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University of Balamand > Administration > Administrative Offices > Development > Supporting The Projects > Center For Christian Muslim Studies

Center for Christian-Muslim Studies

The Center for Christian-Muslim Studies at the University of Balamand in Lebanon draws on the heritage of The Monastery of Balamand which was built during the 12th century. The modern University builds on the tradition of learning and dialogue between the Antiochian Orthodox Church and Islam, a dialogue which is unique in its history since it began in the 7th century. Underlining this dialogue are the universal principles of human conduct, common to both religions, a shared heritage by people of the land, Muslim and Christian alike, and, recognition that they also share the same destiny. The University of Balamand is therefore uniquely positioned to promote Christian-Muslim understanding through its Center for Christian-Muslim Studies.

The Center was founded in 1995 upon the recommendation of some 30 scholars in the field of Christian-Muslim studies. These scholars, who came from the Middle East, Asia, Europe and the Americas held two major conferences at Balamand, studied the University and its broader environment, and recommended the founding of the Center which, in their view, was important both for the Arab World, and as a link with similar institutions in the West. The establishment of the Center was made possible thanks to the generosity of a number donors, and a particularly special grant from Mr. Hassib Sabbagh. Since then, the academic program, together with the conferences and seminars organized by the Center, its research and publications, are testimony to the high standards to which the Center is committed.

Although Christianity and Islam are close in their values and moral imperatives, the East and the West have had a checkered history of peace and war pursued in the name of religion. The Arabs, both Christian and Muslim, have felt aggrieved by Western regional policies in the colonial and post-colonial period. The West, particularly the United States , feels threatened by rising fundamentalism and acts of violence committed against civilians, epitomized by the events of September 11, 2001 . This singular tragedy has, more than any other, jarred relations with the Arab-lslamic world, and taken on a highly simplified perception that this is a polar conflict between religions.

Unfortunately, religious fanaticism has entered the political arena and has staked a prominent claim in regional and international affairs. At a time when the image of religion is marred by extremists and by irreverent exploitation of faith , it is essential that the University of Balamand , with its well positioned Center for Christian-Muslim Studies step up its work to promote dialogue and understanding between Christianity and Islam, and to endorse learning that will incorporate pluralism and cooperation. The Center needs to strengthen and develop its capacity to meet the task of playing such a critical role, and will be able to do so subject to the availability of resources.

Some of the most critical areas of growth for which additional resources for recurrent expenditures are listed below:

1. Broadening the range of courses in its academic program for Christian- Muslim studies at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels
2. Establishing a chair for a visiting professor in Christian studies based on recognized excellence in research and publications ($200,000 p/a)
3. Establishing a chair for a visiting professor in Muslim studies based on recognized excellence in research and publications (200,000 p/a)
4. Funding for research, surreys, and advanced studies
5. Merit scholarships and student assistantships
6. Communications, publications, translation, audiovisual presentations, web-based networking with other centers
7. Conferences, workshops and seminars
8. Outreach, exchange of visits with other universities and centers, media engagement, applied community work
9. Basic equipment: Photocopiers, computers, audio-visual equipment, desktop publishing unit

In addition to the above, the University of Balamand is seeking funding for capital investment in the following two areas:

  • A general endowment for the Center to generate a stable income sufficient to meet the most critical running expenses, allow forward planning and assure the most basic elements of continuity.
  • Construction of a building to house the Christian Muslim Center according to the master plan of the University of Balamand.
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University of Balamand,
Balamand Al Kurah,
Lebanon

Tel:  +961-6-930250
Fax: +961-6-930278