Dialogue in Islam Course

What is it

  • A four-session course exploring the theological and historical justification for dialogue in Islam.
  • Accessible to Muslims and non-Muslims, the course content is interactive and follows a question and answer format ensuring a lively and to-the-point format.
  • The course demonstrates the case for interfaith and intercultural dialogue in Islam through reference to scripture, Sunnah and Islamic interpretive methodology. It directly address elements of Islamic sources and traditional interpretation which are sometimes taken as contradicting the case for dialogue and even exploited by violent extremists.

Course objectives

  • To give a clear, accessible and Islamically sound introduction to what the Qur’an and Sunnah have to say about dialogue and intercultural/interfaith relations.
  • To demonstrate how Islamic interpretive methodology refutes divisive and extremist misinterpretations of contentious passages in the Islamic sources, giving participants confidence to reject and challenge those misinterpretations on a sound Islamic basis.
  • To offer an Islamically-anchored positive and proactive narrative.
  • To demonstrate that good intercultural and interfaith relations and dialogue are integral to the religion of Islam.
    • Learning objectives

      By the end of the course, participants will be able to

      • Identify the core theological issues in relation to Muslim engagement with the ‘other’.
      • Deconstruct the arguments made for and against dialogue in Islam
      • Understand the foundational case for dialogue in Islam.
      • Understand the interpretive methodology that necessitates dialogue in Islam.

      Method

      • A four-session course. Each session consists of two 45minute lessons.
      • The lesson objectives are explained at the beginning of each lesson with questions and comments encouraged from participants.

      Target audience

      • Young British Muslims
      • Muslim community leaders and organisations in a position to provide advice and guidance to ordinary Muslims.
      • Mosques, Muslim community centres, youth clubs, schools and other outlets with a significant number of Muslim beneficiaries
      • Non-Muslims, including social workers, teachers, council members, liaison officers, academics and relevant stakeholders and policy makers who wish to understand more about what the Islamic sources say about intercultural/interfaith relations, diversity and dialogue.

      COURSE OUTLINE

      Session 1: The Qur’anic Basis for Dialogue

      Questions to be explored:

      • What does the Qur’an say about dialogue?
      • Which verses command dialogue with non-Muslims generally?
      • How should we understand the Qur’anic verses which seem to warn against trusting Jews and Christians?
      • How should we understand the verses in the Qur’an which command war against unbelievers, such as “Kill them wherever you encounter them” (Al-Baqara, 2:191)?
      • Is the legal maxim pacta sunt servanda (agreements must be kept) binding in relations with non-Muslims?
      • ‘And fight them until there is no more persecution (fitna)….’ (al-Baqara, 2:193). Does this verse not see unbelief as a cause of war?
      • From a Qur’anic perspective, is relationship with non-Muslims normally based on war or peace?
      • Do the verses on war in the Qur’an abrogate the verses on peace?

      Session 2: The Prophetic Basis for Dialogue

      Questions to be explored:

      • What are the main features of the Prophet’s (pbuh) relationship with the People of the Book?
      • Is the Medina Charter a project for co-existence, a basis for dialogue activities?
      • What place do the Jews have in the Medina Charter
      • Did the Prophet (pbuh) make agreements with non-Muslims other than the Medina Charter?
      • Did the Prophet (pbuh) enter into social and commercial relations with the People of the Book?
      • How should we understand the exile of Jews from Medina, and the wars against the Jewish tribes such as Khaybar and Banu Qurayza?
      • Is the Prophetic hadith ‘I was ordered to fight with people until they say ‘There is no god but God,’ evidence that unbelief can be a cause of war?
      • What did the Prophet (pbuh) teach about the significance of ethnic difference?
      • In Islamic law, apostasy from Islam (irtidad) is punishable by death. How can this be reconciled with freedom of religion and the spirit of dialogue?

      Session 3: The Historical Basis for Dialogue

      Questions to be explored:

      • The significance of examples from Islamic history?
      • Are there any events or treaties from Muslim history that lend support to dialogue?
      • Did Muslims ever force others to convert to Islam in the past?
      • Under the dhimma treaty system, what were the rights of non-Muslim dhimmis?
      • Is the dhimma system a way of making Muslims superior to non-Muslims? Is it applicable today?
      • How can divergent practices in Islamic history be reconciled?

      Session 4: A Reverse Analysis of Dialogue – Violence

      Questions to be explored:

      • Is Islam inherently violent?
      • When is war permissible in Islam?
      • Why is violent extremism and terrorism forbidden in Islam?
      • When do innocents become combatants in Islam?
      • What of suicide bombers?
      • How can one religion yield so vastly different interpretations?
      • Can we speak of a true Islam?

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