Academic Programs 

The Practice of Christian-Muslim Dialogue in North America   (CM-696)
Fall 2003

As a result of the growth of Muslim communities throughout North America, many Christian and Muslim organizations are developing resources and policies for Christian-Muslim dialogue. This course will identify major issues that need to be addressed by both communities as they seek to strengthen relationships of dialogue.


Meeting Day, Time and Dates: 
Wednesdays, 4:30-6:50

Jane Smith
Professor of Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations

Contact Information:

(860)  509-9500

Course Syllabus
Class web site

Purpose: The course is designed to give participants an opportunity to consider the current state of the conversation between Muslims and Christians in America, particularly in light of both growing tensions and heightened efforts at mutual understanding since 9-11. Students will learn something of the history of relations between the two religions, what efforts are currently underway, what kinds of dialogue have and have not been successful in the American context, and where future efforts need to be made. We will also have several occasions in the course to consider the relationship of the Muslim-Christian dialogue to the three-way “Abrahamic” conversation including members of the Jewish tradition.

Structure: Each class session will be a combination of presentation and discussion. Within the context of the course two major dialogue sessions will be held. Presenters in these sessions will be Christians and Muslims from across the country who have participated extensively in local and national dialogues and have written about the nature of interfaith conversation. They will share with the audience their hopes for “next steps” in the engagement between the two faith traditions. Students will study the writings and contributions of these visitors, and act as their hosts for the dialogue meetings.


  1. From the Hartford Seminary bookstore:

    1. Charles Kimball, Striving Together: A Way Forward in Christian-Muslim Relations

    2. Marston Speight, God is One: The Way of Islam

  1. Written and/or oral responses to selected weekly readings assigned by the instructor (available at cost in Xerox).

  1. Research on individual participants in two national dialogues to be shared with the class.

  1. A final evaluative essay based on the materials of the class, details to be worked out between student and instructor.


Meeting Schedule:

9-10              Introduction

9-17              Brief history of Christian-Muslim relations; guest Rev. Jamie Harrison

Reading: (a) Darroll Bryant, “Overcoming History: On the possibilities of Muslim-Christian Dialogue,” in Bryant and  Ali, Muslim-Christian Dialogue, (b) Hugh Goddard, “Dialogue or Confrontation?” in Goddard, A History of Christian-Muslim Relations, (c) Joseph Hough, “Christian Revelation and Religious Pluralism” (typescript)

9-24              Islam in America; ecumenical and interfaith dialogue today with guest President Heidi Hadsell

Reading: (a) Sulayman Nyang, “Challenges Facing Christian-Muslim Dialogue in the United States,” in Haddad and Haddad, eds., Christian-Muslim Encounters, (b) Jane Smith, “Christian-Muslim-Jewish Dialogue in Denver, CO,” in  Bryant and Ali, Muslim-Christian Dialogue

10-1              On-line discussion – no classroom meeting [instructions will be given in class]

Reading: (a) Jean-Claude Basset, “Has Christian-Muslim Dialogue Already Begun? In Jacques Waardenburg, ed., Muslim-Christian Perceptions of Dialogue Today, (b) Kate Zebiri, “Factions Influencing Muslim-Christian Relations,” in Zebiri, Muslims and Christians Face to Face, (c) Kenneth Cragg, “Isma’il al Faruqi in the Field of Dialogue,” in Haddad and Haddad, Christian-Muslim Encounters

10-8              Discussion of Kimball and Speight; guest Marston Speight 

Reading: (a) Marston Speight, God is One, (b) Charles Kimball, Striving Together (you may skim library copy if not available in bookstore)

10-15            Preparation for dialogue meeting (students share findings on participants)

Reading: (a) Muhammad Abu-Nimr, “The Miracles of Transformation through Interfaith Dialogue,” in David Smock, ed., Interfaith Dialogue and Peacebuilding, (b) Amir Hussein, “Muslims, pluralism and interfaith dialogue,” in Omid Safi, ed., Progressive Muslims, (c) Marcia Hermansen, “How to put the genie back in the bottle: ‘Identity’ Islam and Muslim youth cultures in America,” in Progressive Muslims

10-22            NATIONAL DIALOGUE MEETING [Reading Week]

No Class (substitute for Reading Week)

Reading: (a) Michael Wyschogrod, “Islam and Christianity in the Perspective of Judaism,” in Isma’il al Faruqi, Trialogue of the Abrahamic Faiths, (b) Krister Stendahl, “Judaism and Islam in the Perspective of Christianity,” in Trialogue, (c) Muhammad ‘Abd al-Rauf, “Judaism and Christianity in the Perspective of Islam,” in Trialogue

11-5              Evaluation of dialogue session; guest Rabbi Jonathan Magonet on Jewish-Christian-Muslim relations 

Reading: (a) Ataullah Siddiqui, “Issues in Co-Existence and Dialogue: Muslims and Christians in Britain,” in Waardenburg, Muslim-Christian Perceptions of Dialogue Today, (b) Jonathan Magonet, Talking to the Other. Jewish Interfaith Dialogue with Christians and Muslims, chapter 8.

11-12            On-line discussion – no classroom meeting

Reading: (a) Jane Smith, “Seyyed Hossein Nasr and the Muslim-Christian Encounter,” (typescript), (b) John Esposito, “The Threat of Islam: Myth or Reality?” in Kung and Moltmann, eds., Islam: A Challenge for Christianity, (c) Muhammad Arkoun, “Is Islam Threatened by Christianity?” in Kung and Moltmann, Islam: A Challenge

11-19            Preparation for second dialogue (students share findings on participants)

Reading: (a) Amina Wadud, “American Muslim identity: race and ethnicity in progressive Islam,” in Safi, Progressive Muslims, (b) Michael Wolfe, ed., Taking Back Islam. American Muslims Reclaim their Faith (selections), (c) Jaco Cillers, “Building Bridges for Interfaith Dialogue,” in Smock, Interfaith Dialogue


            Evaluation of sessions; planning with local partners for
future dialogues


Hartford Seminary  77 Sherman Street  Hartford, CT  06105   860-509-9500