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Five Muslims at the Vatican, to Prepare the Audience with the Pope
Chiesa ^ | February 6, 2008 | Sandro Magister

Posted on 02/06/2008 9:32:04 AM PST by NYer

ROMA, February 6, 2008 – In the two days before this Ash Wednesday, the first meetings were held in Rome in preparation for the scheduled visit to the Vatican of a representative group of the 138 Muslim scholars who in October of 2007 addressed to the pope and to the heads of the other Christian confessions a letter with an offer of dialogue entitled "A Common Word Between Us and You."

The meetings will be held at the pontifical council for interreligious dialogue, and will be presided over by cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran. The schedule arranges for the Muslim representatives to meet with Benedict XVI and other Church authorities beginning next spring. And they will hold study sessions in institutes like the Pontifical Gregorian University and the Pontifical Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, the PISAI, headed by Fr. Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot.

The Muslim delegation was composed of five Muslims scholars from as many nations:

– Ibrahim Kalin, from Turkey, director of the SETA foundation in Ankara and a professor at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.;

– Abd al-Hakim Murad Winter, from England, a professor of Islamic studies at the Shaykh Zayed Divinity School of the University of Cambridge, and director of the Muslim Academic Trust of the United Kingdom;

– Sohail Nakhooda, from Jordan, director of "Islamica Magazine," an international magazine edited in the United States;

– Aref Ali Nayed, from Libya, a member of the Interfaith Program of the Faculty of Divinity at the University of Cambridge, a former teacher at the International Institute for Islamic Thought and Civilization in Malaysia, and at the Pontifical Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies in Rome;

– Yahya Sergio Yahe Pallavicini, from Italy, imam of the al-Wahid mosque in Milan, president of the ISESCO council for education and culture in the West, and vice-president of the Islamic Religious Community of Italy, the COREIS.

All of these are part of the group of experts coordinated from Amman by Jordan's Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal, president of the al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, the leading promoter of the letter of the 138 and the protagonist behind the exchange of events that took place in November and December with Benedict XVI, through cardinal secretary of state Tarcisio Bertone, in preparation for the future meetings.

Of the five, the best known among the Vatican authorities and experts are Aref Ali Nayed and Yahya Pallavicini.

Nayed – well known to the readers of www.chiesa, which has published previews of many of his writings – is one of the leading experts in Western philosophy and Christian theology in the Muslim camp. He studied at the Gregorian, in addition to universities in the United States and Canada, and he knows as few others do the "Summa Theologiae" of Saint Thomas Aquinas. He is one of the main architects of the letter of the 138. And he is the author of a letter that is important in its own right, in which he responded to the message addressed to the Muslims by cardinal Tauran on the occasion of last Ramadan.

But Yahya Pallavicini has also been for some time a prominent counterpart for the Vatican authorities and experts.

His father, Abd al-Wahid Pallavicini, embraced the Muslim faith in 1951, like many other European intellectuals at that time who adopted Islam in the wake of the French metaphysician René Guénon. In the course of a long of a voyage in the East, he joined the Sufi confraternity Ahamadiyyah Idrissiyyah Shadhiliyyah, which is in sharp contrast to the sectarian Wahhabi Islamism that still dominates Saudi Arabia. He later became head of the confraternity in Italy. In Assisi, in 1986, Abd al-Wahid Pallavicini took part in the prayer meeting among the leaders of the religions called together by John Paul II. His dream is to build in Milan "a little Jerusalem that would see the children of Abraham united in prayer: Jews, Christians, and Muslims." His unshakable faith is that Islam is "the ultimate and definitive expression of that primordial tradition that founded, confirms, and vivifies the earlier revelations."

Yahya Pallavicini, 43, was born Muslim and today is known in Italy as one of the main representatives of a sophisticated, democratic, "moderate" Islam, together with Khaled Fouad Allam of Algeria and Souad Sbai of Morocco. Under the religious profile, Pallavicini distinguishes himself from other Muslim personalities with whom he often finds himself in agreement – the best known of these in Italy is the Egyptian Magdi Allam. Unlike Magdi Allam, who does not practice the religion to which he was born and expresses a decisively secularized Islam, Yahya Pallavicini is an observant and fervent Muslim. He is the imam of a mosque in Milan, the leader of a community of Italians who have converted to Islam that is active in various cities, and is involved in courses of formation for new imams.

Since 2006, he has been a consultant on Islam for the Italian interior ministry. He is an unyielding critic of the violent tendencies of Muslim thought and practice. He has written and said on numerous occasions in public – something that is rare and often risky for a Muslim – that "acts of violence find no legitimization in the teachings of the prophet Mohammed or of the wise men." He has often strongly condemned "the exploitation of sharia, the Islamic law, to create a parallel alternative world, which refuses to integrate with the Western system." He has denounced "the culture of hatred" spewed in the preaching in many of the mosques in Italy on the part of imams "who are in reality political instigators with nothing authentically Islamic about them."

On the contrary, he is a convinced promoter of a positive dialogue with Judaism and Christianity. In 2005, he publicly contested the fatwa, the juridical sentence issued on the television screens of al-Jazeera by one of the most influential world leaders of fundamentalist Islam, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, banning all dialogue with the Jews. The question has been raised again in recent days in Italy, when suddenly, because of an order that come from the al-Azhar University in Egypt, the representatives of the Grand Mosque of Rome had to cancel a visit – the first ever – to Rome's Jewish synagogue, scheduled for January 23rd.

These criticisms are all repeated in a book that Yahya Pallavicini recently published in Italy, entitled "Dentro la moschea [Inside the mosque]."

But there is much more in the same book. On the positive side, there is an account of a Muslim community in Italy, with the places and moments of its religious life: the mosque, those who attend it, how and when they pray, Ramadan, marriages, the veil, schools, birth, death, the pilgrimage to Mecca. It is the Sufi community to which Yahya Pallavicini belongs, which is very distant from the image of Islam that dominates the media, and is often hampered and opposed in fratricidal struggles by the proponents of this fundamentalist and aggressive Islam.

In his book, Yahya Pallavicini speaks on behalf of many of his brothers in faith. An entire section collects the preaching delivered in the mosques on Fridays by 25 Italian imams. Another section presents life stories: an entrepreneur, a violinist, a painter, men and women who have converted to Islam in the heart of the West. One of these converts, Ahmad Abd al-Wahliyy Vincenzo, has inaugurated a chair for the history of Islamic law and civilization at the Università Federico II in Naples. This is how he concludes his account: "Once, after an examination, a student told me something of which I am very proud: Dear professor, you should know that yesterday I received the sacrament of confirmation. And studying Islam with you was the best preparation I could have had."


The book:

Yahya Pallavicini, "Dentro la moschea [Inside the mosque]", Rizzoli, Milano, 2007, pp. 520, 10.80 euro.

TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; Ecumenism; Ministry/Outreach
KEYWORDS: islam; islamiclaw; islaminitaly; moderatemuslims; muslims; pope; theocracy; vatican

1 posted on 02/06/2008 9:32:17 AM PST by NYer
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To: Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; nickcarraway; Romulus; ...
On the dialogue between the Catholic Church and Islam, from Benedict XVI's lecture in Regensburg until today, see on www.chiesa the following articles, in chronological order beginning with the most recent:

> The Cardinal Writes, the Prince Responds. The Factors that Divide the Pope from the Muslims
The contrast is not only one of faith. It also concerns the achievements of the Enlightenment: from religious freedom to equality between men and women. The Catholic Church has made these its own, but Islam has not. Will they be able to discuss this, when Benedict XVI and the Muslims of the letter of the 138 meet together?

> Why Benedict XVI Is So Cautious with the Letter of the 138 Muslims
Because the kind of dialogue he wants is completely different. The pope is asking Islam to make the same journey that the Catholic Church made under pressure from the Enlightenment. Love of God and neighbor must be realized in the full acceptance of religious freedom

> How the Church of Rome Is Responding to the Letter of the 138 Muslims
For now, only the experts are speaking, while the official response is studied. But meanwhile, cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran and Libyan theologian Aref Ali Nayed are exchanging a series of messages. Here are the complete texts

> One Year after Regensburg, 138 Muslims Write a New Letter to the Pope
They are proposing as common ground between Muslims and Christians the two "greatest commandments" of love for God and neighbor. These are in both the Qur'an and the Gospels. How will the Church of Rome react?

> A Summary Account of Four Voyages – And a Year’s Pontificate
This is the synthesis that Benedict XVI read in person to the Roman curia, in the traditional pre-Christmas address. At the center of it all is the question of God. Everything relates to this – the clash of civilizations, Islam, the Holocaust, the drop in the birth rate, gay marriage, clerical celibacy...

The Lecture in Regensburg Continues to Weigh on the Islamic Question

But it also continues to divide: both Muslims among themselves, and Catholics. A dossier from the journal “Oasis,” published by the patriarchate of Venice, and a counter-reply by Alessandro Martinetti to the Arab theologian Aref Ali Nayed

Peter Visits Andrew – And Prays at the Blue Mosque

For Benedict XVI, reconciliation between the Church of Rome and the Eastern Churches is part and parcel of the Church’s proclamation to non-Christians. The symbol of the Hagia Sophia

> In Turkey, Benedict XVI Becomes a Defender of Freedom
And he appeals that “the religions utterly refuse to sanction recourse to violence.” As an example of the “particular charity” between Muslims and Christians, he cites an Arab prince of the eleventh century, one esteemed by Pope Gregory VII

> In Turkey, Benedict XVI Becomes a Defender of Freedom
And he appeals that “the religions utterly refuse to sanction recourse to violence.” As an example of the “particular charity” between Muslims and Christians, he cites an Arab prince of the eleventh century, one esteemed by Pope Gregory VII

> The Regensburg Effect: The Open Letter from 38 Muslims to the Pope
Instead of saying they are offended and demanding apologies, they express their respect for him and dialogue with him on faith and reason. They disagree on many points. But they also criticize those Muslims who want to impose, with violence, “utopian dreams in which the end justifies the means”

> “A brusqueness that we find unacceptable...”
All the modifications introduced by Benedict XVI into the definitive version of his September 12, 2006 lecture at the University of Regensburg

> Two Muslim Scholars Comment on the Papal Lecture in Regensburg
They are Khaled Fouad Allam and Aref Ali Nayed. The former is more in agreement with Benedict XVI, the latter very critical, in a sneak peek of his essay published here. Faith, violence, and reason at the center of the confrontation between Christianity and Islam

> Why Benedict XVI Did not Want to Fall Silent or Backpedal
If in Regensburg the pope cited the dialogue between the emperor of Byzantium and his Muslim adversary, he did so with deliberation. His thesis is that – then as now – religion must wed itself, not with violence, but with reason. An analysis by Pietro De Marco and a commentary by Lucetta Scaraffia

> Islam’s Unreasonable War Against Benedict XVI
In Regensburg, the pope offered as terrain for dialogue between Christians and Muslims “acting according to reason.” But the Islamic world has attacked him, distorting his thought, confirming by this that the rejection of reason brings intolerance and violence along with it. The uncertainties about the trip to Turkey

> The Best of Greek Thought Is “An Integral Part of Christian Faith”
The complete text of the lecture given by the pope on the afternoon of Tuesday, September 12, 2006, in the main hall of the University of Regensburg
2 posted on 02/06/2008 9:33:54 AM PST by NYer ("Where the bishop is present, there is the Catholic Church" - Ignatius of Antioch)
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To: NYer

There can be no reformation of Islam. Mohammed was the last prophet. What the conquering warlord said and made law shall always be under Islam.

Reformation for muslims comes on an individual journey rejecting the cult and returning to the Bible as Jews or Christians.

3 posted on 02/06/2008 9:39:19 AM PST by weegee (Those who surrender personal liberty to lower global temperatures will receive neither.)
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To: NYer

Frisk ‘em. Frisk ‘em good. Check all the cavities. And wand ‘em. Then make ‘em strip. Then let them through, without the clothes, of course.

4 posted on 02/06/2008 10:18:01 AM PST by chopperman
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To: NYer
My only historical problem with any meetings between the cult of ‘the god’ aka ‘allah’ and Christianity or Judaism, is that Ishmael was not a Muslim. He was the "son of the bondwoman" but that does not translate into stating he was not a Jew. See Galatians Chapter 4.

That the three religions are related through Abraham is a fiction imposed upon Christians and Jews by Muhammadans. It is just not historically or factually true. And I have no clue why learned people like Pope Benedict XVI would perpetuate the falsehood. UNLESS it's because knowing the Koran as a "book for lies" and that the Abraham link is a falsehood, he can better get "into their heads" and "into their mind set" and learn how (unrationally) they think so as to address Muhammadans in a way that exhibits to them the truth using historical accounts and their own words and their own arguments.

He disassociated himself from the narrative he quoted at Regensburg and true to form, the Muhammadans acted out just like they always do when confronted with truth and rationality.

I have no doubt that Pope Benedict XVI will prove once again what a holy and learned and astute man he is when he meets with the Muslim 138.

If I may be so humble: Pope Benedict XVI, you da man!

5 posted on 02/06/2008 11:45:28 AM PST by HighlyOpinionated ( -- read, learn, blog, or get out of my way.)
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To: NYer
If the Vatican is doing any interior design makeovers, it might not be too soon to consider something ala Sparta in this backdrop for meeting adversarial messengers:

There's only one way for relationship between God and man and is on His grounds, by His protocols, not by ours. The Lord Christ Jesus is available to all who will believe.

6 posted on 02/06/2008 12:10:40 PM PST by Cvengr (Fear sees the problem emotion never solves. Faith sees & accepts the solution, problem solved.)
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To: NYer

What is there to discuss between Christianity and Islam? Islam is of the devil and his false prophet, Mohammed. What business does any representative of Christianity have with these thugs?

Wonder what kind of not-so-thinly veiled threats that these Muslims will level at the Pope. I wonder if he’ll follow his predecessor and kiss their demonic book too.

7 posted on 02/06/2008 12:40:09 PM PST by Boagenes (I'm your huckleberry, that's just my game.)
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To: HighlyOpinionated

I think this is mostly directed at trying to get Muslim “scholars” to declare that jihad and the destruction of Jews and Christians are not essential to their religion, in hopes of getting better treatment for Christians in Muslim countries. The Pope keeps stressing “reciprocity” - that is, Muslims are not prevented from building mosques in majority Christian countries, and Christians should not be prohibited from practicing their religion in majority Muslim countries.

Lots of luck. For one thing, these scholars are probably not considered orthodox by most of the Muslim groups that are most violent, and therefore whatever they say won’t have much impact.

But I think it’s a good try on the Pope’s part.

8 posted on 02/06/2008 1:09:29 PM PST by livius
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To: livius

Livius, you are 100% correct on your analysis. This meeting—and most dialogue between the Vatican and Muslim leaders—is all about Reciprocity.

9 posted on 02/06/2008 1:21:44 PM PST by Remole
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To: livius

IAC. Islam has no hierarchy and this gathering is more like five board members of the ABA meeting with the pope to discuss the ABA’s support of American abortin law.

10 posted on 02/06/2008 7:48:07 PM PST by RobbyS
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To: RobbyS

IAC. Islam has no hierarchy

11 posted on 02/08/2008 6:59:46 AM PST by Traianus (YES I GOT HIM! BASHAR IS 666....)
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