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Comment on Fr. Joseph Fessio's remarks

Reader comment on item: Pope Benedict XVI and the Koran

Submitted by Christian W. Troll (Germany), Jan 17, 2006 at 15:25


I took part in the seminar that Fr. Fessio mentions and I happen to be the person who presented the paper about Fazlur Rahman referred to by him.

I can only say that the reported remark of the Holy Father, among others, points to the well-known point of essential difference between classic mainstream Muslim and classic mainstream Catholic theology concerning the Word of God and of revelation/inspiration. It also suggests that Muslim theological thinking must deal with the weight of this deep-rooted faith conviction and the theological vision it continues to shape.

However, I cannot remember at all the Holy Father having said the words reported at the end of the indented paragraph in D. Pipes's report, "The Pope and the Koran," that "There's no possibility of adapting it or interpreting it."

The Holy Father is well-informed enough to know that there have existed and that there exist today, probably increasingly, other interpretations of the Qur'anic evidence with regard to a theology of revelation. These considered Muslim views and approaches do not (yet?), it would seem, inform the thinking and approach of a sizable Islamic movement or organisation—and we do not know what future problems lie ahead in this regard – but it does exist and is vividly discussed in many places, both in academia and beyond.

An open debate on these matters does not yet seem to be possible within the Arab world but Turkish and Indonesian society grant relatively more room for airing and discussing such ideas, and the so-called Western countries offer even more space.

Recently, I published "Progressives Denken im Zeitgenössischen Islam" ("Critical Survey on Progressive Thinking in Contemporary Islam"), Islam und Gesellschaft, Nr. 4, that looks at such religious thinking. The German original (and the English translation of it) are available from Franziska Bongartz, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung. D-10785 Berlin, Hiroshimastr. 17, Franziska.Bongartz@fes.de.


Christian W. Troll
PhD (London)

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