Newsletter – April 2017

Dear friends,

Many people wonder if it is naïve to believe that Pope Francis’s visit to Egypt could lead to anything. Firstly, we should not minimize the symbolic impact of such a visit and of the meeting between Pope Francis and al-Sheikh Amad al-ayyib. This visit clearly affirms that there is no war between Christians and Muslims, and, contrary to thinking, we are unified to combat extremism and violence. Secondly, and more profoundly, it was an opportunity for hundreds of people to gather, meet, and to work together with others who, for both the Muslim and the Christian, now have a name and a face. Our world is suffering, above all, from our mutual apprehensions of each other, and the contacts exchanged on this visit (email addresses, selfies, mobile phone numbers) are an opportunity to build bridges between us, if we are willing to open ourselves and continue the adventure.

Al-Azhar’s Congress for Peace

Several members of the IDEO attended the World Congress for Peace organized by al-Azhar on the occasion of Pope Francis’s visit to Cairo. Among the many talks that were given, we were particularly interested in the discussion between Muslim scholars on the possibility of using interpretative methods extraneous to Islam to read the Qurʾān. Some thinkers consider the Qurʾānic text as incomparable to any other text, making it illicit to use any of these non-traditional methods. Others, however, see the possibility of a renewal in the interpretation of the text.

Study Trip

From April 25th to May 2nd, Jean-François Bour, OP organized a study tour for the National Service of the Bishops of France for Relations with Muslims, SNRM. As part of this trip and the ongoing collaboration between IDEO and the University of al-Azhar, a full day of sessions was dedicated to the topic of šarīʿa law and it’s purposes (maqāid al-šarīʿa). This branch of Islamic studies looks at the principles which guide all Islamic law and jurisprudence. For many authors, mercy (al-raḥma) is the greatest attribute of God, along with his corresponding name, the Merciful (al-Raḥmān), and toward which all law must strive.


From April 18th to 21st, Jean Druel, OP gave a series of lectures on his new book Je crois en Dieu! — Moi non plus. Click here to watch the lecture held in Paris (in French)…

On April 28th, Dennis Halft, OP gave a lecture entitled “Notes on the So-Called Persian Diatessaron and its Author and Commentator.” It was given at the international conference titled “Translators, Copyists and Interpreters: Jews, Christians and Muslims and the Transmission of the Bible in Arabic in the Middle Ages,” held at the Casa Árabe center in Cordoba, Spain.

On April 28th, Adrien Candiard, OP gave a lecture to the SNRM group on the history of Islamic theology.

On April 29th, Emilio Platti, OP gave a lecture to the SNRM group on the correspondence between Jacques Jomier, OP and father Maurice Borrmans. For more details…


On April 6th, Jean Druel, OP was interviewed by Mr. Olivier Bonnel from Radio Vatican about the cooperation between the IDEO and the University of al-Azhar. Click here to listen to the interview (in French)…

On April 7th, Jean Druel, OP was interviewed by Mr. François-Xavier Mathieu from the French Catholic television channel KTO about the work of the IDEO. Click here to watch the interview (in French)…

On April 13th, Jean Jacques Pérennès, OP gave an interview to La Vanguardia website on the interreligious dialogue. Click here to read the interview (in Spanish)…

On April 24th, Jean Druel, OP was interviewed by Mrs. Geneviève Delrue from Radio France Internationale (RFI) about his book on the interreligious dialogue. Click here to listen to the interview (in French, from 19:40)…

On April 26th, M. Dominique Avon took part in a radio program devoted to al-Azhar on France Inter. Click here to listen to the program (in French)…

On April 30th, Catalonia television put online the interview given by Jean Jacques Pérennès, OP on the occasion of receiving the “Cassià Just” prize for the dialogue of religions and cultures. Click here to listen to the interview (in Spanish)…

IDEO Seminars

On April 21st, the fourth session of the IDEO’s ongoing Arabic seminar “Religion in Light of Human Sciences” was held with el-Sayed el-Aswad, Egyptian-American professor of anthropology at al-Ayn University in the United Arab Emirates. The topic for reflection was “Religious Ritual in Light of Anthropology”. Prof. el-Aswad began by presenting an outline of the various schools of anthropology. The students then studied analytical texts of some Islamic rituals, such as ḏikr. Analyses were based on Prof. el-Aswad’s book Religion and Folk Cosmology, of which he has also written an Arabic translation: al-dīn wa-l-taṣawwur al-šaʿbī li-l-kawn. For many of the participants, this was their first exposure to anthropology, a discipline rarely taught in Egypt.


On April 3rd, we received Mr. Richard Yung, a French Senator representing the French citizens abroad.

On April 10th, we received Mrs. Nadja Germann, Islamologist at the University of Fribourg.

On April 11th, we received Mr. François Zabbal, writer for Qantara, a magazine of the Arab World Institute, and Mrs. Eva Saenz-Diez Jaccarini, journalist.

On April 12th, we received a group of Arabic-speaking teachers in France as part of a training course organized by the DEAC.

On April 15th, we welcomed for lunch Mrs. Jenna Le Bras (La Croix) and Mr. François Hume-Ferbatadji (Radio France).

The Scholars’ House

During the month of April, we had the pleasure to receive at the Scholars’ House, Mr. Guillaume Lurton, Mr. Olivier Rampnoux, and Mr. Hadrien Coutant, three teachers at the University of Poitiers on mission at Ain shams University. Also, we welcomed Mrs. Anne-Bénédicte Hoffner, journalist in La Croix, Mr. Mikael Corre, journalist in Pélerin, and Mr. el-Sayed el-Aswad professor of anthropology.

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