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Religion and Society

Towards a Reading of the Koran

The Theological Faculty of Sicily May 2005

The principal question that guided the first conference, which had the title Towards a Christian Discernment of Islam. Historical Recognition and Theological Perspectives, was the development of a scholarly approach to Islam, between discernment and theology, that is to say the possibility of knowing and reflecting beginning with the horizon of the Christian faith in relation to another religion, its doctrine, its experiences and everything that concerns it. Knowledge about the religion of Islam has experienced within the Christian tradition different historical stages, from its first definition as a heresy, with an initial apologetic function, to the move to its definition as a religion, a move that makes possible the pathway of inter-religious dialogue. Given that only an adequate process of discernment can allow a religion to be the subject of theology, emphasis was laid on the risk that exists in the use of the Gospel as a criterion for the reading of the Koran and thus on re-reading Islam in line with a forced Christian re-reading, such as is to be found in the thesis of Basetti-Sani, according to which Islam is nothing else but the blessing bestowed on Ishmael by God as requested by Abraham. However this des not mean, as was emphasised at the end of the conference, that in developing a scholarly methodology involving the study of Islam and theology that one cannot accept the concrete value of the anthropological-religious instrument of the event of Christ, in the understanding of, and dialogue with, other religions as well.

 

The second conference, which had the title Ethics, Justice and Law. The Islamic Perspective and the Christian Perspective, which began with the observation that in the Islamic perspective justice is understood as the application of the rules established by God, brought out a difficulty in addressing the subject of human rights in Islam. The Christian vision, although it, too, identifies the quality of justice with the being and action of God, communicates this quality to man by bestowing him with autonomy and freedom. The role of the conception and the use of reason also presents itself in this sphere, a sphere that is crucial for developments in the process of mutual understanding and interpretation between two religions.

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