Special Issue "Mystical Theology and Muslim-Christian Dialogue: Volume I"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444). This special issue belongs to the section "Religions and Theologies".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2022) | Viewed by 8125

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Stefan Tobler
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of History, Patrimony and Protestant Theology, University “Lucian Blaga” of Sibiu, 550024 Sibiu, Romania
Interests: spirituality and mysticism; ecumenical dialogue; Muslim-Christian dialogue; Chiara Lubich; human rights between East and West; human dignity and poverty; social inclusion of minorities, especially Roma people
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Muslim-Christian dialogue is a crucial issue in the contemporary world. Possible means for dialogue must be pursued on many levels, but it can be successful only by taking religious experiences seriously in their claim to truth. One form of religious expression that combines a strong connection to one's own tradition with genuine openness to dialogue is mysticism. Mystical theology, which is rooted in the spiritual experience and relatively free from theology of power, could be a bridge of dialogue between Christianity and Islam, seeking for a common ground and shared values. It is open also to the possibility of reading the other’s traditions beyond apologetics or polemics, without avoiding dissension themes in the Islamic-Christian dialogue. The experiences and the writings of classical and modern mystics, both Muslim ( ‘Attar, Ibn ‘Arabi, Rumi) and Christian (Augustine of Hippo, John of the Cross, André Scrima, Pierre Claverie, Chiara Lubich), could be possible bridges for the Christian-Islamic dialogue. This issue invites researchers to reflect upon aspects, examples and systematic elaborations regarding mystical theology, analysing their potential for that dialogue.

Potential topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Mystical Christian Theology
  • Mystical Muslim Theology
  • Comparative Mystical Theology
  • Muslim-Christian Dialogue
  • Mystical Imaginary
  • Mystical Approach to the Theology of Religions

Prof. Dr. Stefan Tobler
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Mysticism
  • Sufism
  • Islam
  • Christianity
  • Christology
  • Hermeneutics
  • Religious Experience
  • Dialogue, ‘Attar, Rumi, Ibn ‘Arabi
  • Augustine of Hippo
  • John of the Cross
  • André Scrima
  • Pierre Claverie
  • Chiara Lubich
  • Eschatology
  • Mission

Related Special Issue

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

Article
Escaping Plato’s Cave as a Mystical Experience: A Survey in Sufi Literature
Religions 2022, 13(10), 970; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13100970 - 14 Oct 2022
Viewed by 642
Abstract
This paper puts forward a mystical reading of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave by comparing it with some allegories from Sufi literature, Islamic mystical tradition. The paper argues that the determining parts of the allegory, such as escaping the cave as the world [...] Read more.
This paper puts forward a mystical reading of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave by comparing it with some allegories from Sufi literature, Islamic mystical tradition. The paper argues that the determining parts of the allegory, such as escaping the cave as the world of shadows; seeing the sun/truth and becoming a philosopher; and the necessity of returning to the cave, have significant similarities to what Sufis have said about their mystical experience and spiritual enlightenment. The paper compares the Allegory of the Cave with some similar allegories in Sufi literature, focusing on the allegories of prison, hunting the shadows of a flying bird, dying before dying, and the elephant in the dark Room in Rumi’s works. After an introduction to the reception of Plato in the Islamic intellectual tradition and different interpretations of the Allegory of the Cave, this paper discusses four similarities between these allegories. Finally, the paper supports the mystical reading of Plato’s Cave by using Pierre Hadot’s thesis on Philosophy as a Way of Life, which challenges the sharp dichotomy of philosophy and mysticism in mainstream intellectual historiography. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mystical Theology and Muslim-Christian Dialogue: Volume I)
Article
Encountering the Other. André Scrima’s Hermeneutics of Spiritual Hospitality
Religions 2022, 13(8), 671; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13080671 - 22 Jul 2022
Viewed by 653
Abstract
A key figure in the ecumenical dialogue in the second half of the 20th Century, Fr André Scrima was also involved in the academic and interreligious life in Lebanon as a co-founder of the Institut d’Études Islamo-Chrétiennes at St.-Joseph Catholic University. In his [...] Read more.
A key figure in the ecumenical dialogue in the second half of the 20th Century, Fr André Scrima was also involved in the academic and interreligious life in Lebanon as a co-founder of the Institut d’Études Islamo-Chrétiennes at St.-Joseph Catholic University. In his courses, articles, and occasional papers, he developed a hermeneutical method to study the diversity of religious traditions, especially of the three Monotheisms, and to make possible the encounter with the religious otherness. This article aimed to shed light on hospitality as a hermeneutical category and spiritual practice in Scrima’s thought, having as a background Louis Massignon’s intellectual and mystical perspective on the relations between Christianity and Islam. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mystical Theology and Muslim-Christian Dialogue: Volume I)
Article
Reading through the Other’s Eyes: The Mystical Foundations of Interreligious Dialogue in Chiara Lubich’s Paradise ‘49
Religions 2022, 13(7), 638; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13070638 - 11 Jul 2022
Viewed by 651
Abstract
The life and spirituality of Chiara Lubich (1920–2008), the founder of the Focolare Movement, is marked by a particular mystical experience in the years 1949 and 1950, which found expression in a text entitled Paradise ‘49. In this mystical imprint—according to the [...] Read more.
The life and spirituality of Chiara Lubich (1920–2008), the founder of the Focolare Movement, is marked by a particular mystical experience in the years 1949 and 1950, which found expression in a text entitled Paradise ‘49. In this mystical imprint—according to the thesis of the following paper—the explanation can be found for the fact that Lubich, starting from a traditionally Catholic milieu, followed a path that brought her into dialogue with representatives of all world religions. In particular, phrases with “to live” and “to be” are examined, which point to an existential understanding of religious truth. Dialogue does not mean relativizing one’s own truth, but leads to a deeper understanding. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mystical Theology and Muslim-Christian Dialogue: Volume I)
Article
The Cross in Rūmī’s Maṯnawī
Religions 2022, 13(7), 611; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13070611 - 01 Jul 2022
Viewed by 1119
Abstract
A cursory reading of Rūmī’s Maṯnawī suggests that the author follows the dominant Qur’ānic interpretation denying Jesus Christ’s Crucifixion. Closer analysis demonstrates, however, that Rūmī interprets the Cross and considers its spiritual significance in a subtle and symbolic way. This study addresses this [...] Read more.
A cursory reading of Rūmī’s Maṯnawī suggests that the author follows the dominant Qur’ānic interpretation denying Jesus Christ’s Crucifixion. Closer analysis demonstrates, however, that Rūmī interprets the Cross and considers its spiritual significance in a subtle and symbolic way. This study addresses this contradiction by developing a synthesis that clarifies Rūmī’s spiritual anthropology. In the Islamic context, his writing constitutes a significant attempt to understand and interpret the Christian Scriptures and overcome sensitive points of conflict that are considered dividing lines between the faiths. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mystical Theology and Muslim-Christian Dialogue: Volume I)
Article
Catholic Eschatological Imagination and the Mystics of Fire: Possible Perspectives for a Muslim–Christian Dialogue
Religions 2022, 13(3), 219; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13030219 - 04 Mar 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1581
Abstract
During the twentieth century, Catholic theology moved to reject the misuse of imaginaries of the afterlife. By insisting on a de-cosmologization of the “last things”, theologians endorsed a Christocentric eschatology. However, a physical material view remains dominant in the popular perception of the [...] Read more.
During the twentieth century, Catholic theology moved to reject the misuse of imaginaries of the afterlife. By insisting on a de-cosmologization of the “last things”, theologians endorsed a Christocentric eschatology. However, a physical material view remains dominant in the popular perception of the afterworld. Recently, some authors have engaged in a reevaluation of the role of imagination. In eschatology as well, several theologians assert the need for a more affective and effective Christian imaginary of the hereafter. In this essay, the image of fire serves as a case study. References to fire are frequent in the Bible, and many mystics also describe their encounter with God in terms of burning. For instance, Catherine of Genoa’s experience of purification through Christ’s fire of love led to a commitment to social justice. Appreciating the contribution of mystics of fire, theologians might fashion a revised imaginary of fire to address certain eschatological issues such as Purgatory. Despite the fact that in Islam “the Fire” is a synonym for Hell, Christian theologians could enter into dialogue with certain Shi’i authors and Sufi experiences regarding the ontology of imagination, the importance of unity with God, and the fiery imaginary of God’s love. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mystical Theology and Muslim-Christian Dialogue: Volume I)
Article
Pierre Claverie: Decolonising Mission
Religions 2022, 13(3), 197; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13030197 - 24 Feb 2022
Viewed by 1098
Abstract
In the early 1980s, the Catholic Church in Algeria was experiencing upheaval, having been depopulated almost overnight when the great majority of Catholic Christians had left the country and resettled in France or elsewhere after the Algerian proclamation of independence two decades earlier. [...] Read more.
In the early 1980s, the Catholic Church in Algeria was experiencing upheaval, having been depopulated almost overnight when the great majority of Catholic Christians had left the country and resettled in France or elsewhere after the Algerian proclamation of independence two decades earlier. The remaining Christians were regarded not only as a reduced minority but mostly as a reminding symbol of an era of political and religious colonization. The Church in Algeria was in need of a deep reflection to find a new reason for its presence in this totally new context. A man of faith, capable of illuminating this reflection was Pierre Lucien Claverie, a Dominican friar and bishop of Oran between 1981–1996, who tried to lead the perception of the Church in Algeria from notions such as colonisation or proselytism, to notions such as otherness and plurality in an attempt to liberate the act of mission from any aggressive tendency or colonial roots. Claverie’s writings show that he did not shape the concept of mission only on a theological or social level but responded to the needs of his Church through his spiritual experiences and monastic background. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mystical Theology and Muslim-Christian Dialogue: Volume I)
Article
The Unspoken and The Forbidden in André Scrima’s Thought as a Way to Encounter the Other
Religions 2022, 13(2), 117; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13020117 - 25 Jan 2022
Viewed by 1321
Abstract
André Scrima’s interest in Christian–Muslim dialogue goes beyond a historical or comparative approach. In this sense, knowledge from within the two monotheisms is achieved through an apophatic theology. Through it, the spiritual and mystical language that is characteristic of any authentic religious experience [...] Read more.
André Scrima’s interest in Christian–Muslim dialogue goes beyond a historical or comparative approach. In this sense, knowledge from within the two monotheisms is achieved through an apophatic theology. Through it, the spiritual and mystical language that is characteristic of any authentic religious experience offers the possibility of a renewed approach to the differences between Islam and Christianity, and at the same time, clears a path for a truly authentic encounter. Fresh insight into the faith of the other does not put into parentheses the specific identity of the two monotheisms, but deepens it from the perspective of its apophatic content, where the possibility of experiencing the transcendent in a much deeper way is rooted, not by making new affirmations, but by adopting an attitude of stillness and silence. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mystical Theology and Muslim-Christian Dialogue: Volume I)
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