An Exploration of the Christian-Muslim Landscape in Modern Syria and the Contribution of Eastern Christian Thought to Interreligious Dynamics
This paper considers Christian-Muslim relations in modern Syria and the importance that eastern Christian thought can make to the interreligious context within the Middle East. It briefly describes the diverse historical and contemporary Christian and Muslim religious landscapes that have cohabited and interacted within the country and the cultural, religious, and political issues that have impacted the interreligious dynamic.
Based on fieldwork undertaken in government-held areas during the Syrian conflict, combined with critical historical and Christian theological reflection, the article contributes to understanding Syria’s diverse religious landscape and the multi-layered expressions of Christian-Muslim relations, in a way that has not been previously attempted. Providing insights into interreligious praxis prior to the conflict and in its midst, the article contributes to an understanding of the effect of conflict on interreligious relationships.
The article considers the unique contribution of eastern Christianity to the Christian-Muslim dynamic and concludes that the significance of the theology and spirituality of the ‘Antiochene’ paradigm has been under-recognised in western discourse and that, having coexisted within the cultural environment of Islam, it is uniquely placed to play a major role in Christian-Muslim dialogue and the reframing of Islam’s engagement with modern society.
This article contributes therefore to knowledge and understanding of the changing Christian-Muslim dynamic in Syria and the neighbouring region; a new understanding of the religious landscape; and a door to exploring how eastern Christian approaches to Christian-Muslim relations may be sustained and strengthened in the face of the considerable religious and political challenges faced by both communities today.
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