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Islam in the West

Iraqi Shi’i Communities in Transition and Dialogue

Series:

Kieran Flynn

This book studies the historical, religious and political concerns of the Iraqi Shi‘i community as interpreted by the members of that community who now live in the United Kingdom and Ireland, following the 2003-2010 war and occupation in Iraq. It opens up a creative space to explore dialogue between Islam and the West, looking at issues such as intra-Muslim conflict, Muslim-Christian relations, the changing face of Arab Islam and the experience of Iraq in the crossfire of violence and terrorism – all themes which are currently emerging in preaching and in discussion among Iraqi Shi‘a in exile. The book’s aim is to explore possibilities for dialogue with Iraqi Shi‘i communities who wish, in the midst of political, social and religious transition, to engage with elements of Christian theology such as pastoral and liberation theology.

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Chapter 7 Catholic Theology in Dialogue with Shi‘i Narratives

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Introduction In this chapter I seek to extend the boundaries of Shi‘i–Christian dialogue by creatively combining current Shi‘i concerns with Catholic theology. Various scholars to whom I have made reference, such as John Allen, James Bill and John Williams, have brought elements of a more theological hue to Shi‘i Muslim–Catholic Christian dialogue. Nevertheless, and apart from the contributions of Anthony O’Mahony, there has been little sustained theological engagement with Shi‘i thought, and nothing that I am aware of with Catholic political theology. According to Louis Massignon (1883–1962) the death of Al Hallaj is an example in Islam of a Muslim mirroring the truth of the crucifix- ion1 and an important recognition for Muslim–Christian relations and Islamic Christian theology. In reality no one community has a monopoly on suf fering, many Muslims have been crucified and slaughtered in the Middle East under conditions of oppression, war and occupation. The death of Imam Hussein is a dangerous and explosive memory for Shi‘i believers, powerful enough to transform religious, social and political structures. Yet it speaks deeply and profoundly to religious devotees as they recall their own suf fering and grief in religious ritual and are transformed and enlivened to life their grief and loss with integrity. 1 Anthony O’Mahony, “The Vatican, the Catholic Church, Islam and Christian– Muslim Relations Since Vatican II”, p. 305, in Anthony O’Mahony and John Flannery (eds), The Catholic Church in the Contemporary Middle East, Melisende, London, 2010. 200...

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