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Panelists to explore how their different faiths intersect at Face2Face discussion

A Jew, Muslim, and Christian will dialogue about what lies at the core of their faith heritages and how people from these distinct faith traditions might work together for peace and justice, at Canadian Mennonite University’s next Face2Face community discussion.

Titled, “A Conversation within an Abrahamic Tent: A Jew, Muslim, and Christian in Dialogue,” the event happens Tuesday, February 7 at 7:00 PM in Marpeck Commons (2299 Grant Ave.). Admission is free, and everyone is welcome to attend.

F2F iContactParticipating in the discussion will be Dr. Karl Koop, Professor of History and Theology at CMU, who will represent the Christian tradition; Dr. Ruth Ashrafi, Judaic Studies Advisor at Gray’s Academy, who will represent the Jewish tradition; and Shahina Siddiqui, founder and Executive Director of the Islamic Social Services Association, who will represent the Muslim tradition.

Conversations like these are important because Jews, Muslims, and Christians share a common humanity as well as a significant portion of scripture and faith tradition, says Dr. Harry Huebner, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Theology at CMU, who will moderate the discussion.

“We’ve gone in different directions and we have different specific traditions, but we are part of a common people struggling for the meaning of life,” says Huebner, who also serves as Director of International and Inter-Faith Theological Initiatives at CMU.

Although there is significant divergence and diversity within each of these faith traditions, and only one person will be at the event to represent each tradition, dialogues like this can still have value, Huebner adds.

“It’s important that we speak and listen to each other, even out of a context of imperfection and incompleteness,” he says.

Panelists will talk about what lies at the core of their faith heritage, and what gift or contribution their faith tradition brings to its adherents and to society.

They will also discuss the challenges their faith traditions face, as well as what their faith tradition values most in the other two faith traditions represented.

Panelists will also share their thoughts on how Jews, Muslims, and Christians might be able to work together for peace and justice in the world.

“Adherents of these different faiths are often seen as in some ways competing with each other, and we don’t need to,” Huebner says. “I hope what people see in an event like this is the possibility for there to be mutual respect and significant openness for difference among the adherents of these different faiths. We don’t have to be the same in order to live in peaceful and just relationship with one another.”

Started in 2013, Face2Face is a series of conversations organized by CMU, designed to engage the community on a wide variety of current events and issues at the intersection of faith and life.

“A Conversation within an Abrahamic Tent” is the third of four Face2Face events CMU is scheduled to host during the 2016-17 school year. For details, visit cmu.ca/face2face.

About CMU
A Christian university in the Anabaptist tradition, CMU’s Shaftesbury campus offers undergraduate degrees in arts, business, humanities, music, sciences, and social sciences, as well as graduate degrees in theology, ministry, peacebuilding and collaborative development, and an MBA. CMU has over 800 full-time equivalent students, including those enrolled in degree programs at the Shaftesbury and Menno Simons College campuses and in its Outtatown certificate program.

For information about CMU visit www.cmu.ca.

For additional information, please contact:
Kevin Kilbrei, Director of Communications & Marketing
kkilbrei@cmu.ca; 204.487.3300 Ext. 621
Canadian Mennonite University
500 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, MB  R3P 2N2

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Muslim scholar to speak at Canadian Mennonite University

Dr. Mohammad Ali Shomali of Qom, Iran to deliver lecture entitled, “The Impact of Christian-Muslim Relations on World Peace”

A revered Muslim scholar will give a public lecture exploring Christian-Muslim relations at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) this month.

Dr. Mohammad Ali Shomali, Founding Director of the International Institute for Islamic Studies (IIIS) in Qom, Iran, will present the lecture, entitled, “The Impact of Christian-Muslim Relations on World Peace,” at 7:00 PM on Wednesday, March 30. Shomali will speak in Marpeck Commons (2299 Grant Ave.). Admission is free, and all are welcome.

2016_shomali“We are excited to host Dr. Shomali at CMU,” says Dr. Harry Huebner, Director of International and Inter-Faith Theological Initiatives at CMU. “He has a deep commitment to peace, justice, love, and mercy. It will be interesting to hear him speak on the significance of the relationship between Christians and Muslims on world peace.”

A successful teacher and an engaging storyteller, Shomali is a graduate of the Islamic Seminaries of Qom, and also holds Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in Western Philosophy from the University of Tehran. He earned his PhD from the University of Manchester in the UK and wrote his doctoral thesis on ethical relativism.

In addition to his work with the IIIS, Shomali is the Director of London’s Islamic Centre of England.

Shomali’s visit stems from an ongoing relationship between Shi’a Muslim scholars from Iran and Mennonite scholars from Canada and the U.S. These scholars first met in 2002 to start an ongoing series of dialogues that aim to improve understanding between Muslims and Christians.

The seventh dialogue is scheduled to take place at CMU in 2017.

Huebner adds that Islam is often misunderstood in the mainstream media, and hearing from Muslims directly is one way for people to explore new perspectives.

The March 30 lecture marks the first time Shomali will make a public presentation as part of his visit to CMU, providing the public with a unique opportunity.

“The news doesn’t give us a good understanding of what Islam is,” Huebner says. “Getting to know people from Iran is one way of cutting across that.”

View a report by Dr. Shomali on the lecture, as appeared in the May 2016 issue of Islam Today, here.

About CMU

A Christian university in the Anabaptist tradition, CMU’s Shaftesbury campus offers undergraduate degrees in arts, business, humanities, music, sciences, and social sciences, as well as graduate degrees in theology, ministry, peacebuilding and collaborative development, and an MBA. CMU has over 800 full-time equivalent students, including those enrolled in degree programs at the Shaftesbury and Menno Simons College campuses and in its Outtatown certificate program.

For information about CMU visit www.cmu.ca.

For additional information, please contact:
Kevin Kilbrei, Director of Communications & Marketing
kkilbrei@cmu.ca; 204.487.3300 Ext. 621
Canadian Mennonite University
500 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, MB  R3P 2N2


Footage from the public lecture event

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Events Lectures News Releases

Muslim scholar to speak at Canadian Mennonite University

Dr. Mohammad Ali Shomali of Qom, Iran to deliver lecture titled, “Characteristics of Shi’a Islam”

Dr. Mohammad Ali Shomali, Founding Director of the International Institute for Islamic Studies (IIIS) in Qom, Iran, will give a lecture titled, “Characteristics of Shi’a Islam: An Overview,” at 7:00 PM on Friday, March 13 in the Laudamus Auditorium (500 Shaftesbury Blvd.).

Dr. Mohammad Ali Shomali, Founding Director of the International Institute for Islamic Studies in Qom, Iran, will give a lecture at CMU on March 13.
Dr. Mohammad Ali Shomali, Founding Director of the International Institute for Islamic Studies in Qom, Iran, will give a lecture at CMU on March 13.

“It is exciting to have Dr. Shomali at CMU for the fourth time in as many years,” says Dr. Harry Huebner, Director of International and Inter-Faith Theological Initiatives at CMU. “He is a man of deep faith, an effective teacher, and an engaging storyteller. It is especially important in today’s climate to hear Islam explained by a scholar from within the faith.”

Shomali is a graduate of the Islamic Seminaries of Qom, and also holds Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in Western Philosophy from the University of Tehran. He earned his PhD from the University of Manchester and wrote his doctoral thesis on ethical relativism.

Dr. Harry Huebner of CMU (left) and Dr. Mohammad Ali Shomali of the International Institute for Islamic Studies (middle) speak during a 2014 visit in Qom, Iran.
Dr. Harry Huebner of CMU (left) and Dr. Mohammad Ali Shomali of the International Institute for Islamic Studies (middle) speak during a 2014 visit in Qom, Iran.

In addition to his work with the IIIS, Shomali is the Director of London’s Islamic Centre of England.

CMU is hosting Shomali as well as seven of his graduate students from Qom from Sunday, March 8 until Wednesday, March 18. During this time, CMU faculty will teach the students an intensive course in Christian Systematic Theology.

It will be the third time since 2011 that CMU has hosted Muslim students from Iran.

“Dr. Shomali believes it is important for his students to be trained in, and understand, other monotheistic faiths,” Huebner says. “He also believes it’s important for his students to be exposed to Western culture and Western societal dynamics.”

Dr. Harry Huebner of CMU (second from left) and Dr. Mohammad Ali Shomali of the International Institute for Islamic Studies (third from left) participate in an interfaith dialogue in Qom, Iran last year.
Dr. Harry Huebner of CMU (second from left) and Dr. Mohammad Ali Shomali of the International Institute for Islamic Studies (third from left) participate in an interfaith dialogue in Qom, Iran last year.

The visit stems from a series of dialogues that began in 2002 that bring together Shi’a Muslim scholars from Iran and Mennonite scholars from Canada and the U.S. The goal of these dialogues is to improve understanding between Muslims and Christians.

Last May, four professors and six students from CMU travelled to Qom for the sixth dialogue. Afterward, the students spent 14 days in the cities of Isfahan, Shiraz, and Tehran. They travelled to significant sites to learn more about Iran’s history, people, beliefs, and culture.

The trip, as well as the Muslim students’ upcoming visit, was made possible in part by a grant Huebner received from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Huebner says he is looking forward to hosting Shomali and the students.

“These are students that will be the future clerics, professors, and Shi’a Islam leaders in Iran,” Huebner says. “For us to be in dialogue with them, and learn to relate to them as friends, is extremely significant for the future.”

Huebner adds that Iranian society is driven by intellectual pursuit and thus places a high value on academics, which makes possible a special relationship between universities.

He is excited to see what members of the CMU community can learn from these visitors.

“We need to remember that there is another world of scholarship out there,” Huebner says. “Our awareness and openness to that is important.”

He adds that Islam is often misunderstood in the mainstream media, and Muslim-Christian dialogues and exchanges like this help create better relationships.

“The news doesn’t give us a good understanding of what Islam is,” Huebner says. “Getting to know people from Iran is one way of cutting across that.”

About CMU
A Christian university in the Anabaptist tradition, CMU’s Shaftesbury campus offers undergraduate degrees in arts, business, humanities, music, sciences and social sciences, and graduate degrees in Theology and Ministry. CMU has over 1,600 students, including those enrolled in degree programs at the Shaftesbury campus and in its Menno Simons College and Outtatown programs.

For information about CMU, visit www.cmu.ca.

For additional information, please contact:

Kevin Kilbrei, Director of Communications & Marketing
kkilbrei@cmu.ca; 204.487.3300 Ext. 621
Canadian Mennonite University
500 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, MB  R3P 2N2