Newsletter – May 2017

Dear friends,

Ramadan has begun once again, and this year in the midst of violence. How can some people believe that this violence pleases God? How can they imagine that God would be satisfied with seeing his children murdered in his name? If it is clear that there are many economic and political factors that can, in part, explain this violence, it is equally clear that there is some religious discourse which allows people to believe that God himself encourages this violence and hatred towards those who believe in something different.

The enthusiasm of the students, Muslim and Christian, who participate in our activities in Cairo shows that violence is not inevitable, and that we can be believers without being allergic to anything that would be different.

IDEO Seminars

On May 2ndJean-Baptiste Humbert, OP, archaeologist at the Biblical and Archaeological School of Jerusalem, presented the work of the excavation of an Umayyad castle at Mafraq in northern Jordan. The excavated artifacts revealed the brilliant decor of a great cosmopolitan civilization (the objects coming from Armenia, Egypt, Yemen or Syria), still marked by the Byzantine administration of the previous period. Read the report…

On May 8th, the third meeting between IDEO and the French-speaking students of al-Azhar University was held. The topic was “The Effectiveness of Religious Discourses: Between the Lessons Learned and Reality”. Read the report (in French)…

The fifth and final session of the IDEO’s seminar “Religiosity under the Microscope of Human Sciences” was also held on May 19th. A lecture was given by Mr. Guillaume de Vaulx titled “Religious Affiliation under the Microscope of the Political Theory.” The talk gave rise to a great discussion. Each student was asked to choose one of the five religious political systems (Theological-Political, Restricted and Enlarged Tolerance, Laicism, complementarism) and prepare, in groups, arguments defending and challenging each system. The debates which followed were strong and engaging, and which lead to a vote in a real parliamentary style. The IDEO then offered a buffet dinner during which the students expressed their enthusiasm and their desire to continue the seminar. The organizers, Amir Jajé, OP and Mr. Guillaume de Vaulx, are already thinking of the 2017-2018 program.


On May 3rdDennis Halft, OP gave a lecture entitled “Translations of the Arabic Bible in Early Modern Iran: Crossing the Boundaries between Christianity and Twelver Shiite Islam.” It was given at the Forum Biblia Arabica held at Tel Aviv University, Israel.

From May 17-19, Emmanuel Pisani, OP led a session in Paris on the topic of “Interpretations of the Qurʾān” and made a presentation entitled “The Renewal of Research on the Qurʾān.”  Several members of the scientific committee of MIDEO participated in this intensive session: Fr. Jean Louis DéclaisGabriel Reynolds and Muhammad Ali Amir-Moezzi. Fr. Jean Louis Déclais himself proposed a reading of three suras, 6 (al-Anʿām), 91 (al-Šams) and 112 (al-Iḫlāṣ). See the article published in La Croix…

From May 17-19, Adrien Candiard, OP participated in the conference “God’s Word, Man’s Violence”, organized by the Cedar Foundation in Beirut. He presented a paper titled “Radical Condemnation of Any Kind of Popular Syncretism: fatwā of Ibn Taymiyya on the Participation of Muslims in the Celebrations of Holy Thursday.”


From May 21‒23, Claudio Monge, OP took part in a meeting with 100​ other religious leaders and scholars working on religions, organised by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Berlin. The meeting was entitled “Conference on the Responsibility of Religions for Peace”, he was the reporter of the w​orking group: “Mediation and Conflict Management by Religious Representatives”, with Cheikh Taher Amini Golestani, President of the International Institute for Peace and Religions in Qom (Iran).


From May 15-17, Adrien Candiard, OP gave an 8-hour of course in Muslim Theology to the Masters students of Muslim-Christian Relations at Saint Joseph University in Beirut.

On May 27th, M. Guillaume de Vaulx completed his courses at CILAS (Cairo Initiative for Liberal Arts and Sciences), a cultural association which promotes human sciences. He taught a course on Islamic philosophy, in Arabic, titled “The Foundation of the Knowledge.” It was an opportunity to synthesize his perspective of this historical moment of thought (the Abbassid Empire in the 9th-10th centuries) and to re-read, together with a well-educated Egyptian public, the founding texts of Islamic philosophy.hy.

Interreligious dialogue

From May 4-6, Amir Jajé, OP attended a meeting of the KAICIID (King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue) in Amman, Jordan, whose aim was to create a network of faculties and institutes of Christian and Islamic theology in the Arab world.


On May 9thJean Druel, OP was invited for lunch at the Belgium embassy to discuss, with other speakers, the issue of violence within the classic Islamic heritage.


On May 1st, we welcomed for lunch Ms. Orla Guerin, BBC correspondent in Cairo, and Mr. Samer al-Atrush, vice director at the AFP news agency in Egypt.

On May 7th, we welcomed Ms. Anna Chrisp, Political Advisor at the Australian Embassy in Egypt.

Scholars’ House

In May, we had the pleasure to receive at the Scholars’ House Mr. Zoltán Szombathy, member of Avicenna Institute, Ms. Gyongyi Oroszi, Ph.D. student, and Mr. Jon Opgenorth and Mr. Kurt Selles, Protestant pastors who were visiting Cairo.

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