claim, I believe you completely missed his point. If you ask an Italian American or Irish American about their nationality, they will either say they are American, Irish or Italian, but they will never say they are Catholic. That is their faith, not nationality. Italy and Ireland are countries that exist.
The question remains, why is a Russian Jew not a Russian national? A French Jew not a French national? Why not stay in Russia and be proud of being Russian? Why must he or she go to Palestine and take on another invented nationality? Judaism, like Christianity and Islam is a religion not a nationality.

We Need to Start Over

Christian, Jewish and Muslim histories all have their moral peaks and valleys. If we study each tradition's history of injustice, what we find is deeply painful for us all. The followers of each religion have committed atrocities in the name of their God. We can finger-point until the cows come home. Will this end the violence? Will this create peace?

I believe that what is necessary for peace is for us to start over, to build relationships with one another. We need to strive to see each other the way God sees us - all of us, God's children. This is demanding, internal work on our part. But if we believe that our God is a God of love -- how can we respond any differently?

Marie Ferrantino

I believe that the comments

I believe that the comments are "apples and oranges". As individual believers Jews, Christians and Muslims can work to live in peace with each other. However, Islam is not only a creed of belief, it is a political system that does not recognize or value tolerance. Non-believers are not equal to Muslims and Muslim states do not tolerate religious activity, including worship and evangelizing, by non-Muslim faiths. Unless and until Muslims can give up the idea of a Muslim political state and are willing to accept that all believers of whatever religion can and should be allowed to openly worship in their own way, including seeking new members, true peaceful co-existence will not happen. As part of this relinquishment of the idea of an Islamic empire, the Muslim political states must recognize the existence of Israel as a political reality.
While I applaud the idealism of many individual Muslims who hope for peace and recognize the similiarities with other believers, I am not at all optimistic that political Islam will ever willingly peacefully co-exist with Israel and the rest of the non-Muslim world.

Israel is not Jewish

As an American who is Jewish: All of the Abrahamic faiths equally have difficulties grappling with secularism and co-existence with other faiths. At the same time, historically and empirically, both Christians and Muslims have demonstrated the ability to run a tolerant government and politics from a religious place. Furthermore, we should not judge any of these 3 faiths by the condition of Israel. As a Jewish American, I think that it is we Americans, of all religions, who should be unwilling to tolerate genocide. Murder is murder, but one cannot deny that Israel is useing tanks where Palestinians are using rocks. Injustice cannot leave ones victims without anger. Palestinians have as much right to be angry at Israel as the Jews have towards Nazi Germany.