Loving God and Neighbor in Word and Deed: Implications for Christians and Muslims

Press Release, July 17, 2008 (pdf)


In our increasingly interdependent world, religion remains a powerful force with the potential to either foster peace or provoke conflict. A unique and potentially history-changing opportunity has arisen with the publication of A Common Word Between Us and You in October 2007, an open letter to Christian leaders and communities from 138 influential Muslim clerics representing every school and sect of Islam from around the world. Compellingly, even if somewhat surprisingly, it states that what unites Christians and Muslims is their common commitment to love God and neighbor.

Among the most influential of the many Christian responses to the Common Word was a letter drafted in November 2007 by a group of scholars at Yale Divinity School, headed by Miroslav Volf, professor and director of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture, and coordinated by Joseph Cumming, director of the Center’s Reconciliation Program. Endorsed by more than 300 of the most influential Christian leaders from this country and abroad, “Loving God and Neighbor Together: A Christian Response to ‘A Common Word Between Us and You’” stressed that the dual commandment to love God and neighbor has the potential to reorient Muslim-Christian relations away from a “clash of civilizations.”

This reply, in turn, led His Royal Highness Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan, the primary drafter of A Common Word and President of the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought in Jordan, to engage enthusiastically with Professor Volf and the Center’s staff in planning a series of top-level interfaith workshops and conferences, the first of which is scheduled for July 24-31, 2008, on the Yale University campus, to be followed by others in October (Cambridge University), November (the Vatican), March 2009 (Georgetown University), and October 2009 (Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute, Jordan). We are hopeful that these meetings have the potential to redefine Christian-Muslim relations in the 21st century.

The Yale Workshop and Conference

The conference, “Loving God and Neighbor in Word and Deed: Implications for Muslims and Christians,” includes both a scholarly workshop and a broader conference. The larger conference, July 28-31, involving more than 60 Muslim participants (mostly from the Middle East), a similar number of Christians, and nine Jewish guests, will extend the discussions of the preceding scholarly workshop to a larger group of scholars and leaders. The workshop, closed to the press and public and scheduled for July 24-28, will involve approximately 60 Christian and Muslim scholars, along with three Jewish observers.

The objective of the Yale workshop and conference is built on the foundation laid by the two widely embraced documents. Together with H.R.H. Prince Ghazi, who is coordinating the participation of Muslim signatories, we have set as our goal the exploration of ways in which the common commitments can help rectify distorted perspectives Muslims and Christians have of each other and repair relations between the Middle East and the West. If Muslims and Christians, who together comprise more than half the world’s population, can acknowledge mutual commitment to loving God and loving neighbor the boost to a dynamic and peaceful interdependence in our globalized world would be immense.

News Conference

There will be an open press conference at the conclusion of the event. Thursday, July 31, 12:00-1:00 pm.


For more information or general inquiries, please contact: Common Word Conference, reconciliation.program@yale.edu, 203 432-9946. For press inquiries, please contact: Gus Spohn, Director of Communications and Publications, gus.spohn@yale.edu, 203 432-3466.

Event Schedule:

Monday, July 28, 2008

8:00 pm Keynote Address, Senator John Kerry, by invitation only. –updated December 2, 2009
Video of this event is now online.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

8:30 - 8:45 Word of Welcome, Richard C. Levin, President of Yale University. Word of Welcome (in Arabic), Joseph L. Cumming, Director, Reconciliation Program
8:45 - 10:00 Keynote Addresse, Grand Mufti Mustafa Ceric. followed by Q&A
10:00 - 10:45 Coffee/Tea
10:45 - 12:00 Conference Panel 1: God is Loving, Habib al-Jifri, Alan Godlas, Miroslav Volf, David Burrell, 10 minutes each, followed by Q&A, 30 minutes
12:00 - 2:00 Buffet Lunch
2:00 - 3:15 Conference Panel 2: Loving God, Ayot Mohaghagh Damad, Naim Travna, David Ford, 10 minutes each, Q&A, 30 minutes
3:15 - 4:15 Coffee/Tea
4:15 - 5:30 Conference Panel 3: Loving Neighbor, Mustafa Cherif, Martin Accad, Tokunboh Adeyemo, 10 minutes each, followed by Q&A, 30 minutes.
5:30 - 6:30 Free Time
6:30 - 8:00 Dinner

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

8:30 - 10:00 Keynote Addresses 3 & 4, Habib Ali Jiffri, Robert H. Schuller. 30-minute address followed by Q&A
10:00 - 10:45 Coffee/Tea
10:45 - 12:00 Conference Panel 4: Love and Speech, Emilie Townes, David Shenk,  T.J. Winter, Dalia Mogahed, and Hashem Kamali , 30 minutes, followed by Q&A.
12:00 - 2:00 Buffet Lunch
2:00 - 3:15 Conference Panel 5: Love and World Poverty, H.E. Shaykh Dr. Hussein Hasan Abakar, Mahmoud Madani, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, Geoff Tunnicliffe, and Heidi Hadsell, 10 minutes each, followed by Q&A, 30 minutes
3:15 - 4:00 Free Time
4:00 Depart from Hotel for Afternoon “Getaway”
9:00 Return to Hotel (8:45 Iqama on-site)

Thursday, July 31, 2008

8:30 - 9:30 Conference Panel 6: Summary Statements, Dr. Abd Al-Kabir Mudghari, Mohammed Alwani Al-Sharif, Leith Anderson, 10 minutes each. Summary Document, 10-minute presentation followed by Q&A, 20 minutes
9:30 - 10:30 Keynote Addresses 5 & 6, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, 30-minute address followed by Q&A, 30 minutes.
10:30 - 11:30 Coffee/Tea
11:30 - 1:00 Summary Statements and News Conference. Live Web Video
1:00 - 2:00 Buffet Lunch
Afternoon Conference participants depart

Prayer Times and Locations

Muslim Prayer. A designated prayer room will be available both at the hotel and at day venues. The location will be announced. Suggested prayer times (Iqama):

Fajr (dawn) 5:00 am
Zuhr (noon) 1:45 pm
Asr (afternoon) 6:15 pm
Maghrib (sunset) 8:45 pm
Isha (night) 10:00 pm

Christian Prayer. A Sunday time of corporate worship is included during the workshop. In addition, in the spirit of 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24, prayer rooms will be available both at the hotel and at day venues for individual and corporate prayer. The location will be announced. Also, a prayer team will be interceding throughout the conference, asking God’s blessing and guidance on our meetings. Participants can share prayer requests with that team by sending the request to prayersofblessing@gmail.com.

July 28, 2008