Christian-Muslim Network Hosts Inaugural Conference

The School of Divinity, through a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation, recently established a new Christian-Muslim Studies Network to enhance scholarly and public discourse on Christian-Muslim relations. Joshua Ralston tells us about the conference.

In September, the inaugural academic conference of the Network drew scholars from five continents to the University of Edinburgh School of Divinity for three days of dialogue, debate, and collaboration. More than 60 academics and faith leaders from over 15 different countries assembled in Martin Hall to explore the most pertinent issues in the field of Christian-Muslim studies and to consider new avenues for theological, political, and philosophical research and scholarship. 

'Drawing together intellectuals and faith leaders from both traditions sharpened the discussion in both formal and informal conference discussion', said Dr Joshua Ralston, director of the Christian-Muslim Studies Network and a lecturer in Christian-Muslim Relations at the School of Divinity. 'Challenging the current debate, making encounters more nuanced and contextually aware- this is what the Christian-Muslim Studies Network continues to aim for.’

The conference title, 'Reframing Christian-Muslim Encounter: Theological and Philosophical Perspectives', highlighted this aim. The scholars were encouraged to consider new frameworks for debate or new approaches to old questions and themes, rather than bring papers with well-tested theories. The aim was to challenge the norms of engagement among Christianity and Islam and yield more fruitful encounter and also emerging paradigms of exchange..  

The initial 'call to papers' yielded a larger collection of papers than expected, a sign that global interest continues in the growing field of Christian-Muslim studies.'There is an increasing hunger for approaches to this field that are academically critical but still sensitive to the concerns of their respective faith traditions', said Prof Mona Siddiqui, co-founder of the Network and Professor of Islamic and Interreligious Studies and Dean International for the Middle East. 'The September conference gathered a wealth of scholarship ready to explore these new approaches. 

The Christian-Muslim Studies Network is now looking ahead to its second annual conference, which is set for Beirut, Lebanon in September 2018. The theme is 'Political Theology in Christian-Muslim relations.'