Last week I spent an evening sitting beneath a mammoth painting of Alfred Inciting the Saxons to prevent the landing of the Danes in Committee room 10 at the Houses Parliament in London. A Member of Parliament called Slaughter introduced two peace-building academics in an irony I'm sure he is very tired of.
We were there to listen and discuss the notion of Conflict Resolution in the context of Islam. Professor Mohamed Abu Nimer, the Director of the Salaam Institute for Peace and Justice spoke first about how Islamic peace-building was no different from any other in that it was all about justice, peace, mercy, forgiveness, compassion and equality. It’s the basic teachings, he professed that a parent offers a five-year-old child. He went on to describe the nuances that were different when working in Muslim communities. Unfortunately he spent longer on the nuances than he did in examining common ground and the nuances themselves underplayed the vast diversity in Islamic tradition across the Muslim world (which he later acknowledged). Time was short.
I disagreed with the second speaker, Dr Ayse Kadayifci-Orellana who claimed, when an Afghan in the audience challenged this broad-brush approach, that culture and religion are entirely separate. Surely one is bound up in another?