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The Past and Future of Muslim-Christian Relations

Lecture presented at Saint Xavier University

Chicago (Feb. 21, 2006) – Scott Alexander, Ph.D., director of Catholic-Muslim Studies at Chicago’s Catholic Theological Union, will present a lecture on Muslim-Christian relations on Thursday, March 2, at Saint Xavier University’s Chicago campus, 3700 W. 103rd St.

The lecture, titled “Confrontation and Dialogue: The Past and Future of Muslim-Christian Relations,” will focus on the relationship between Muslims and Christians over time. It begins at 9 a.m. in the Butler Reception Room. 

“The dynamics of both confrontation and dialogue have existed in Christian-Muslim relations from the very beginning,” Alexander said. “The two stories unfold side by side and often intersect: one is the story of Christian-Muslim hostility and confrontation, and the other is the story of Christian-Muslim dialogue and cooperation.”

The first socially significant encounter between the groups was in the year 614, when the prophet Muhammad sent a Muslim group to Abyssinia to avoid persecution, Alexander said. The prophet told them a just Christian King, al-Najaski, would give them sanctuary. The Muslims were accepted by the King as brothers and sisters in faith, despite opposition and pressure from the Meccan emissary. 

After the prophet died in 632, Muslim armies invaded the southeastern provinces of the Byzantine Empire and captured Jerusalem in 639. While it was a time of marked confrontation Muslims and Christians, there were also dynamics of dialogue and cooperation underway. In fact, some Christian churches saw the Muslim armies as their liberators from Byzantine hegemony and oppression. 

Alexander will also discuss the changing roles of Christianity in the west and its impact on Christian-Muslim relations. “As far as the church is concerned, confrontation and violent ways of interaction with Muslims, such as the Crusades, belong on the ashheap of history,” Alexander said.

Admission is $6.00 and open to the public. The lecture is a part of a continuing Theology South forum series at Saint Xavier University. For more information, please contact the Saint Xavier University Pastoral Ministry Institute at (773) 298-3900. 


Saint Xavier University, a Catholic institution inspired by the heritage of the Sisters of Mercy, educates men and women to search for truth, to think critically, to communicate effectively, and to serve wisely and compassionately in support of human dignity and the common good.

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