ERBIL: In order to overcome the murderous madness of the Islamic State, which has covered with blood a land already brutalised by years of wars and violence, it is necessary to start with “a plan of dialogue and outreach at the local level”, involving first of all children and young people, the new generations, “who will be tasked with building life together” beyond their respective religions.
Starting from such premises, Fr Samir Youssef, pastor of the diocese of Amadiya (Iraqi Kurdistan) who has long been on the frontline of the refugee emergency, is promoting a project to transform “young Muslims, Christians and Yazidis” into “seeds of dialogue ” to breathe new life into Mosul, the Nineveh plain, and Iraq as a whole.
Speaking to AsiaNews, the priest mentioned an initiative that is in its initial stage, but one that has already garnered “the enthusiastic participation” of some thirty of…
Humphrey Fisher is not the first link between the Welsh borders and Islam! The fantastic Muslim Museum Initiative includes a coin that King Offa had minted with an Arabic inscription. Fascinating how the contact goes back so far: http://muslimmuseum.org.uk/king-offas-dinar/
Offa’s dyke runs through Newchurch, where Humphrey lives, and he has walked many sections of the Offa’s Dyke Path, little realising the connection with his academic work on Islamic history!
Indeed another section on the website shows the Celtic cross with Islamic inscription, physical evidence of the long-thought of links between the Celtic and Arabic worlds.
Here is the text on the MMI website, courtesy of the British Museum where the coin is held.
In 773-774 King Offa of Mercia minted a coin that imitated a dinar. It bears the shahadah (Islamic declaration of faith). It is on display at the British Museum.
An Islamic inscription on an English coin
This unique gold coin of Offa, king of Mercia, is one of the most remarkable English coins of the Middle Ages. It is remarkable because it imitates a gold dinar of the caliph al-Mansur, ruler of the Islamic Abbasid dynasty. Although the Arabic inscription is not copied perfectly, it is close enough that it is clear that the original from which it was copied was struck in the Islamic year AH 157 (AD 773-74). It seems that the engraver had no understanding of the Arabic script: the name and title OFFA REX has been inserted upside down in relation to the Arabic inscription.
The purpose of the coin is uncertain. It has been suggested that it was made as a gift for the pope (it was first recorded in Rome), but it is unlikely that any Christian king would have sent the pope a coin with and inscription stating that ‘there is no God but Allah alone’, however badly the Arabic had been copied. It is more likely that it was designed for use in trade; Islamic gold dinars were the most important coinage in the Mediterranean at the time. Offa’s coin looked enough like the original that it would be readily accepted in southern Europe, while at the same time his own name was clearly visible.
Top Muslim and Christian clerics from the Middle East gathered in Cairo on Tuesday for a two-day conference on promoting co-existence, as sectarian conflict continues to ravage the region. The “Freedom and Citizenship” conference is hosted by Al-Azhar, one of the leading Sunni Muslim authorities based in Cairo. It comes as Coptic Christians in Egypt’s […]
When the Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump stated in December 2015 that the United States should close its borders to all Muslims, the reaction from American Christian leaders was admirably swift. Mainline Protestant clergy, prominent evangelicals, and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops all lambasted it. “Anyone who cares an iota about religious liberty should […]
That Man to Man, the world o’er, Shall brothers be for a’ that.
writing at the same time as the French revolution, 10 years before the setting of ‘War and Peace’ currently showing on the BBC. and 10 years after Schiller’s poem Ode to Joy spoke of the brotherhood and unity of all mankind
Written large in the hearts of the Scottish diaspora, sentiments such as
Here’s a health to them that’s awa’, … May tyrants and tyranny tine in the mist… ‘There’s nae ever fear’d that the truth would be hear’d, But they the truth would indite
became associated with Scotland all round the world, not least in the hearts of the Fisher and Gibson descendants of the couple who left for New Zealand straight after their wedding went to New Zealand later that century, and proudly remembered their Scottish roots. Allan Fisher, Humphrey’s father, could wax lyrical about the contribution of the Scots to New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, as in this letter from his colleague H J Paton in 1968:
It would be intriguing to know exactly what Allan wrote in his own account, which must have been part of a letter commenting on Paton’s book ‘The Claim of Scotland’.
The picture of linked hands above is from a booklet found in the Fisher family archives. Many of its sentiments are typical in showing how the Scots viewed their role in the world. From the foreword: ‘As Lord Provost of this city in wartime, [the book is to] bring together, permanently, those men and women of many nations who throng the streets of this ancient Capital … may it help forward the greater cause of friendship among all Cities and all the Peoples of the World’.
The choice of languages to translate into, and the translations into Russian and Polish from the W.V.S. Allies Information Bureau, give an interesting insight those nations most represented in Edinburgh in WWII.
Today we still yearn for the ‘greater cause of friendship among all Cities and all the Peoples of the World’.
Understanding the present from the past and creating hope for the future – may Humphrey’s friend Dr Kenneth Cragg’s dream of bringing Muslims and Christians together at the deepest level of their contrasting faith journeys come true this year.
The Rev. Dr. Kenneth Cragg, who passed away in November of 2012, dedicated his long career to bringing Muslims and Christians together at the deepest level of their contrasting faith journeys. The article linked below is an interview he did in 1999 which should be read by all wanting to understand the foundations of the current crisis in Muslim- Christian relations as well as positive ways forward.
You’ve said that Christians and Muslims should be trying to work for religious ecumenism. What does ecumenism look like from a Muslim perspective?
It depends on which Muslim you ask, of course, as it would depend on which Christian you asked. The word ecumenae means the whole inhabited world. But we seem to have limited it to Christian togetherness, to Christian mutuality. Couldn’t we have an ecumenae of religions?
The ecumenical movement has adopted the position that “whatever is Christian I will try…