Islam education crucial

Clergy training in the Church of England must give higher priority to understanding Islam, a consultation by the 11 member-agencies of the Anglican Partnership for World Mission has concluded.

A consultation at Launde Abbey in Leicestershire called for national guidelines to ensure clergy were competent in understanding Islam and capable of dealing with questions that their church members might raise in an era when inter-faith issues were so crucial.

“We appreciate that each theological college or training course must decide how this is worked out in practice,” said a spokesperson, “but this issue is so important the whole church must regard it as a priority. We think every Anglican theological college needs staff who have understanding and experience of Islam.”

Creating harmony among people of faith is crucial in a world where terrorism and conflict are on the increase, the consultation stressed.

“When people who are religious are in conflict and kill each other, they give the impetus to secularism and help make the case for it,” an African member of the consultation said. “We need to live with our differences in peace, or we will find ourselves in pieces.”

The consultation, entitled A Faithful Presence, brought member agencies together to identify shared strategies for their work in places where Islam is a significant faith. Assisting were several international visitors working in Islamic contexts and several Church of England advisers on inter-faith issues. It is one of the first concrete steps carrying forward a covenant for closer co-operation signed last year by all the Anglican mission agencies in the presence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.

 

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