Newsletter – March 2017

Dear friends,

We are now beginning to reap the rewards of our past efforts! As it was necessary to arm ourselves with patience to finally arrive at a signed agreement of collaboration with al-Azhar University, two encouraging sessions have already taken place. These two sessions show us that it is possible to do research with these young students, who are eager to engage in exchange and cooperate with us. Furthermore, Al-Azhar’s invitation to the IDEO to participate in their first “Cultural Fair” on March 25th as an honorary speaker, organized by the great Imam of Al-Azhar, is a new sign of this mutual willingness to collaborate. Similarly, the success of the IDEO’s seminar “Religion and Human Sciences”, designed for students, has exceeded our expectations. The students are committed to regularly prepare written assignments that will be reviewed by the various invited speakers.

Finally, Pope Francis’ visit to Cairo, announced for the end of April, will be an occasion to give an institutional dimension at the highest level to this collaboration and dialogue which the IDEO and its members have been working to serve, in the footsteps of those who have gone before us.

Conferences and Lectures

On March 7th, Emilio Platti, OP,  Claudio Monge, OP, Jean-Francois Bour, OP,  and Adrien Candiard, OP attended the first meeting of the Theological and Pastoral Research Group in Paris, which gathers Christians and Muslims together at the initiative of the National Service of Relations with Muslims (SNRM), part of the Conference of Bishops of France.

On March 11th, Emillio Platti, OP gave a lecture entitled “When We Teach Contempt for the Other”, as part of a study day organized by the Inter-Diocesan Commission for Relations with Muslims.

On March 14th, Emillio Platti, OP gave a lecture on the topic “Islamism: An Ideology of Identity and Exclusion”, at the University of Namur (Belgium).

On March 15th, Dennis Halft, OP gave a lecture on the topic “Ismāʿīl Qazvīnī: A 12th/18th-Century Jewish Convert to Imāmī Shīʿism and His Critique of Ibn Ezra’s Commentary on the Four Kingdoms (Daniel 2:31‒45)” at the Persian Forum of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel).

On March 16th, Amir Jajé, OP took part in a conference organized by the Human Rights Committee of the Arab League in Cairo on the topic “Dialogue, Coexistence, and Human Rights”. Amir Jajé represented the Holy See.

On March 21st, Dennis Halft, OP gave lecture titled “A Shiite Muslim Controversy about the Purity of Wine” at the Friedberg Genizah Workshop entitled “Theologians in a Jurist’s Robe: Relations between Theology and Law in the Judeo-Islamic Milieu,” at the University of Toronto (Canada).

On March 25th, Rémi Chéno, OP took part in the first session of the “Intellectual Fair” organized in Cairo by Al-Azhar at the initiative of the great Imam Aḥmad al-Ṭayyib. The title of this event was “Orient and Occident: Points of Connection and Means of Dialogue”. He was one of the five guest speakers.

On March 30th, Dennis Halft, OP gave a lecture titled “Missionaries and Travelers as Cultural Intermediaries in 17th-Century Isfahan,” at the workshop “Religious Positioning and Transference,” which took place at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University (Frankfurt, Germany).

IDEO Seminars

On March 28th, Mrs. Rocio Daga Portillo, professor of Islamology at Munich University, gave a lecture titled “An Epistemological Shift: from ‘Sunna’ to ‘Šarīʿa’ and the Breach of Modern Times”. It is striking to note that in the Qurʾān and the oldest texts, the term “Sunna” is used more often than “Šarīʿa” to indicate “the law.” The word “sunna” is used to refer to the oral transmitted by the tradition and the forefathers. Read the report…

On March 31st, the third session, in Arabic, of the IDEO seminar “Religion in light of Human Sciences” was held. The discussion was on the legal issue of “religious right in light of natural right.” The speaker was Dr. Ḥasan ʿAbd al-Ḥamīd, professor of Philosophy of Law at Ayn Shams University, Dean of the Faculty of Law at the British University in Cairo, and an exemplary teacher.


On March 20th, Jean Jacques Pérennès, OP received the “Cassià Just” prize in Barcelona awarded by the Catalonian government for his commitment to the dialogue of religions and cultures. He wished to dedicate this prize to the IDEO, because his personal commitment received its institutional framework from there. Read the article…

Round table

On March 21st, a round table event gathered some thirty people from different segments of civil society (an archbishop, presidents of Islamic associations, Jewish authorities, etc.) to continue discussions with Jean Jacques Pérennès, OP on the possibilities and the difficulties of coexistence in Europe today.

The Scholars’ House

During the month of March, we had the pleasure of receiving at the scholars’ house Mrs. Rocio Daga Portillo, professor of Islamology at Munich University.


Dominique Avon is coordinating an online course, in Arabic, on the history of the representations of livings creatures and divinities. Read the course…

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