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Hans Kessler

Trialogue between Jews, Christians and Muslims

Considerations from a Christian Viewpoint

German Version

 

From: Stimmen der Zeit, 2005/3, p. 171-182
webmaster's own, not authorized translation

 

There is almost no trilateral dialogue between Jews, Christians and Muslims {1}. The headword dialogue is admittedly in great demand. And there is no doubt: As long as people talk to each other they are not at war. That is why there is no sensible alternative to dialogue. Many dialogues, especially between Christians and Muslims are of course fruitless sham dialogues in which every request for tolerance is gratefully applauded by the public, but every touching at things that are difficult and have still to be clarified triggers disgust and resistance. Sham dialogues help little to a conciliatory living together in the midst of the actual conflicts. They must be replaced by open, honest and fair dialogues in which we expect from each other to name apart from the agreeable and beautiful things also the strange and conflicting, and earnestly search together, if necessary also argue with each other but then in mutual respect.

 

Preconditions and Approaches

A meeting, a dialogue takes place among concrete people who belong to different religions; and there are marvellous people in all religions. Religions are not homogeneous in themselves but complex mixtures with an inner plurality: with various dimensions and different directions, with a great span from their core and its ideal realization in convincing models up to often reduced or even perverted forms in practice and teaching. No representative of a religion simply represents his religion in its entirety. There will always be trends in it which emphasize other things, and which, here and there, would also contradict him.

Religions nevertheless have a unifying, 'stereotyping' effect on the way of life {2}, the thinking, feeling, and ethical judgment of their followers. They create a feeling of solidarity and identity. In Judaism, Christianity and Islam the reference to the respective canon of Holy Scriptures has the task inwardly to support the unifying loyalty and outwardly to mark the boundaries and differences. The connection between the canon and its task to constitute identity brings about that every practical or verbal action which deviates from the canonical foundation

 


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meets the reservation of an always possible fundamental critique. 'Where a canon rules, only that sense can claim validity that can be imparted by the text of the canon' {3}. That is the reason why the discussion about possible hermeneutical approaches to the text of the Holy Scriptures is so fundamental.

An honest dialogue - i.e. a dialogue that does not want only to strengthen one's own position by strategic and tactical means - is impossible if somebody starts it with the claim he - and only he - was in possession of God's entire truth. On the contrary, whoever takes part in a dialogue has to strive for the always greater truth of God, and has therefore to remain open to the possible truth of the other person, i.e. to the fact that also his religion could be a place of genuine encounter with God and of right guidance.

On the other hand, only he who takes his religion seriously and therefore also tells the other one where and why he sees things differently is dialogue-worthy. He who is rooted in his own religion will from it, its centre and from the perspective of faith opened with it - make out the entire reality (also the other religion). But he must concede the same right also to the other one. Christians, for example, must not blame a Muslim or feel offended when he sees everything, including Christianity, from the Qur'an's point of view, even if he cannot follow him in many things.

Christians must no longer tell Jews, Muslims not Jews and Christians how their religion was to be understood. He who is not ready to detect the other religion as different and to see its inner logic will never be able to do it justice and to enter into a real dialogue. Everyone must therefore be able himself to explain his own religion from its inside. Then also queries from outside must be allowed to be directed to every religion.

The aim is not conversion or a 'standard' religion or agreement on the smallest common denominator but mutual enlightenment, openness to each other, communication in order to promote justice, freedom and a peaceful living together for all people on this earth.

 

The Heavy Burden of History

The three monotheistic religions have often rather lived against each other than with one another. Two of them have disputed each other's right to the world, and partly have been doing it until today.

Christians and Jews: There are already anti-Semitic passages in the New Testament {4}. They result from the actual, not intended separation of early Christian communities from Judaism as well as from the Jewish rejection of the Christian preaching,

 


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which partly also led to synagogue punishments, persecution and - for the sake of maintaining the Jewish identity - finally to the expulsion of Jewish Christians from Judaism (cf. Jn 16,2). From there the often hard words against the Jews in St John's gospel (e.g. Jn 8,44) can be understood, which came from bitter disappointment but (were) still represented an inner-Jewish family conflict {5}.

From it something totally different emerged when Christians who before had been heathens or pagans simply repeated such words (which had a special historical 'Sitz im Leben') and thus used them on principle against Jews. Passages that originally had been critical of Inner-Jewish conflict partners became only now really anti-Jewish and established that fatal tradition of interpretation that denied Jews a true knowledge of God and led to almost 2000 years of Christian animosity against Jews, without which the Schoah would scarcely have been possible.

The historical guilt lies as a heavy burden upon us Christians. To know one's guilt and to confess it is not enough, as indispensable as it is. We are obliged to a real conversion, i.e. to acknowledge that the church is very closely related to the biblical Israel as its 'root' (Rom 11,16-18) and to the present Judaism; to review our thinking; to break with a populist-rhetorical Anti-Semitism; and to overcome basic attitudes and feelings which are discriminating and hostile.

Muslims, Jews and Christians: Muhammad first thought to preach the same as Jews and Christians. In 624 A.C. it came to a quarrel for the Jews in Medina did not follow him and accused him of not knowing their Bible and holding errors. As a result he conversely rejected their biblical stories as knowingly falsified (e.g. suras 2,75; 3,71.78; 4,46) and took forcible action against them after the battle near Uhud 625. Two Jewish tribes are driven away, from the third more than 600 men killed, the women and children enslaved (Suras 59,1-6; 33,25-27; 8,58 justifies it as God's deed) {6}. With the Christians of Nadjran (who then in the year 642 were converted by force or driven away by Omar) Muhammad concluded submission agreements {7} which become a pattern: Jews and Christians can be tolerated as 'charges' (dhimmi) with less, unequal rights, in case they submit and pay the poll-tax (Sura 9,29: Fight them "until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection; later the poll-tax for grown up free men was regulated by paying money, about ten per cent of the annual income).

A history full of clichés of the enemy, of hatred and violence follows {8}: first the stormy military conquest and an Islamization, not free of compulsion, of large, formerly Christian areas, later the counter-blow in cruel crusades and the reconquista, then, vice versa, the assault of the Mongols (Timur Lenk almost totally exterminated the fifty per cent Christians in Iraq/Iran) and of the Turks against Christians, then in the 19th century again in reverse the occupation by the colonial powers Great Britain and France, and today the humiliating hegemonic politics of the USA;

 


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conversely the re-politicization of Islam, extremism and proclamations seething with hatred to fight the 'disbelieving' West, which is often identified with Christianity in many Qur'an schools of a militant Islamist trend. And right in the middle there the almost hopeless Palestinian conflict, where the real recognition of the legitimate rights of both sides (a Jewish state as well as a Palestinian state) is still long in coming.

In between the good experiences with each other, which also exist, almost go under: the contacts of Charles the Great with Harun ar-Raschid of Bagdad (766-809), Francis and Saladin, Maimonides (1135-1204) and Ibn Ruschd (1126-1198) in Cordoba etc., the newer attempts of the churches and of the present pope, or in 2002 in Tübingen the award of the Catholic theological honorary doctor to the Jordan Prince El Hassan bin Talal for his beautiful book 'Christianity in the Arab World' {9}. But as long as Nasr Hamid Abu Zaid in Cairo for his historical interpretation of the Qur'an and others elsewhere are condemned as unbelieving, the Jordan prince is like a single swallow that does not 'make a summer' but all the same could be the harbinger of the coming summer.

 

Determinating Relationship

Jews can be Jews without Christians and Muslims. But Christians cannot be Christians without Jews: Jesus was a Jew, and the New Testament refers the Christians to the Jews and their Bible. The Christians have needed a long time to learn that. For centuries they accepted Judaism only as preparation for Christ, which was outdated and replaced by him as God's final revelation; they did not grant the right to life to Judaism which continued to exist. It has cost tens of thousands, finally millions of Jews tears, degradation and their lives until Christians began to accept: God's covenant with Israel is not cancelled {10}, not every expectation of the so-called Old Testament is fulfilled in Jesus; the Old Testament must not be read only with regard to Christ, it has its own value and a double continuation: New Testament and Talmud, Synagogue and Church. Today's Judaism is not our outdated early history but - what we can only say with shame, repentance and the plea for forgiveness - our sister religion and lasting companion on our way. For Jews do not criticize Jesus as the Christians' way to God, when other ways to God remain open.

Is a similar learning process thinkable for Muslims: Muslims not without Jews and Christians? According to the view of the Qur'an, the revelations of the Torah and of the Gospel by Moses and Jesus have been distorted by Jews and Christians (Sura 2, 75; 3, 71.78; 4, 46; 5, 13.41 etc.) Muhammad was therefore sent as 'seal of the prophets' (33, 40; according to 2,129; 61, 6; 7, 157; 17, 108 he has even been predicted by Abraham and Jesus). He received the revelation completely without his co-operation,

 


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so that the - later redacted - Qur'an is the 'genuine word of God' in purity, perfect, without inconsistency (Sura 2, 3; 4, 83; 10, 38; 17, 89). It cannot be analysed. The Qur'an understands Islam as 'the true, complete religion'; God 'will give the victory over all other religions' to it (in this way or similar 3, 19.10; 5, 3.54-56; 9, 33; 30, 30; 48, 28; 61, 8f.). Judaism and Christianity are only seen as prehistory and distortion of the Qur'an and are outdated with it. That's why you should also not read their books in order to avoid temptation. Jews and Christians can only be tolerated as people of inferior right.

The newer research about the origin of the Qur'an cannot be presented here {11}, with which most Muslims have still to concern themselves. Only the question may be asked: Must Muslims stick to that view of a verbally inspired Qur'an and to the accusation that Jews and Christians had falsified the biblical texts? Or is a different approach to the texts of the Qur'an possible? Why is it not allowed to inquire about the human conditions of the origin of the Qur'an {12}? Are the things written about Jews and Christians in the Qur'an conditioned by the situation or are they valid on principle?

The necessary co-operation (instead of fighting each other) of the three God-related religions in this cramped, conflict-full world demands the deepening of one's own faith, the conversion from superficial regulations to the spiritual core of our religions, so that we are able to give each other and the world the things which we owe it by God's will. What is that? I confine myself to a Christian perspective, and from it I'll deal with concrete questions.

 

What Does It Mean To Be a Christian?

In its belief in God the biblical Israel has gone through a painful learning process {13}: From polytheism to a principal monotheism (Dtn 4, 35b; 6, 4f. etc.), and from far too human ideas about God to the understanding that Yahweh is holy and totally different. Yahweh is just not in violence and with the victors, but with the suffering and victims; not patriarchal but equally saying 'Yes' to man and woman as His created 'image'; not retaliating but merciful; not asking for sacrifices but for justice and mercy; not nationalist but universal kindness that is awarded also to people of different faiths. 'God's mercy extends to all human beings' (Sir 18, 13; cf. Jes 19, 24f.; 42, 6; Am 9, 7; Ps 26, 6).

With it an arduous learning path (with many by-paths and relapses) is at stake: from the world of violence and exclusion into God's world of universal brother-sisterly love; each human being must anew go that path. Judaism does therefore not eliminate from its Holy Scriptures the texts about violence. It does not veil the mechanisms of violence but reveals them and develops from these texts readings which overcome violence {14}, what of course does not stop fanatics who are ready to violence from instrumentalizing those texts, but it at any rate disputes their right to do that and limits their milieu.

 


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Jesus announces the one and only God and with it remains within the frame-work of the Jewish possibility, but he brings into the learning process a new unambiguity behind which Christians often fall back. He realizes: A God who is kind and cruelly punishes can move our hearts to mercy but also justify religiously disguised violence. Jesus' own experience with God is different: He experiences and announces God as pure mercy, as unambiguous, absolutely unconditioned kindness and love for all (Mk 10, 18; Mt 7, 9-11 par; 20, 1-15; Lk 15). So he completely trusts in the holy God, and lets God's kindness come to himself and to others, also to impure and pagan people, to the adulteress whose self-righteous judges ashamed steal away (Jn 8, 2-11). He proclaims the open 'family of God' (Mk 3, 35), and presents to his listeners people of different faith as positive examples (the widow of Sarepta, the Ninivites, the merciful Samaritan etc.).

When people of different faith (the Syro-Phoenician woman, the Roman Captain) confidently approach him he helps them and does not demand that they become Christians. He does not only teach, he heals the sick and grants them new living possibilities; he does not humble other people but humbles himself for others. And he muses on the question how God's reconciliation and non-violent kindness can reach even those who reject it. He teaches and lives the positive interruption of the mechanics of retaliation, of hostility (Mt 5, 41; 7, 12; Lk 6, 27ff.) and exclusion, even when it costs himself exclusion and life. He practises non-violent, peaceful love for the enemy up to his self-sacrifice, by which he definitely becomes transparent towards the God who bestows his love on everyone and who raises from the dead and authorizes him.

The New Testament recognizes: Here the 'Word of God has become flesh/man' (not only sentence/book). Not only Jesus' words, his entire behaviour, his whole being tells about God. Christians read from Jesus' history and person: 'God is agape' {15} (1 Jn 4, 8.16; cf. 1, 5: 'darkness/hatred is not in him'). God has revealed his inmost being, and with it at the same time his clear will: Agape-love for all without exception. All may know they are loved by God, and thus enter into a different relationship to God, to themselves, to others.

If God is not only a lover who needs others to be able to love but the event of love as relation, then he is in himself dialogic. About that simple truth the often misunderstood doctrine of the Trinity stammers {16} (Father, Son/Word, Spirit/Breath; one and three; persons etc. are metaphors; they must not be changed into three figures imagined as objective, as if God physically had a child. Basilius: God is beyond all numbers'. Augustine: 'Persons in God' is no good expression, means nothing else but 'relations', the one God is therefore in himself rich in relations, not poor and in need of the world.). God is the infinitely extended happening of love/relation, in which is room for everyone and which wants to pulse through all beings (1 Cor 15,28).

 


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What Do Christians Owe the World?

From it a world view and a practice result. Agape is then the elemental force of the cosmos. 'God wants other beings as fellow lovers' (Duns Scotus) - everything leads to that aim. Agape wants to inspire all relationships and all doings (caritas forma virtutum). 'He who loves and does justice comes from God; he who does not love has not recognized God.' (1 Jn 4, 7; 3, 10).

Jesus connects love of God closely with love of one's neighbour and love of oneself, and his Jewish interlocutor agrees (Mk 12, 28-34; cf. Jn 3f.). Since God wants the salvation of all (1 Tim 2, 3f.) there is no short-cut relation to God without taking account of other people. That's why by the attachment to this God the love of our neighbour overcomes barriers: It intentionally applies to everybody, and extends up to the love of one's enemy (Lk 6, 27-36 par; 6, 35: 'For God is kind also to the ungrateful and wicked'; Rom 12, 14-21: 'Do not pay back evil with evil. If your enemy is hungry, feed him. Overcome evil by good.' {17}. Even when in the New Testament partly negative judgments of pagan religions are found (1 Tess 1, 9; 4, 5; 1 Cor 10, 20), nowhere it calls to kill human beings, not even enemies or people of different faith (ban on killing Ex 20, 13; Mk 10, 19; nobody is allowed to be God's executioner: Mt 7, 1-5 par; 13, 24-30). When Christians later killed, they could not refer to Jesus (and the New Testament) but betrayed him.

Only agape-love, which is open for everyone, will count at the end (Mt 25, 31-45). Its concrete form is found especially in mercy and justice for everybody, therefore also in self-control (one's own modesty) and in the daily small steps which bring an increase of kindness, friendliness, justice and a decrease of hatred. For Christians it must be about something quite simple and clear that does everybody good but that they often owe others.

 

Thoughts and Questions about a Possible Understanding

Jews, Christians and Muslims have as a common principle the faith in the one God, the creator of all beings. From that basis the basic attitude results primarily to recognize others as God's creatures. Meeting members of other religions is therefore primarily recognition of other people's existence. Respect for those who do not belong to 'us'. The one God is only 'my' and 'our' God when he can also be 'your' God and the God of all people. He aims at the affirmation of all human beings - without regard to origin, gender, religion (which nobody can choose) - and therefore at sensitivity to the suffering of others, at working for more justice for all people and for a global culture of acknowledgment of others in their difference (what implies resistance against everyone who denies anyone that recognition). Are we able to come to an understanding on that?

 


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And are we able to accept that the one God does not want to lose his own creatures (which would be a defeat for him), that he therefore looks after all people and wants to save them, and that He has more possibilities for it than we can know (e.g. his judging could therefore be a 'mending' of the perpetrators and a restoring of the victims)?

We men lack the inhibition to kill our own kind; our solidarity mostly does not reach beyond a limited circle - conditioned by family, nation, religion, sympathy (for example our mourning about killed Palestinian or Jewish children). Can we agree that every human being with its birth got from God the right to life which is inviolable for us? Can we contribute that in our religious communities a feeling of belonging together of all human beings and of our responsibility for all of them grows, that the harm done to a single human being affects me myself and calls for my engaged solidarity {18}?

Augustine has clear-sightedly remarked that everybody admittedly wants peace, but only that peace which he wants (De civitate Dei 19,12). Can we come to an understanding that only that peace has a future which also looks for the welfare of others - of members of other religions, opponents, enemies, etc. (Jer 29, 7: 'For his welfare is your welfare too.'), so that we for that reason see and strengthen the things which connect us and further a peace that can be wanted by all of us because it does everybody good? Sura 5, 48 calls upon us, 'Compete with each other to do good works!'

Each side tends to sue for justice only for itself. Why can we not demand justice for everybody and justice everywhere on the basis of equal rights (article 2 General Declaration of Human Rights, and article 1-3 GG), and not on that of inequality? How are we to understand no. 13 of the 'Islamic Charta' of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, 'unequally to handle unequal (beings? things?) {19}? Can Muslims who enjoy rights in this country also demand the same rights for non-Muslims in Muslim countries (without applying double standards)? Can we raise our voices together, not only when 'our people' but also when people of different religions are somewhere suppressed, persecuted or forcibly married? Can we - by Bread for the World, Misereor, Kurban - also support the poor of the respective other religion?

Primarily we have to further a peaceful and just living together in this country. To it the free exercise of religion belongs (regarding those things that in the respective religion are considered as absolutely necessary): as for example the sale of the Qur'an or the building of Mosques where enough Muslims are living. It is not acceptable to say, 'Building of mosques in this country is only possible when also churches for the 500.000 Christians in Saudi-Arabia can be built'. But can Muslims who live in Germany not make up their minds and stand up for the right to build synagogues or churches in Turkey and Saudi-Arabia and for the right to possess bibles- in Saudi-Arabia a grievous criminal offence up to now?

 


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In the past Christian preachers, even high authorities (Pope Urban II, Bernhard of Clairvaux, Martin Luther) partly called for crusades which caused incomprehensible cruelties for Jews and Muslims. Today all church administrations confess that those cruelties were profoundly unchristian offences. In Jerusalem and in Damascus Pope John Paul II apologized to Jews and Muslims by express confessions of guilt. When a Christian preacher today would preach hatred or even murder the Christians would protest and publicly accuse him. Where do Muslim authorities stand up and protest when in not a few Qur'an schools and Friday prayers hatred is preached and people are called upon to kill?

If I take it seriously that for Muslims the Qur'an and the example of Muhammad are the normative standard, and when I read all the many texts of violence in the Qur'an (cf. 47, 4: 'When you meet disbelievers cut off their heads, till you have done a butchery among them.'; 8, 17: 'Not you have slain them but Allah.'; cf. 2, 190-194 and 216f.; 8, 39; 9, 3-5.36; 48, 29; 66, 9 etc.), and when I read with early biographers such as Ibn Ishaq/Ibn Hisham and Ibn Saad about Muhammad's behaviour towards Jewish tribes {20}, then I am at a loss and ask my Muslim dialogue partner for help and explanation. It is not enough to say that those passages were totally differently meant or were to be understood as legitimate from Muhammad's situation. For militant Islamists use those texts to seduce idealistic young people. Therefore the urgent basic question: Where is the leading hermeneutics that will help to go beyond the time-bound letter of the Qur'an and its as regards content deeper sense of its revelation?

For a long time within Christian churches the Bible was regarded as verbally inspired. Meanwhile most Christians have learned that a lot in the Old and New Testament is due to the situation, that God's revelation consists not simply in the words and 'letters' but in the 'spirit' (cf. 2 Cor 3,6), the general intention of the message and the essential core of the biblical texts, its fundamental principle; that (as the Second Vatican Council declares in 1965 in its Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation no. 11 f.) the Holy Scriptures are not simply the revelation and the word of God, but 'the things revealed by God are contained in the Holy Scriptures' and 'God has spoken through human beings in the human way'. One has therefore 'carefully to investigate' the intention of its message and to hear the 'word of God in the human word' each time anew (by listening to the texts in their canonical context, by listening also to the things heard today and in the past by the other faithful).

Accordingly the question can be asked: Must Muslims also in future stick to it that the Qur'an is revealed word by word and is sacrosanct, that the 'revelation is found as God's genuine word in the Qur'an' {21}, whereas Jews and Christians distorted their Holy Scriptures? Or is a different interpretation of the Qur'an and of Islam possible by using reason (Ijtihad) and by uncovering the aim of the revelation which has been buried in the course of history (so Muhammad Abid al-Jabiri), as some reform-Muslims are striving for?

 


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Judaism respects the freedom of religion. Christianity had its difficulty with it - in spite of some positive voices - up to the twentieth century. Only in 1965 the Second Vatican Council brought the breakthrough with its Declaration on Religious Freedom. Since then the popes and other church leaders firmly stand up for it. Islam has up to now big problems: According to the classical Islamic law a Muslim who changes religion cannot refer to Sura 2, 256 ('In religion there is no coercion'). Apostasy leads to hell-fire punishment (2,217; 3,86-91 etc.). From 4, 88f. ('God holds you responsible when you enter into a sworn obligation' and do not keep it) and from sayings of the Prophet Islamic jurists deduce heavy penalties, up to death penalty for apostates {22}. That is practice in some Islamic countries until today. It is opposed now by the Central Council of Muslims in Germany in its Islamic Charta (2002). The council accepts the basic law, 'also the right to change religion, to have a different religion, or to have no religion at all' (no. 11). Is that the beginning of a change? Does it also apply when Muslims are in the majority?

Christians and Muslims understand their religions as universal. In the past Christians often thought that the whole world had to become Christian. Today the churches understand their mission differently: as service and as invitation, without compulsion or the desire to drive away other religions. The Qur'an (3, 19.110; 5, 3; 9, 33; 30, 30; 48, 28; 61, 8f.) sees Islam as 'the true religion', which by God's help will 'gain the victory over all other religions'; and still today Islamic authorities propagate the duty to fight until the entire mankind either will join Islam or will submit to its rule {23}. Can we hope for a process of change? And how can we support it?

In 'open societies' there are apart from achievements (the unalienable, equal dignity of every human being, the democratic constitutional state with its separation of powers, the chance of everybody's participation etc.) also alarming excesses (materialism, loss of solidarity, disintegration of families, pornography etc.) which are not the result of Christianity but the result of its expulsion and which also in an Islamic country that admitted an open society could scarcely be prevented. Out of our religions we should by a deepened spirituality and a practice of solidarity strive together to 'overcome evil by good' (Rom 12, 21; likewise Micha 6, 8 or sura 41, 34).

Jews and Christians have anew to determine for themselves the question of Muhammad's prophethood and of the quality of the Qur'an's revelation {24}, Muslims the question of the importance of Jesus and Moses and of the quality of the revelation of the Old and New Testament for Muslims.

 


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Notes

{1} Enlarged version of a text that was presented in Düsseldorf at a Jewish-Christian-Muslim Trialog between Micha Brumlik, Nadeem Elyas and the author.

{2} M. Weber, Wirtschaft u. Gesellschaft (Tübingen 51976) 249.

{3} A. u. J. Assmann, Kanon und Zensur. Archäologie der literarischen Kommunikation II (München 1987) 14.

{4} Cf. F. Hahn, Die Verwurzlung des Christentums im Judentum. Exegetische Beiträge zum christlich-jüdischen Gespräch (Neukirchen 1996) especially 1-54; further C. Thoma, Das Messiasprojekt. Theologie jüdisch-christlicher Begegnung (Augsburg 1994).

{5} Cf. e.g. K. Wengst, Das Johannesevangelium I (Stuttgart 2000) to those passages.

{6} The reference to those facts triggered disbelieving refusal by the Muslims present at the in note 1 named conference. But the Qur'an and the earliest Muhammad biographies tell of it in detail: cf. Ibn Ishaq (died 768), Das Leben des Propheten (Kandern 1999) 160-181 (= chapters 47-51); cf. further the investigation of J. Bouman, Der Koran und die Juden. Die Geschichte einer Tragödie (Darmstadt 1990).

{7} Cf. W. Schmucker, Die christliche Minderheit von Nagran u. die Problematik ihrer Beziehung zum frühen Islam (Bonn 1973); G. Riße, 'Gott ist Christus, der Sohn der Maria'. Eine Studie zum Christusbild im Koran (Bonn 1989) 63-82.

{8} Cf. B. Tibi, Kreuzzug u. Djihad. Der Islam u. die christliche Welt (München 2001).

{9} El Hassan bin Talal, Christianity in the Arab World (New York 1995/1998). For it the texts on the occasion of this honorary promotion: ThQ 181, issue 2 (2001). - On the other hand the disillusioning investigation of Bat Ye'or, Der Niedergang des orientalischen Christentums unter dem Islam. 7.-20. Jahrhundert (Gräfelfing 2002).

{10} See: Der ungekündigte Bund? Antworten des Neuen Testaments, edited by H. Frankemölle (Freiburg 1998), there especially Chana Safrai, Bund der Rischonim u. Bund für die Goyim, 64-77 and H. Vorgrimler, Der ungekündigte Bund, 232-247.

{11} Its state is summed up by K.-H. Ohlig, Weltreligion Islam (Mainz 2000) especially 42-92; cf. further Ch. Luxemberg, Die Syro-aramäische Lesart des Koran. Ein Beitrag zur Entschlüsselung der Koransprache (Berlin 2000).

{12} About Islamic Qur'an interpretors: H. Gätje, Koran und Koranexegese (Zürich 1971); H. Goldziher; Die Richtungen der islamischen Koranauslegung (Leiden 1952); J. M. S. Baljon, Modern Muslim Koran Interpretation (1880-1960) (Leiden 1961); J.J. G. Jansen, The Interpretation of the Koran in Modern Egypt (Leiden 1974). - About the problems: R. Wielandt, Wurzeln der Schwierigkeit innerislamischen Gesprächs über neue hermeneutische Zugänge zum Korantext, in: The Qur'an as Text, edited by St. Wild (Leiden 1996) 257-282; N. H. Abu Zaid, Islam u. Politik. Kritik des religiösen Diskurses (Frankfurt 1996)

{13} More details to it H. Kessler, Was macht Religion pluralismusfähig (u. authentisch)?, in: Der eine Gott u. die Welt der Religionen, edited by M. Witte (Würzburg 2003) 277-315; especially 279ff.

{14} See G. Stemberger, Midrasch. Vom Umgang der Rabbinen mit der Bibel (München 1989); from a different cultural-theoretical perspective: R. Girard, Das Ende der Gewalt (Freiburg 1983).

{15} The German word 'Liebe' is ambiguous and could be misunderstood. The Greek language can distinguish between philía (=friendship), storgé (=family love), eros (=enraptured, craving love which is longing for uniting) and agape (=which is not based on feeling, sympathy, usefulness but does good, and says yes to the other person even when it cannot say yes to his/her convictions or deeds.) Agape does not want to eliminate the other forms of love but to inspire them (also sexus, Latin), and actually every doing. From those various forms of love in the New Testament only agape is applied to God: cf. to it K. Stock, Gottes wahre Liebe (Tübingen 2000); O. Meuffels, Theologie der Liebe in postmoderner Zeit (Würzburg 2001).

 


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{16} See H. Kessler, 'Schweigen müssen wir oft; es fehlen heilige Namen' (Hölderlin). Zur Hermeneutik trinitarischer Rede, in: Heute von Gott reden; editd by J. Beutler and E. Kunz (Würzburg 1998) 97-124; The same, Trinität in interreligiöser Perspektive, in: Gottesdenken in interreligiöser Perspektive. Raimon Panikkars Trinitätstheologie in der Diskussion, edited by B. Nitsche (Frankfurt 2004). - The leprosy physician and nun Ruth Pfau to a befriended Secretary of Pakistan, a Sufi-Muslim: 'If God has not only love but is love, and if love is of necessity not self-related but dialogic, then a dialogue must exist in God himself.' Then the Sufi-Muslim, 'Say it again!': R. Pfau, Verrückter kann man gar nicht leben (Freiburg 1995) 163.

{17} If Christians take Christ's radical renunciation of violence seriously, they have really problems to justify self-defence - particularly with weapons (the natural survival instinct will surely take care that it is carried out).

{18} In I. Kant, Metaphysik der Sitten, A 136 a strong sentence is found, 'I am a human being. Everthing that happens to human beings concerns me too.'

{19} The Central Council of the Muslims in Germany inc., which represents less than five percent of the Muslims in Germany, has published on 20 February 2002 an 'Islamic Charta' to tell the German majority 'how Muslims think of the foundations of this constitutional state' (preface). - To the cited no. 13: 'Does here the traditional interpretation come through, that is held by most jurists until today, that there are differences wanted by God between Muslims (of higher rank and right) and non-Muslims (at best dhimmi with restricted rights, without equality before the law, and with the duty to pay poll-tax)? Because of that view the article 2 (equal rights of all human beings) of the General Declaration of Human Rights of the UN from 1948 has not been accepted by the Islamic states. Instead of it the Islam Council for Europe has presented a declaration of its own. Cf. M. Forstner, Inhalt u. Begründung der Allgemeinen Islamischen Menschenrechtserklärung, in: Begründung von Menschenrechten aus der Sicht unterschiedlicher Kulturen, edited by J. Hoffmann (Frankfurt 1991) 249-273.

{20} Detailed: Kessler (note 13) 295-300. Cf. also the precise representation of R. Wielandt, Dschihad: Krieg um des Glaubens willen? Grundlagen u. neuere Entwicklungen der Anschauungen zum Dschihad im Islam, in Una Sancta 57 (2002) 114-121.

{21} Islamic Charta no. 3. Is the phrasing that the revelation is be found in the Qur'an (and not that the Qur'an is the revelation), the attempt to differentiate?

{22} See: Handbuch Recht u. Kultur des Islams in der deutschen Gesellschaft, edited by A. Th. Khoury and others (Gütersloh 2000) 72f.

{23} D. Marshall, God, Muhammad and the Unbelievers. A Qur'anic Study (Richmond 1999) sees in the Qur'an itself an inner logic of the transition from the model Mecca (minority, humiliation) to the destination model Medina (majority, victory/triumph).

{24} See Ch. Troll, Der Islam im Verständnis der katholischen Theologie. Überblick und neuere Ansätze, in: CIBEDO-Beiträge 13 (1999) 92-100. - Against disdain or damnation the Second Vatican Council has underlined the common elements (LG 16; NA 3), but without regarding Muhammed as prophet and the Qur'an as the word of God. We can go further and can see Muhammad as a prophet but not as the prophet or as 'the seal of the prophets', for this would implicate that the Old Testament and the New Testament were falsified and had to be corrected in the sense of the Qur'an. Christians can therefore also not regard the Qur'an as the word of God, but they can regard all those things as coming from God (word of God) in the Qur'an that go together with agape, i.e. with God's love revealed in Jesus as absolutely embracing all people (criterion: ubi caritas, ibi deus). But everything (in the Qur'an and in the Bible!) contradicting that love has critically to be questionned by them.

 

Link to 'Public Con-Spiracy for-with-of the Poor'

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