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8th BUDDHIST-MUSLIM DIALOGUE

“FROM HOSTILITY TO HOSPITALITY”

TAIPEI 2008

Dharma Master Hsin Tao initiated in 2001 a series of Buddhist-Muslim dialogues as a means of fostering understanding between these two religious traditions which comprise the majority of the Asian population. The Elijah Interfaith Institute had been a co-sponsor of two previous dialogues in the series - a Buddhist Muslim dialogue on “Global Ethics and Good Governance” held at Paris UNESCO in 2003, and a Dialogue on “The Roots of Tolerance” hosted by the Guerrand-Hermes Foundation for Peace in Marrakesh in 2004.

Following the conference on Globalization and Spiritual Traditions the 8th Buddhist-Muslim dialogue took place in Taipei, province of China. Based on study materials prepared by the Elijah Interfaith Institute, "From Hostility to Hospitality", these attitudes were examined within both traditions. Discussions focused on the need for both traditions to acknowledge that attitudes of hostility exist, to examine the reasons and circumstances for such hostility, and to engage our respective traditions from a more self-critical perspective in order to curb attitudes of self-righteousness.

While, for example, the Holocaust has forced Christians to thoroughly re-examine their own theologial presuppositions, this kind of critical self-reflection still has to take place in the Buddhist and Muslim contexts. Discussions also dealt with the relationship we have to our own sacred texts, how we resolve the tensions created by contradictory statements, and how we can recognize values embraced by our tradition in the other tradition, even though these may be expressed in unfamiliar terms.

The following issues arose as part of the dialogue: The Qur'an contains the statement that God has sent messengers to every people in the world. Can Muslims watch for the signs of these messengers, can they look for signs of revelation in Buddhists? Is the Buddha a prophet? On the other hand, Buddhists speak of the all-pervading Buddha-nature. Can Buddhists strive to find out what Buddha-nature looks like in Islam, or among Muslims?

Dharma Master Hsin Tao rounded up the discussions on Buddhist-Muslim encounters by highlighting the themes underlying the establishment of the Museum of World Religions, namely, the need for all of us to respect one another's religious traditions, and the importance of education in helping our religious communities grow in tolerance, mutual understanding, and hospitality towards the Other.

Participants: - Ven. Dharma Master Hsin Tao, Founder, Museum of World Religions, Global Family for Love and Peace.

- Bhikkuni Karma Lekshe Tsomo, Assistant Professor of Buddhist Studies, University of San Diego, President of Sakyadhita International Association of Buddhist Women.

- Ruben Habito, Founder and Teacher, Maria Kannon Zen-Center, Associate Dean and Professor of World Religions and Spirituality, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University.

- Yo Hsiang Chou, Associate Professor of Buddhist Studies at Fo Guang University. - Li Kuo Wei, Assistant Professor at Fo Guang University, Chair of the Department of Religious Studies.

- Munir Jiwa, Founding Director of the Center for Islamic Studies, Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley

- Marcia Hermansen, Director of the Islamic World Studies program at Loyola University in Chicago where she teaches courses in Islamic Studies in the Theology Department

- Lin Chang Kuan, Founder and Professor at the Centre for the Study of Islamic Civilization and Thought“ at National Cheng-Chih University

- Ma Shiao Chi, Vice Secretary General of the Chinese Muslim Association, Taiwan

- John Berthrong, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, Professor of Confucian Thought, Boston University

- Rev. Dr. James Fredericks, Professor of Theological Studies, Loyola Marymount University, - Jonathan Webber, Unesco Chair in Jewish and Interfaith Studies, The University of Birmingham

- Perry Schmidt-Leukel, Professor of Systematic Theology and Religious Studies, Founding-Director of the Centre for Interfaith Studies at the University of Glasgow, UK

- Maria Reis Habito, International Program Director of the Museum of World Religions, US Director of the Elijah Interfaith Institute.

 

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