Ali Selim fields questions from students from the Church of Ireland Theological Institute during their visit to the mosque at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland in Dublin
The Church of Ireland Gazette today [20 November 2009] carries this photograph and the following half-page report on its back page:
Theological Institute ordinands visit Dublin mosque
A group of ordinands from the Church of Ireland Theological Institute (CITI) received a warm welcome when they visited the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland and the mosque in Clonskeagh, Dublin.
The students included ordinands on the M.Th. course, and second- and third-year students on the NSM (non-stipendiary ministry) course taking part in the November residential weekend at CITI.
They were welcomed by Ali Selim, secretary of the Centre and spokesperson for the mosque, who is a theology graduate of al-Azhar University in Cairo, the leading centre of Islamic learning in Egypt and the Middle East.
After a brief introduction to Islamic history and beliefs, Mr Ali Selim welcomed the students to the main prayer hall in the mosque for an open and friendly questions-and-answer session. He answered questions on a wide range of topics relating to Islam and Christian-Muslim relations, including jihad and crusade, conversion, inter-faith marriages and the place of women in Islam.
The visit was arranged by Canon Patrick Comerford, Director of Spiritual Formation at the Church of Ireland Theological Institute, who is also secretary of the Church of Ireland Interfaith Working Group.
“This has been an important step in dialogue,” he said afterwards. “There are about 40,000 Muslims in the Republic of Ireland today, and for those in ordained ministry the foundations for understanding peoples of other faiths must be laid during ordination training.”
Canon Comerford added: “During the previous academic year, a similar group of student ordinands visited the principal synagogue in Dublin. The Church of Ireland has much to offer in the area of interfaith relations and dialogue.”