If you look up “theologian” in the dictionary, you might find a picture of Martin Forward.
Forward is the executive director of the Wackerlin Center for Faith and Action at Aurora University, and a full-time truth-seeker. He teaches religion at AU, which generally means he helps his students ponder the big questions of life. Originally from England, Forward is a British Methodist minister. He’s worked at prestigious universities in Cambridge, and in Hyderabad, India, teaching and studying the world’s religions.
With the Wackerlin Center, Forward puts his faith and natural curiosity into action, bringing local churches, mosques and synagogues together to explore religions and customs.
And Forward is working on a dictionary of his own. He’s been chosen to edit a new book on Christian-Muslim relations. With a team of more than 60 collaborators, Forward will put together a book of entries on topics of interest to Christians and Muslims, from both perspectives. The book is scheduled to come out in 2012. . .
3. What do you hope to accomplish with this book?
To get people to realize that sometimes, relations between Christians and Muslims have been really rather good. If I were to spell that out, I would say that lots of people these days think that Christians and Muslims don’t get on. Al Qaida, all that kind of stuff, Muslim revolts in southern Russia and Chechnya, all those sorts of things, suicide bombers. We tend to think that Muslims are kind of crazy people. But my own experience, having worked in India with Muslim friends, is hospitality and affection, friendship. I go into Chicago and I meet people who belong to CAIR, the Council of American Islamic Relations, and they’re good American Muslims. They want to be Americans as well as Muslims. They hate Al Qaida, and find them just as offensive as I do. In fact, more offensive, because they’re trying to hijack their religion.
If you look back at various things, you can see all sorts of times when Christians and Muslims have been at each other’s throats. And we don’t want to underplay it, we’re not doing a whitewash. But we are wanting to get people to see a more rounded picture, and to pick out those moments in time, those kind of areas like food and hospitality, where we can say there’s really scope for us to work together, and to like each other. (MORE)