A major obstacle in the Muslim Christian dialogue. The case of twentieth century Islamic fundamentalism

Fanaticism: a major obstacle in the Muslim Christian dialogue. The case of twentieth century Islamic fundamentalism

Roberto Marin-Guzman

“ISLAM CAN ONLY SUCCEED BY the use of weapons, as was true in the past”, wrote Muhammad ‘Abd al-Salam Faraj in his al-Farida al-Gha’iba. Faraj is one of the most influential fundamentalist leaders in Egypt, and the major ideologue of the radical group Tanzim al-Jihad, a fundamentalist cell, responsible for the assassination of President Sadat in 1981. Faraj and his followers propose violence, terrorism, and political assassinations, as a means to accomplish their objectives. This violence and their attacks to Coptic Christians -an example of their intolerance–are in stark contrast to the understanding, peace, forgiveness and tolerance that Islam purports to hold as virtues. Unlike some practices of Christianity, Islam is a militant religion, although this militancy is mainly reserved for spiritual matters, as well as in dally life, but only under very specific circumstances. As a general rule, peace, forgiveness, and understanding are always highly recommended to the believer. Modern Muslim fundamentalists, on the other hand, emphasize the militant practice of Islam and try to justify their violence through religion.

How has it been possible for modern fundamentalists to emphasize the militant doctrines of Islam and, instead of peace and understanding, preach aggression and violence? How have they managed to employ these means and forget the other messages contained in the Qur’an? For example: “Believe in Allah and His messenger and the Scripture which He hath revealed unto His messenger, and the Scripture which He revealed aforetime” (IV, 136); “Lo! Those who believe, and those who are Jews, and Sabaeans, and Christians–whosoever believeth in Allah and the Last Day and doth right–they shall no fear come upon them neither shall they grieve” (V, 69); “There is no compulsion in religion. The right direction is henceforth distinct from error. And he who rejecteth false deifies and believeth in Allah hath grasped a firm handhold which will never break. Allah is Hearer, Knower” (II, 256)?

Islam also accepts the self-defense, as contained in the Qur’an: “Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture as believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, and forbid not that which Allah hath forbidden by His messenger, and follow not the religion of truth, until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low” (IX, 29); and “Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities. Lot Allah loveth not aggressors. And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution is worse than slaughter. And fight not with them at the Inviolable Place of Worship until they first attack you there, but if they attack you (there) then slay them. Such is the reward of disbelievers” (II, 190-191) also: “O ye who believe! When ye go forth (to fight) in the way of Allah, be careful to discriminate and say not unto one who offereth you peace: “Thou art not a believer’, seeking the chance profits of this life (so that ye may despoil him). With Allah are plenteous spoils. Even thus (as he now is) were ye before; but Allah hath since then been gracious unto you. Therefore take care to discriminate. Allah is ever Informed of what ye do” (IV, 94).

Despite this, Islamic scripture frequently calls for peace: “And it they incline to peace, incline thou also to it, and trust in Allah. Lo! He is the Hearer, the Knower” (VIII, 61).

Modern radical fundamentalists take qatalu fi sabil Allah (fight in the way of Allah) and the other doctrines of self-defense out of context to justify the violence they employ to accomplish their objectives. They also take out of context and try to put into practice the Qur’anic passage: “Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them and take them (captive), and besiege them and prepare for them each ambush.” (IX, 5).

How has it been possible for modern Muslim fundamentalists to abrogate the traditional Islamic scriptural insistence on tolerance for Jews and Christians, a major characteristic of this religion during the Middle Ages? How have they managed to change this into intolerance, violence and persecutions in modern times? The purpose of this essay is to analyze these issues, answer the questions, and to investigate Islamic fundamentalist groups, which have become a major obstacle in the Christian-Muslim dialogue.

It is important to keep in mind that the intolerance and systematic violence of most of the modern fundamentalist groups are not intrinsic to Islam; they are part of these groups’ rejection of the secular governments in the Muslim States, as well as a reaction to colonialism, economic exploitation, social grievances, and the unequal distribution of wealth which has caused class struggles. For many fundamentalist leaders the use of violence and the declaration of Jihads are the only valid means to struggle against societies they consider to be Jahiliyya (characteristic of the situation in pre-Islamic Arabia before the revelation of Islam to Muhammad; i.e., the time of polytheism). Their negative feelings against the West are a result of their resentment.

This essay will also analyze the response of the West to fanatical Muslim fundamentalists, a response that has also led to prejudices, misunderstandings and generalizations and stereotyping.

Two final purposes of this article are to clarify that not all Muslims are fundamentalists, nor are they fanatical, violent, or aggressive as some in the West have often portrayed them. It also explains that, despite the islamiyyun’s opposition to inter-religious dialogue, their rejection of the West, and their attacks on Christians–actions that have blocked and hurt the dialogue on certain levels- the mutual understanding between Christianity and Islam and the interest to continue the dialogue persists among many Christians and Muslims. No matter how vehement their opposition to the dialogue has been, the islamiyyun have not been able to annihilate it. On the contrary, the interest in keeping it alive has survived despite the ordeals.


Fundamentalism is a term used mainly by Christians and the West. When the term is applied to Islam, it causes difficulties and misunderstandings. The use of this term has become common, and it is often applied to those Muslims, individuals or groups, who are radical, militant, and fanatical, i.e., those who preach violence and other aggressive means such as Jihads, and terrorist acts in order to achieve their goals.

Muslim scholars, on the other hand, have used various words to refer to those who wish to revive Islam. These words have different connotations than the term fundamentalism has in the West. For example islah means reform, salafiyya implies a return to ancestors, tajdid is renewal, nahda is renaissance. Other terms that have been applied to the radical Muslims are takfir (excommunication), hijra (flight from unbelief), and islamiyyun (islamists). This lest term, as well as the phrase “radical Muslims,” are the most precise notions that may be applied to those Muslim groups who wish to revive Islam and who practice violent means. They call themselves islamiyyun. None of the above meanings for islah, salafiyya, tajdid, nahda, takfir, or hijra, convey the exact meaning for radical Muslims. In order for both Westerners and Muslims to understand what I am saying in this essay, I will use the words fundamentalists and islamiyyun (Islamists) as synonyms, as well as the terms “radical Islam” and “radical Muslims.” It is important, however, to keep in mind the subtle differences and to be aware of the compromises implied in the use of these terms.

Islamic fundamentalism stems from the desire to return to the fundamentals of Islam, which include the Qur’an, the Sunna (the tradition of the Prophet and the sayings and deeds of Muhammad) and the Shari’a (the Islamic Law). The aims of Islamic fundamentalism are to rescue the core values of Islam, to restore the Islamic state and to oppose anything that has penetrated Islamic society (umma) as an innovation (bid’a). Bid’a refers to everything that is contrary to Islamic principles. Fundamentalism follows the teachings of original Islam and makes no distinction between politics and religion. Due to this, in some cases, such as in Iran, fundamentalist leaders assume that the political guidance of the society must come from the ‘ulema or religious leaders. When the ‘ulema become a part of what the Islamists consider a non-Islamic government, or when they align themselves with secular political factions, then the islamiyyun are bound to direct their struggle against them. Such has been the case in Egypt, Syria, Turkey, among many others. To the Islamists, the restoration of original Islam in present-day society seems to be the only alternative to failure, crisis and secularism.

Islamic fundamentalism contains three basic tensions that happen to be inherent to Islam itself. (1)

1. Transcendence vs. immanence of God

2. Diversity vs. unity

3. Authenticity vs. openness (keeping to the old ways

vs. admitting new ways)

1. The first tension, brought about by the conflict between the idea of the transcendence versus that of the immanence of God, suffuses all the main religious traditions of the Middle East. According to Max Weber, in this geographic area, the definition of God encompasses personal, transcendent and ethical forms. (2) During the beginning period of Islam, the transcendental view of God was strongly emphasized to contrast with the naturalist animistic tendency prevalent at the time. (3) Nevertheless, the personal or immanent view of God also found its place in Islam. The gap between whet is human and divine was narrowed by the Islamic view that man is close to God because of the virtue, forgiveness, and mercy of Allah. (4) And thus Allah is close to the pious man.

The belief that God is transcendent basically means there is a surmountable distance between God and man. In Islam, Allah is perfection, power and mercy, while man is imperfect. Man is the creation of God, and due to his imperfection, he is inclined towards evil, pride, and selfishness. In Islam, Istakbara (pride) and Istaghana (selfishness) are the two main causes of the fall of man. (5) Given the enormous separation between Allah and man, due to the perfection of the Creator and the imperfection of man, all human beings must be submitted to God. This is the precise meaning of Islam (Islam equals submission, that is man’s submission to the will of Allah).

The doctrine of immanence means that God is also very close to man, as the Qur’an makes clear: “We verily created a man and We know what his soul whispereth to him, and We are nearer to him than his jugular vein”(L, 16). Due to this idea of the proximity of man to God contained in the Koran, the Sufis, the mystics of Islam, sought and found Allah in several ways: through personal experience, the renouncement to everything that is mundane, and through the practice of tawakkul Allah (complete trust in Allah). They found Allah in fana’ (self-annihilation), through the practice of Dhikr (constant awareness of God), and they professed the doctrine of ma’rifa qalbiyya (that the knowledge of God comes from the heart of the believer through love), and by many other mystical approaches. (6)

Fundamentalists, on the other hand, have emphasized the transcendence of God. Some of them, like Taqi al-Din Ahmad Ibn Taymiyya (d.1328), who is considered to be a fundamentalist, although he was mainly a Hanbelite, a follower of the most conservative of the four madhahib (legal schools), or like Muhammad Ibn’ Abd al-Wahhab (18th century)-the namesake and inspiration of the Wahhabites–vigorously insisted upon the transcendence of Allah. From the political standpoint of modern Islamists, the transcendence of God means that just as man submits to the authority of God, so society must submit to the political-religious leaders. Fundamentalists insist that their ‘ulema, must be the authorities of the Muslim umma (society). Therefore, Muslim fundamentalist leaders assert that everyone must obey their command, submit to the authority of Allah, and, furthermore, accept the revelation contained in the Qur’an, as well as the Shari’a of legal principles.

2. The second tension within Islam results from the great diversity of cultural influences within the Muslim umma and the idea that there must be unity among them. As a consequence of the expansion of Islam (Intishar al-Islam), the Muslim Empire faced a great number of diverse cultures, peoples, and religions, all of which became a major threat to the unity of Islam, both as a religion and as a culture. In general, Islam found it necessary to define the terms “unity” and “diversity” so that it could maintain a semblance of authenticity and unity in an empire of diversity. (7) It is important to keep in mind that Islam neither opposed nor rejected cultures outside the Islamic tradition. On the contrary, Islam was able to integrate them, and this is one of the reasons it is characterized by the ability to assimilate different cultures. Ever since the beginning of the Islamic Empire, a balance was maintained between theological unity and cultural diversity. Nevertheless, the definition of the Muslim umma, also conveyed the idea that any deviation from the commands of Allah constituted a serious threat to the integrity of the umma. This doctrine is widely shared by Modern fundamentalists, who base all their behavior on the Qur’an and the Sunna. Islam, therefore, accepted all the cultural influences and technological and scientific developments that dial not contradict the principles of the religion.

3. The third tension within Islam results from the dialectic relationship between what is foreign to Islam and what is original to it. Islam recognized the achievements and successful deeds of non-Muslim, of foreign cultures. This is contrasted with the perceived need to protect and preserve Islamic values and culture. There is no doubt that this tension resulted from the confusion regarding the degree to which Muslims were to interpret the Islamic tradition, as well as confusion about how much freedom would be granted to accept elements from other cultures that were not explicitly forbidden by Islam. Medieval Islamic society was receptive to influences from other cultures. The Muslim umma accepted several philosophies, art forms (except those that included the realistic representation of animals and human beings), and scientific developments that originated within foreign civilizations. Thus, imperial administrative institutions were incorporated into Islam to transform the umma from a tribal organization and provincial confederation into a cosmopolitan empire. (8) Greek thought and philosophy, as well as countless other influences, were also incorporated into Islam. (9) Despite the acceptance of a variety of foreign influences, the Muslim umma did not forget, in fact, widely preserved its own Islamic bases. The state’s political theory was never too Persian nor too Greek, at least not to the point that the clear connection with the essentials of the Islamic tradition was broken. The cultural development of Islamic civilization resulted, in large part, from integrating diverse cultures into the Islamic whole. (10)

Nevertheless, both medieval and modern “ulema, as well as modern islamiyyun were and are keen to accept a literal interpretation of the Qur’an and the Sunna, arguing that innovation (bid’a) has a negative effect upon Muslim faith. (11) Moreover, fundamentalism vigorously opposes anything that is foreign to Islam, and seeks to eliminate it when possible. These notions are closely and especially linked to the Hanbalite school of thought. The tension between foreign influences and the original elements of Islam has continued in modern times, and has resulted in many attempts to revive traditional culture. One example of this will suffice: Jamal ‘Abd al-Nasser in Egypt, among many others, was aware of the serious problems that Muslim society would face if it were to modernize without bearing in mind the importance of its Islamic tradition. For Nasser, Islam was primarily a cultural value rather than a religious one. However, it is important to note that Nasser was not a fundamentalist; rather he used Islam for his own political goals.

Fundamentalists have always insisted that the umma needs to keep the original principles of Islam. They have tried to persuade society to reject practices that are foreign to Islam. The primary objective of Islamists has been to return society, as much as possible, to a style of life characteristic of the time of the Prophet Muhammad. They hope, in so doing, to reestablish an Islamic state based exclusively upon Muslim law (Shari’a).

In general, we can summarize the three bases of Islamic fundamentalism: 1. The emphasis is placed upon the transcendence of Allah, rather than upon His immanence. 2. Emphasis is placed upon the unity of the umma and the rejection of the diverse influences that have penetrated Muslim society, which, in the fundamentalist view, could create internal contradictions. 3. Special importance is placed on keeping to what is considered the authentic tradition. Fundamentalists adhere to the original traditions of Islam and are opposed to foreign influences and innovation. Modern islamiyyun are also guided by those principles.

It is important to underscore the fact that fundamentalism, as an aspiration to return to the bases (fundamentals) of the religion, is not exclusively a Muslim experience. Christianity has also had similar aspirations. Various fundamentalist groups, mainly from the end of the 19th Century to the present, have emerged in Christianity. Some of these Christian fundamentalist groups are as fanatical as some of their Muslim islamiyyun counterparts. The point is clear if we recall that there is, for example, a Christian fundamentalist community that rejects the possibility for a patient to receive blood from another person. They would rather see the patient die during surgery than to accept a transfusion. In the United States there have been several Christian fanatical fundamentalist groups such as those much remembered and regretted for their collective suicides. A recent example among them was the Branch Davidians (a group of The Branch Davidian Seventh-Day Adventists). This group, led by David Koresh in Waco, Texas, practiced a collective suicide in March 1993. These are examples of Christian fundamentalist groups, which have been as fanatical and intolerant against a society considered sinful, materialistic, and decadent. Nevertheless, one has to keep in mind that not all Christian fundamentalist groups, even if fanatical, are violent, or in favor collective suicides. On the contrary, they want to follow Jesus’ teachings literarily and they want to become an example in society, which could be followed by many. Among them, for example, is the Charismatic Group in the Catholic Church.


There is no doubt that modern fundamentalist movements have emerged as a response to the perceived failures of secularism and as a reaction to the local governments that postulate a separation of religion and state, or impose laws that contradict the Shari’a. In order to achieve their religious and political goals, the Islamists advocate violent means, since they do not accept any other possible way to establish a true Islamic state. So, direct opposition, violence, and often terrorism are practiced against secular governments as well as against the West, which they see as a force that imposes a new lifestyle and culture that threatens Islamic traditions.

It is important to keep in mind that the Napoleonic conquest of Egypt In 1798 and the following conquest of Syria (1799) brought new ideas such as democracy, secularism, nationalism, secular education, a new concept of the state, and the separation of religion and politics to the Arab-Muslim lands. The response of Muslim intellectuals during the 19th and 20th centuries to those new ideas and practices ranged from complete support to absolute rejection. Some chose to reject as bid’a anything that was foreign to Islam, while others insisted upon embracing ideas and innovations from Europe, even if they defied Islam. There were many middle of the road postures that attempted to respond to the influences of the new European ideas and practices that were beginning to spread over the Middle East. Some intellectuals encouraged the idea of adopting foreign doctrines that did not contradict Islam. Muhammad ‘Abduh in the end of the 19th century was one example in Egypt. (12) These moderate positions triumphed in the majority of cases. Stances supporting nationalization, secularization, the separation of politics and religion and the adoption of European laws that contradict the Shari’a spread into the Middle East. This was the case in Modern Turkey under the secular leadership of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk after World War I. (13) The plans for the modernization of Turkey also meant a certain degree of westernization. For example, Turkey replaced the Arabic alphabet with the Latin alphabet for written Turkish. It also adopted the Swiss Civil Code, the Italian Criminal Code and the German Commercial Code. Many of these laws, obviously, came into direct conflict with the Shari’a. The adoption of European-style laws explains why polygamy, a social practice accepted by Islam as permitted by the Qur’an is unlawful in present-day Turkey. (14) Furthermore, the punishment for robbery is no longer carried out according to the Shari’a, which dictates that the hand of the thief must be cut off. Adultery is no longer punished by death, nor are other vices judged according to Islamic law, but rather according to Italian criminal law, which, of course, responds to a different reality.

In Egypt, for example, due to the willingness of its politicians to enter into European alliances and military activities, the ‘ulema encouraged the return to original Islam. The ‘ulema searched in the teachings of Islam for the answers to all of the then-existing problems. Egyptian fundamentalists, as well as others in the Middle East, rejected the West, (15) especially the United States after World War II, partly due to the support that Western powers gave to corrupt and pro-Western governments such as Nuri Sa’id in Iraq, the Pahlavi dynasty in Iran, and the Numeiri government in the Sudan. Fundamentalists have also reacted negatively to the support of Western powers, especially the United States, to Israel, a state considered hostile to the Muslim world. The islamiyyun emphasize the need to end such “puppet” governments to stop the spread of Western culture into Muslim societies and to create an Islamic state under the laws of the Shari’a, the principles of the Koran, and the Sunna. This is their major objective.

Due to their logistical weakness in directly confronting the United States, Western Europe, or Israel, or even the repressive governments that operate against them (Syria, Iraq, or Egypt mainly during the Nasser years), the various Islamist groups resorted to terrorism, aggression and violence. Despite the fact that it is very difficult, if not impossible, to know why some Islamists turned fanatical, it seems that the stronger the domestic political repression due to perceived entanglements with the West, the more radical and fanatical they became. They justify their fanaticism and violence with religion. Fatwas (legal opinions based on religion) also spur their fanaticism. As an example, a leading shaykh in al-Azhar (in Cairo) the major university for Islamic studies In the Muslim world, asserted that those involved in the Palestinian fundamentalist suicide attack by Hamas against Israeli civilians on 21 January 1995 would gain Paradise. This fatwa has been a clear motivation for many others in more recent suicide attacks.

The response of the West to this violence and aggression seems to have been designed to defame, insult, and make erroneous generalizations about the Muslim world by blaming all Muslims for the actions of some groups of aggressive fanatics. The West has labeled the islamiyyun, and by extension the rest of the Muslim world, violent and aggressive, terrorists, against modernization, and illogical people. (16) As James Piscatori points out:

Islam was hostile to the West because it was fanatical …

Consequently, Muslims came to be seen as a uniformly

emotional and sometimes illogical race that moved as a one

body and spoke with one voice. (17)

This description gives the image of Muslims that has been fostered in the United States and disseminated worldwide by the international press. There is no doubt that this false image defames Muslim societies. It reflects the West’s ignorance of the Islamic world. Muslims are not a race, nor are they all emotional and illogical. It should be obvious that the diverse ethnic groups and nationalities that call themselves Muslims are not of one mind. Not even all fundamentalists are of one mind, much less can they be said to fall into those culturally biased categories. Some members of the fundamentalist groups are professors, theologians, writers, and students. Others are trained and work as doctors, lawyers and engineers.

Still, Westerners, people like Bernard Lewis, publish articles that insist Islam is the aggressor responsible for the attacks, the jihads and the conquests, while the West is behaving defensively, simply responding to the aggression with counterattacks, crusades and reconquests. (18) How did the West come to consider Islam a threat? And why do fundamentalists oppose the West? The islamiyyun view imperialism and Western expansionism as threats to Islam, despite the fact that sometimes the real threat derives from domestic flaws in their own societies.

The opposition to imperialism and colonialism stems from the fact that many Muslim societies rightly see themselves as deprived of their own resources. This perception has caused resentment, antagonism, and opposition to the West. At the same time, undoubtedly, there is an economic, technological, and scientific dependency upon the West. This has led to confrontations between the two cultures. The West has also reacted to this clash by perpetrating stereotypes and racism against Islam in general, and against fanatical, aggressive and violent islamiyyun in particular.

Islamic fundamentalism generally attracts the young, the dispossessed, and the unemployed, who suffer the effects of marginalization and extreme poverty. They resent the suffering, the shortages, and they blame and react violently against the secular governments of their own societies as tools of the West, as well as against the West itself, which they hold ultimately responsible for their economic and social ills. For them Islam is the perfect and the only solution (al-hal wahid). The violence of the islamiyyun and the response to the violence by the West have led to mutual antagonism. The West considers Islam to be a threat on three levels: 1. Political, 2. Demographic, 3. Socio-religious.

1. The West considers modern Islam to be dangerous because of a series of historic conflicts and because Westerners still recall the expansion of Islam over Europe. Several Western authors emphasize the importance of the Battle of Poitiers in 732 A.D., when Charles Martel defeated the Muslims and pushed them back towards the Iberian Peninsula. Later on, European Christians launched the Crusades to stop Muslim expansion, defeat them, and recover the holy places, particularly the city of Jerusalem, within Palestine in the name of Christianity. Pope Urban II in an eloquent and emotive speech called for the first Crusade in 1095. Even during the Crusades the pope continued preaching against Islam. At the same time, the Reconquista of Spain established a powerful guiding ideology during the 11th century. (19)

After the defeat of Muslims in Europe, i.e., in Spain during the Reconquista, (mainly during the period from the 13th to the 15th centuries) in Vienna (1529), in Lepanto (1571), again in Vienna (1683), and later the Peace of Karlowitz (1699), Islam was no longer a threat to Europe, and consequently a greater understanding of Islam was achieved. The study of the Islamic religion and culture in the West was considered to be somehow exotic and interesting after the 17th century. Suffice it to note the exotic interest that authors such as Racine, Moliere and later Voltaire had in Islam and the Turks in the 17th and 18th centuries. The use of Turkish rhythms in music, as well as other influences in the 18th century, were mastered by Mozart in some of his renown works. (20)

World War I marked the end of the Ottoman Empire. After this confrontation, the Middle East was fragmented into various nations. Nevertheless, before the division, Arab nationalism that aimed to create a greater state for all Arabs developed. At the same time, pan-Islamists endeavored to regain the unity of the Islamic world. However, colonialism, the Western presence, the interests of local bourgeois classes, and many other internal factors led to the failure to create one Arab state. As a result of political divisions several states emerged with relatively artificial of arbitrary borders. Ironically, due to such fragmentation, and to the inability to achieve the aspirations of pan-Islamism, Islam has once again gained strength and is now considered by many as the solution and the only alternative. Consequently, many Muslims have reacted negatively towards local ruling groups and towards the West, which tries in various ways to impose itself over Islamic societies. (21) In recent times, once again Islam, and in particular the fundamentalist groups, are considered to be an international threat to Europe and to the West as a whole.

2. Muslim populations also represent a demographic threat to the West, due to the fact that Muslim immigrants have higher fertility rates compared to the original inhabitants of Western Europe. Some Westerners see this as a threat to the Old Continent and as a general challenge to Western culture. On the other hand, it is also important to keep in mind that Europe has received a great influx of Muslim immigrants from Asia and Africa. (22) This has generated an unfavorable reaction from the West towards Muslims in Europe. This reaction is based, on one hand, on the fact that these immigrants have a different religion and culture, and on the other hand, on the enduring xenophobic and racist attitudes in some European nations against Africans and Asians. Due to such attitudes in Europe, some fanatical social sectors in Great Britain and Germany, for example, have developed anti-Arab and anti-Muslim attitudes. This is another kind of fanaticism that has negative implications as well.

3. The socio-religious and cultural threat can be observed in Europe because of the numerous Muslim groups that belong to a different culture, practice a different religion and live a very different lifestyle. (23) In France, for example, it was forbidden for young girls to go to school wearing the chador (veil) over their faces. The presence of Muslim immigrants in Europe poses a threat to European culture due to their inability and sometimes refusal to blend into the European civilization. Regarding the new immigrants in Europe, an article in the New York Magazine noted that:

Our former immigrants were Europeans; these are

not. Arab girls who insist on wearing chuddars [the chador,

veil or covering] in our schools are not French and don’t want

to be … Europe’s past was white and Judaeo-Christian. The

future is not. I doubt that our very old institutions and

structures will be able to stand the pressure. (24)

During recent years, the reaction of Muslim fundamentalists against Western domination has been exceedingly violent. Several Islamist groups have resorted to terrorism as a way to achieve their goals. The violence and terrorism have been directed both against the West and the secular and pro-Western governments where the islamiyyun live. Thus, Islamic fundamentalism can be seen both as a national and as an international actor. The response of the West has been immediate, as previously explained, and involves the systematic program to defame and slander Islamist groups and by extension the entire Muslim community, which is again considered to be a threat for Europe and for the entire Western Christian civilization.

The situation was further intensified during the Islamic fundamentalist resistance against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. The Afghan mujahidin, the soldiers who fought the holy war against the Soviet invaders, had plans that resembled the aims of other fundamentalist groups. These plans included the liberation of the territory seized by foreign troops and the eventual foundation of an Islamic state in Afghanistan. The Soviet’s perception of the fundamentalist groups at the time was similar to the perception that the West had. Yet due to the Cold War, Western nations were opposed to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and supported Islamist elements in that nation. (25) The Soviet perception of Islamic fundamentalism during the Cold War is accurately portrayed by the comments of Professor Bruno Etienne:

One of my Russian colleagues, a specialist on

Muslim affairs, told me that he could not comprehend the

enthusiastic support portrayed by the French left for the

Afghan cause: to him, the USSR was relieving the West

of the Islamic barbarians.’ (26)

Modern Muslim fundamentalist groups propose a revival of Islam and a quest for authentic Islam by emphasizing the issues explained above concerning the three tensions inherent to their religion. The islamiyyun are convinced that Islam provides a self-sufficient ideology for the state and society, end it is the only alternative to the secular system, which is widely seen as having failed. Perhaps this points to yet one more reason for their fanaticism and intolerance.

As one might expect, the quest for identity has varied from country to country, being different even among the Muslim Arab nations. In Lebanon, for example, a society divided into different political-religious groups, which has resulted in a highly sectarian society, religion has been the main force for identity. For example, in Lebanon, the Shi’i community, for many years considered a minority group, lived in a country dominated by the Maronite Christians who were considered the majority. Christians probably were the majority at one time, but by 1975, when the civil war started, Muslims were by far the majority of the Lebanese population, even though no new census was taken after the one by the French in 1932.

The Lebanese Shi’i community called for a fairer distribution of wealth and opportunities in the country, as well as for equitable political representation, and claimed to be dispossessed despite being in the majority. To organize the Shi’i community and to give it a sense of identity, based on its own history, characteristics, symbols, and faith, a charismatic leader, Imam Musa al-Sadr, organized and mobilized the Shi’i community into the Harakat al-Mahrumin (The Movement of the Dispossessed) in 1974, (later it became the Amal, which means hope; it is an acronym for Afwaj al-Muqawama al-Lubnaniyya, The Lebanese Resistance Battalions). The Harakat al-Mahrumin was aware of the fact that the Shi’i community in Lebanon was very poor, and while the Christians prospered and enriched themselves, the Shi’i slums in Beirut expanded. (27) Due to this perception of the economic and political situation of Lebanon, one can easily understand the Shi’i resentment against their Christian countrymen. It is also possible to understand their suffering and why it caused the intolerance of some who also became fanatics.

Musa al-Sadr also pointed out that the Shi’i community was tired of words and speeches. He and his group demanded that their rights should be implemented. Musa al-Sadr, in a dramatic and challenging way, even asked what the rulers wanted and what the government could expect besides their fury and revolution. He defiantly asserted that weapons provided beauty to man. (28) A faction of the Amal Shi’i group separated from the major organization and became the more extreme Hizbollah (The Party of Allah)


After The Second Vatican Council, when the Catholic Church accepted the legitimacy of other religions a real dialogue started to foster understanding between Christianity and Islam. There was much interest, and several attempts for mutual acceptance were made both by Christians and Muslims, even before the Second Vatican Council. After the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church overcame many medieval prejudices against Islam, and the Church recognized Muslims as worshipers of the One and Only God. (29) This turned to be a powerful step towards the dialogue between Christianity and Islam. The Second Vatican Council preached understanding and urged people to forget past conflicts. This would benefit all humanity in that it is a call to promote social justice, moral values, peace and liberty (et pro omnibus hominubus justiciam socialem, bona moralia necnon pacem et libertatem communiter tueantur et promoveant). (30)

Following the new ideas and practices of the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI, who succeeded Pope John XXIII, issued his encyclical Ecclessiam Suam on 6 August 1964, calling for the dialogue. Pope Paul VI repeated this call in his next encyclical, Lucem Gentium, powerful proof of his involvement in this matter. (31) As a result of this interest, the Catholic Church shortly afterwards founded The Secretariat for non-Christian Religions with the purpose of promoting a dialogue leading to better understanding between Christians and Muslims. This institution has been successful and has contributed greatly to the increase of inter-religious encounters. It has also published several works dealing with these issues.

Part of The Secretariat’s achievements has been due to the visits of Cardinal Pignedoli, Monsignor Rossano and Father Abu Mokh to Muslim countries in search of a real dialogue. On the Muslim side, some leading authorities in the early seventies, such as Egyptian President Sadat and Saudi Arabian King Faysal, were receptive to the dialogue. They received Cardinal Pignedoli and his companions. As a response, some Muslims also visited the Vatican and openly favored this inter-religious understanding. A group of Muslim experts on Islamic law visited the Vatican and were received by Pope Paul VI in 1974. The interest in this approach has continued among Saudi authorities, and Prince Sultan of Saudi Arabia, for example, visited the Vatican and met with Pope John Paul II on 12 September 1997, in the hopes of improving inter-religious understanding. (32)

Many Muslims in various nations have been very receptive to the idea of Christian-Muslim dialogue. In Egypt both institutions and individuals are involved in the inter-religious dialogue. Earlier, Mahmud ‘Abbas al-‘Aqqad, a scholar, and leading Egyptian intellectual, for example, contributed his ideas and his works to further this understanding. He even wrote a book on Jesus out of respect for Christians and Christianity. The book, published in Cairo in 1944, is entitled: ‘Abqariyyat al-Masih (The Genius of Jesus). (33) Mahmud ‘Abbas al-“Aqqad was also a staunch defender of Islam and wrote such works as, ‘Abqariyyat Muhammad (Cairo, 1942); ‘Abqariyyat ‘Umar (Cairo, 1942); ‘Abqariyyat al-Saddiq (Cairo, 1943); ‘Ali al-Safud (Cairo, 1944); ‘Amr Ibn al-‘As and also Khalid Ibn al-Walid (Cairo, 1944). With his book on Jesus he declared an acceptance of Christianity and helped spread the idea that Muslims need to grasp the real meaning of Christianity.

He wrote ‘Abqariyyat al-Masih for the general public, with the intent that it should know about the life and deeds of Jesus. His explanations were both serious and respectful. He also defended the authenticity of the Injil, the Gospels, as the only real sources for the understanding of Jesus’ life and teachings. Any profound study of al-Masih, he asserted, had to go back to the Gospels. At the same time, he rejected the rationalistic protestations that doubted the miracles of Jesus. Al-‘Aqqad also emphasized the importance of Jesus’ teachings, especially that of love and the spiritual character of Christianity. (34) Remarkably this book was written two decades before the Second Vatican Council.

Another Egyptian, who also anticipated the Second Vatican Council and who was a pioneer in promoting the idea that there was a need to understand Christianity and inter-religious dialogue, was the physician and renowned humanist, Kamil Hussayn, who even occupied the prestigious position of President of the ‘Ayn Shams University in Cairo. His most important book, one that contributed to the Christian-Muslim dialogue, was Qaryatun Zalima (The City of Wrong), Jerusalem, in which he wrote about Jerusalem as the city that accused and condemned al-Masih. The title of the book is Qur’anic (XXI, 11; XXII, 45; XXII, 48). Hussayn approached the study of Jesus with respect and with great admiration for his personality and his teachings. Qaryatun Zalima is a reflection on the trial and condemnation of Jesus. The author then analyzed al-Masih’s mission, which was to remind all humanity that consciousness (which is cooperating with divine law) should be placed above everything, even above religion. Due to this book and also because of his participation in international conferences, Kamil Hussayn was one of the major leaders in the Christian-Islamic encounters. (35)

He also wrote another work, al-Wadi al-Muqaddas (The Sacred Valley) that helped to strengthen inter-religious ties. In this work he went back to his previous explanations and pointed out that, despite the doctrinal differences between the two religions, there was a common place in al-Wadi al-Muqaddas, the valley that leads believers to the only Truth (al-Haqq), (36) where an encounter could be held that would result in understanding.

Another of the many Muslim scholars who have participated in this Christianity-Islam dialogue is Muhammad Talbi, professor of history at The University of Tunisia. Dr. Talbi criticized Islamic fundamentalism, especially Ayatollah Khomeini, whose radical ideas and practices provoked worldwide political turmoil. As a result of Khomeini’s opposition to the West, the inter-religious dialogue suffered a major setback. (37) Talbi also pointed out the need for a sincere dialogue between the two religions, as well as the need for Islam to be involved in the discussions. He insisted that Muslims should be educated about Christianity in the same way that many Christians have become experts and scholars on Islam. Other important Muslim contributors to the inter-religious dialogue include Professor ‘Ali Merat (University of Lyon); Professor Hassan Saab (al-Jami’a al-Lubnaniyya, The Lebanese University); Professor ‘Aziz Labhani (Rabat); and Professor Muhammad Arkoun (Sorbonne University, Paris). (38)

The political leaders who favored inter-religious encounters include the late Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat, King Faysal of Saudi Arabia, and finally, and most importantly, the late King Hussein of Jordan, who visited the Vatican six times. Pope Paul VI visited the Hashemite Kingdom in 1965. Another notable with similar objectives is Jordanian Prince Hasan Ibn Talal, who has contributed to a real Christian-Muslim dialogue. In 1994 the Hashemite Prince Hasan Ibn Talal founded in Amman The Royal Institute for Inter-Religious Studies. The institute has sponsored several conferences, meetings and publications, including Prince Hasan’s book, Christianity in the Arab World, first published in London in 1995. (39)

The United Arab Emirates is also receptive to the idea of inter-religious understanding, thanks in great part to the works of the Egyptian scholar ‘Izz al-Din Ibrahim, advisor to President Shaykh Zayed of the United Arab Emirates. ‘Izz al-Din Ibrahim has successfully organized numerous conferences dealing with inter-religious understanding; he has also published widely in support of the idea.

Some Muslim countries are home to Christian minorities that have long been active in politics, economy, education and culture. Among the Arab Muslim countries where Christian minorities have been influential are Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Palestine. Christians have actively participated in the economic and in political life of many of these countries, as have the Maronites in Lebanon. (40) Christian educational systems in some Muslim countries have also been important, and they have had both a national and a regional impact. Again the role of the Maronites in Lebanon has been relevant, as in the case of Emir Shakib Arslan, one of the major leaders of Ottomanism at the beginning of the twentieth century. Despite his Druze origin, he recognized the superiority of the Maronite education system in Lebanon and did not hesitate to take advantage of it. (41)

Christian minorities in Muslim countries are aware that they are free citizens. Those societies respect freedom of conscience and religion. Because of this fact, Christians in those nations are eager to contribute actively both to the prosperity of their Muslim countrymen, and the country itself. This has smoothed the path to cultural pluralism in those lands. This cultural pluralism is also seen where Christians, despite being minorities, have been able to ascend the social ladder and even to occupy important administrative positions. This is proof of the tolerance that has characterized Islam for centuries. A.R. Cornelius, a Catholic in Pakistan, who served as a member of the Supreme Court for 17 years, is an excellent example. For 8 years out of those 17, he was the President of the Supreme Court. Kamel S. Abu Jaber, a Jordanian Catholic, was a member of the Parliament and served as Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. In 1998, Michel Marto, a Christian, became the Finance Minister of Jordan. Tariq ‘Aziz a Chaldean Christian, was the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iraq for many years. Leopold Senghor, a Catholic, was the President of Senegal for two decades. Senegal is also a member of the Islamic Conference. Boutrus Boutrus Ghali, a Coptic Christian, before becoming the General Secretary of the United Nations, was the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Egypt. (42)

In various European nations, especially Austria and Poland, there have been conferences, seminars, and many other meetings whose stated purpose has been to encourage a real understanding between the two religions. This is not to discredit what has been accomplished in Italy, Spain, and other European countries. Several published works with similar objectives, that is, to widen the dialogue between Muslims and Christians, have also appeared in Austria and Poland. Austria was the first European country to recognize Islam as a separate religious entity. (43) There have been two important conferences in Vienna whose purpose was to improve the inter-religious dialogue in Europe: the first, in 1993, under the title Peace for all Humanity; and the second, in 1997, with the title One World for All. Both conferences were successful in improving the dialogue, and in bringing together Christians and Muslims to work with the same objectives: to pursue understanding, and to avoid prejudices, arguments, conflicts and misperceptions. Since the results of these conferences have been studied in detail, there is no need to recount here the details of these meetings. (44)

In Poland, where the presence of Muslims goes back to the 14th century Tartar invasion, the recent dialogue has successfully brought about understanding and the overcoming of prejudices, as has been demonstrated and analyzed in detail by theologian Dr. Eugeniusz Sakowicz. (45) Dr. Sakowicz explains the role played in this inter-religious dialogue in Poland by Cardinal Gulbinowicz and Archbishop Joseph Kowalczyk, on the Christian side, and on the Muslim side, by Imam Mahmud Taha Zuk and Imam Barber. (46) Dr. Sakowicz’s editing of Religie o Drogach Pokoju i Bezdrozach Wojny (Religions on Roads of Peace and Unbeaten Tracks of War) has been one of the major contributions to the Christianity-Islam dialogue in Poland.

Georgetown University in Washington, DC, has also fostered the inter-religious dialogue through its Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, which has also been receptive to the mutual acceptance and overcoming of prejudices between Islam and Christianity. The participation of this prestigious American university contributes to the changes that are taking place in public opinion in the United States. Recently, the U.S. State Department recognized Islam as a religion of peace and tolerance, despite the violence and terrorist actions of some fanatical Muslim groups. This augurs well for dialogue and understanding. Undoubtedly, it is in direct contradiction to what has been frequently alleged by the American mass media and by many political leaders. (47) However, we need to remember that the 11 September events caused, as a response, much hatred, misunderstandings, and even xenophobic and racist feelings in certain levels of American society against Arabs and Muslims in general. To counter these feelings, President Bush had to visit a mosque in Washington and call for calm. Later he made clear to the American public, and to the world, that the war was against terrorism, not against Islam.

Even New Age groups have tried to spread these ideas of mutual religious respect and acceptance. The United Religions Initiative (URI), which is not a religion but an international organization that embraces all the religions of the world, is one example. The URI indeed accepts all religions. (48) Californian Bishop William Swing founded the URI in 1995. The organization’s charter eloquently calls for religious understanding and acceptance:

We, people of diverse religions, spiritual expressions

and indigenous traditions throughout the world, hereby

establish the United Religions Initiative to promote enduring

interfaith cooperation, to end religiously motivated violence

and to create cultures of peace, justice and healing for the

Earth and all living beings. (49)

Despite all these expressions of receptiveness to the Christian-Muslim dialogue, some modern Muslim fundamentalists, especially those who have become fanatical and intolerant, reject most of these ideas and oppose any dialogue or understanding between the two religions. These radical Muslim fundamentalists only accept their own view of their religion, even in opposition to other Muslims, as has been the case mainly in Iran, Lebanon, Palestine, Egypt, and more recently in Afghanistan.

The Islamic Revolution in Iran (1978-1979), lea by the Ayatollah Khomeini, was radical and intolerant of the West. His position resulted in the impossibility of dialogue, no matter whether it was political, economic, or religious, between Iran and the West. (50) Khomeini called the United States “the Great Satan,” an example of his fanaticism and extreme intolerance. It is possible to blame, of course, Iranian enmity on the well-documented history of Western and United Stated economic exploitation of Iran. But Khomeini went beyond this and blamed the United States for all of Iran’s problems. This fanatical perception of the West as the enemy complicates things to the point that any dialogue, especially political and diplomatic, is almost impossible. It also negatively impacts upon the possibility of inter-religious encounters, since they are not totally independent from international political events. Then there was the Salman Rushdie affair, (51) which again caused the West to find itself face to face with fanatical fundamentalist Muslims.

Certain generalizations about Islam, spread all over the world by the American mass media (mainly since the Iranian Revolution), had negative impacts upon any possible Christian-Muslim encounters. Many Muslims resented these generalizations, accusations and the misleading use of terms such as “Islamic terrorism”. Some even thought that if that was what the West believed about them, any dialogue would be a waste of time. For the West during those years it was impossible to try to negotiate or to have any contact with the fanatical fundamentalist Shi’i in power in Iran. This is why the Christian-Muslim dialogue is not, and cannot be, isolated from political developments in both Muslim and Christian countries, the latter being mainly Western Europe and the United States. If a particular political situation leads to confrontations, misunderstandings, and persecutions, the inter-religious encounters in that particular country suffer and have to wait for better times, especially when fanatical fundamentalist Muslims seize power in a nation. Once they control a state, the islamiyyun even represent a menace to their neighbors, in addition to posing a threat to the West. However, this situation usually does not last long. In Iran, for example, the recent reactivation of political and diplomatic ties with the West opens up new possibilities for inter-religious encounters, especially since the moderates have won the elections and are now in power. This has occurred mainly after the two governments of Rafsanjani, and Khatami. (52) Khatami himself visited the Vatican on 9 March 1999.

During the Lebanese civil war (1975-1990), there was also the struggle against the West, especially in the eighties. Despite the fact that the struggle was mainly political, it also had religious connotations. Fanatical Muslim fundamentalists, especially Islamic Jihad, killed for political reasons. They also acted against foreign civilians, mainly Americans, in order to force the withdrawal of American troops from Lebanon. The islamiyyun in Lebanon claimed legitimacy in their nationalist struggle. For political and also for religious and cultural reasons, the Hizbollah, for instance, attacked foreign soldiers, as in the case of the suicide bombings against the American and the French military headquarters in Beirut. These attacks were led by the Hizbollah in Lebanon on 23 October 1983. (53) They also fought against the Israelis to force them to pull out all their troops and consequently to liberate Lebanon from foreign occupation.

Early in 1984 some islamiyyun groups continued to attack foreign civilians, mainly Americans, to try to achieve the total withdrawal of American troops out of Lebanon. The killing of professor Malcolm Kerr, a prestigious Arabist and then President of the American University in Beirut, (54) shows that politics and religion are not thought of as differentiated issues, but rather as one united force. The Islamists announced that they would not stop their struggle until all American and French soldiers were out of Lebanon. By extension they were also active against the military Israeli presence in the Janub (southern region) of Lebanon that Israel had occupied after its military invasion of Lebanon in 1982. (55)

The case of Egyptian Muslim fundamentalism is one of the most relevant examples of the obstacle to the Christian-Muslim dialogue, as well as being one of the major opposition forces to the Egyptian government. Some Egyptian Islamists even rejected any dealings with their Christian countrymen. Some others, even more fanatical, considered Christians as polytheists (mushrikun). One of the most radical fundamentalist leaders in Egypt was Muhammad ‘Abd al-Salam Faraj, who was, as mentioned before, the major ideologue of the Islamist group Tanzim al-Jihad. He was also very much influenced by the political-religious thought of Taqi al-Din Ahmad Ion Taymiyya. (56) This 13th century Muslim fundamentalist leader preached violent struggle against the Mongols, who were considered infidels. Ibn Taymiyya also developed a clear doctrine, much favored and followed by modern islamiyyun in Egypt, especially Sayyid Qutb of the al-Ikhwan al-Muslim and later Faraj. This doctrine asserts that devout Muslims should not accept a ruler as a true leader only be, cause he claims to be a Muslim. This has been an important argument used by many Islamists who reject and vehemently oppose their national leaders, whom they accuse of being false Muslims. They rationalize their actions with the doctrine of a 13th century religious authority. One can easily understand the appeal this doctrine for modern islamiyyun. Another modern author who influenced almost all the Islamist groups was Abu al-A’la Mawdudi, for whom Islam was a “revolutionary ideology.” Faraj and many other modern Muslim fundamentalists have translated this doctrine into a justification for their political activism and for using violent means. Faraj’s radical doctrines can be summarized as follows:

1- The duty of all Muslims is to strive for the benefit

of the umma. This is God’s order, and it is established in the

Shari’a as well. Because the laws in effect today in Muslim

countries were created by infidels (kuffar), devout Muslims

should declare a Jihad against the governments of those

countries. Faraj’s ideas on Holy War undoubtedly followed

Sayyid Qutb’s doctrines on Jihad. (57) Furthermore, Faraj

asserted that the struggle is legitimate, because many of the

political leaders in the Muslim countries have been trained in

the West, under the supervision of Christians, Communists and


2- Any cooperation with an infidel government that

claims to be Muslim constitutes a sin. The punishment for all

such rulers is death. Until this is accomplished, true Muslims

should abstain from working for the government and from

participating in the army.

3- The continuous Jihad (Holy War) against the

infidel state is the highest obligation (farida) and the only

alternative that devout Muslims have to destroy the society of

the Jahiliyya. After annihilating it, they would be able to

revive Islam. When this is accomplished, the Shari’a will once

again be in effect. Western laws, adopted by the secular and

infidel rulers of the Muslim societies, will no longer be valid.

According to the Tanzim al-Jihad, who follows the concepts of

Holy War developed by Ibn Taymiyya in his al-Siyasa al-Sha’riyya,

(58) Jihad should also be directed against the infidels.

4- Armed struggle is the only acceptable form of

Jihad, but it should be employed only for religious reasons and

not for the sake of national of secular motives.

5- Faraj believed it was cowardly and stupid to try to

accomplish Jihad through peaceful means, through political

parties, through employing rhetoric, by means of emigration

(hijra), or through ‘uzla, separation from and rejection of the

society of the Jahiliyya. Faraj rejected and vehemently

opposed the doctrine of al-‘uzla al-shu’uriyya, (emotional

separation, i.e., from the society of the Jahiliyya) which was

developed and put into practice mainly by the Egyptian

Islamist Shukri Ahmad Mustafa and Iris followers of the

fundamentalist group al-Takfir wa al-Hijra. (59) The doctrine of

al-‘uzla al-shu’uriyya was inspired by Sayyid Qutb’s concepts

of mufasala and “uzla. (60) Faraj asserted that Islam can only

succeed by the use of weapons, as has happened in the past,

and this teaching occupies a central position in his radical

doctrines. In his opinion, true Muslims should unite in the

Jihad in order to put an end to the society of the Jahiliyya. (61)

6- The obligation of all devout Muslims is to fight

against the kuffar (infidels) inside a nation, and later against

those outside the borders of the nation. Faraj called for a

domestic Jihad against the Egyptian rulers and for an

international struggle (Holy War) against many other nations,

even European Christian countries.

7- All Muslims must learn about Jihad, even if the

person does not have much formal education. Muslims should

not look for excuses to avoid the practice of Holy War. It is not

necessary to obtain parental permission for young people to

take part in Jihad, since it is an individual obligation, just like

fasting or praying.

In summary, Faraj’s call for Jihad leads using violent means to accomplish the foundation of an Islamic State, defeat the enemies of Islam, the kuffar, both inside and outside the borders of Egypt, and finally to put an end to the Jahiliyya. The culmination of his teaching and political activism was the assassination of President Sadat in 1981. The concept of Jihad, the struggle against the Jahiliyya, the killing of a kafir ruler (Sadat was portrayed as the Pharaoh) and fanaticism are revealed in what Khalid al-Islambuli, one of the assassins, declared during his trial: “I am Khalid al-Islambuli, I have killed Pharaoh, and I do not fear death.” (62) Similar explanations were provided by ‘Abd al-Latif Hasan al-Zumur, another person involved in the assassination. Both men claimed to have killed Pharaoh and to have killed the tyrant. (63)

Under these circumstances it is clear that for these Muslim fundamentalists inter-religious dialogue is impossible. Faraj even rejected Christians and Jews and did not accept cooperation of dialogue with any other religion. His extremism was also manifested in his opinion that Christians and Jews were polytheists (mushrikun). Because of these ideas, many abuses against the Copts occurred. Fanatical islamiyyun of the Tanzim al-Jihad attacked Copts and accused them of proselytizing and sending out missionaries to various parts of Egypt. Fundamentalists claimed the Christian proselytizing consisted of distributing Christian booklets, proclamations, and cassettes, in which, according to them, the Copts attacked the Islamic dogmas. They also affirmed that some Christians had weapons and could, if they were not stopped in time, transform Egypt into a Christian nation, whose capital would be Asyut. They asserted that this happened with the Maronites in Lebanon.

Some Egyptians considered the Copts to be inferior, despite pressure to treat them equally to Muslims. Yvonne Y. Haddad explained that Salih Jawdih, editor of al-Musawwar, “advocated the Islamic unity to replace the Arab unity as a means of putting an end to “Pharaonic extremism,'” an obvious reference to the Copts. “Sensitivity to Coptic sentiment,” he said, “is unnecessary since Muslims are able to live comfortably in France, Italy, Germany.” (64) A Coptic spokesman replied that the two situations were different, since European countries were not established on a religious basis. The same spokesman also pointed out that Muslims in Europe were foreigners many of whom lived there temporarily, while the Copts had lived in Egypt for over fifty centuries, and that they have no intention of becoming foreigners in their own country. (65)

Some Egyptian Muslim fundamentalists, tainted with fanaticism, have rejected Christians. They consider their Coptic countrymen inferior, and some islamiyyun even portray Copts as enemies of Islam. The most fanatical Islamists have attacked Coptic Churches, have placed bombs in some of their churches, and have even robbed Coptic goldsmiths in order to finance their groups. (66) Some other Muslims, however, simultaneously to these events, have insisted on the need to protect the Christian minorities as the Dar al-Islam did in the past. Among them is Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who explains in his book Ghayr al-Muslimin fi al-Mujtama’ al-Islami, (Non-Muslims in the Islamic Society), the imperative to defend the Christians from any aggression in Egypt. He affirmed that if a Muslim destroyed Christian property he is obliged to compensate, or if he killed a Christian his crime is punished with the death penalty. The hand of a Muslim who steals from a non-Muslim should be amputated, since this is what the Qur’an prescribes, regardless of the victim’s faith. (67)

There are many other examples of fanaticism among Muslim fundamentalists, all of which block understanding and dialogue between religions, mainly between Islam and Christianity, but also between Islam and other faiths. In Afghanistan, for example, the fanatical Taliban controlled most of the country from 1996 to 2001, when the military attacks by the United States and its allies, supported by opposition movements located in the northern parts of the country, removed the Taliban from power. These actions took place after the tragic events of 11 September 2001. The fanaticism, intolerance, and disrespect of the Taliban for other religions were exemplified by the destruction of ancient Bamiyan Buddhist statues in Afghanistan in March 2001. Medieval Islam did not consider Buddhism a revealed religion, and based on this, as well as other justifications, the Taliban attacked the statues. (68) Similar actions could take place in other countries such as Egypt, which has a long Pharaonic history that predates Islam. In Egypt some of the Islamist groups, like the Jama’at, consider attacks on tourists and tourist destinations to be part of their violence against the government. Since the islamiyyun are against the Egyptian Pharaonic past and against European dress and customs, they consider “tourist sites legitimate targets.” (69)

Despite the instances of opposition by radical Muslim groups to any inter-religious dialogue, the interest in preserving mutual understanding between Christians and Muslims has not disappeared. Inter-religious dialogue has continued and has been successful despite the problems. Radical groups often avoid these encounters, especially if they are in power in a country. One major example of the interest to reactivate and to give a new impulse to the dialogue was the trip of Pope John Paul II to Syria and his visit to the Umayyad mosque in Damascus, where he even asserted: “for all the times that Muslims and Christians have offended one another, we need to seek forgiveness from the Almighty and to offer each other forgiveness.” (70)


1. After the Second Vatican Council, when the Catholic Church recognized Islam as one of the true religions, the possibility for inter-religious dialogue was opened. Shortly afterwards, Pope Paul VI established The Secretariat for the Non-Christian Religions which was a major step towards understanding and dialogue between Islam and Christianity. Throughout these decades, many meetings, conferences, and publications were undertaken. Muslims were receptive to these encounters and discussions. Some Muslim scholars, like Mahmud ‘Abbas al-‘Aqqad, even published books calling for mutual respect, some two decades before the Second Vatican Council.

2. Inter-religious dialogue has continued into recent times. Muslim rulers and scholars, as well as Catholic authorities have taken part. Some Protestant leaders have also been active in these encounters.

3. Islam is a religion of peace, understanding, and tolerance. However, some modern Muslim fundamentalists have distorted these profound teachings of Islam and have practiced violence, intolerance, and even persecutions against Christian minorities in various Muslim countries. As explained above, this was due to their emphasis on the militant doctrines of Islam, which they have taken out of context. The islamiyyun even take Qur’anic passages out of context to justify their violence and intolerance. They have done the same with the doctrines of historic Muslim religious authorities, such as Ibn Taymiyya. Islamists have their own ideas about Jihad, and they call for a Holy War against local governments, against the West, as well as against Christians and Jews. They also include other religions that they consider enemies, despite the historic Islamic teachings of tolerance for Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians.

4. Undoubtedly, Muslim radical groups practice intolerance, violence, and persecutions of Christians. They reject any approach to Christians, and have functioned as a major obstacle to the inter-religious dialogue, as explained throughout this essay.

5. Modern Islamic tolerance is exemplified by the numerous cases of Christians who have ascended the social ladder and who have occupied important administrative positions, as shown in the essay. For centuries and into modern times Muslims and Christians lived in peace and cooperated mutually. They frequently had businesses together and respected one another. In more recent times, Muslims in some countries recognized the more advanced Christian educational systems and have benefited from their schools.

6. Modern Islamists have held very radical positions against the West and intend to block any possible understanding whether political, economic or religious. Their fanaticism and rejection of Western culture and its influences, as well as their opposition to the penetration of capitalism into their societies, stemmed from their emphasis on unity over the diversity held sacred in Islam, as well as from their emphasis on maintaining the authenticity of historic Islam. In modern times they have understood these emphases to be a total rejection of and vehement opposition to the West. Their fanaticism may also have been influenced by the weight of fatwas delivered by some influential religious leaders. Because of this fanaticism, the West is described on occasions as the major negative force, the enemy. This was shown in the discussion of Khomeini in Iran and Muhammad ‘Abd al-Salam Faraj in Egypt. Faraj followed the major ideas and practices of modern fundamentalist leaders, such as Sayyid Qutb, Mawdudi, and also Ibn Taymiyya.

7. Islamic fundamentalism has been a strong force for overthrowing regimes (Shah Muhammad Reza Pahlavi in Iran, for example), has killed Presidents (Sadat), has fought fox a country’s liberation (Hizbollah in Lebanon, Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Palestine against Israel and the West, the struggles in Afghanistan as well as the extremist Islamists in Algeria), and so on. These actions have terrorized the West and, as a result, inter-religious dialogue has been placed in an international context and has been endangered. The West, in response, has characterized all fundamentalists as terrorists, violent and backward people. The West’s erroneous generalizations have also been major obstacles to understanding and inter-religious encounters.

8. Finally, the Christian-Islamic dialogue is not totally independent from political developments. Undoubtedly, the inter-religious dialogue must be viewed within the major framework of international politics. Despite the many ordeals and challenges, the dialogue has been of interest to Christians and Muslims alike. The call for inter-religious understanding has grown louder and stronger in recent years.


(1.) For further reading see: John Voll, “The Sudanese Mahdi: Frontier Fundamentalist,” in International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol. X, No. 2, 1979, pp. 145-166. See also: Duncan B. Macdonald, The Religious Attitude and Life in Islam (Beirut: Khayats, 1965), passim. Ignaz Goldhizer, Muslim Studies (London: Allan & Unwin), 1971, Vol. II, pp.255-344. Roberto Marin-Guzman, El Islam: Religion y Politica. Interpretacion Mesianica del Movimiento Mahdista Sudanes (San Jose: Alma Mater, Editorial de la Cooperativa de Libros de la Universidad de Costa Rica, 1986), pp. 94-99.

(2.) See: Max Weber, The Sociology of Religion (Boston: Bacon Press, 1963), p.56. Marin-Guzman, El Islam: Religion y politica, p.94.

(3.) For more information see: Roberto Marin Guzman, El Islam: Ideologia e Historia (San Jose: Alma Mater, Editorial de la Cooperativa de Libros de la Universidad de Costa Rica, 1986), pp.310-312. Roberto Marin-Guzman, “Razon y revelacion en el Islam,” in Revista de Filosofia, Vol. XXII, Numbers 55-56, 1984, pp. 133-150.

(4.) For more information see: Goldziher, Muslim Studies, Vol. II, p. 262.

(5.) See: J.A. MacCulloch, “Eschatology,” in Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics (Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1964), Vol. V, pp.337-391. D.B. Macdonald, “Al-Kiyama,” in Shorter Encyclopaedia of Islam (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1974), pp.263-266. Montgomery Watt, Islamic Philosophy and Theology (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1979), passim, especially p.67. Marin-Guzman, El Islam: Ideologia e Historia, pp.267-269. Roberto Martin-Guzman, “La Escatologia Musulmana, Analisis del Mahdismo,” in Ka ina, Vol. X, No. 1, 1986, pp.99-114, especially pp.99-100. See also: Roberto Marin-Guzman, “Mahdyzm-Muzulmanski Mesjanizm,” in Collectanea Theologica, Vol. LIX, No. 4, 1989, pp.137-144.

(6.) For more information about Sufism, Islamic mysticism, the following sources are recommended: Reynold A. Nicholson, Studies in Islamic Mysticism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978), passim. Reynold A. Nicholson, The Mystics of Islam. An Introduction to Sufism (New York: Schocken Books, 1975), passim. Margaret Smith, An Introduction to Mysticism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977), passim. A.J. Arberry, Sufism. An Account of the Mystics of Islam (London: Mandala Books, 1979), passim. Martin Lings, “Que es el Sufismo?(Madrid: Taurus, 1981), passim. Abdul Haq Ansari, “Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi’s Doctrine of Wahdat al-Shuhud,” in Islamic Studies, Vol. XXXVII, No. 3, 1998, pp. 281-313. Marin-Guzman, El Islam: Ideologia e Historia, pp.191-202. Roberto Marin-Guzman, “Sufizm–Mistycyzm Islamu,” in Collectanea Theologica, Warsaw, Vol. LX, 1990, pp.113-118. Roberto Marin-Guzman, “El Sufismo, Misticismo Islamico”, in Tiempo Actual, a o X, numero 38, 1985, pp.43-57. Roberto Marin-Guzman, “Un cuento sufi en Las Mil y Una Noches: La historia de Abu al-Hasan con Abu Ya’far el leproso. Analisis del contexto social y religioso del Islam medieval,” forthcoming publication in Miscelanea de Estudios Arabes y Hebraicos (Spain: University of Granada, 2002).

(7.) See: Voll, “The Sudanese Mahdi: Frontier Fundamentalist,” pp. 145-166.

(8.) Voll, “The Sudanese Mahdi: Frontier Fundamentalist,” p.150. Marin-Guzman, El Islam: Religion y Politica, pp.94-95.

(9.) For further detail see: Watt, Islamic Philosophy and Theology, passim, in particular pp.91 ff.

(10.) For more information see: Gustav von Grunebaum, Unity and Variety in Muslim Civilization (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1955), p.23. Voll, “The Sudanese Mahdi: Frontier Fundamentalist,” p.149.

(11.) In relation to the concept of bid’a, see: D.B. Macdonald, “Bid’a,” in Shorter Encyclopaedia of Islam (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1974), p.62. J. Robson, “Bid’a” in Encyclopaedia of Islam (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1960) Vol. I, p.1199.

(12.) See: Albert Hourani, Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age, 1798-1939 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), passim. Roberto Marin Guzman, La Guerra Civil en el Libano. Analisis de contexto politico-economico del Medio Oriente (San Jose: Editorial Texto, 1985), pp.128-130. Hamid Enayat, Modern Islamic Political Thought (Austin: The University of Texas Press, 1982), p.20, pp.41-42, pp.47-56, p.61, pp.67-69, p.83, p.90, p.135, p.185.

(13.) Regarding secularism and the modernization of Turkey see: Bernard Lewis, The Emergence of Modern Turkey (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1968), pp.239-319. George Lenczowski, The Middle East in World Affairs (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1952), pp.120-126.

(14.) Regarding important legal changes in Muslim societies of the Middle East, see: A. Layish and R. Shahan, “Nikah in the Modern Islamic World. The Arab, Persian and Turkish lands of the Middle East,” in Encyclopaedia of Islam (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1973), Vol. VIII, pp.29-32. J.D. Anderson, Law Reform in the Muslim World (London, 1976); J.D. Anderson, Islamic Law in Africa (London, 1954); N.J. Coulson, A History of Islamic Law (Edinburgh, 1964); Y. Liant de Bellefonds, Traite de droit musulman compare (Paris, 1965); J. Schacht, An Introduction to Islamic Law (London, 1966); J.J Nasir, The Status of Women Under Islamic Law (London, 1990); Muhammad Abu Zahra, Al-Ahwal al-Shakhsiyya (Cairo, 1957); Muhammad Mustafa Shalabi, Ahkam al-Usra fi al-Islam. Dirasa Muqarina Bayna Fiqh al-Madhahib al-Sunniyya wa al-Madhhab al-Ja’ fari wa al-Qanun (Beirut, 1973); Shahla Haeri, Law of Desire. Temporary Marriage in Shi’i Iran (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1989); John Esposito, Islam and Development. Religion and Sociopolitical Changes (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1980); Roberto Marin-Guzman, “La Familia en el Islam: su doctrina y evolucion en la sociedad musulmana,” in Estudios de Asia y Africa, Vol. XXXI, No. 1 (99), 1996, pp.111-140.

(15.) The majority of Muslim fundamentalists in Egypt do not belong to the “ulema establishment, since the “ulema frequently were allied and supported the Egyptian governments, even Nasser’s Egyptian Revolution. The “ulema even called it the “Blessed Revolution”. For more information concerning these issues see: Morroe Berger, Islam in Egypt Today. Social and Political Aspects of Popular Religion (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970), p.70. Muhammad Mahmud “Ulwan, Al-Tasawwuf al-Islami, Cairo, 1958, passim, especially pp.54 ff.; Hrair Dekmejian, Islam in Revolution. Fundamentalism in the Arab World (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1995), passim. Marin-Guzman, El Fundamentalismo Islamico, pp. 126-127.

(16.) John L. Esposito, The Islamic Threat. Myth or Reality? (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), p. 178.

(17.) James Piscatori, Islam in a World of Nation States (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), p. 38. See also: Esposito, The Islamic Threat, p. 180. Raficq Abdullah, “A Muslim Perspective on Islamic Fundamentalism,” in M. Darrol Bryant and S.A. Ali, Muslim-Christian Dialogue. Promise and Problems (Saint Paul, Minnesota: Paragon House, 1998), pp.203-211, especially pp.205-206. He wrote: “It has become commonplace in the Western world to associate Islam with terrorism, fanatical militancy and vitriolic, anti-democratic, anti-Western sentiment. There is a growing belief among some Western opinion-formers who seem to be incapable of thinking other than in stereotypes, that the Islamic world has replaced the now defunct Soviet Union and Communism as the common enemy. There is indeed an underlying strata of latent racism in the plethora of lurid images of Islam spewed out daily by the Western media which inevitably produce a reductionist and inimical representation of Islam, suggesting an almost genetically inscribed difference between Western, secular culture and a more viscerally-compelled yet rule-bound Islamic world.” (pp.205-206).

(18.) See: Bernard Lewis, “Roots of Muslim Rage,” in Atlantic Monthly, September, 1990, p.2. See also Esposito, The Islamic Threat, p.178. Bernard Lewis, despite being one of the leading scholars in Arabic and Islamic studies, shows some prejudices and misunderstandings in his article “Roots of Muslim Rage.”

(19.) For more information see: Marcel Defourneaux, Les francais en Espagne aux Xle et Xlle siecles (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1949), pp. 59-124. Roberto Marin-Guzman, “Crusade in al-Andalus: The Eleventh Century Formation of the Reconquista as an Ideology,” in Islamic Studies, Vol. XXXI, No. 3, 1992, pp.288-318. For more information see also: Roberto Marin-Guzman, El Espiritu de Cruzada Espanol y la Ideologia de la Colonizacion de America (San Jose: Ediciones del Instituto Costarricense de Cultura Hispanica,, 1985), pp. 1-2.

(20.) See: Maxime Rodinson, Europe and the Mystique of Islam (Seattle: University of Washington, 1987), pp. 37-71. Montgomery Watt, The Influence of Islam in Medieval Europe (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1979). Roberto Marin Guzman, “El Islam en Europa. Una aproximacion historica,” in Arnoldo Rios, Problemas de Actualidad Europea (Heredia: Editorial de la Universidad Nacional, 1999), pp.261-316. Among Mozart’s masterpieces with Turkish rhythm are his rondeau “alla turca,” from his piano sonata in A major K.331; his A major Violin concerto (Number 5), k.219, and his opera Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail (Il ratto del serraglio). It is also worth mentioning the Turkish disguises and other Turkish motives in his opera Cosi fan tutte.

(21.) For more information concerning Arab nationalism see: Sylvia Haim, Arab Nationalism. An Anthology Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976); Zidane Zeraoui, El Mundo Arabe. Imperialismo y Nacionalismo, CEESTEM (Mexico: Nueva Imagen, 1981), p.35-49. Marin-Guzman, La Guerra Civil en el Libano, p.121-152.

(22.) For further detail see: B. A. Roberson, “Islam and Europe: An Enigma or a Myth?,” in The Middle East Journal, Vol. XLVIII, No. 2, 1994, pp.288-308, especially pp.299-305. Jorgen Nielsen, “Muslims in Europe in the late Twentieth Century,” in Yvonne Y. Haddad and Wadi Zaidan Haddad, Christian-Muslim Encounters (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1995), pp.314-327, especially pp.322-325.

(23.) Nielsen, “Muslims in Europe in the late Twentieth Century,” pp.322-325. Roberson, “Islam and Europe: An Enigma or a Myth?,” pp.299-305.

(24.) Judith Miller, “Strangers at the Gate: Europe’s Immigration Crisis,” in New York Magazine, 15 September 1991, p.86. Also see: Esposito, The Islamic Threat, p. 177. Marin-Guzman, “El Islam en Europa,” passim. For further discussion of these issues see: Nielsen, “Muslims in Europe in the late Twentieth Century,” pp.324-325.

(25.) As a reaction to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the administration of President Carter in the United States boycotted the Moscow Olympic games in 1980. Many other U.S. allies did the same. As a result of this, the Soviets and their allies boycotted the 1984 Olympic games in Los Angeles. For further details concerning the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, see: Gilles Kepel, La Yihad. Expansion y Declive del Islamismo (Barcelona: Ediciones Peninsula, 2000), passim, especially pp.205 ff. Ahmed Rashid, Los Taliban El Islam, el petroleo y el Nuevo “Gran Juego” en Asia Central(Barcelona: Ediciones Peninsula, 2001), passim, especially pp.19 ff. Roberto Blancarte, Afganistan La Revolucion Islamica frente al Mundo Occidental (Mexico: El Colegio de Mexico, 2001), passim, especially pp. 113 ff. and pp.223 ff.

(26.) Bruno Etienne, El Islamismo Radical (Madrid: Editorial Siglo XXI, 1996), p.2.

(27.) For further details concerning the Harakat al-Mahrumin, and the economic grievances of the shi’ite community in Lebanon, see: Al-Haya, (Beirut) 12 February 1974; Richard Augustus Norton, Amal and the Shi’a. Struggle for the Soul of Lebanon (Austin: The University of Texas Press, 1987), passim, especially pp.42-47; Kamal S. Salibi, Crossroads to civil war: Lebanon 1958-1976 (New York: Caravan Books, 1976), passim, especially p.78 and pp.115 ff.; Robin Wright, “Lebanon,” in Shireen Hunter, The Politics of Islamic Revivalism. Diversity and Unity(Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988), pp.57-70, especially p.62; Robin Wright, Sacred Rage. The Wrath of Militant Islam (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1985), passim, especially pp.48-51 and pp.57-70; Fuad Ajami, The Vanished Imam(Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1986), passim; Esposito, The Islamic Threat, passim, especially pp.14-17 and pp.143-145. Marin-Guzman, El Fundamentalismo Islamico, pp.344-345. Marin-Guzman, La Guerra Civil en el Libano, pp.256 ff. and pp.267 ff.

(28.) For more information see: Wright, “Lebanon,” p.62. Imam Musa al-Sadr mysteriously disappeared during a trip from Tripoli to Rome in 1978.

(29.) Los Documentos del Vaticano II. Los Dieciseis Textos Oficiales Promulgados por el Concilio Ecumenico, 1963-196 (Mexico, 1966), passim, especially pp.653-666; and for more details see also p.660. See also the English translation of these Documents: The Documents of the Second Vatican Council, W.M. Abbott (ed.),(London, 1966), p.663. During medieval times most Christians considered Islam a false religion and Muhammad the creator of schism. Many discussions, arguments and works were written against Islam during medieval centuries, and it was not a coincidence that Dante placed Muhammad in the Inferno of his Divine Comedy. Muslims defended from such attacks and frequently argued against Christians whom they considered to have literarily falsified the Gospels. Even though Muslims accepted Christianity as a revealed religion, they opposed many Christians and their arguments. Among them one can mention Abu “Uthman “Amr Ibn Bahr al-Jahiz (d. 868-869), “Ali Ibn Ahmad Ibn Sa’id Ibn Hazm (d. 1064), Abu al-Walid Sulayman al-Baji (d. 1081), just to mention only a few of the major Muslim medieval authors who wrote works of criticism against Christians.

(30.) See: Los Documentos del Vaticano II, passim, especially pp.653-666. See also: Roberto Marin Guzman, “La presencia del Islam en Occidente: de las reacciones cristianas a la busqueda de la comprension”, in Revista de Humanidades: Tecnologico de Monterrey, Number 9, 2000, pp.217-276, especially p.274.

(31.) For further details see: Georges C. Anawati, “An Assessment of the Christian-Islamic Dialogue,” in Kail C. Ellis, The Vatican Islam, and the Middle East (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1987), pp.51-68, especially p.54 and p.67. Ralph Braibanti, Islam and the West. Common Cause or Clash? (Washington, D.C.:The Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, Georgetown University, 1999), passim, especially pp.1-2; pp.12-13. ‘Izz al-Din Ibrahim, “Islamic-Christian Dialogue: A Muslim View,” in M. Darrol Bryant and S.A. Ali, Muslim-Christian Dialogue. Promise and Problems (Saint Paul, Minnesota: Paragon House, 1998), pp.15-27, especially pp.16-17. Marin Guzman, “La presencia del Islam en Occidente”, passim, especially pp.254-255. Marin Guzman, “El Islam en Europa”, passim.

(32.) For further details see: Anawati, “An Assessment of the Christian-Islamic Dialogue,” p.67. Braibanti, Islam and the West, passim, especially pp. 12; pp.12-13 and p.16. Marin-Guzman, “La presencia del Islam en Occidente,” pp.254-256. Michael L. Fitzgerald, “The Secretariat for Non-Christians is ten years old,” in Islamochristiana. Dirasat Islamiya Masihiyya, Rome, 1975, Vol. I, pp.87-96. Concerning the participation of the World Council of Churches (W.C.C.), see: J.B. Taylor, “The involvement of the World Council of Churches (W.C.C.) in the International Regional Christian-Muslim Dialogue,” in Islamochristiana. Dirasat Islamiya Masihiyya (Rome, 1975), Vol. I, pp.97-102.

(33.) For further details see: Anawati, “An Assessment of the Christian-Islamic Dialogue,” pp.51-68. See also: Marin-Guzman, “El Islam en Europa”, passim. Marin-Guzman, “La presencia del Islam en Occidente,” passim, especially pp.256-257.

(34.) For further details concerning al-‘Aqqad and his “Abqariyyat al-Masih, see: Anawati, “An Assessment of the Christian-Islamic dialogue,” passim, especially pp.63 ff. P.J. Vatikiotis, The History of Modern Egypt. From Muhammad ‘Ali to Mubarak (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991), passim, especially pp.326-327; p.526. See also: Marin-Guzman, “La presencia del Islam en Occidente,” pp.217-276, especially pp.256-257.

(35.) See: Anawati, “An Assessment of the Christian-Islamic Dialogue,” passim, especially pp.63-64. George C. Anawati, “Jesus et ses juges d’apres la Cite inique du Dr. Kamel Hussein,” in MIDEO, Vol. II, 1955, pp.71-134. Montgomery Watt, Muslim-Christian Encounters. Perceptions and Misperception (London: Routledge, 1991), pp.125-127. See also: Harold S. Vogelaar, “Religious Pluralism in the Thought of Muhammad Kamil Hussein,” in Yvonne Y. Haddad and Wadi Zaidan Haddad, Christian-Muslim Encounters (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1995), pp.414-422. Marin-Guzman, “La presencia del Islam en Occidente,” passim, especially p.257.

(36.) For further information see: Anawati, “An Assessment of the Christian-Islamic Dialogue,” passim, especially p.65. Marin-Guzman, “La presencia del Islam en Occidente,” passim, especially p.257.

(37.) See: Watt, Muslim-Christian Encounters, p.126.

(38.) See: Anawati, “An Assessment of the Christian-Islamic Dialogue,” passim, especially p.66. Watt, Muslim-Christian Encounters, p.103, p.119, p.126. Marin-Guzman, “La presencia del Islam en Occidente,” passim, especially p.258. Marin-Guzman, “El Islam en Europa,” passim.

(39.) Prince Hasan Ibn Talal, Christianity in the Arab World (New York: Continuum, 1998), passim, especially pp.86-90. For further information concerning the Christians in the Arab lands, see: Kenneth Cragg, The Arab Christian. A History in the Middle Eas (London: Mowbray, 1992), passim. Robert Haddad, Syrian Christians in Muslim Society. An Interpretation (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1970), passim. For a specific study of the political, economic, religious and social situation of Christians in the Muslim lands, and a detailed discussion of the Muslim justice toward Christians, and also other religious minorities, see: Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Ghayr al-Muslimin fi al-Mujtama” al-Islami (Cairo: Maktaba Wahba, n.d.), passim. (Also published by: Mu’assasat al-Risala (Beirut: 1983), p.7, and pp.9-10.

(40.) For further details see: Marin-Guzman, La Guerra Civil en el Libano, passim. Roberto Marin-Guzman, La Emigracion Libanesa en los Siglos XIX y XX. Analisis de sus causas economico-sociales (San Jose: Editorial Alma Mater, Editorial de la Cooperativa de Libros de la Universidad de Costa Rica, 1998), passim. Roberto Marin-Guzman, “Las causas de la emigracion libanesa durante el siglo XIX y principios del XX. Un estudio de historia economica y social,” in Estudios de Asia y Africa, Vol. XXXI, No. 3, (101), 1996, pp.557-606.

(41.) For further details concerning the political activities of Shakib Arslan, see: Hourani, Arabic Thought, passim, especially pp.223-224; p.299; pp.303-304; pp.306-307; p.371. William L. Cleveland, Islam against the West. Shakib Arslan and the Campaign for Islamic Nationalism (Austin: The University of Texas Press, 1985), pp.xvi-xvii; pp.1-27. For more information concerning the Muslim desire for European technology and education, see: Watt, Muslim-Christian Encounters, pp. 100-103.

(42.) Braibanti, Islam and the West, passim, especially p.16. Marin-Guzman, “La presencia del Islam en Occidente,” p.259.

(43.) Jan Slomp, “‘One World for All’: The Vienna Dialogue Process,” in Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, Vol. XVIII, No. 1, 1998, pp.181-186, especially p.183. See also: R. Potz, “Die Anerkennung der islamischen Glaubensgemeinschafl in Osterreich,” in Johannes Schwartlander, Freiheit der Religion Christentum und Islam unter dem Anspruch der Menschenrechte (Mainz, 1993), pp.135-146. Nielsen, “Muslims in Europe in the late Twentieth Century,” pp.321-322. Marin-Guzman, “El Islam en Europa,” pp.261-316, especially p.297.

(44.) For further details see: Slomp, “‘One World for All’: The Vienna Dialogue Process,” pp. 181 – 186, especially pp. 183-184. Potz, “Die Anerkennung der islamischen Glaubensgemeinschafl in (Osterreich,” pp.135-146. See also: Marin-Guzman, “El Islam en Europa,” passim, especially, pp.297-298. Marin-Guzman, “La presencia del Islam en Occidente,” passim, especially pp.259-260.

(45.) For further details concerning the Christian-Muslim dialogue in Poland, see: Eugeniusz Sakowicz, (ed.), Religie o Drogach Pokoju i Bezdrozach Wojny (Religions on Roads of Peace and Unbeaten Tracks of War), (Lublin, Poland: 1994), passim. Eugeniusz Sakowicz, “Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations in Poland,” in Islamochristiana Dirasat Islamiya Masihiyya (Rome, 1997), pp.139-146.

(46.) Sakowicz, “Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations in Poland,” pp.142-143.

(47.) Braibanti, Islam and the West p.7. Marin-Guzman, “La presencia del Islam en Occidente,” passim, especially p.253.

(48.) See its internet page: http://www.united-religions.ore/newsite/index.htm.

(49.) See: http://www.united-religions.org/newsite/index.htm, quoted by Manuel Ruiz Figueroa, “La espiritualidad New Age y el Sufismo,” in Estudios de Asia y Africa, Vol. XXXVII, No. 1 (117), 2002, pp.97-136, especially pp. 111 ff.

(50.) For more details concerning the Iranian Islamic Revolution (19781979), see: Behrang, Iran, un eslabon debil del equilibrio mundial (Mexico: Editorial Siglo XXI, 1979); Nikki R. Keddie, Roots of Revolution An Interpretative History of Modern Iran (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981); Michael Fischer, Iraq From Religious Dispute to Revolution (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1980); Roberto Marin-Guzman, El Derrumbe del Viejo Orden en Iraq Ensayo historico sobre la caida de la Dinastia Pahlavi (1925-1979), (San Jose: Editorial de la Universidad de Costa Rica, 1989). See also: Ayatullah Ruhullah Khumayni, Hukumat-i Islami and Vilayat-i Faqih, Islam and Revolution, English translation by Hamid Algar (Berkeley: Mizan Press, 1981). See also Fred Halliday’s discussion of the elusive normalization of relations between Western Europe and the Iranian Revolution: Fred Halliday, “An elusive normalization: Western Europe and the Iranian Revolution,” in The Middle East Journal, Vol. XLVIII, No. 2, 1994, pp.309-326.

(51.) For further details see: Watt, Muslim-Christian Encounters, pp. 114115. Nielsen, “Muslims in Europe in the late Twentieth Century,” p.321. See also: Halliday, “An elusive normalization: Western Europe and the Iranian Revolution,” pp.309-326.

(52.) For more information refer to: Anoushiravan Ehteshami, After Khumayni. The Iranian Second Republic (London: Routledge, 1995), passim, especially pp.88-89; pp.104-105; p.107; pp.110-117; pp.121-122. Ettela’ at, Friday 7 November 1997. Interview with Hafez Farmayan, The University of Texas at Austin, 15 January 1998. See also: Marin-Guzman, El Fundamentalismo Islamico, pp.91-95.

(53.) See: Time, 31 October 1983, pp.8-15. In this suicide attack 241 American marines were killed, and 59 French paratroopers were also killed in a similar bombing. This provoked the withdrawal of American troops out of Lebanon by March 1984. See for further details: Time, 5 March 1984, pp.6-8. See also: Wright, “Lebanon”, pp. 57-70, especially p.65. Norton, Amal and the Shi’a, passim, especially p.88. Richard Augustus Norton, “Political violence and Shi’a factionalism in Lebanon,” in Middle East Insight, Vol. III, No. 2, 1983, pp.9-16. Esposito, The Islamic Threat, passim, especially pp.145-151. Marin-Guzman, La Guerra Civil en el Libano, passim, especially pp.268-280. Marin-Guzman, El Fundamentalismo Islamico, pp.352-360.

(54.) For more details concerning the killing of doctor Malcolm Kerr in Beirut, see: Time, 30 January 1984, pp.8-9. An anonymous phone called to France Press in Beirut claimed that the fundamentalist group Islamic Jihad was responsible for this killing, and that Malcolm Kerr was “the victim of the American military presence in Beirut’ (Time, 30 January 1984, p.8). See also: Marin-Guzman, El Fundamentalismo Islamico, pp.352-353.

(55.) For more details concerning the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, see: The Washington Past, 14 June 1982 and 22 June 1982. The Philadelphia Inquirer, 30 June 1982. The Economist, 19 June 1982, p.22. The New York Times, 22 June 1982, 1 July 1982, 28 July 1982. The Jerusalem Past, 7 June 1982. Le Monde Diplomatique, 8 June 1982, 10 June 1982, June 12, 1982, and 13 and 14 February 1983. For a whole description of these events see: Al-Nahar, 27 May 1983. See also: Sheila Ryan, “La invasion israeli al Libano,” in Estudios Arabes, Vol. II, Nos. 5-6, 1984, pp.52-67. Clifford Wright, “La maquina de guerra israeli en el Libano,” in Estudios Arabes, Vol. I, No. 4, 1982, pp.30-56. Marin-Guzman, La Guerra Civil en el Libano, passim, especially pp.340 ff. See also: Roberto Marin-Guzman, La ocupacion militar israeli de Cisjordania y Gaza: de la Guerra de los Seis Dias a la Declaracion de Principios (1967-1993). Ensayo de Historia Contemporanea (San Jose: Editorial Guayacan, 2002), passim.

(56.) Muhammad “Abd al-Salam Faraj, Al-Farida al-Gha’iba, n.p., n.d., passim. Concerning his political-religious thought and Ibn Taymiyya’s influence, see also: Al-Ahram, 8 December 1981. Gilles Kepel, Muslim Extremism in Egypt. The Prophet and Pharaoh (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984), passim, especially pp.192-193. Olivier Carre, Mystique et politique. Lecture revolutionnaire du Coran par Sayyid Qutb, frere musulman radical (Paris: Editions du Cerf, 1984), p.21. See also: Nazih Ayubi, El Islam Politico. Teorias, Tradicion y Rupturas (Barcelona: Ediciones Bellaterra, 1996), passim, especially p.119. Abdullah, “A Muslim Perspective on Islamic Fundamentalism,” p.209. Dekmejian, Islam in Revolution, passim, especially pp.91-93. Marin-Guzman, El Fundamentalismo Islamico, pp. 178-182 ff.

(57.) For further detail see: Sayyid Qutb, Fi Zilal al-Qur’an (Beirut: Dar al-Shuruq, 1974), passim, especially Vol. IV, pp.65-67. Sayyid Qutb, Ma’alim fi al-Tariq (Beirut: Dar al-Shuruq, 1968), passim, especially pp.71-74. Sayyid Qutb, Al-‘Adala al-Ijtima’iyya fi al-Islam (Cairo: Dar al-Ihya’, 1945), passim, especially pp.107 ff. Ahmad S. Moussalli, Al-Fikr al-Islami al-Mu’asir. Dirasat wa Shakhsiyyat Sayyid Qutb (Beirut Dar Khudr, 1970, passim. Ahmad S. Moussalli, The Ideological and Political Discourse of Sayyid Qutb (Beirut: American University of Beirut, 1992), pp.149-172. Enayat, Modern Islamic Political Thought, pp.150-156. Carre, Mystique et politique, passim, especially pp.21 ff. Richard P. Mitchell, The Society of the Muslim Brothers (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1969), passim, especially pp.306-331. Musa al-Husayni, Al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun: Kubra al-Harakat al-Islamiya al-Haditha (Beirut, 1952), passim. Marin-Guzman, El Fundamentalismo Islamico, pp.135-137.

(58.) Taqi al-Din Ahmad Ibn Taymiyya, Al-Siyasa al-Sha’riyya, A.S. Nashshar and A.Z. “Atiyya (eds.), (Cairo, 1951), passim, especially pp.6-7 and p.174. See also: Faraj, Al-Farida al-Gha’iba, passim. Kepel, Muslim Extremism in Egypt, p.192. For further details see also: Henri Laoust, Essai sur les doctrines sociales et politiques de Taki-d-Din Ahmad Ibn Taimiya (Cairo: Institut Francais d’Archeologie Orientale, 1939), passim. Qamaruddin Khan, The Political Thought of Ibn Taymiyah (Islamabad: Islamic Research Institute, 1973), passim, especially pp.20-28; pp.37-40; pp.57-62; pp.90-94; pp.98-179. Malcolm Kerr, Islamic Reform. The Political and Legal Theories of Muhammad “Abduh and Rashid Rida (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1966), pp.55-56; pp.89-90. See also: Marin-Guzman, El Fundamentalismo Islamico, pp.179-180.

(59.) For more information concerning Shukri Ahmad Mustafa, his ideas and practice of the al-‘uzla al-shu’uriyya, veanse: Salina “Ali al-Bahnasawi, Al-Hukm wa al-Qadiyya Takfir al-Muslim (Kuwait: Dar al-Buhuth al-‘Ilmiyya, 1981), passim, especially pp.34-37; pp.127-133. Kepel, Muslim Extremism in Egypt, passim, especially pp.46 ff.; pp.77-78; pp.80-86. Nazih Ayubi, “The political revival of Islam. The case of Egypt,” in International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol. XII, No. 4, 1980, pp.481–499, especially p.492. Marin-Guzman, El Fundamentalismo Islamico, pi). 179-180. See also: Roberto Marin-Guzman, “The doctrines of al- “uzla al-shu’uriyya and al-hijra among Egyptian Muslim Fundamentalists: Ideals and Political Practice,” publication forthcoming.

(60.) Qutb, Fi Zilal al-Qur’an, Vol. IV, pp.65-67. Qutb, Ma’alim fi al-Tariq, passim, especially pp.71-74. Qutb, Al-‘Adala al-Ijtima’iyya fi al-Islam, pp.107 ff. Yvonne Y. Haddad, “Sayyid Qutb. Ideologue of Islamic Revival,” in John Esposito, Voices of Resurgent Islam (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983), pp.67-98, especially pp.83-87. Marin-Guzman, El Fundamentalismo Islamico, passim, especially pp. 136-137.

(61.) For further detail see: Kepel, Muslim Extremism in Egypt, passim, especially pp.236 ff. Marin-Guzman, El Fundamentalismo Islamico, pp.137-176.

(62.) Quoted by Kepel, Muslim Extremism in Egypt, p.192. See also: Derek Hopwood, Egypt. Politics and Society, 1945-1984 (Boston: Allen & Unwin, 1986), p.183. Marin-Guzman, El Fundamentalismo Islamico, pp.174-175.

(63.) For further details see: Hopwood, Egypt. Politics and Society. 1945-1984, p. 183. Marin-Guzman, El Fundamentalismo Islamico, pp. 174-175.

(64.) Yvonne Y. Haddad, “Christians in a Muslim State: the recent Egyptian Debate,” in Yvonne Y. Haddad and Wadi Zaidan Haddad, Christian-Muslim Encounters (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1995), p.383.

(65.) For further details see: Haddad, “Christians in a Muslim State: the recent Egyptian Debate,” p.383. See also: Samira Bahr, Al-Aqbat fi al-Hayat al-Siyasiyya al-Misriyya (Cairo: Maktabat al-Misriyya, 1979), passim, especially p.6.

(66.) For more details concerning these attacks by fanatical Muslim fundamentalists to Coptic Churches in Egypt, see: Al-Ahram, 15 January 1980. Al-Ahram, 17 January 1980. AI-Ahram, 18 January 1980. Also: Ayubi, “The political revival of Islam. The case of Egypt,” pp.481-499, especially p.492. Ayubi, El Islam Politico, passim, especially p.112. Kepel, Muslim Extremism in Egypt, pp. 207-208. Ibrahim, “Islamic-Christian Dialogue. A Muslim View,” p.22. Haddad “Christians in a Muslim State: the recent Egyptian debate,” p.385. Hopwood, Egypt. Politics and Society, ]945-1984, pp.165 ff. Concerning this he wrote: “However, the future of the Coptic community is unclear and there has been some emigration to Europe and elsewhere. With the growth of fundamental Islamic movements since 1970 there have been unwelcome clashes between Muslims and Copts. Bombs have been planted outside churches and leaders of the Coptic community protested in 1980 about harassment to President Sadat who rather unkindly told them to stop playing politics. In 1981 he even arrested the Coptic pope. During times of tension fears of persecution and discrimination come to the surface very easily among all the Christian minorities in the Middle East.” (p. 165). See also: Marin-Guzman, El Fundamentalismo Islamico, pp. 150-151, and pp.182 ff.

(67.) Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Ghayr al-Muslimin fi al-Mujtama” al-Islami (Beirut: Mu’assasat al-Risala, 1983), passim, especially pp. 9-10.

(68.) For further details, as well as the attempts made to save and preserve the ancient art of Afghanistan, see: Newsweek, 14 May 2001, pp.46-48.

(69.) For more information see: Mamoun Fandy, “Egypt’s Islamic Group: Regional Revenge?,” in The Middle East Journal, Vol. XLVIII, No. 4, 1994, pp.607-625, especially p.623.

(70.) For further details see: Jeffery L. Sheler, “Healing old Wounds. A frail Pope reaches out to Orthodox Christians, Muslims,” in US News and World Report, 21 May 2001, pp.30-31. Similar attempts were made by pope John Paul II during his visit to the Holy Land in March 2000. See: Time, 20 March 2000, p.55.

Roberto Marin-Guzman is Profesor of Middle Eastern History and Arabic at the University of Costa Rica.

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