Webinar: A New Spirit in Christian-Muslim Relations in India


IDCR (Institute for Dialogue between Cultures and Religions – Chennai, and ISA (Islamic Studies Association) – Delhi jointly hosted a book review webinar on “A New Spirit in Christian and Muslim Relations in India: Three Jesuit Pioneers” by the Dr Joseph Victor Edwin SJ.

The webinar began with a short prayer from the Holy Quran read by Deacon Devadoss Francis. Professors Michael D Calabria OFM (St Bonaventure University, NY) and Felix Korner, SJ (Berlin Institute for Advanced Studies, Berlin) reviewed the book.

Professor Calabria pointed out that in his book, Father Edwin demonstrates the two key aspects of Christian-Muslim relations in our time: the Jesuit heritage and the South Asian context, a unique combination that is centuries old and yet d ‘timeless relevance. His compelling analysis of the contributions of three prominent Jesuit scholars – Victor Courtois, Christian W Troll and Paul Jackson – demonstrates that peaceful and productive relations between Christian and Muslim peoples depend not only on exemplary scholarship of both traditions, but also on an openness to the presence of the Divine in the other, and an embrace of the other believer as brother or sister.

The revolutionary scholarship and prophetic partnerships of these three Jesuits with South Asian Muslims – or four Jesuits including Father Edwin – underscore the fertile ground that India’s multireligious culture presents to the seeker and practitioner of dialogue and interreligious relations. Father Edwin shows us that the caliber of their scholarship and the quality of their relationships are both vitally and fundamental to correcting the mistakes of the past and building a future that reflects the best of our respective traditions.

Fr. Edwin offers us a short and useful history of Christian-Muslim encounters. This backdrop allows us to understand his assessments of the Three Precursors, said second reviewer Felix Körner. He added that Edwin addresses a key question: how to dialogue as a Christian with Muslims in India? He approaches his question wisely, in particular by presenting three models, three Jesuit pioneers of recent decades. With sharp analysis, the book is written beautifully containing a strong power of inspiration. It is fair to say that Edwin does theology in his book: “He offers insight, teaches and exposes arguments on key topics of Islamic-Christian dialogue”. Körner added: “There is an exemplary pedagogy throughout the book: Edwin brings out the key points, spots the most striking ideas of these three Jesuits and organizes them with clarity.” In conclusion, he said: “In my opinion, Edwin’s book is very inspiring and can be used as a textbook, because of the importance of its content, the liveliness of its method, the precision of its language and the clarity of its presentation. “.

Some Muslim participants who attended the webinar were happy to witness the respect Christian scholars show for Islam. Ultimately, author Dr Joseph Victor Edwin SJ noted that dialogue is not about giving something to another rather than having the humility to listen to the other. By recognizing the identity of others, we can effectively engage in the mutual enrichment of our faith. At the end, he expressed his deep gratitude to all and concluded the session with a beautiful and meaningful prayer.

A New Spirit in Christian-Muslim Relations in India: Three Jesuit Pioneers, by Joseph Victor Edwin SJ, with a Preface by Cardinal Michael L Fitzgerald, ISPCK and HMI 2021, ISBN: 978-93-90569-26-7, $ 17 US, Rs 350).

Keywords: Victor Edwin, Muslim РChristian, A New Spirit in Christian-Muslim Relations in India: Three Jesuit Pioneers, Felix K̦rner, India, Victor Courtois, Christian W Troll, Paul Jackson. Dr Joseph Victor Edwin SJ, Deacon Devadoss Francis, Michael D Calabria OFM, Felix Korner, SJ

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