12 February: Space for interfaith dialogue

I would like to share another profoundly interesting reflection from Fr James Kurzynski, parish priest and hobby astronomer from Wisconsin, USA. Space exploration as an expression of Islamic faith, with the scheduled launch of the United Arab Emirates Mission to Mars; faith exploration arising from Muslim brothers seeking out advice and explanation from their chaplain – Fr James Kurzynski. Please follow the link and feel more hopeful! Here is an appetiser.

Islam has a deep history of scientific and philosophical advancements. A history I had a unique experience with while being Chaplain at Regis High School In Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

One day, Yoseph Ahmed, a rather bright student at Regis, dropped by my office to ask me if I would do a directed studies religion class with him. When I asked Yoseph what he would like to study, he said, “The morality and ethics of Thomas Aquinas.” I was a bit stunned that any high school student would want to voluntarily read the Summa Theologica, but Yoseph’s deeper explanation helped me understand why he wanted to study this Church Doctor. “Fr. James, when I read Thomas Aquinas, I feel like I am listening to the Imam at my Mosque.” It then dawned on me: Thomas Aquinas built his ethics primarily on a recovery of Aristotle through the writing of the Islamic philosopher Al-Ghazali. I accepted Yoseph’s request and what commenced was one of the most powerful experiences of interfaith dialogue I ever had. In gratitude for working with Yoseph (and later on his brother Mahmoud), the Ahmed family invited me into their home and shared the full extent of Muslim hospitality with me. It was a night I treasured and remember fondly to this day.

The modern Martyrs commemorated at St Maurice in Switzerland include the Catholic Bishop Pierre Claverie and his driver and friend, Mohamed Bouchikhi.

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