Samedi le 10 février 2007
Church-Islam dialogue: the path starts from Regensburg's Pope
by Samir Khalil Samir, sj
Benedict XVI’s speech at Regensburg received a lot of criticism but it in fact launched an effective model for Islamo-Christian dialogue: refusal of violence, love of truth, interpretation, mission. The only way to go beyond the trivially tolerant appearance of dialogue promoted by many Muslims and by a good part of the Catholic Church.

Beirut (AsiaNews) – Benedict's masterly lecture at Regensburg was seen by many Christians and Muslims as a false step by the Pope, a simple mistake, something to get over and forget, if we don't want to set off a war of religions. Instead, at Regensburg, this Pope traced, with his balanced, courageous and by no means trivial thinking, the basis for true dialogue between Christians and Muslims, giving voice to many reformist Muslims and suggesting to Islam and Christians the steps to be taken.
Still today in the West and in the Islamic world, reactions to that speech are strong. But many Muslim scholars are beginning to ask themselves: “After the tumult of initial misunderstandings, what did Benedict XVI say to us after all? He told us that we Muslims run the great risk of eliminating reason from our faith. In this case, the Islamic faith becomes simply an act of submission to God, which can conceivably degenerate into violence, perhaps even ‘in the name of God’, or ‘to defend God.’”
Violence, reason and crisis in Islam
The much-exploited and detested quotation of Manuel II Paleologus itself was important because it underlined that "God does not love blood and violence," and that violence is against the nature of God and of man. Unfortunately, being that this phrase was pronounced on September 12th, a day after the anniversary of the attack against the Twin Towers, people read it in a political key (helped by the manipulations of Al Jazeera and Western liberals).
Now Muslims themselves are wondering: "All in all, the Pope said that there is the risk of violence in Islam. And this is not true? It is not our history and our daily problem? Are we not running the risk of emptying faith by separating it from reason and from critical thought?" Even if not in public, various Islamic scholars are saying: "This separation between faith and reason is more than ever today’s danger in Islam!"
...Still today, there are Muslims who write to me thanking the Pope for what he said in Germany. Right after the speech, Abdelwahhab Meddeb of Tunisia thanked Benedict XVI because "finally someone dared to speak and point a finger at violence in Islam." For Meddeb "the seed of violence in Islam is found in the Koran," as he entitled one of his articles.
Such a statement -- on the part of a Muslim -- shines a light on the real, great problem of dialogue today: the lack of truth, the reluctance to accept discussion on critical points.
On the question of violence, all Muslims know that its seeds are in the holy Book, but everyone also tries to hide this by saying that "No, it is not true, Islam means peace, salâm, respect, non-violence,” thus denying the facts...

11:40:23 PM