The Universality of the Qur'anic Message

NOA Community Centre (Ferry Centre)
Summertown, Oxford

(click for map etc.)

This lecture will consider Islam's contribution to the culture of Western society, in particular one utterly unsuspected influence exerted by Islam upon a vital aspect of Western culture, namely the principle of religious tolerance. This influence can be traced through, among other sources, the famous letter on tolerance written by the philosopher John Locke, in which he contrasted the fanatical intolerance prevailing in Europe among Christian nations with the extraordinary tolerance to be found in the Ottoman Empire. Locke pointed out that Jews and Christians were given more freedom of worship by Muslims than Protestants gave to Catholics and vice versa.

One reason for the existence of this tradition of religious tolerance (so lamentably at odds with much contemporary Muslim practice) is that the Qur'an is unique among world scriptures in not only "confirming and protecting" the scriptures of religions other than its own, but also in asserting the transcendent unity of all religions. It explicitly upholds the efficacy and holiness of all pre-Qur'anic revelations, which are grasped as outwardly divergent facets and paths, manifesting the One and leading back to the One.

Dr Reza Shah-Kazemi is an author and Research Associate at the Institute of Ismaili Studies, London. He specialises in comparative mysticism, Islamic Studies, Sufism and Shi'ism. His publications include The Other in the Light of the One - The Universality of the Qur'an and Interfaith Dialogue (2006) and Paths to Transcendence - According to Shankara, Ibn Arabi and Meister Eckhart (2006).

6.00 (Friends 3.00)