This book chronicles Milwaukee's Islamic-Christian dialogues from the 1980s
Interfaith dialogue can break down barriers and create understanding. One of the first Islamic-Christian dialogues in the country took place here in Milwaukee in the 1980s.
A collaboration between a Muslim UW-Milwaukee professor, Dr. Abbas Hamdani, and two Franciscan Sisters, Jessine Reiss and Lucille Walsh, fostered spaces for interfaith dialogue. It was done in an effort to help people of different religious backgrounds understand each other better.
That dialogue is the subject of a book Interfaith Engagement in Milwaukee: A Brief History of Christian Muslim Dialogue, co-edited by Marquette University professor Irfan Omar and his former student, Kaitlyn Daly.
Omar's interest in interfaith engagement led him to create courses about it at Marquette. As a nursing and theology student, Daly had similar interests and took Omar's class. The findings of the final project of this course became the origins of their book, which focused on researching some of the first Islamic-Christian dialogues ever recorded in the United States. They interviewed people who took part in those initial interfaith conversations.
"[The participants were] people from all walks of life and then beyond that, they were interested in not just religious conversation, but conversation ... 'What do we experience? What are the problems we face together? What can we do about them?' And so here's a religious solution to human problem," Omar says.
The experience allowed devoted members of faith communities to learn more about other doctrines and hear different perspectives. Daly advocates seeking out similar opportunities to listen and learn more as well.
She says, "So, I just encourage listeners to seek those opportunities, do some Google searching, look on social media engines, and just to find the right fit for you — if you're interested in exploring what this work is."