The Virgin Mary and Its Significance in Interfaith Dialogue

Friday, September 6th, 2013, 16:03 WIB

 wedforumThe three Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam, all address the story of Virgin Mary or Siti Maryam. It is told that she was born in a Jewish family, the mother of Jesus or Isa. Uniquely, she is also the only woman whose life is recounted and her name is noticeably mentioned in the Qur’an even as a chapter. In this regard, her position is equal to prophets of Islam: Muhammad, Abraham (Ibrahim), Joseph (Yusuf), and Noah (Nuh).

Besides their remarkable similarities, there are also sententious variations between Islam and Christianity on the Virgin Mary. In this sense, Islamic scriptures thoroughly tell that the signs of godly kind-heartedness filled Mary since her birth. Furthermore, Catholicism emphasizes that the Mary has the most special degree among women. In the Roman Catholic church, she is also the most repeatedly mentioned and revered. In Protestantism, Mary is seen with unenthusiastic, if not to say unconcerned the great significance of her roles in the Jesus and the church’ life.

Marlies Ter Borg, Dr. Fredrik Y.A. Doeka, and Alimatul Qibtiyah presented this interesting topic. Ter Borg is a Dutch philosopher, editor and author. Her work mainly focuses on the study of texts in the Bible and Qu'ran and comparative textual analysis of both holy books. Doeka is a lecturer of Islamology and Theology of religions at Theology department of UKAW, Kupang, NTT. Qibtiyah is a lecturer of Communication and Broadcasting Islam at Dakwah Departement, and the director of Center for Women Studies, State Islamic University, Sunan Kalijaga, Yogyakarta. They become speaker of CRCS-ICRS Wednesday Forum on 4 September 2013 with topic entitled "Bridging Interfaith Dialogue Through The Virgin Mary." Narjiyah Martiyam, Public Education staff of CRCS acted as the moderator.

Throghout this forum, the three enlightening speakers critically discuss: “Gender issues in the Qur’an and Bible; How Mary is narrated in the Qur’an and Bible?; How Mary is perceived in Jewish, Muslim and Christian world?; Can Mary be a bridge of interfaith dialogue?; and How Mary be a bridge of interfaith dialogue?” Ter Borg convincingly emphasized that the Virgin Mary is loved by Christian and Muslim. This has clear supporting evidents in both the Quran and Bible. Therefore, this fact is important because the shared story brings same religious fondations. Then, it can contribute to religious peaceful coexistence as there are many similarities in the both holy books.

Meanwhile, Doeka further argued that Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism pay serious attention to the Mary and her roles, including her personalities and movements. Those show both her divine and human dimensions. However, he also mentoned that there are three bad strips on the face of the Mary today that should be removed, namely unequal relations between men and women, free sex and poor work ethos (laziness). Then, he introduced two contradictory approaches to resolve the three social issues: “Violence (hatred) and tenderness (loving-kindness).” In addition, Qibtiyah explored gender issues related to the Virgin Mary topics in Islam. She argued that relations between gender issues and the Virgin Mary topics raise critical questions on Allah (God) ’s gender, equality between men and women, human creation (in this sense, it is also related to the topic of Adam-Hawa/Eva), and hijab. (admin,che)