The Joseph Interfaith Foundation
in association with
the Dept. of Religions and Theology, University of Manchester
How to move towards integrated citizenship of a cohesive and multi-faith society by understanding the negative perceptions and references to the "other" in our religious texts.
He said: I have been challenged on many occasions at interfaith meetings regarding the interpretation of the Qur'an. I have been asked "Are you a believer in the Qur'an or a denier of it?" I say, regarding the verse (Ye who believe, do not take the Jews and the Christians as your friends and protectors...), unless you read all other references to the Jews and Christians in the Qur'an, it is not possible to interpret this verse by itself. There is a danger in taking one verse in isolation.
She said: According to classical qur'anic interpretation in the 7th century, the term "befriending" in this verse does not mean friendship at the social level, but a "specific relationship" in times of a specific war. It is a particular historical reference, meaning, do not give power to Jewish community (a specific Jewish community at that time in Medina) over the Muslim community.
He said: The Hebrew Bible does not make any references to Christianity and Islam because of historical timing. However, there are problems regarding the perception of Christians and Muslims according to Jewish classical sources and rabbinic interpretations. But, I say that it is not beyond our ability to resolve these difficulties through understanding our shared universal principles with other faiths.
He said: There are issues and problems between the Jewish and Muslim student societies at Manchester University. I think it is better to address these issues openly and honestly rather than avoiding them. In order to resolve some of these disagreements, we need to be able to talk with one another and learn to understand what these issues mean to each one of us and how we perceive it.
She said: I have always been an advocate of interfaith interactions. I initiated the first Jewish-Muslim student group at Manchester University when I was an undergraduate here. It was a highly successful forum which resulted in many ongoing friendships. It is important that interaction and friendship between individual Jewish and Muslim students also takes place in these private forums.