Theology & Religion

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The Meeting of Civilizations

Muslim, Christian, and Jewish

Moshe Ma’oz is Professor Emeritus of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at The Hebrew University, Jerusalem and Visiting Scholar at Harvard University. He has published many books and articles on the political and social history of the Middle East.

The horrific acts of anti-Western and anti-Jewish terrorism carried out by Muslim fanatics during the last decades have been labelled by politicians, religious leaders and scholars as a “Clash of Civilizations”. However, as the contributors to this book set out to explain, these acts cannot be considered an Islamic onslaught on Judeo-Christian Civilization.

While the hostile ideas, words and deeds perpetrated by supporters among the three monotheistic civilizations cannot be ignored, history has demonstrated a more positive, constructive, albeit complex, relationship among Muslim, Christians and Jews during medieval and modern times. For long periods of time they shared divine and human values, cooperated in cultural, economic and political fields, and influenced one another’s thinking.

This book examines religious and historical themes of these three civilizing religions, the impact of education on their interrelationship, the problem of Jerusalem, as well as contemporary interfaith relations. Noted scholars and theologians – Jewish, Christian and Muslim – from the United States, Canada, Egypt, Indonesia, Israel, Pakistan, Palestine and Turkey contribute to this book, the theme of which was first presented at an international conference organized by the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, and the Divinity School, Harvard University.

Hardback ISBN: 978-1-84519-287-7
Hardback Price: £39.95 / $65
Release Date: September 2008
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-84519-395-9
Paperback Price: £19.95 / $34.50
Release Date: December 2009
Page Extent / Format: 280 pp. / 229 x 152 mm
Illustrated: No



Introduction by Moshe Ma’oz

Part I Religious and Historical Themes
1 A Phenomenology of Chosenness
Reuven Firestone

2 Interdependence of Scripture
Benjamin Braude

3 The “Convivencia” of Jews and Muslims in the High Middle Ages
Mark R. Cohen

4 Muslim–Jewish Relations in Ayyubid Egypt, 1171–1250
Mohamed Hawary

Part II Jerusalem: A Center for Three Civilizations
5 Making Jerusalem a “Holy” City for Three Faiths
Harvey Cox

6 The Holy Land, Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Qur’an, Sunnah and other Islamic Literary Sources
Mustafa Abu-Sway

7 Jerusalem: From Conflict to Compromise?
Moshe Ma‘oz

8 Divergent Epistemologies in the Search for Co-existence: The Jerusalem 2050 Project
Diane E. Davis

Part III Education and Textbooks
9 Teaching Jewish and Christian Interfaith Initiatives in Muslim Educational Institutions
Muhammad Shafiq

10 Teaching Islam and Christianity in the Jewish
Education System in Israel
Elie Podeh

11 Educating for Global Citizenship: Perspectives from the Abrahamic Traditions
Abdul Aziz Said

12 Lessons from the Building Abrahamic Partnerships Programs at Hartford Seminary
Yehezkel Landau

Part IV Contemporary Relations and Challenges
13 Peacemaking among the Religions of Abraham: Overcoming Obstacles to Co-existence
Nathan C. Funk and Meena Sharify-Funk

14 Trialogue of Abrahamic Faiths: Towards an Alliance of Civilizations
Azyumardi Azra

15 The Children of Abraham at a Time of Crisis: Challenges and Opportunities
David Saperstein

16 Health and Science: Win–Win Modalities
towards Brotherhood
Richard I. Deckelbaum

The Contributors

“This excellent and timely volume features papers by 16 different scholars – Muslim, Jewish, and Christian – who participated in a 2007 international conference at Harvard University titled ‘Children of Abraham: Trialogue of Civilizations.’ The papers fall into four basic areas: ‘Religious and Historical Themes,’ ‘Jerusalem: a Center for Three Civilizations,’ ‘Education and Textbooks,’ and ‘Contemporary Relations and Challenges.’ The first thing to note is the honesty of these papers. The authors do not sugar-coat the wars or the discrimination among the ‘children of Abraham’ – whether by Christians, Muslims, or (rarely) Jews. On the whole, the contributors correctly hold that historically Christians have been less tolerant than the other two religious groups, though both Christians and Muslims have often denied full citizenship to the other children of Abraham. Despite the current conflict over Jerusalem, the volume as a whole offers Jerusalem as a possible place for resolution and reconciliation to begin since all three faiths have a significant stake in it. Education of adherents of each religion about the other two is indeed a second pillar for understanding. Recommended.” Choice

“Scholars mostly of religion from North America, the Middle East, and southeast Asia gathered at Harvard University in October 2007 for the Children of Abraham: Trialogue of Civilizations conference. The 16 papers that emerged cover religious and historical themes, Jerusalem as a center for three civilizations, education and textbooks, and contemporary relations and challenges. Among specific topics are a phenomenology of chosenness, making Jerusalem a holy city for three faiths, perspectives from the Abrahamic traditions on educating for global citizenship, and overcoming obstacles to co-existence.” Reference & Research Book News

“In the eyes of this journalist and writer who has spent most of the last 25 years in and around the Holy city, Jerusalem has become a symbol of much that has become negative and extremist in the three monotheistic religions to which we attribute, justly, the origins of our western civilization. It has become the place where believers look more to the land than to “God”. They worship the territory with its Disneyland style abundance of manmade symbols rather than the god they all consider to be the same. An Israeli writer, Amos Elon, wrote years ago that in Jerusalem’s long existence there had not been more than a hundred years of peace, probably less. It is a paradox, therefore, that many want to believe that the origin of the name of the city is the Hebrew ‘shalom’. ...

For those refuting the idea of a so called “clash of civilizations”, as an explanation of the conflict that sees Muslims, Christians and Jews on a collision course, this collection of essays is an important contribution to the difficult quest for a modern path to promote the coexistence of religions. This when ethnic, nationalistic and geographic tensions are more and more exasperated due to a globalized world in which events rapidly supersede themselves often leaving little time for analysis. And, or, understanding. ...

It is worth remembering, here, that anti-Semitism is a Western, Christian attribute. The Shoah was perpetrated in civililized Christian Europe, as was the Inquisition. Ma’oz also reminds us that ‘Jews were certainly better off under Islam than under Christendom during medieval times; likewise under Byzantium, the Reconquista in Spain and the Crusaders’.

If Jerusalem is a stumbling block on the way to possible peace it is necessary, as Ma’oz and other of the contributors note, to accept the fact that the ‘prolonged occupation of the Muslim holy places in Jerusalem, and of the Palestinian lands, caused militant groups to develop for the first time anti-Jewish, anti-Semitic positions and messages.’ I would like to add here an element for thought that emerged from a recent Israeli survey-analysis on the growth of anti-Semitism in the world in 2009. According to the data published in May 2010, the majority of incidents registered in Europe were in countries with both large Jewish and Muslim communities. And the incidents in most cases were a reaction to the Israeli army attack on Gaza.” Eric Salerno, Middle East correspondent for the Italian daily Il Messaggero since 1987, has just published Mossad Base Italia, a book about the extensive covert and official relations between the Jews of Palestine, Israel and Italy

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