Muslim-Catholic Dialogue returns to UT, unites community groups

September 12, 2011 | Events, UToday
By Feliza Casano

This year marks the return of an annual community event: the Catholic-Muslim Dialogue, which will take place Thursday, Sept. 15.

The free, public dialogue — a panel discussion with two speakers to help attendees understand both religions — will be held at 6 p.m. in the Student Union Auditorium.

“Catholicism and Islam have so much in common,” said Najwa Badawi, who volunteered to organize the event. “Islam has the profession of faith in one god, and Catholics have the creed. Both have ritual prayers, and both use rosary beads — Islam for the 99 adjectives of god and the Catholics for prayer.”

Peace activist Maryse Mikhail organized the first event in 2000 as a way to promote religious understanding between members of both faiths. The dialogue was held at The University of Toledo five times before Mikhail passed away.

“This year, I decided to plan the dialogue again, given that it is the 10-year anniversary of Sept. 11 as well as there being a need and demand,” Badawi said. “I had people approach me and ask, ‘When will there be another dialogue?’ I planned this year’s event the same way Maryse always planned it.”

The topic for discussion is “Principles of Interpretation of Scripture in Catholicism and Islam,” and the event will feature speakers Dr. Amjad Hussain, UT professor emeritus of surgery and a member of the University Board of Trustees, and Dr. Geoffrey Grubb, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Lourdes University in Sylvania.

Hussain is scheduled to speak for 20 minutes on the principles of interpreting scripture in Islam, and Grubb will speak for the same amount of time on the principles of interpreting scripture in Catholicism. Badawi will moderate the panel discussion.

“It was designed to be a very simple, back-to-basics event,” Badawi said. “There are so many other dialogues, which is great. Dialogue is always needed among many religions or between any two religions.”

Several groups and organizations at UT and Lourdes, a Catholic secondary institution, have been involved in the dialogue’s return.

“This started at UT when Maryse planned it,” Badawi said. “The Muslim Student Association has been instrumental in organizing the event. The Interrelgious Commission of the Diocese of Toledo, Lourdes Arab Student Union and the Catholic Student Association at UT were very supportive as well.”

Badawi felt the size of both student organizations was significant for the event.

“There are misunderstandings, especially with Muslims. We want to restart the dialogue because there are so many Muslims and Catholics on campus,” she said.

Other groups sponsoring the dialogue this year are the Lourdes Arab American Student Association, the Multifaith Council of Northwest Ohio, the UT Center for Religious Understanding, and the Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs Commission of the Catholic Diocese of Toledo.

“It was important to me as the volunteer chair of the event to tap into local talent,” Badawi said. “There was no need to look anywhere else because we have wonderful scholars here in Toledo who are extremely capable and qualified to speak about Catholicism and Islam.”

Free parking for the event will be available in lots 5 and 10 on Main Campus.

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