Interfaith dialogue to discuss Scripture

Catholic-Muslim event this week at UT


Geoffrey Grubb, one of the speakers at Thursday's Catholic-Muslim Dialogue, is taking the program's title to heart.

"I'm coming to learn. The most important thing about a dialogue is for us to represent ourselves and our tradition very clearly, then listen sincerely to the other tradition," said Mr. Grubb, who will present the Catholic perspective. The Muslim perspective will be presented by Dr. Amjad Hussain, a Blade columnist and retired surgeon. The theme is Principles of Interpretation of Scripture.

Najwa Badawi, moderator and organizer, said she is excited to be promoting better understanding among people of different faiths. She said the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks was "in the back of my mind" when she began planning the dialogue earlier this year.

"With knowledge comes understanding," Ms. Badawi said. "When people don't understand other people's religions, it can result in a variety of unspeakable things. But through education, we can promote peace and knowledge."

Mr. Grubb, professor of religious studies and dean of the school of arts and sciences at Lourdes University, said he expects the event to be a genuine dialogue that sheds light on different faiths, and, in this case, on how they view Scripture.

"We're saying, 'Here's how I understand my tradition, now tell me how to understand yours. I need to understand your tradition on your terms,' " Mr. Grubb said.

He plans to speak about the origins of the holy texts and how that connects with revelation. He also will look at the process by which the books of the Bible were chosen.

"Everything God willed for us to be there for our salvation is inerrant," Mr. Grubb said. "But the Bible is not a science book."

He quoted Caesar Baronius, whom Galileo once cited: "The Bible tells us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go."

Dr. Hussain, who will be speaking at his third Catholic-Muslim Dialogue since the program began in 2000, will talk about Tafsir, the Islamic tradition of interpreting Scripture.

"For most of the texts there are certain passages that need to be put in context. That's where the problem is, I believe. … Context is very important," he said. "I am not a Qur'anic scholar, but from the reading that I have done in my life I've come to the conclusion that the passages are multilayered, and in every time and every era people have found nuances and meanings. So you cannot just literally translate a verse and say, 'That is it.' "

The dialogue, free and open to the public, starts at 6 p.m. Thursday at the University of Toledo Student Union Auditorium. Free parking is available in Area 5 and Area 10 of UT's main campus.

The program is being sponsored by the Toledo Catholic Diocese's ecumenical and interreligious affairs commission; UT's Muslim Student Association; Corpus Christi University Parish; the UT Catholic Student Association; Lourdes Arab American Student Association; the MultiFaith Council of Northwest Ohio, and the UT Center for Religious Understanding. For more information, call 419-472-4021.