Catholic University of America
Interreligious dialogue, frequently theorized, is seldom investigated
in practice. This study offers an analysis of Christian-Muslim encounters
(1972-97) reflected in the publications of a center for Spanish-Arabic
investigations, located in Madrid. The analysis of these encounters illustrates
their evolution from Christian monologues to Christian-Muslim dialogues.
As an explanatory hermeneutics, the study applies Panikkar's dialogical
Drawing upon Lonergan, the analysis demonstrates that the Muslim participants did not show signs of the modern thematization of the realm of interiority, but of a pre-critical one, expressed through the Islamic poetic and mystical discourses. Conversely, Christians emphasized the importance of historicity and hermeneutics by employing Western post-industrial thematization of interiority. In their effort Christians stood alone. By radically distinguishing between the Qur'an and the Bible, Muslim scholars were unwilling in the 1970's to discuss issues of historicity and contextualization, focusing, instead, upon mutually exclusive religious texts concerning matters of belief. Such an approach would not allow discussions to transcend the usual exclusivist-inclusivist models of conversation and establish a genuine dialogue. The analysis indicates that in the 1980's and 1990's certain Muslim participants opened toward a genuine dialogue. The creation of an independent group of Muslims and Christians in 1983 marked the point at which prior Christian monologue gradually ceded to a discussion shared equally by the group. Becoming increasingly aware of the gap between revelation as perceived in its initial instant and revelation as culturally and verbally consolidated in a subsequent historical period, some Muslims focused upon the subject-recipient of revelation. Demonstrating an internal struggle with hermeneutical problems similar to those that have troubled Christians for centuries, some Muslims recognized necessary plural interpretations of the Qur'an. This recognition facilitated authentic Christian-Muslim dialogue.