The idea of Muslim - Christian Dialogue is exemplified in the importance of exchanging ideas and conceptions on the Arab, local and global levels, in its strong impact in building bridges of confidence among the people of the dialogue, and in strengthening understanding, particularly in this age where no society or country can afford to live isolated from the regional and international currents by virtue of the new technologies of mass communication. Thus, the dialogue is one of these tools which is used to communicate with these cultural and intellectual currents and to keep abreast of them. Ptolemy, The Almagest, trans. from the Greek by Ishâq ibn Hunayn and corrected by Thâbit ibn Qurra (copied in the year 478/1085).
The aim of this consultation was to present a modern, integrated Islamic conception of the values and systems in Islam, in order to clarify through this conception the Islamic cultural project, and to enable it to interact with the global discourse and have influence thereon, by virtue of its originality and ability to development and offering. Thus, this dialogue contributes to presenting the true image of Islam.
The Aal al-Bayt Institute began this dialogue in 1984 with the Independent Commission on Christian-Muslim Relations (Deanery at Windsor/Windsor, United Kingdom); then it gradually expanded to dialogues in cooperation with the Orthodox Church, represented by the Orthodox Centre in Chambesy, Switzerland, with the Catholic Church represented by the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue in the Vatican, and with the German Evangelical Church represented by the Evangelical Church in Hanover.
Each consultation had a theme and sub-themes. On each sub-theme two research papers were presented by a Muslim writer from an Islamic point of view. Each paper had a written commentary by a participant from a faith other than that of the paper writer, followed by a plenary discussion.
Before the concluding session, small workshops convened to draft recommendations or general ideas to be included in a final report on the consultation. Two Arabic and English versions were published on each consultation comprising the research papers, commentaries and debates of each consultation. Around 40 Muslim and Christian scholars and youths participated in each consultation.
The Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought had been engaged in a series of Muslim-Christian Consultations (1984-1999).
Three defined purposes were adopted in these consultations:
A. Offering an academic objective forum for Muslim and Christian intellectuals to discuss contemporary issues and problems, in a free uninhibited atmosphere, which in turn results in identifying mutual values and emphasizing them.
B. Offering Muslim and Christian youth an opportunity to meet and analyze what they think are the major problems confronting youth in the last decade of the twentieth century, to ponder solutions that are compatible with the advent of the twenty first century.
C. Helping in cementing the solid bases for coexistence between Muslims and Christians, especially in situations where the followers of either faith are a minority.
The Aal al-Bayt Institute had organized 20 Muslim-Christian consultations as follows:
A. Two consultations in cooperation with the Independent Commission on Christian Muslim Relations, Deanery at Windsor, Windsor, United Kingdom as follows:
- 1. The Concept of Materialism in Islam, in addition to Secularism, Justice, Nationalism, and the Need to Work Together for a Spirit of Reconciliation, Amman, Jordan (5-18 November 1984).
- 2. Common Concerns and Values for Family Life (with emphasis on the international year of youth), Amman, Jordan, (28-30 September 1985).
B. Nine Consultations in cooperation with the Orthodox Centre, Chambesy, Switzerland, as follows:
- 1. Authority, Chambesy, Switzerland, (17-19 November 1986).
- 2. The second consultation comprised two symposia:
- Model of Historical Co-Existence between Muslims and Christians and its Future Prospects, Amman, Jordan, (21-23 November 1987).
- Common Humanitarian Ideals for Muslims and Christians, Amman, Jordan, (21-23 November 1987).
C. Six Consultations with the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue (the Vatican) as follows:
- 1. Religious Education in Modern Society (with Particular Emphasis on Colleges and Universities), Rome, Italy, (6-8 December 1989).
- 2. The Rights and Education of Children in Islam and Christianity, Amman, Jordan, (13-15 December 1990).
- 3. Women in Society, According to Islam and Christianity, Rome, Italy, (24-26 June 1992).
- 4. Religion and Nationalism, Amman, Jordan, (18-20 January 1994).
- 5. Religion and the Use of the Earth’s Resources, Rome, Italy, (18-20 April 1996).
- 6. Human Dignity, Amman, Jordan (3-4 December 1997).
D. Muslim-Christian Consultations with the Evangelical Church in Germany as Follows:
- 1. Contribution of Islam and Christianity to of Peace, Loccum, Hanover (13-15 November 1995).
- 2. Religion and Secularism, Amman, Jordan, (7-9 April 1997).
- 3. Common Role of Muslims and Christians in Building up a Developing World, Berlin, Germany, (29 September - 1 October 1999).