Rudiments of Arabic to Inter-active Discussions on Extremism

The 28th edition of the Silsilah Summer Course on Muslim-Christian Dialogue reels off on Sunday, April 20, 2014 when participants for the Basic Course arrive in Harmony Village in  Pitogo, Sinunuc, Zamboanga City. The Summer Course was initiated in 1987 in support of Silsilah’s objective of promoting understanding between Muslims and Christians, and what better way would there be than for followers of each religion to know more about each other’s respective religions.

The Basic Course will run  from April 20 to May 17. The key topic areas to be covered during the 4 weeks are

·Arabic – rudiments of reading and writing in Arabic; simple Arabic expressions essential to Islamic studies;

·Culture of Dialogue – essential elements of dialogue; spirituality of dialogue; interreligious dialogue and social transformation; resolution of conflicts.

· History of Islam – classical period of Islam; the advent and expansion of Islam in Southeast Asia and the Philippines

· History of Christianity – early beginnings of Christianity; its growth and expansion particularly in the Philippines

· The Holy Qur’an  and the Holy Bible – introduction to these holy books of Islam and Christianity, respectively

·Islamic Teachings and  Christian Teachings – fundamental beliefs and moral values of the respective religions.

These topics are taught by invited academics/scholars, many of whom  have been coming to the Summer course for many years.

The Special Course for 2014 is on the theme “ Religious Extremism Today and Our Mission of Dialogue and Peace in Mindanao”. The word “extremism” is used to describe the increasing intolerance of some religions towards other religions and which often leads to violence and interreligious conflicts. These conflicts are reported on as taking place in many parts of the world.

The Special Course , which will run from May 18 to 24, will focus on the situation in Mindanao. With the help of experts the discussions will attempt to understand the increasing extremism in Mindanao, the ideology behind the extremism,  why this is happening and who are the advocates behind the  trend.

A small survey was conducted to tap the respondents’ awareness of signs of extremism in their communities and whether  they are affected or not by this trend.  One session of the Special Course will be devoted to a report on the findings from the survey.

The Special Course will be followed immediately by the week-long Intensive Course which covers the same topics as the Basic Course but which is designed for the more mature and experienced participants.

Each  course  charges a   corresponding fee but grants to cover these fees are available for people who wish to participate in any of the courses but may require support.

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