Evaluating the Impact of Interfaith Dialogue Between the Muslim American Society and the Catholic Church, Especially Through the Focolare Movement, from the Perspective of Indigenous Muslim Americans
Author(s)Najee-ullah, Tariq Shadeed
Imam Warith Deen Mohammed
Muslim American Society
Pope John Paul II
Islam and culture
African Americans -- Research
African American studies
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In this age of intense polarization between liberal freedom and political correctness, on the one hand, and the demagoguery of religious extremists and politicians, on the other hand, there is unending argument, strife, and brinkmanship threatening the peace of our civil society. Religion is frequently used to polarize parties instead of bringing humanity together and invoking the better angels of human nature. Rather than helping bring agreement via dialogue, religion is used to create enemies. Religion is being used to wage war and evoke fears instead of establishing peace and building fruitful alliances. Interfaith dialogue represents a meaningful way to bring parties together peacefully in a way that resolves conflicts and creates friendships. Additionally, interfaith dialogue allows for spiritual sharing and spiritual companionship which opens pathways of communication that lead to opportunities for greater mutual respect and shared understanding.
A July 2004 Special Report by the United States Institute of Peace presents a method for evaluating interfaith dialogue programs. It suggests a theory of social change whereby teachers involved in dialogue can impact change in the society. This thesis will test this hypothesis by conducting an analysis of interfaith dialogue between The Muslim American Society and The Catholic Church, especially through the Focolare Movement. The Muslim American Society was the name of the largest indigenous Muslim American community led by the late Muslim leader, Imam Warith Deen Mohammed. Focolare is an international Catholic and predominantly lay community founded and led by the late renowned leader, Chiara Lubich. Specifically, this thesis will apply the suggested analysis to assess and evaluate the meetings and interfaith dialogue between representatives of the Roman Catholic Church and Imam Warith Deen Mohammed and his associates.
The foundational concept for this thesis is to analyze material resulting from this dialogue drawn from articles reporting and evaluating the meetings of the dialogues and from the testimonials of the participants. This analysis will allow scholars to understand why the dialogue was successful. Specifically, source materials for this thesis are drawn from articles written that historically document the meetings, programs, speeches, and nature of the relationship between the Imam, his associates, and different representatives of the Catholic Church.
A number of the articles are written by my thesis mentor, John Borelli. Additional sources include articles from Muslim Journal, transcripts of lectures by Imam Warith Deen Mohammed, interviews of participants, as well as those who participated in subsequent interfaith dialogues between the communities. Using the special report of the United States Institute of Peace to provide a methodology for evaluation, this thesis will apply this analytical method to the various meetings and dialogues between the two general parties. Conclusions and implications will be drawn from the analysis.
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