Weekend of friendship between young Christians and Muslims

5 - 8 July, 2018

After the friendship meeting, held over a weekend in May 2017, we are planning another gathering. This time, the weekend will be in the summer: Thursday 5 July to Sunday 8 July, 2018, and whereas last year mainly involved young people from France, this time the invitation is addressed more widely to those of other countries and languages.

Young people from 18 to 35 years-old are especially invited. It is not necessary to be Christian or Muslim in order to participate.

As the journey to Taizé can be long for those from other countries, it is naturally possible for those who wish to come for the whole week and to participate for the first part of the week in the usual programme of youth meetings at Taizé. In particular it will be possible for the school groups which are present that week to participate in some of the workshops held over the special “friendship weekend”.

When St Paul speaks to the Greeks in Athens, he talks about how God prompts and stimulates the search for himself. It’s not that God sits back and folds his arms, and lets people make up stories about him as they will. God prompts. God hints. God shows and draws. God begins to disclose. And so, we’re looking around the world and seeing people that God is already involved with; and we need to remember that part of that involvement is what they are saying about God, and thinking and singing about God, and growing in relation to him.
 

So they have something to say about God, which we may not have heard. We think we know it all – all we need to know about God. God forgive us; but we are always being led by God deeper into the mystery of his endless life of love and relation and bliss. Why should we be surprised, or shocked, or even sometimes resentful, if somebody who’s not actually part of the family has something to say to us that we need to hear?

We shouldn’t be surprised if those we encounter will say to us something we didn’t know, will enlarge our world - and to say this is not to give way to a kind of relativism. (...) We start seeing the shape of Jesus in unexpected places and faces and people, we begin to approach these conversations with a little more humility, a little more expectation, a little more excitement, and a lot more gratitude.

from Dr. Rowan Williams: “On Christian faith and friendship with those of other religions”, during Hidden Treasure, Birmingham 2017

Practical details

Cost: same contribution as for normal meetings at Taizé.
Travel
Accommodation


For the weekend in 2017, more than 300 people came from various regions of France. Among the young adults present, there were young people involved in the association Coexister [http://www.coexister.fr/], who regularly share the reality of the dialogue between different religions and convictions. Others came at the invitation of the Islamic-Christian friendship group [https://www.legaic.org/] and the Alawiyya Sufi brotherhood.


Arabic calligraphy: Happy are the peacemakers, they shall be called children of God

In Taizé, the usual programme was both the same - the participants were invited to share the daily life of the community and the young people who come to make a retreat in Taizé - and at the same time different: two rooms had been arranged for the prayer of Muslims. The gathering was program was prepared with speakers from both religions who spoke together as an exchange, with a translation into Arabic provided. Muslims and Christians mixed in the small discussion groups held at the end of each session.

The method of dialogue was simple: not to focus solely on what separates, nor not to pass too quickly over differences, but to visit one another with the respect that one attaches to the home of one’s host. By this humble way of working we were able to take a small step towards understanding the prayer of others, their intimate link with God and their experience of faith, for example by re-reading certain quotations from the Quran and the Bible together, visiting each other at times of prayer and seeking to describe more personally our link to God.

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Among the speakers, Sr. Carol from the community of Mar Musa (Syria) gave a heart-rending testimony to the immense need for dialogue in the Middle East between Christians and Muslims and the way in which the monastic community to which she belongs contributes in Iraq, Syria and other countries of the Middle East. Fadila Semai explored the extraordinary friendship that united Christian de Chergé, the prior of Tibhirine, to Mohammed, a man who saved his life by giving his own during the war in Algeria. Ghaïs Jasser and Naziha Meftah opened the way to the enchanting music of the East, with poems by Khaled Roumo set to music by their ensemble Wajd. Agata Kroh, teacher of Hebrew at the Catholic University of Lyon, looked at the faith of Abraham in the light of the traditions from the three monotheisms. The imams Embarek Guerdam and Ahmed Belghazi testified to their way of building communities open "to the four winds of God".

On Sunday afternoon there was an intense exchange between Sheikh Khaled Bentounès, spiritual guide of the Sufi brotherhood Alawiyya and brother Alois, prior of the community of Taizé. They meditated in turn on the spiritual experience of tasting the love of God.

On the last day of the meeting, eyes were turned toward Mary. Fouzia Oukazi and Mireille Akouala took up the textual data of the New Testament and the Qur’an and expressed, with very personal accents, how Mary’s yes to the miraculous birth of Jesus is an inspiration in the life of every Muslim and Christian believer.

The richness of these three days together lay, certainly, in the experience of a shared life. To be housed together in the same dormitories, to take meals in common, to meet in the workshops, to share more personally in small groups of exchange, to come to the church for the Muslims, to discover the prayer of the Muslims for the Christians, these various stages have traced a path of light by which to go and taste together the living source of the love of God.

Photos by Cécile Massie [http://cecilemassie.com/galleries/week-end-damitie-islamo-chretienne/]
Photos by Wiesia Klemens [https://www.flickr.com/photos/wiesia/albums/72157683477723606]

List of the weekend workshops and their speakers

  • Tasting the taste of God in the other, between Christians and Muslims: with Ralph Stehly (professor emeritus at the faculty of Protestant theology of Strasbourg, Islamologist) and Khaled Roumo (author and poet engaged in the dialogue of cultures, interreligious dialogue and spiritual sharing).
  • Grégoire Picot (president of the Culture Espérance association, parish of Notre-Dame d’Esperance in Paris) and Moubarak Guerdam (imam in Mulhouse) or Kamal Kabtane
  • Words of peace: with Kahina Bahloul (Co-founder of the House of Peace in Houilles and president of the association "Parlez-moi d’islam") and Hubert de Chergé (administrator of the Islamo-Christian Friendship Group )
  • At the crossroads: Christians and Muslims within French Scouting.
  • Abraham our father: allowing oneself to be inspired by Jewish, Christian and Muslim traditions. Meeting with Agata Kroh (professor of Hebrew at the Catholic University of Lyon).
  • Arabic calligraphy workshop with Rany Rouabah (Saturday) and Abdulsattar Al Mansour (Sunday)
  • Communities open to the four winds of God: with Christophe Roucou (priest of the mission of France, teacher) and Ahmed Belghazi (imam in Chalon-sur-Sâone).
  • The actuality of the message of Taizé and the Sufi Alawiya International Association (AISA), by Brother Benoît and Rachid Kechidi.
  • Innovative experiments in high school and in the city: with Christiane Conturie (teacher and pedagogical leader at the Lycée Charles Péguy, Paris) and Radia Bakkouch (president of the Coexister association).
  • Coming together for better links: relaxation session with Dahbia Boukhanef (sophrologist).
  • Communities open to the four winds: with sister Carol Cooke Eid (nun of the community of Mar Musa, engaged in Syria and Iraq in the fraternity between Muslims and Christians) and the maraudes in Toulouse.
  • Spiritual itineraries, workshop animated by Khaled Roumo, invited guests: Samia Hathroubi of Coexister and brother Maxime of the community of Taizé.
  • “The friend who went ahead”: Fadila Semai tells the story of the friendship during the years of terrorism in Algeria between Christan de Chergé, a Christian monk and Mohamed, a Muslim.
  • Concert: WAJD ensemble: spiritual and existential songs, piano (Ghaïss Jasser, Composer and interpreter) poems by Khaled Roumo and voice (Naziha Meftah).
  • Spiritual audition, by the AISA Choir: International Sufi Alawiya Association.

Printed from: http://www.taize.fr/en_article21977.html - 16 December 2017
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