Weekend of friendship between young Christians and Muslims

A new kind of meeting

From Friday, May 5 to Monday, May 8, 2017, a weekend of Islamic-Christian friendship took place in Taizé. At the initiative of Khaled Roumo, a Muslim friend of the community, it was a matter of spending time together in order to share a spiritual experience around the theme: the taste of God.

More than 300 people came from multiple regions of France and some other neighboring countries. Among the young adults present, many young people involved in the association Coexister [http://www.coexister.fr/], young people who regularly share the reality of the dialogue between different religions and convictions. Other people came at the invitation of the Islamic-Christian friendship group [https://www.legaic.org/] and the Sufi brotherhood Alawiyya [http://aisa-net.com / tag / Association-international-Sufi-Alawiyya /].

In Taizé, the usual program 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 program was prepared with speakers from both religions who spoke together for a cross-exchange, a translation of the exchanges into Arabic was offered, the discussion groups at the end of each intervention combined Muslims and Christians.

The method of dialogue was simple: not to focus solely on what separates, not to pass too quickly over differences, but to visit one another with the respect that one attaches to the house of one’s host. Thus, through this humble method, we were allowed to take a small step towards understanding the prayer of others, their intimate link with God, their experience of faith, by re-reading certain quotations from the Quran and the Bible together, visiting each other at times of prayer, seeking to describe more personally our link to God.

Among the speakers, Sr. Carol from the community of Mar Moussa (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, professor of Hebrew at the Catholic University of Lyon, reread 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, the 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.

To find out more about this weekend: Two photo galleries
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 Moussa, 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.

A second edition of this meeting is being prepared for next year. This time the invitations will not be adressed only to francophones, but to young adults from various countries.

Printed from: http://www.taize.fr/en_article21977.html - 20 October 2017
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