Reconsidering the Prophet(SAW): Christian Possibilities

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Event Name: Reconsidering the Prophet(SAW): Christian Possibilities
Transcription Date:Transcription Modified Date: 10/27/2021
Transcript Version: 1

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for us to stay true

within our our respective circles

of of uh commitment

that's right there the venn diagram


very difficult that's right yeah

the overlapping that's right i would add

a um

another element that i talked about in

chapter one which is that

i think tragically so much in a

religious encounter

gets mediated through the secular west

such that um those of us committed to

our own religious traditions

in order to enter any kind of dialogue

in a religious dialogue we have to kind

of neutralize

our heart-held

beliefs and universal claims and i think

that in the next stage of interreligious

encounter and dialogue

there's a lot of fruit to be had with

members of different religious


examining each other from the heart of

one tradition to the heart of the other


and bypassing the secular west's

neutralizing program

right i you know i think the biggest


for christianity with islam is the time


because it's it's a post-christian right


declaration of revelation that that i

think is the greatest

obstacle i think if had islam been prior

to christianity that they would have no


in recognizing and hong koons i i think

he admits that quite

clearly in his book that he he argues

that it's largely prejudice

that prevents us from seeing

uh a clearly prophetic character in

in the prophet muhammad sallallahu that

that is so similar

to the old testament prophets so i want

to just

um uh just look at something from a

from the jewish tradition that you're

familiar with also and just see what you

think about this

um i have a book on jewish theology that

was written by dr k

kohler it was actually he was the

president of the

hebrew union college which is

still in existence and he has a chapter

entitled christianity and

the daughter religions of judaism and in

that chapter he says that christianity

and islam are a fulfillment of the

prophetic words found in zechariah that


quote it shall come to pass on that day

that the living water shall go

forth from jerusalem half of them to the

eastern sea

and half toward the western sea and the

lord shall be king over the whole earth

and in that day shall the lord be one

and his name and his name one

so he says kohler about this that

the leading spirits of judaism recognize

this declaring both the christian

and muhammadan religions to be agencies

of divine providence

these voices these views voiced by


levi mammonitis and the himanites were

reiterated by many enlightened rabbis of

later times

then he says later quote these point out

that both christian and muhammadan

nations believe in the same god

and his revelation to man in the unity

of the human race

and in the future life they have spread

the knowledge of god by a sacred


based upon our scripture they have

retained the divine commandments

essentially as they were phrased in our


and have practically taught men to

fulfill the no hiddick laws of humanity

then he says

on account of the last fact the medieval

jewish authorities

considered christians to be half


proselytes while muhammadans being pure


were always still closer to judaism and

i think for me one of the most difficult

things that i find

about many and and you certainly are not

in this category by any stretch

but one of the things that i really find

troubling about

so many christians including some


is this idea that muslims somehow


another god right and and and the

i mean he's this was traditional jewish


like even though they had and he has his

criticisms of islam in that chapter

but they did recognize the divine agency

uh in the religion i think that's an

argument that you're making in your book

but there are many christians that truly

believe that islam is is a kind of


phenomenon that it's a force of the

devil and

these are the things that i think make

it most difficult especially in america

in a in a multicultural society where

you have all these different religions

and so how can we better address that on

both sides

on on on the muslim side because i think

we have our offensive

uh uh proselytizers

uh as well so on both sides we have a


problem uh of communicating and

especially in a time when atheism

is is on the rise and and and organized

religion is really uh denigrated

and and frowned upon i mean we saw

recently with the uh

the tragic um display on

what was on display in the uh is the

senate hearings with uh

amy coney barrett where religion is just

so anesthetized to use a religious term

that at a time when i think

believers especially of the abrahamic

phase should be

have a much greater understanding of one

another's face

for sure i mean i think unfortunately at

least in christianity and catholicism

we are not raising our children with an

understanding of our own faith

much less anybody else's faith so the

catechetical challenges that we face in

our own communities are pretty severe

so when one's ignorant and that's why

this course i teach is so funny because

students take it because they know that

they're ignorant about islam and want to

learn about islam but they don't get

that they're also ignorant about


so they end up learning a lot about

christianity while they're

you know taking a course that they think

is really about islam

um so i think education

and what you know the work that you're

doing already right uh

education is a is is a an indispensable


of this puzzle that we have to do

together and as you say

we are on the side of the angels you

know given

um the rise of secularism

those of us who believe deeply in our


especially abrahamic phase

need to unite i do think i am very

persuaded by john levinson's work though

at harvard right that we did we also

don't want to sort of

um fall into the modernist trap of of

of liberalism abrahamic religions

together right but i don't think

that's what you've been suggesting but i

just want to raise that as a caution

i mean from your own book i i tend to

decide with

toll uh amongst the arguments like i

i'm not convinced by um i i mean i like

watts i've read watts i like craig

and dell i mean i think they're all very

sincere people

some of them passed on i actually bought

uh in london at a used bookstore uh

dr watts first arabic grammar that had


name and and notes and everything i just

by pure serendipity found

in the bookstore but i think they they

were very serious

in their attempts but they did fall into

a kind of

californian approach to uh

yeah which which i think you're


avoiding and and and i i certainly

commend you on that but

i i mean i would argue that that we

we have to recognize you know the


and they are fundamental i i i'm

i i really love dorothy sayers and

yeah she's great i i'm and i'm talking

about her theology not about her

story that's right i've tried it too

yeah i read a book she wrote called

creed or chaos

which was a very convincing argument


we can't reduce religion to boy scout

ethics right because we could all be

mormons if that was the case

that that ethics is important

but i think stoic ethics is as good as

as a lot of ethics that are out there so

somebody does not have to be religious

to be good

uh ethically or morally but creed


and and that the fundamental

uh creed of christianity

islam negates two of the most important

elements of that creed which is the


and the salvific sacrifice

of of christ on the cross and that

that is an immense uh there's it's

really an

insurmountable uh barrier i think

um but what i would say

is and i think the germans have done

remarkable work

in really recognizing that the the

prophet muhammad

peace be upon him was

was not ignorant of christianity and


the christianity that that is addressed

in the quran

is the syriac christianity that existed

in that area and i think the germans

have really shown

that one of the the orthodox and the


attitudes about that understanding of

christianity that's presented in the

quran is not

recognizing the syriac christianity

that existed in the middle east but the

other thing that i think is really

important is to recognize and this is

something hans kun says and i'll just

from his book um he actually

quotes uh one of the great german uh

scholars uh of uh

of um uh this this period when they were

looking at

the origins so schlatter who adolf


who wrote a book called the evolution of

jewish christianity into islam

and then he and adolf von harnach before

him saw islam as the

as the next phase of jewish christianity

so he says hans kun


responding to schlatter's remark islam

is a transformation of jewish


which would in turn transform version of

judaism that took place on arabian soil

at the hands of a great prophet

and he and that's literally what he says

hans kun says about this

even if we could never scientifically

verify a genetic connection

the traditional historical parallels are


and how can we explain why muhammad

sallallahu alaihi saddam although he


orthodox christology nevertheless always

spoke sympathetically of jesus as the

great messenger indeed

as the messiah who brought the gospel in

his theology and history of jewish

christianity hans jokim shops

taking up the research of hernik and

schlatter and completing it with studies

he goes on

says quote though it may not be possible

to establish exact

proof of the connection the indirect

dependence of muhammad salad

on sectarian jewish christianity is

beyond any doubt

this leaves us with a paradox of truly

world historical dimensions

the fact that while jewish christianity

in the church came to grief

it was preserved in islam and with

regard to some of its driving impulses

at least

it has lasted till our own time and then

kun writes

surprisingly christian theologians have

hitherto scarcely known of these

historical insights

much less taken them seriously this to


is just a really important area of uh

you know of research that i think these

are the two areas that i'd really like

to see

more christian

muslim engagement in the understanding


the jewish christianity that really

reemerges in the 7th century

uh hence saint st john of damascus

idea that this is really a schism right

like he saw he saw it as a schism

and then and then the other is

these areas where both traditions enrich

the other tradition

so where the christians really enriched

early muslim tradition

and and continue to do so to be honest

with you i mean i like

i benefited from your work which is

written by a christian theologian

one of my favorite writers is joseph

peeper i've benefited immensely from his


so i think you're

your challenge which i got from this

book is that

christians do have a resource in uh

in looking at islam in with it with a

more charitable light

um maybe you could just uh have some

concluding remarks about that and then

we can open up for a little

some questions and answers um

sure so i agree with everything you said

i hope

you weren't hoping for some disagreement

because we haven't come up with any uh

this evening

i'm not an historian so the sort of work

the avenues that you just mentioned

would not be

avenues that i would be able to um to do

work and i'm simply not equipped

but but it is true that there is there

are interesting avenues to be pursued

there and that have been pursued

um so that's great and i think uh

continuing the sorts of cooperative

efforts between

muslims and christians and cooperative

scholarly efforts are

are really needed to move forward

we have a question the first question is

as a woman

scholar a female scholar and a


how do you see the quran and the prophet

muhammad's traditions

in relation to women

um that is

a um complex question

that i um

i'm not really equipped to answer quite

frankly um

not being a scholar of the quran and

particular in particular

not having looked at study the quran

with this particular

angle um that's fair i will

um i will

maybe just say that i mistrust a lot of

modern attempts to reconstruct

at reconstruction um through uh a kind

of anachronistic lens

but um uh

but that's all i can say yeah well how

can i just maybe ask you just because i

think um

both our traditions although we do there


great scholars uh female scholars uh

in the islamic tradition probably less

so but there certainly are some great

mystics from

uh from i mean uh saint teresa diablo is

one of the ones that comes to mind and

julian of norwich and others i mean some

really great

but as a as a female

working in a a largely male realm

that's been dominated by males and male

thought do you

do you see any uh you know is there

something that a woman's perspective

that can bring that can enrich uh


i'm really allergic to those kinds of


um dr youssef i'm i'm glad you are

but i mean it's it's something that a

lot of people

do uh but i i'm fine with that and i

i won't uh i won't pursue it anymore i

mean it just depends on

on who the woman is and whether the

woman has valuable things to say

right so um there's uh

diversity on uh on both of those

realms and and i um

i mean what i mean to say is let me be


um i'm grateful that uh

that the women who've come before me in


have paved the way for me to feel as

comfortable as i do

and as valued as i am so

i'm certainly grateful and not naive


about the women who've come before me

and yet i um

i don't want to kind of essentialize the

work that that

i do and that other women do in the


as being contributions from women

i think what's most distinctive about

the human person is our

rational capability over

i think that's that's a perfect answer i

really appreciate that answer

and and i and as somebody who

um you know i i recently learned of

people doing citation counts of female


like to to kind of shame uh


yeah and what happened with the

encyclical the

i read a criticism of fratelli tutti

that just came out pope francis is


that you know he might have um cited a

muslim 12 times but he

never cited a woman and that's a real

problem and it's like

interesting i went back and looked at my

dissertation and i did cite women but i

didn't cite them because they were women

right excited because they had exemplary


and and one of the things just a little

bit of irony here

um some somebody we we did a recent

event and you know i invited you to be a

speaker at that event

and and they were very upset that we

didn't have any female speakers

and it occurred to me at it ironically


you were the first person that came to

mind but not because you were a woman

just because because i think you're

an excellent scholar and so yeah no i do

appreciate that

and and that was a wonderful um

clarification because

we're living in these times where

um you know i see it as a kind of


force that is creating this gender

race and um

class warfare which is an old trick of

the devil

and so i'm 100 with the answer that you

gave that

that that we are whether we're male or

female we are rational

uh creatures and certainly in academia

it's that's that's the the component

although i would say i mean i uh

i have recently been reading it stein's

um essays on women and i've found them

really fascinating so

it is a it is an interesting um

topic um so

if there are more similar verses in the

three semitic religions

and there is a big bond between them

then why do they act like

enemies in the world well that's the

million dollar question

right um because there's so much more

uh there's you know the their the

encounters between different religious

people the factors that go in the

historical the political the

sociological the familial

the geographic um there's so many

factors that go into religious conflict


and i i i will also say i'm persuaded


uh by like bill cavanaugh's work and

others that

uh what we deem often

wars of religion are actually um

politic the sort of political wars of

either the rise of the nation state or

there are some severe political factors

that come in that

make the sort of term wars of religion

realm this a real


that makes sense um

so uh

here um this is a question to you how do

you perceive

feminism in the light of catholic faith

um i'm grateful for the

feminists who came before me like i've

said already uh who paved

the way for me uh i uh

am a catholic first so whatever feminist

literature i am going to read and absorb

i'm going to read and absorb it as

a an observant catholic um

so sort of my primary lens of who i am

is my religious faith and um

it's uh you know it's kind of an

interesting because right now in the

muslim community

historically i think there's there's

been somewhat of an immunity to some of

the negative

aspects of modern

feminism and so i think a lot of muslims

right now are grappling with

is there a space for uh

feminist thought within uh the

traditional islamic and and and i think

and i would i would recommend edith

stein is a good place to start because i


um she really does have a a type of

feminism that's

deeply rooted in tradition and uh

and and again back to the personhood

yeah you know that

yeah recognizing the imago dei

uh that transcends gender right

um that's embodied and yet

is fundamentally um

personhood is at the center not the

right gender

but not the gender right um

so dr moreland not having not read your

book is muhammad's prophecy

compatible with christian theology well

i've been a bad moderator if i didn't

get that

out of you yet but


i think i think people have to read your

book because

it really is a subtle argument and and i

think you're

making a profound case for recognizing a

type of prophecy

but um so uh my book doesn't argue for

particular moments in the quran or


it doesn't it doesn't go to that level

it really does a proprietary kind of


for opening up uh the theoretical

possibility that muhammad is a

prophet for christians then there's a


process of discernment that has to come

into play given particular moments of


so christians could never adopt the

quran wholesale for example

because it's incommensurate different

incommense or differences that

dr yousef already spoke to right

vis-a-vis christology and the trinity

however i do draw upon this

funky category in the catholic church

called private revelation

where the church itself understands that


post-closing of the canon namely

post-closing of the writing of the new


god continues to speak to the human race

and so we've got this category called

private revelation that i think muhammad

theoretically could

fall into this category of god

continuing to speak

to god's beloved community

after the closing of the canon but yes

it is true that that is a

um in my book you really need to read

each chapter because

you need all of the pieces for the

argument yeah yeah

very much so it's not a book that some

some books you can read uh

the chapter independent of others but

yours is not one of them

yeah and and i think the uh you know the


is is uh it's very interesting i mean i

i would for those of people that

that are well trained in islamic

theology i think it's a

it's a very interesting read because a

lot of muslims are not familiar

with the rich catholic tradition and i

was struck

with uh with uh your chapter on aquinas


uh on prophecy because there were so

many uh

aspects of of uh aquinas's understanding

of prophecy

that that are really found in

in our tradition as well um and the

prophetic voice

does not end i mean prophet we believe


ended with the prophet muhammad but the

prophetic voice

um there there's a uh

tradition in which the prophet elijah

said that the

the the scholars and and the ulama

really means not just an academic

scholar but somebody who's

deeply died in in a spiritual uh

tradition um

that they are the inheritors of prophets


and and so they have that portion of the

prophetic voice

and we also have a really interesting

tradition that says

that a true dream is is 146

of prophecy so it's actually it's a

portion of prophecy

and so in the chapter of uh joseph

the the king has a true dream and and

and and joseph interprets that dream so

that type of access to prophecy


on somebody asked

why aren't the monotheistic religions

uniting against atheistic agenda to

demonize religion

and what do you think can be done to

foster more unity

i think we we did discuss that

and part of it is it is things like this

i mean i

uh have immense regard for your work and

and and what you're trying to do and i i

actually thought this book was a

courageous book because i know

i yeah i know how um

and i also understand why at vatican 2

they were

really walking on eggshells because


this is a 2 000 year old tradition

that you know that that

has has held true to these truths for

2 000 years and for

you know to to kind of move into these

other realms that traditionally

were seen as um as so far

divorced is very difficult so i i think

in that way

i hope more people i hope a lot of

catholics read your book

um but i yeah i really do um

the uh yeah

this one is about um the abyssinian


became separated from the western

eastern catholic churches a century or

more after the nicean council

it had more cooperative relations with

islamic civilization it also touts

itself for not being outside of the

realm of the catholic church and


more books than the western eastern

catholic church biblical text

what would be a relationship there that

western catholics can learn from that

ancient relationship about islam

and what can muslims deduce or

understand about christianity from that

um that that church uh i don't know how

familiar with the abyssinian church at

the but it was more of a

it was a i mean i don't know if they

would call themselves monophysites but

the the

orthodox church called the monophysites

they tend to use i think a term


is the term that they prefer but they

were definitely a monophysite

uh tradition and uh they

the the prophets uh saladin his


he said he sent them to the christian um

lands saying that they will not

persecute you

go there there's a just christian king

and he won't persecute you so there are

actually two migrations

uh to the church and and uh but it was a

church that i think the orthodox

tradition is seen as

it was kind of a uh heretical

uh branch but it is i think an example

of muslim christian

cooperation in the past


this one are there any verses in the new

testament that allude to the coming of

the prophet muhammad

i mean muslims say there are and i think

to be fair

christians would would uh generally say

no they would interpret the

the famous in john about the the

paraclete or the

uh he's called the pharaoh in arabic

which in syriac was very close to the

name muhammad

that the word for and which is why a lot

of the syriac christians

ended up converting to islam because

it's it's like

which is for the paraclete so they kind

of saw that as a

as a yeah um does catechism

841 mean the catholic church teaches

that muslims will have salvation

on judgment day regard regardless of

believing in jesus as god's son

i don't know 841 but i don't know what

i'm referring to

yeah i think the question is is do does

the church still

hold to the doctrine of no salvation

outside of the church

no and i i actually francis sullivan

who's a jesuit wrote a great book on the

history of the development of that


and maintains really that

understood appropriately the church

didn't has never really

maintained that particular position

um in its sort of degenerate form but

that's a great book i recommend it

no no real time to go in adhe into it

here but

god wills all of god's people to be


there's a there's a one of my favorite


verses is acts 34

where peter peter says um that

that anyone who believes in god and acts

righteously uh from whatever land will

be acceptable

by god and and and i think that's a

that seems to be a very um


generous but also seems to be compatible

with the mercy of god

so we have a tradition in uh one of our

great theologians

imam al-ghazali

and he made an argument which to me is

very compelling because

we tend to have the tradition of no

salvation outside of islam

i mean there are a lot of muslims that

believe that

but he made an argument that anyone who


seeks the truth and and dies before

finding it

will be will be saved uh

with god because they're not rejecting

because the the word in the quran that's

used for

a disbeliever which actually means

an ingrate means somebody who's

ungrateful in its

in its fundamental meaning but it also

means somebody who rejects

or covers up the truth once they see

it so it's like they see the truth but

then they end up covering it up

so um dr anna thank you

uh they're deep analog for what you just

said in the catholic tradition for sure

yeah i i would agree um

thank you so much i know it's late for

you and uh i

but i really appreciate the time i do

hope your book

gets a wide readership which is thank

you why

why why i read it thank you and

yeah and and uh and i look forward to

the further collaboration with

amir stein because i think you're gonna


be doing something for merstein on this

but um

thank you it's been wonderful to speak

with you this evening

yeah great and uh give my uh best

regards to because i you you seem like a


couple because i was looking at your

your husband's a very um i think

very accomplished uh legal scholar there

at villanova

yeah yeah so

my regards to him also thank you

i i hope we we get uh to collaborate

further in the future

but i would i would love it i would

invite it great

thanks for your time likewise yeah

thank you everybody for tuning in

um i would really request

that i want to thank really dr anna


i think she's uh she's really a powerful

um voice and um she gave a really

incredible talk

at uh at the dominican college that i


um honored to be there and i just

uh felt her sincerity

and i think this book really confirmed

for me that she's somebody that

uh is really uh one of the good people

out there that's doing good work


she she uh she said to me um

you know that she wasn't when i said

i'll call you dr

boyle and she said no no i doctor i


because i don't save bodies and i said

well but the theologians save souls

so it's it's a much it's much greater

uh to be a doctor of uh theology than a

doctor of physiology so anyway

i hope everybody continues to support

zaytuna and we have a 12 000 strong

program i really hope that you'll help


with that so on that note may you have a



month of uh remembering our beloved

prophet elijah who was born in this


and i think uh we're certainly blessed

to uh accept the prophets elizabeth as

our prophets

uh prayers and peace be upon him and

upon all the prophets

and inshallah may allah protect all of

you in this time of tribulation keep


family safe keep your homes safe and uh

maybe continue to be able to spread uh

the light of knowledge

and the light of truth uh wherever we


and with whom ever we're with

thank you

thank you president hamza youssef and dr

anna moreland

and thank you to all the attendees who

have joined us for the rubio series

we look forward to your presence at our

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jazakallahu khairan assalamu