02 July 2016
AsiaNews.it Twitter AsiaNews.it Facebook
Geographic areas




  • > Africa
  • > Central Asia
  • > Europe
  • > Middle East
  •    - Bahrain
  •    - Iran
  •    - Iraq
  •    - Israel
  •    - Jordan
  •    - Kuwait
  •    - Lebanon
  •    - Oman
  •    - Palestine
  •    - Qatar
  •    - Saudi Arabia
  •    - Syria
  •    - Turkey
  •    - United Arab Emirates
  •    - Yemen
  • > Nord America
  • > North Asia
  • > South Asia
  • > South East Asia
  • > South West Asia
  • > Sud America
  • > East Asia

  • mediazioni e arbitrati, risoluzione alternativa delle controversie e servizi di mediazione e arbitrato


    » 01/26/2016, 21.19

    ISRAEL – PALESTINE

    Bethlehem University offers a “friendship” programme for Christians and Muslims



    Fr Iyad twal heads the Religious Studies Department. The interreligious dialogue programme creates a space where students and teachers can create bonds of friendship, showing how religion can be "a tool of peace." Fr Twal hopes to expand the programme to all the universities in the Holy Land, involving Christians, Muslims, and Jews to highlight the “human side” of religion.

    Bethlehem (AsiaNews) – Fr Iyad twal has been the head of the Religious Studies Department at Bethlehem University for the past three years. The 42-year-old spoke to AsiaNews about its interreligious dialogue programme, which is open to Christian and Muslim students.

    Speaking about the latter, he noted that “when they register, their first goal is marks, high marks to get their degree. However, over time, they realise that their degree goes beyond marks, and becomes a lesson for life. In class, we want to provide a better understanding of the other, with a positive outlook, so that both Christians and Muslims can speak truly and honestly.”

    As a private Catholic college, Bethlehem University is the only institution of higher learning that offers this kind of programme. For students and their families, if offers "a step forward towards co-existence and mission. This means that religion can become part of the solution and a tool of peace in this land."

    Established in 1973 on the initiative of Pope Paul VI, the university has welcomed thousands of students over the past 40 years. The latter can choose among five faculties, including Business Administration and Nursing and Health Sciences.

    In the past few years, interreligious dialogue has been offered to Christian and Muslim students, from various faculties and departments, interested in learning the basics of these two great religions. The goal is not academic per se, but is meant to highlight the human side, the contact points, and the elements in both on which peace and coexistence can be built.

    The programme has five sessions per semester, three hours a week for 16 weeks. Open to a maximum of 45 students, it is divided into two parts, one taught by a Christian faculty member, the other by a Muslim.

    The two courses on Christianity and Islam are separate but joint meetings are held to discuss common topics. For example, “Before Christmas,” Fr Iyad said, “we had a public meeting with all the students, and addressed the issue of peaceful resistance in Islam and Christianity."

    Everyone can enrol but most of those who register are university students even though the courses are optional for graduation. Students coming from outside the Religious Studies Department “include nursing and science students, both male and female.”

    The idea, first broached 12 years ago, is to help Christians and Muslims " know each other better," said Fr Iyad, so that they can overcome the mutual "prejudice and ignorance" that often hampers contact.

    The two groups face concrete problems because Christians tend to live in the larger towns and cities, whereas Muslims are more rural; hence, they do not have many opportunities to meet, which limits interaction.

    "We want to give young people of both faiths the ability to understand the other's religion, not with a desire to evangelise or compare, but only to explain and show, so that each can describe their own faith as they wish, i.e. bearing witness!"

    For the head of the Religious Studies Department, the courses are instrumental in overcoming prejudice and ignorance. For instance, "Muslims wonder how Jesus can be the Son of God, and as God have sex with Mary . . . They do not understand.”

    “What we do is illustrate the concept of the Immaculate Conception of the Trinity,” Fr Twal explained. “This way they understand the dogma, things are clearer in their minds, and the walls of ignorance fall. Muslims also like the idea of a God who is love.”

    Another recurring element in the programme is the sense of community in the Holy Land. “All of us are citizens of this land. Being one of its citizen means accepting that all three monotheistic religions belong to this land. People must know history and in history are the three religions. There are no infidels, no anomalies."

    According to a pre-Christmas survey among students, the programme "has changed people’s lives”. Today, various young people, including Muslims, “come to me for spiritual guidance,” Fr Twal said. They come “to confide in me, call me abouna, father, because they feel close to us. Initially, they were cold, but as the course unfolds connections are made.”

    Fr Twal now hopes that the programme “will not be limited to Bethlehem but will be extended to all of the universities of the Holy Land, in Palestine and Israel.”

    “I hope that it will not be too academic,” he added, “but centred on the human side, open to all three religions and attended by Christian, Muslim and Jewish students”.

    e-mail this to a friend Printable version










    See also

    22/03/2010 IRAQ
    Kirkuk: ex PM Allawi leading over Kurdish parties
    With 92 per cent of ballots counted, secular Al-Iraqiyah coalition heading for victory over the Kurdistania alliance. The province is strategically important because of its huge oil reserves. Former prime minister, who is ahead of outgoing PM al-Maliki, might also score a victory at the national level as well.

    29/04/2010 IRAQ
    Allawi calls for new election under UN, EU and Arab League supervision
    The leader of the secular Iraqiya coalition also wants a caretaker government to break the post-election stalemate. The vote recount sought by al Maliki has not yet begun. The unconstitutional Justice and Accountability Commission has banned 52 elected candidates with links to Saddam Hussein; its chairman is tied to Tehran.

    13/02/2006 IRAQ
    Naming cabinet not an easy task for Jaafari
    Moderate Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds and secular Iraqis disappointed and worried about the United Iraqi Alliance's decision to give outgoing Prime Minister the task of naming new cabinet.

    18/03/2010 IRAQ
    Nineveh governor wants international probe into attacks against Mosul Christians and minorities
    The governor blames Kurdish militias and parties, calls for UN-EU investigation. Kurdish sources tell AsiaNews that al-Qaeda and inefficient law enforcement are to blame.

    08/08/2005 IRAQ
    Constitutional talks to begin homestretch
    The August 15 deadline is approaching fast before the final draft is ready.  Kurdish autonomy and state-religion relations still need ironing out.



    Editor's choices

    CHINA – VATICAN
    Mgr Ma Daqin, the Vatican and the Patriotic Association’s “crooked logic”

    Gu Feng

    A priest in central China looks at the bishop of Shanghai’s volte-face, comparing him to John the Baptist who was jailed after he accused Herod. Because of their crooked logic, the Patriotic Association and the government seek to eliminate religion from the country. The Vatican is in danger of contradicting itself if it makes compromises with the Patriotic Association. Pope Benedict XVI described the latter as “incompatible” with Catholic doctrine in his Letter to Chinese Catholics, which Pope Francis has never disclaimed, but has instead reiterated.


    CHINA - VATICAN
    Mgr Ma Daqin’s volte-face, a cross to bear for the sake of Shanghai

    p. Pietro dalla Cina

    The auxiliary bishop of Shanghai holds dear the welfare of his diocese and intends to carry alone the burden of his statements of four years ago. Fr Lombardi’s clarification on the role of the Holy See dispels any doubt: the Letter of Benedict XVI to the Chinese Church is still valid; thus the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association's position is not accepted by the Vatican. A Chinese priest comments. Translation by AsiaNews.


    AsiaNews IS ALSO A MONTHLY!

    AsiaNews monthly magazine (in Italian) is free.
     

    SUBSCRIBE NOW

    News feed

    Canale RSScanale RSS 

    Add to Google









     

    IRAN 2016 Banner

    2003 © All rights reserved - AsiaNews C.F. e P.Iva: 00889190153 - GLACOM®