The book begins by discussing the life and legacy of each mystic master, and then move on to identify a principal theme in each of their teachings that has significant implications for addressing issues of religious diversity and interfaith dialogue. It will then proceed to its main objective: placing the mystical discourse of these two masters in conversation with one another for the purposes of articulating "conversation points" between the two discourses which might serve as "nodes" for a possible new matrix for Christian-Muslim dialogue.
The motivating premises of the book are three. First, because so much of Christian-Muslim dialogue gets "stuck" on irreconcilable theological propositions, a new matrix for the dialogue is necessary -- ideally one that focuses on ways of looking at the cosmos that are rooted in distinctive and different, but nonetheless shared spiritual experiences. Second, many people in the world today—both Christians and Muslims—are becoming more disposed toward dialogue as a way of reducing conflict in our increasing number of "global villages." One obstacle in advancing the dialogue, however, is the alienation of practitioners from the rich intellectual resources of their respective traditions which can be drawn upon to legitimize, support, and encourage dialogue. Third, if practiced with intelligence, sincerity, and care, dialogue and encounter with people of other faiths can significantly enrich the identity of the religious individual as he or she articulates, in a pluralist context, just what it means to be a Muslim, a Christian, or the adherent of any other religious tradition.
Syafaatun Almirzanah is a Professor of Islam and Middle Eastern Politics and Diplomacy at The University of Indonesia, Jakarta. Prof. Almirzanah is Founding Director of the La Convivencia Center for Human Rights and Religious Values. She is a faculty member of ICRS (Indonesian Consortium for Religious Studies), an International Ph. D Program in interreligious Studies, at Gajah Mada University, Yogyakarta. At the State Islamic University, Sunan kalijaga, Yogyakarta, she is a professor of Religious Studies. A board member of Interfidei Foundation and Central Asia Production Research, Chicago. She was a director of Academic Affairs, and a Chair of the Department of Comparative Religions at State Islamic University. A research coordinator for the Institute for Inter-faith Dialogue in Indonesia, INTERFIDEI, a visiting professor on Women and Islam at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago, and a Visiting professor of Islamic Studies at Sanata Dharma Catholic University in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. She has a professional affililiation with American Academy of Religion, the Ibn ‘Arabi Society, and the Fellowship of Reconciliation, USA. She is currently a visiting professor at Georgetown University, The Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Affairs in Washington, DC.
She received fellowships and grants from The Ford Foundation, Utrecht University, the Netherlands, McGill University, Canada, and The Bernardin Center, Chicago. An activist in interfaith dialogue nationally and internationally, Almirzanah specializes in Sufism, interfaith dialogue, and comparative mysticism. She stayed at a Coptic Catholic Seminary, Egypt during her research on Christian-Muslim Relations, an immersion experience with a non-Muslim tradition ourside her country. She visited many places for her research, and presented papers at numerous conferences on interfaith dialogue and human rights issues, locations include: Turkey, The Netherlands, Germany, Rome, Spain, Korea, Lebanon, Iran, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, France, and the USA. She is now doing her research on Muslim-Christian relations in the Netherlands and Indonesia, “Cross-cultural Perspectives” (A joint-research between PERSERTIA, PTHU, RU and VU, sponsored by KIA and PThU).
Almirzanah’s books include: When Mystics Masters Meet: Towards a New Matrix for Christian-Muslim Dialogu; Scriptural Hermeneutics; An Interfaith Discussion; What Should Non-Muslims Know about Islam. She is also an editor of the book on Hermeneutics: A Reader (with Sahiron Syamsuddin), Hermeneutics: Applications, and Curriculum: a Reader.
Almirzanah has been interviewed in The Chicago Tribune, WTTW (Chicago Tonight), US. Catholic Magazine, and she has written numerous articles in journals and newspapers. A native Indonesian, Central Java, she currently resides in Yogyakarta with her family.
Prof. John L. Esposito, Founding Director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding in the Walsh School of Foreign Service. University Professor as well as Professor of Religion and International Affairs and of Islamic Studies at Georgetown University, John L. Esposito is Founding Director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding in the Walsh School of Foreign Service. Esposito has served as consultant to the U.S. Department of State and other agencies, European and Asian governments and corporations, universities, and the media worldwide. A former President of the Middle East Studies Association of North America and of the American Council for the Study of Islamic Societies, Vice Chair of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, and member of the World Economic Forum’s Council of 100 Leaders, he is currently Vice President (2011) and President Elect (2012) of the American Academy of Religion and a member of the E. C. European Network of Experts on De-Radicalisation and the board of C-1 World Dialogue and an ambassador for the UN Alliance of Civilizations. Esposito is recipient of the American Academy of Religion’s Martin E. Marty Award for the Public Understanding of Religion and of Pakistan’s Quaid-i-Azzam Award for Outstanding Contributions in Islamic Studies and the School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University Award for Outstanding Teaching. Esposito is Editor-in-Chief of Oxford Islamic Studies Online and Series Editor of The Oxford Library of Islamic Studies, Editor-in-Chief of The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World (6 vols.); The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World (4 vols.), The Oxford History of Islam, The Oxford Dictionary of Islam, and The Islamic World: Past and Present (3 vols.). His more than 45 books and monographs include: Islamophobia and the Challenge of Pluralism in the 21st Century, The Future of Islam, Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think (with Dalia Mogahed), Unholy War: Terror in the Name of Islam, The Islamic Threat: Myth or Reality?, Islam and Politics; What Everyone Needs to Know About Islam, World Religions Today and Religion and Globalization (with D. Fasching and T. Lewis), Asian Islam in the 21st Century, Geography of Religion: Where God Lives, Where Pilgrims Walk (with S. Hitchcock); Islam: The Straight Path; Islam and Democracy and Makers of Contemporary Islam (with J. Voll); Modernizing Islam (with F. Burgat) Political Islam: Revolution, Radicalism or Reform?, Religion and Global Order (with M. Watson), Islam and Secularism in the Middle East (with A. Tamimi); Iran at the Crossroads (with R.K. Ramazani); Islam, Gender, and Social Change and Muslims on the Americanization Path and Daughters of Abraham (with Y. Haddad); and Women in Muslim Family Law. Esposito’s books and articles have been translated into more than 35 languages. Esposito’s interviews and articles with newspapers, magazines, and the media in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East: The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Economist, The Guardian, The Times of London, CNN, ABC Nightline, CBS, NBC, and the BBC. A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., he currently resides in Washington, D.C. with his wife, Dr. Jeanette P. Esposito.