In response a brief overview of Islam was prepared and may be accessed by clicking here this aims to provide readers with a basic understanding of Islam. For Muslims, the book 'Christianity the Complete Guide' (Edited by John Bowden and published by Continuum, 2005) provides an encyclopaedic overview of Christianity.
Interaction and dialogue between Muslims and Christians dates back to the beginnings of Islam in the seventh century. Both religions trace their roots back to the patriarch Ibrahim/Abraham and share belief in one God (monotheism). The fourteen centuries of shared history between Muslims and Christians has been marked by periods of violence and hostility as well as times of tolerance, cooperation and peaceful coexistence.
Organised interreligious dialogue only began in the 1950's when the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Vatican held meetings with representatives of other faiths. In the 1960's the Second Vatican Council marked a major step forward in Christian openness to interreligious dialogue. The World Council of Churches established a programme for Dialogue in the 1970's. In this period the efforts of Christian Churches focused on increasing awareness and understanding of Dialogue through the publishing of reports, articles and books written by both Muslims and Christians. By the 1980's organisations such as the Muslim World League and the World Muslim Congress together with Christian organisations had established both formal and informal structures and programmes for Muslim Christian Dialogue. Increasing mobility and the real time communication that is now possible mean that Muslims and Christians hear about each other and come into contact with each other as never before. Here in Ireland this has become very true in the last decade. As a result, we Muslims and Christians need to understand, communicate and cooperate with each other especially in our everyday encounters as neighbours, friends and work colleagues. Dialogue, therefore is a necessity.
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