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Hartford Seminary

Dr. Abdulaziz Sachedina Speaks About Pluralism in Islam

Hartford Seminary welcomed Dr. Abdulaziz Sachedina of George Mason University on Thursday, Oct. 10, to hear his presentation on the “Political Theology of Pluralism in Islam: Religious Ethics of Co-Existence.”

Dr. Sachedina began his presentation by saying he had long wanted to visit Hartford Seminary and was grateful to have the opportunity.

Among the points made in his lecture was a summary of three orientations to religious diversity. One is “exclusivist,” where there is only one way of understanding reality and interpreting the sacred. Another is “inclusivist,” where there are many viable religious traditions, even when one is the culmination of the others and superior. The last is “pluralist,” where truth is not the exclusive possession of any one tradition or community.

Dr. Sachedina then presented a Quranic model of pluralism and talked about the historical record of interfaith relations. He also discussed the Islamic paradigm of civil society, which includes the idea that pluralism is the foundational principle of interfaith coexistence.

Interfaith dialogue, he said, should be more often replaced by interfaith “diapractice,” in which parties act to support each other instead of remaining in the realm of discussion.

Dr. Sachedina also said that Muslims sometimes have better relationships with people of other faiths than they do within their own divisions, where Sunnis and Shias can refuse to work with each other.

Dr. Sachedina is the Professor and Endowed IIIT Chair in Islamic Studies in George Mason’s Department of Religious Studies. His books include “Islamic Roots of Democratic Pluralism” and “Islam & the Challenge of Human Rights.”
Dr. Sachedina has studied in India, Iraq, Iran and Canada and obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto. He has been conducting research and writing in the field of Islamic Law, Ethics, and Theology (Sunni and Shiite) for more than two decades. In the last ten years, he has concentrated on social and political ethics, including interfaith and interfaith relations, Islamic biomedical ethics, and Islam and human rights.

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