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This blog is maintained for the readers of In the Light of a Blessed Tree, as well as for all those interested in the wider work of Dr. Timothy J. Gianotti: including the Islamic Institute for Spiritual Formation (IISF, Toronto), which he serves as the Director and Principal Teacher, the Studies in Islam program at Renison University College (University of Waterloo), where he serves as an Associate Professor, and the American Islamic College (Chicago), where he served as the Director of Islamic Studies (2013-2015).

Please stay tuned for new blog entries and announcements for new programs in Toronto and beyond!


Inner Battles and Outer Battles 
Struggling with the Language and Imagery of War within our Faith Traditions

November 19-21, 2010

This year, as part of our third annual "twinning" between the communities of the Noor Cultural Centre and Temple Emanu-El, we will -- God willing -- begin exploring some of the difficult elements that make the Muslim-Jewish relationship so complex and uniquely burdened.  One of these elements is the language and imagery of war within our scriptures and larger faith traditions.  To guide and help facilitate our inter-communal conversations, we have invited two prominent scholars, Rabbi/Dr. Reuven Firestone and Dr. Mahmoud Ayoub to join us for the entire weekend.

Dr. Rabbi Reuven Firestone
Professor of medieval Judaism and Islam at Hebrew Union College,
founder and co-director of the Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement (www.usc.edu/cmje). 

Dr. Mahmoud Ayoub
Faculty Associate in Shi‘ite Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, Hartford Seminary,
Professor Emeritus and former Director of Islamic Studies in the Department of Religion, Temple University, Philadelphia (1988-2008)

The events we have planned, including a major event for the general public (free), promise to help our communities grapple with the grim realities of conflict on all levels, from the interpersonal to the inter-communal.  To this end, they will help us explore the ways in which the language and imagery of war within our scriptures and wider traditions have been invoked and continue to be invoked to justify and promote conflict.  How should we understand this?  How can we see these war passages as sacred?  Do our traditions illumine a path beyond conflict, a path where we can be faithful to these texts and traditions without perpetuating and escalating the violence that runs so rampant in the world? Acknowledging that we cannot simply get rid of this element of our scriptures and indeed our lives, how can we witness to these texts and traditions in a healthy way?  For example, are there metaphorical readings and appropriations (such as the Rabbinical sublimation of war within the "Wars of Torah" and the “Inner War” of our mystical traditions) that can open up alternatives to Divinely sanctified bloodshed and all the moral and political complications this brings?

(SEE  www.noorculturalcentre.ca for final schedule)

DAY ONE (Friday, Nov. 19):  
"Inner Battles: Looking at Our 
Foundational Stories of Strife, 
Resolution, and Self-Definition"

1:00 pm

Friday Prayer Service at Noor Cultural Centre, featuring sermon (khutbah) by Dr. Mahmoud Ayoub; coffee, tea and light lunch following prayers

8:00 pm

Shabbat Service featuring sermon by Rabbi Reuven Firestone, Temple Emanu-El, light refreshments following service

DAY TWO (Saturday, Nov. 20): 
"Inner Battles and Outer Battles:  Struggling 
with the Language and Imagery of War within our Traditions"

7:30 pm

PUBLIC LECTURE and Discussion with Dr. Ayoub and Rabbi Firestone, Noor Cultural Centre (main hall)

DAY THREE (Sunday, Nov. 21):
"Making Peace where There is Strife?  Building 
a Relationship Based Upon Our Common Burdens, 
Histories, and Concerns" 

11:30 am

Community continental breakfast and discussion with Dr. Mahmoud Ayoub, Rabbi Debra Lansberg, and Dr. Timothy Gianotti, Temple Emanu-El

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