The visit to Britain of Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf, from the Cordoba Initiative in New York, resonates not just with our reflections on the impending tenth anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy, but with the continuing quest for interreligious understanding in a conflictual world, says Professor Hugh Goddard.
If the modern secular state has depended for its conceptualisation on the related concept of 'religion' as a private right of faith in unseen mystical powers separated from the state, then so have those modern discourses which construct “political and socio-economic forces”, and are thereby in danger of reifying them, says Timothy Fitzgerald. He assesses some key arguments in Scott M. Thomas's widely praised book The Global Resurgence of Religion and the Transformation of International Relations: The Struggle for the Soul of the Twenty-First Century.
The assumption that there is some essential distinction between 'religious' and 'non-religious' domains – which is still today a globalising discourse – is an ideological construct which takes on an appearance of naturalness and inevitability, says Timothy Fitzgerald. When such generalised assumptions are taken into the field of international relations they cause further difficulties.
Religion changes and mutates. Some of these religious mutations can be positively harmful in a changing Middle East. But other religious innovations can help religion accommodate itself to modernity, says Ahmad Sadri. It doesn’t matter whether a society has or does not have religion per se. What is important is what kind of religion or irreligion pervades in that society.
Certainty sells in both science and religion, says former priest Mark Vernon. It can also be enormously damaging. But as Thomas Aquinas realised, the best we can do when talking about God is to understand what God is not, and be open to what God might be, beyond our comprehension. It’s also known as faith.