If Christians and Muslims are to live in peace, encouraging one another to grow in holiness and working together for the good of all God's creation, they must move beyond politicized and often negative images of one another. Monastic/Muslim dialogue-issuing from friendship and focused on revelation, prayer, and witness-is an important component in this effort. Indeed, it is essential.
Monastic Interreligious Dialogue is a commission of the Benedictine Confederation that promotes and coordinates dialogue between Catholic monastic men and women and spiritual practitioners of other religious traditions. The organization invited Iranian Shi'a Muslims and Christian monastics to share their faith in a revealing God, their understanding and practice of prayer, and their desire to be witnesses to the world of divine mercy and justice. This book invites readers to listen in and learn from their conversation.
If Christians and Muslims are to live in peace, encouraging one another to grow in holiness and working together for the good of all God's creation, they must move beyond politicized and often negative images of one another. Monastic/Muslim dialogue issuing from friendship and focused on revelation, prayer, and witness is an important component in this effort. Indeed, it is essential.
A conference jointly sponsored by the International Institute for Islamic Studies and Monastic Interreligious Dialogue brought together Iranian Shi‘a Muslims and Christian monastics to Qum, Iran. Their first gathering was held a year previous in Rome, Italy and focused on spiritual topics like meditation and prayer. The second meeting in Qum was an occasion to deepen the bonds of friendship that had already been established. The conference theme centered on friendship and the dialogue explored the scriptural, theological, spiritual, philosophical, and practical bases for friendship between monks and Muslims. This follow up book invites readers to listen in and learn from their conversation and witness.
If interreligious dialogue is to bear fruit—the fruit of mutual understanding, respect, and peace—needs to be rooted in the specific spiritual space or milieu of each religious tradition. For Christians, that milieu is "Jesus space," a space shaped by faith in the paschal mysteries and nurtured by prayer, study, and love. With Jesus space as his starting point Benoît Standaert invites us to join him as he visits different religious spaces—those of Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and agnostics. If we are willing to enter into and even dwell for a time in another spiritual space, we will be able to return to the space we call home, enriched by the gifts we have received and prepared to live in peace with those who dwell in a spiritual space that is very different from our own.
Benoît Standaert is a Benedictine monk of Saint Andrew's Abbey in Bruges, Belgium. He teaches Scripture, spirituality, and interreligious dialogue. After completing a doctorate at the University of Nijmegen on the composition and literary genre of the Gospel of Mark, he published numerous works on Scripture and spirituality in Dutch, several of which have been translated into French and Italian. His most recent work (2007 Dutch; 2009 French) is on spirituality as the art of living and contains numerous references to different practices of the spiritual life.
Saint John the Little was a monk and hegumen of Scetis (Wadi Natrun) during the first great period of early Egyptian monasticism. The Apophthegmata preserve some fifty sayings by or about him (see CS 59, 85 '96). In addition, Zacharias, eighth-century Bishop of Sakha, wrote his Life, more than seventy percent of which is composed of material not found in the Apophthegmata. John bears witness to the formative period of early Egyptian monasticism. His Life, with its emphasis on obedience and compassion, offers a lively witness to the earliest monastic traditions and to their transmission and continuing importance in the Coptic Church.
This book contains an introduction to the textual history of the Life of Saint John the Little (339 '409) along with fresh English translations of the Bohairic and the Syriac Lifes of John the Little plus the definitive Bohairc Life in the Coptic text. It will be of interest particularly to academics, monastics, and others interested in monasticism, early Christian monasticism, early Church History, the Coptic Church, or monastic spirituality.
Tim Vivian is associate professor of religious studies at California State University, Bakersfield. He is the author of numerous books and articles on early Christian monasticism, including The Life of Antony (with Apostolos N. Athanassakis), CS202, and Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers, CS225, both published by Cistercian Publications.
Rowan Greer is the Walter Gray Professor Emeritus of Anglican Studies at Yale Divinity School. His scholarly work has been primarily in patristics. Retired since 1997, he lives in New Haven, Connecticut.
Maged S. A. Mikhal is assistant professor of history at California State University, Fullerton. His publications and research focus on the history of Egypt during the early Islamic period.
Christian de Chergé, prior of the Cistercian community at Tibhirine, Algeria, was assassinated with six of his fellow monks in 1996. De Chergé saw his monastic vocation as a call to be a person of prayer among persons who pray, that is, among the Muslim friends and neighbors with whom he and his brothers shared daily life. De Chergé's writings bear witness to an original thinker who insists on the value of interreligious dialogue for a more intelligent grasp of one's own faith.
Christian Salenson shows us the personal, ecclesial, and theological foundations of de Chergé's vocation and the originality of his life and thought. He shows how the experience of a small monastery lost in the Atlas Mountains of Algeria contributes importantly to today's theological debates.