IIC Newsletter 14: December 2000

IIC Newsletter 14: December 2000
Coventry 2000: VALUES HAVE NO BOUNDARIES

Values have No Boundaries: Action for the New Millennium was the theme of Coventry 2000,a four-day event in Coventry, UK this August organised by Minorities of Europe (MoE). As part of the diverse programme the 200 young participants from minority communities throughout Europe could choose from five mainstream ‘rivers’: gender, sexuality, disability, European organisations, and interfaith. Forty of them – from Portugal, UK, Ireland, Latvia, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Uzbekistan, Russia, Hungary, France, Lithuania, Romania, Greece, Italy, Estonia, Croatia, and Poland – chose the interfaith programme that the IIC had been asked to co-ordinate.

Our co-ordination team included people from six faith traditions and several interfaith organisations: Interfaith Network of the UK, World Conference on Religion and Peace (WCRP), International Association for Religious Freedom (IARF), World Congress of Faiths (WCF), Coventry Multi-Faith Forum and the IIC. We decided to hold each of the four three hour river sessions in a religious centre in Coventry to maximise the interaction between local communities and the young people, many of whom had not had the opportunity for such contacts. The centres were also chosen to reflect the daily themes ie. diversity (Hindu mandir), equality (Sikh gurdwara), solidarity (Jewish synagogue) and action (Muslim mosque).

Group discussions, role play, art and music during the interfaith river embraced a wide range of subjects, including introductions to ten religious traditions and the four themes of Coventry 2000. The first small group enquiry revolved around our understandings of the divine. This was perceived in many ways: as the knower and the unknown; as energy and light; as creator, personal and impersonal; as the reality hiding behind all different beliefs and as the power creating all the different beliefs; as emptiness and as the image of ourselves; as universal and rather particular; as an infinite circle with overlapping spheres where beliefs touched each other in the divine presence; as something to be loved and feared; as source and sustainer, gender free and self-existent, full of paradox and mystery. Somehow, despite the diversity of description, there was a shared understanding that this divine paradox was at the centre of everything.

It was exciting to discover that the Finnish participants in the interfaith river were not blond haired and blue eyed, as might be expected, but Muslims originally from Somalia; those from Poland were Ukrainians; the Romanians were Bahai’s etc: all minorities in some way or another in their countries. Many of the young people in our river had experienced prejudice of some kind: dietary, ethnic, religious. These tensions were not left ‘at home’. During the overall Coventry 2000 programme the gay and lesbian participants felt others were discriminating against them, that they were not in the safe place they’d expected but threatened by homophobia. Religious aspects of the overall programme also brought some critique against the interfaith team that was thought to be responsible for this imposition (we were not). Dealing with these issues highlighted the value of such events and the opportunities they provide for intense and educational encounter. The new generation of European young leaders are not prepared to be voiceless but demand full participation in the issues that concern them.

By the time we moved through all the themes to action, there was a real sense of group solidarity and we were ready to think about projects that could be developed after the event itself. Many of the projects conceived were locally based with education the medium, others linked countries regionally, whilst a resource and skill pool across all the countries is to be established through an e-group. Some of the young people from the interfaith river have since taken part in an IARF conference in Germany. Others will be part of the next IIC/WCF conference in March.

MoE will continue to reach out to young minority people throughout Europe to give them a voice and to bring those voices together.

The IIC looks forward to working again with Minorities of Europe and the young people they support.

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THE MILLENNIUM WORLD PEACE SUMMIT OF RELIGIOUS AND SPIRITUAL LEADERS

New York August 2000

For many years, many people have dreamed about a global religious assembly at the United Nations. Some people also tried to make this a reality but were not successful. And then suddenly there was Bawa Jain, a man born in India, now living in New York, who did it within two years: with the support of Kofi Annan and many others; bringing together in August 2000 a crowd of 1800 people from around the world, all in one way or another connected to faith. It was good that there was quite a balance in representation between Abrahamic, Eastern and First Nations backgrounds; quite colourful. Lacking however was a gender and age balance. Where were the women and the young leaders? There were also many problems about representation and exclusions. But as a first step, bringing all those different people together, the Summit was quite an achievement.

The IIC was represented as a supporting organisation. We attended two days of platform speeches and (‘performance’) prayers (all applauded) in the impressive UN General Assembly hall and another two days at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, used for workshops and a closing plenary.

As at the meeting of national leaders at the UN some days later, where every president could have his 3 minutes speech, the Peace Summit was mainly a symbolic and historic happening – though 3 minutes was not at all long enough for most of our ‘pre-eminents’! The real work and development was done behind the platforms and preaching. One important instant result of this was a statement signed by some of the Hindus and Christians present that altruism should never be connected to conversion. Many of the Hindus at the Summit did not accept the corruption of aid with mission: ‘we prefer to stay poor and keep our dignity!’ These tensions forced behind-the-scenes meetings over six hours that were partly mediated by a Dutch rabbi. (Back home a Hindu commented that Hindus should start to treat Dalits or ‘untouchables’ better.) SEE An Informal Understanding: Freedom from Coercion in Religion below.

Having attended several huge international inter-religious meetings during the last one and a half years, this unplanned dialogue at the Summit reminds us of the importance of also developing possibilities for people to meet locally in smaller groups to address collectively important issues: to be both ‘locally rooted and globally connected’ (using URI’s ‘motto’).

The gathering probably gave a realistic image of religions nowadays but the IIC hopes that this Summit, however flawed, gives a further impulse to co-operation between religious and spiritual people, governments, the UN, and international interfaith organisations, all involved in making our world a safer place.

As a supporting contribution, the IIC has invited representatives of all major international interfaith organisations to a meeting in Oxford next March, immediately after our conference, to talk about ways in which we can co-operate, support, encourage and resource activities aimed at bringing into peaceful dialogue religious individuals and communities. We can try to avert egoism, inequality and elitism from what has to be done – perhaps the most difficult task of all as the Summit proved!

Further info: www.millenniumpeacesummit.org

An Informal Working Understanding: Freedom from Coercion in Religion

1. We agree that the free and generous preaching of the Christian Gospel is welcome in India.

2. We condemn the use of coercion and religious proselytism; we particularly reject the exploitation of the issue of poverty in religious outreach and missionary work.

3. We agree that the giving of aid to those in need is a primary commandment of all our religious and spiritual traditions; we are resolved that this act of justice should never be tied to compulsory conversion.

4. We commit ourselves to a continuing dialogue in the spirit of interreligious harmony, mutual respect, and the cooperative common effort to build a better world.

Swami Dayananda Saraswati

Swami Chidananda Saraswati

Dr B K Modi, India

Rabbi Avraham Soetendorp, Summit International Advisory Board

Dr Hans Ucko, World Council of Churches

Fr Albert Nambiaparambil, India

Fr Maximillian Mizzi, Assisi

Fr John Pawlikowski, Catholic Theological Union, Chicago

Jim Kenney, Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions

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The Challenge of Grass-Roots Peace-Making in Israel / Palestine: The Example of Open House

On 21 September, the International Interfaith Centre (IIC), International Association for Religious Freedom (IARF) and Moral Re-Armament (MRA) sponsored an evening dialogue with Yehezkel Landau and Michail Fanous of Open House in Israel. Andrew Clark (IARF) chaired the meeting and Amira Abdin, a Palestinian Muslim, and Ramola Sundram (IARF) responded.

To what degree can ‘grass-roots peace-making’ have an effect on bringing justice in power relations between nations? Many of those who are engaged at this level must have asked themselves this question as violence exploded between Palestinians and Israelis just days after this evening event. Pent-up frustrations appeared to have swept away years of patient ‘bridge-building’ at many levels.

‘One home, two peoples’ was how Yehezkel Landau describes ‘Open House’, a community centre for Jewish-Palestinian co-existence in Ramle, Israel. For him, it symbolises the challenge of two peoples sharing a land that they both believe is theirs. Having grown up in the United States seeing on television ‘unholy actions in the Holy Land’, one of his prime reasons for moving to Israel 22 years ago was because he believed it was ‘a laboratory’ in which to put into practice what he had learned about reconciliation: ‘a land redeemed, as a microcosm of humanity redeemed’.

Speaking with him was the Co-Director of ‘Open House’, Michail Fanous, a Ramle City Council member. He comes from a Christian Arab family which can trace its presence in the town over 800 years. They lost their home in 1948, and most of his family fled to Jordan and were not allowed to return.

Yehezkel’s wife, Dalia, was two years old in 1948 when her parents, refugees from Bulgaria, were settled in an empty property. Twenty years later, answering a knock at the door, she discovered members of the original Arab owners asking to see round the house. That experience affected her so deeply that when her parents died and she inherited the house in 1989, she contacted the family, the Al-Kheirys, and offered it back to them. By that time the Al-Kheirys were on the ‘wrong’ side of the ‘Green line’ (in the West Bank) and were unable to accept it. So an agreement was reached that it would be used both to serve the 20% Arab population of the town as a kindergarden, and as a centre for programmes designed to reconcile Jews and Palestinians. (At that time there was no pre-school education for Arab children; now there are two others serving a total of 10% of children of pre-school age.)

The Landaus heard of Michail Fanous who had just become the first Arab in many years to be elected to the City Council, and approached him to be director of ‘Open House’. Michail explained that the Palestinians in Israel are always reminded that they are not equal, allowed little part in decision-making and receive disproportionately little of state resources. He had been at school both in Israel and in the West Bank, and saw the fear and the stereotypes that each side had of the other. He realised that the first challenge was to make peace within himself and within his own community, as his state was fighting his people and vice versa, and there were tensions between Muslim and Christian. When the Landaus approached him, it was ‘as if these Jewish people were telling me my own story’. As he was realising that he would be able to achieve little as a minority Member of the City Council, he grasped the opportunity to make a practical contribution to Jewish-Arab relationships. ‘Ramle is a tough city, a Likud city, with so much hatred, so many Jews from Arab countries: it was a challenge to do something in my own city.’

One of the respondents to the two speakers, Amira Abdin, revealed that her mother-in-law is an Al-Kheiry from Ramle! Though Amira had had to drive that day from Cambridge to London to Oxford and was returning the same evening to Cambridge, her children had insisted that she go, saying that this was part of their family history. She said that in the last few years Palestinians had come to accept Israel as a reality; what hurt most is that they can’t even get 20% of the original land of Palestine. ‘Real peace will come when Jews and Israelis acknowledge that they have wronged the Palestinian people, and that they deserve 20%. If I hear that apology…my heart will be cleansed of the anger.’

Yehezkel responded that he whole-heartedly agreed – as Israelis had the more power, so it was right for them to take the first step in acknowledging wrong-doing. The task was to ‘transform this microcosm into something that is healing’ for the whole organism. The Palestinians could help this process, he thought, if they acknowledged any shortcomings on their part.

I had a sense of witnessing the kind of attitudes that could give rise to the kind of spirit in which problems can be solved. Since that evening, the two speakers have been hard at work in Ramle to prevent relationships between Jews and Arabs from degrading. So one of the ‘bridges’ is holding.

‘Courageous men’ commented one of the audience as we left.

Peter Riddell, MRA

Further info: www.openhouse.org.il

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Fundamentalism: A Jewish Perspective

At the Niagara conference of 1895 conservative Protestants responded to the liberal new ideas on evolution, biblical criticism and the like by insisting that certain doctrines, including the inerrancy of scripture, the divinity of Christ and the second coming, were “fundamental,” that is, non-negotiable; the terms fundamentalism and fundamentalist were coined in 1920 by the Baptist Curtis L Laws.

As some Jews and Muslims defensively point out, the term fundamentalist in its strictest sense is applicable only to conservative Protestants. On the other hand, in its broader sense of regarding certain doctrines as non-negotiable, or not subject to refutation by rational means, the term perfectly fits conservative groups in many faiths and denominations. “Fundamentals” is indeed a precise translation of the Hebrew ‘iqarim (literally, “roots”). The search for ‘iqarim, or Principles of Faith, by mediaeval philosophers such as Maimonides and Albo, is a search for that which is non-negotiable in religious belief; it certainly includes belief in God and in the inerrancy of scripture.

“Fundamentalist” is sometimes used just as a term of abuse for conservative theologians, especially of other people’s religions. But this looseness of

terminology should not be allowed to obscure the fact that conservative theologians, among Jews the Orthodox in particular, regard certain doctrines including the inerrancy of scripture as non-negotiable, or not subject to refutation by rational means.

The Bible does not itself give a systematic definition of faith, though clearly it demands belief in God (undefined) and obedience to his laws (more precisely defined). Likewise, Rabbinic sources such as the Talmud and Midrash take much for granted about God and Revelation, and define certain classes of heretics and unbelievers, but do not have systematic lists of articles of faith on the lines of those of the Church Fathers and Councils, to whose attempts to define precisely the nature of God they may have been reacting.

Mediaeval Jews formulated Principles of the Faith, perhaps because they wished to make clear the differences between Judaism and Christianity, or Judaism and Islam. Maimonides (1138-1204) formulated thirteen principles:

1. The Creator is Author and Guide of everything that exists.

2. The Creator is a Unity.

3. The Creator is not corporeal.

4. The Creator is first and last.

5. It is right to pray to the Creator, but to no other being.

6. All the words of the prophets are true.

7. The prophecy of Moses is true and he was the father (criterion) for all prophecy.

8. The Torah now in our possession is that given to Moses.

9. The Torah will not be changed, nor will the Creator give any other Torah.

10. The Creator knows the deeds and thoughts of people.

11. He rewards those who keep his commandments and punishes those who disobey.

12. Though the messiahdelay, one must constantly expect his coming.

13. The dead will be resurrected.

Others, such as Joseph Albo (1380-1435), felt that Maimonides was too doctrinaire. Albo reduced the “roots” of faith to three: belief in God, belief in Revelation, and belief in reward and punishment. Contrary to Maimonides, moreover, he emphatically denies that a naïve believer who believes that God has some sort of bodily form can be regarded as a heretic or “denier”; such a person is in error, Albo concedes, but is not an unbeliever. Modern Jewish thinkers, such as Menachem Kellner, regard Albo’s less doctrinaire approach as closer to the Jewish norm.

In recent times the old debates have erupted again in the conflict between Reform and Orthodox. At first, they debated the extent to which the rabbis’ interpretation of scripture was definitive and binding; the Orthodox held that it was, but the Reformers rejected it. Then, under the impact of 19th century historical criticism, the authenticity of scripture itself was called into question. The specific doctrine under attack here was that of Torah min ha-Shamayim, or the divine origin of Torah, comprised in No’s 7-9 of Maimonides’ Principles.

Clearly, this is a matter not just of abstract belief, but of authority. Is scripture, as interpreted by the rabbis, the final authority for human behaviour, or should we allow greater sway to the individual conscience? Consequences of this difference reach all aspects of life, from private sexual activity to the public domain of international politics.

The term “fundamentalist” is directed in particular at those whose firm beliefs are instrumentalized for extreme positions, for instance against homosexuality or in support of West Bank settlers; others, who are equally committed to belief in the divine origin and authority of Torah, but who interpret Torah in a way that does not lend support to extreme views, are not castigated as “fundamentalist”. This demonstrates that the term is an insult rather than a defined category.

Nowadays some, even amongst the Orthodox, reformulate the doctrine of Torah min ha-Shamayim so as to retain the theological aspects of earlier definitions while abandoning the strong historical claims that became intertwined with them. For them, Torah min ha-Shamayim functions as a “myth,” an organizing concept that binds together many aspects of the way we interpret the world around us in continuity with our sacred traditions. The Conservative A J Heschel evaded the strong historical claim by emphasizing the concept of Oral Torah as an ongoing hermeneutic that reveals infinite meaning in the divine text.

On the other hand, many non-Orthodox theologians abandon the concept as misleading and dangerous and view the Pentateuch as an imperfect though hallowed record of Israel’s encounter with God, not as a piece of divine dictation.

Rabbi Dr Norman Solomon , Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies and IIC patron

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Fundamentalism: An Islamic Perspective

I slamic Fundamentalism has been perceived as a threat to the Western world and its vested interests. Because the West has not understood Islamic Fundamentalism this misperception persists. A Muslim has to follow the fundamentals of Islam but Islamic fundamentalism is an artificial construct that has been created by the West. The sooner the West begins to understand Islamic fundamentalism, the better the prospects for peaceful coexistence between Western and Islamic worlds.

An Islamic approach has to be developed which regards Islamic fundamentalism as a ‘resistance’ rather than ‘terrorist’ movement. This raises many important questions: what and whom are fundamentalists resisting? Why are they resisting? Above all, why do they arise in the first place?

Islamic fundamentalism is the search for Islamic authenticity in an age of post-modernism. Just as post-modernists question the authenticity of modernism and modernity so also fundamentalists question the contradiction of Islam that they find in the Muslim world. Why are there no Islamic states? Where are the practical admonitions of the Quran being lived in daily life? Where are Muslim countries conjoining religion and state?

The search for Islamic authenticity is therefore the search for a conceptual understanding of Islam. It is not an invention of new concepts. These were already in Islam but have become disused or distorted, often by Muslims themselves. In Islam there is no monarchy but it has been the pattern of Muslim leadership right from the early times when the capital was shifted to Damascus under the Ummayad dynasty. There was no priesthood in Islam but that developed to legitimise monarchy. Islamic concepts were redefined to suit vested interests. More recently, powerful Islamic thinkers like Hassan al-Banna, Syed Qutb, Ali Shariati, Ayatollah Khomeini, Ayatollah Muttaharri and now Hassan Turabi and Shakyh Fadlallah, have developed new perceptions of Islam and inspired new generations of Muslims. From their thoughts one can cull five essential concepts which form the core of Islamic fundamentalist thought.

The framework of the Islamic paradigm of Islamic fundamentalism is formed by Iman (Faith) and Amal (Action). The common understanding of Iman was equivalent to ‘five pillars’ (belief in God, prayers, fasting, alms giving and pilgrimage), a private personal affair. The new Islamic redefinition of Islam is that there can be no Iman without Amal. Faith must lead to action.

Within this framework the question then arises: what should be the pattern of Islamic action and the reconstruction of Islamic existence? This leads to two other important concepts of Islam: Ummah (Community of Islam) and Adl (Justice). Islam is not just about praying 5 times a day but also about Muslim conduct in practical life and the unity of Muslims at local, national and international levels. In the Quran all Muslims are part of the Ummah because of their belief in one Allah but the social reality prevailing in the Muslim world divides the Ummah on the basis of class, ethnicity, nationality and even sect.

Many injustices existed in Muslim societies in different countries: social (towards women, minorities etc); political (absolute power of the elite and powerlessness of the masses); economic (the rich became richer and the poor poorer); educational (education for the few and illiteracy for the many); and legal (different standards of justice for the rich and the poor). These unjust structures have come to be regarded as normal. To change structures is not easy but Islamic fundamentalist thought has taken Adl as its first priority after the establishment of the Ummah.

Islamic fundamentalists have been very critical of traditional Islamic thought and theology that created an Iman bereft of Amal so the strategy of Islamic resistance has been to deconstruct the traditional and colonial structures that dominated Muslim cultures and created pseudo Islamic societies. The instrument of social change is Jihad (Struggle). The Western world has been familiar with this since the Crusades when it was understood to mean ‘holy war’, which it still does in some quarters. But Jihad can range from the struggle for the eradication of poverty, illiteracy etc to the declaration of war (Jihad al-Kittal). The Jihad which Islamic fundamentalist movements are undertaking is the transformation of their states into Islamic states. Jihad is the instrument through which Adl is operationalised by the Ummah in the arena of Amal inspired by Iman. Since the powers that are entrenched within the Muslim states and their Western allies are not inclined to change as they perceive a threat to their vested interests, conflicts have not only taken place but will also take place in the future.

Today many Islamic fundamentalist movements have declared war on their own people and are trying to transform their states on the model of the First Islamic state. But the conditions of the 7th century do not obtain today. A new model of the Islamic state has to be devised. The dominating civilisation of the present day is Western and its models control the Third World, including the Muslim world. Islamic movements have revolted against this but their strategies have not been well thought out. They do not have to dominate Western civilisation but create a parallel which excels it. This will be a long, arduous task but the struggle has just begun.

Islamic fundamentalists therefore have to be judged by the criteria of the Islamic paradigm: have they succeeded in establishing the Ummah, transcending sectarian, ethnic, national boundaries? If not why have they failed? What are the injustices they are targeting? What tactical and strategic measures are they applying in Jihad? Are they trying to establish an Islamic state or Islamic culture or Islamic civilization—and if so, how? How closely do they follow the Sunnah of the Prophet who sought to bring justice to his people through the eradication of the injustices of his times?

A new appraisal of all values is taking place for the reconstruction of Islamic structures and cultures. In some cases Muslims have got it wrong, in others they have got it right, while some have no idea and are on a reactionary trip. This turmoil will continue until it is sorted out and that may take some time. The transformation of the Islamic world is akin to the enlightenment and renaissance periods that the Western world experienced in its transition from the medieval to the modern age. The difference is that during that transition the West lost its religion and substituted secularism. In the Muslim world this enlightenment is taking place through Islam which will not be marginalised.

The necessity of these times is that civilisations understand rather than confront each other.

Asaf Hussain, Visiting Fellow, Centre for the Study of History of Religions and Political Pluralism, Leicester University

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Interfaith News

from Marcus Braybrooke

After the excitement of the Cape Town Parliament of Religions, I was looking forward to a quiet year at home, but early in the Spring I received an invitation to lecture at the Punjabi University at Patiala, where our long-time supporter Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia is now vice-chancellor. The excellent seminar attracted leading speakers from Delhi, including Dr Karan Singh, Dr Mohinder Singh and Dr Ali. It was clear that there is a real struggle to maintain India’s traditional reverence for all religious paths against some extremist groups. In 2001 the World Congress of Faiths hopes to hold a conference at Patiala.

Soon afterwards I was asked to speak to the Interfaith Forum of Northern Ireland. I was especially impressed to see the All Faiths Quiet Room which members have created at Belfast Airport. The Interfaith Forum has been campaigning for the teaching of world religions in the schools of Northern Ireland.

The International Peace Council met near Jerusalem in May and this provided a chance to meet with many joint Israeli-Palestinian groups there which, I still believe, are sowing seeds of lasting peace. A number of Jewish women were learning Arabic. Syllabi were being prepared for both Israeli and Palestinian schools to give a balanced view of years of troubled history and to present a fair picture of the other’s religion. We went with Rabbis for Human Rights to see some dispossessed Bedouins and to visit a Palestinian family whose home has twice been demolished by the Israeli army. It was heartening to see members of different faiths campaigning together for justice and human rights. I hope there will be a chance to meet some of these groups on the IIC tour to Israel, Palestine and Jordan next August. At present all who work in the Middle East for peace and interfaith understanding need our prayers that they do not lose heart.

A further meeting of the International Peace Council, which is a supporting organisation of the IIC, was held in September, near Louisville, USA, at the Gethsemani monastery, which is for ever linked to the memory of Thomas Merton. This was followed by a Millennium Celebration at Xavier University, Cincinnati, which Paul Knitter helped to arrange.

In June, Mary and I were able to attend the Global Summit of the United Religions Initiative at Pittsburgh. Having been there at the birth of the idea at Grace Cathedral, San Francisco in 1995, it was good to see that a Global Charter has now been signed and that co-operation circles are springing up around the world. The launch of the URI UK at the Dome in August was an inspiring occasion. I was glad to take part in the European launch of URI at the UNESCO building in Paris in November. Speakers included Doudou Diene, Lama Denys, Zeenat Shaukat Ali, Swami Agnivesh and Betty Williams. Deepak Naik, a Trustee of IIC, helped to co-ordinate the programme.

The most public event was the Millennium Peace Summit held at the United Nations Building in New York at the end of August. The symbolic significance of the event was enormous, bringing together a thousand religious and spiritual leaders, who committed themselves to work with renewed energy for peace. It was a pity that numerous speeches left little time for discussion and that the dialogue between politicians and religious leaders, for which the Cape Town Parliament called, is still a thing of the future. Indeed a columnist for the New York Times complained of low-level environmental pollution being caused by well-meaning but ultimately platitudinous statements by religious leaders about interfaith understanding. But if this can choke the prejudice and violence perpetrated in the name of religion, it is worth sitting through the torrent of words. Faith communities at the highest international level as well as in more and more local areas are at last disowning violence and communalism done in their name and are increasingly acting together in peace-building and the relief of suffering.

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BOOK

Christian-Jewish Dialogue: The Next Steps

by Marcus Braybrooke

Concluding chapter by Rabbi Tony Bayfield, Chief Executive of the Reform Synagogues of Great Britain.

£12.95 SCM Press

Marcus Braybrooke is former Executive Director of the Council of Christians and Jews and current Patron of the IIC

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IIC Programmes

On this page you will find information about some of the IIC programmes for 2001. We hope you will be able to join us were possible and support our work. Other developments and international programmes are also being planned and more details will be in our next Newsletter and on our web-site.

A big thanks to all the Friends of IIC who help make this work possible.

Inter-religious Dialogue Course: IIC / Oxford University Department of Continuing Education

Tutors: Dr Ara Barsam, Peggy Morgan, RRabbi Dr Norman Solomon

to include history, methodology, agendas, experience and assessments of inter-religious dialogue in the contemporary era.

> Introduction to Interfaith: Thursday 18 January to 8 March

Week 1: Interfaith International

Marcus Braybrooke, World Congress of Faiths/International Interfaith Centre, and Deepak Naik, CBE, Minorities of Europe

Week 2: Interfaith in the UK

Brian Pearce OBE, Interfaith Network UK, and Penny Faust, Council of Christians and Jews

Week 3: Interfaith and Global Issues I

1st: Poverty and World Debt: Wendy Tyndale, World Faiths Development Dialogue

2nd: Ecology and the Environment: Shahin Bekhradnia, World Congress of Faiths

Week 4: Interfaith and Global Issues II

1st: The Global Ethic: Peggy Morgan, Religious Experience Research Centre

2nd: Conflict Transformation: Jehangir Sarosh, World Conf. on Religion and Peace

Week 5: Interfaith and Global Issues III

1st: Religious Freedom: Asad Rehman, Amnesty

2nd: Religious Extremism: Asaf Hussain, Islamic Human Rights and Leicester Univ.

Week 6: Youth Responses to Interfaith

Ebrahim Patel, Interfaith Youth Core, and Ramola Sundram, International Association for Religious Freedom.

Week 7: Interfaith and Theology

David Cheetham, University of Birmingham, and Rabbi Dr Norman Solomon, Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies

Week 8: Addressing the Future

Panel from interfaith organisations plus open discussion: Chair: Barney Leith,

Secretary General, Bahais of the UK, Chair of WCRP-UK, IFN and IIC Trustee.

> From Conflict to Trust Interfaith Experiences and Possibilities: 16-18 March at Harris Manchester College, Oxford

For more details see Activities web page

> International Interfaith Organisations Co-operation Meeting (invitation only): 18-20 March at Harris Manchester College, Oxford

> Life After Death: a one day seminar with Oxford University Department of Continuing Education on 23 May in the Lecture Theatre, Rewley House, Oxford with

Rabbi Dr Norman Solomon, Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies

Shaunaka Rishi das, Oxford Centre for Vaisnava and Hindu Studies

Dr Yahya Michot, Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies

Peggy Morgan and Marianne Rankin, Religious Experience Research Centre and Alister Hardy Society

Chair: Rt Rev Richard Harries, Bishop of Oxford

> Tour to Israel and Jordan led by Marcus Braybrooke: 23 August to 6 September

includes

* Dialogue with Christians, Jews, Muslims and Bahais

* Visits to centres and places holy to faith communities in Israel

* Meetings with Israel Interfaith Association, Rabbis for Human Rights and Interreligious Coordinating Council of Israel

* Visits to Open House and Neve Shalom

* Drive to Golan Heights and a Druze village

* Interreligious dialogue in Jordan

plus visits to Petra and Eliat

£1095 inclusive. Brochure from IIC