3 May 2018, during the Summer Course on Interfaith Dialogue and Pilgrimage, at Henry Martyn Institute, Hyderabad, Dr. Geevarghese Yulios, the Metropolitan Bishop of the Ahmedabad Diocese of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, released the books I Am Indeed Their Brother: Loving and Serving Allah’s Poor by Bob McCahill of the Maryknoll Fathers and Lord The Air Smells Good, Felicitation volume in honour of Fr. Paul Jackson S.J. edited by Anand Amaladass and Victor Edwin.
The first book by Bob McCahill is a collection of forty-two short letters written during his missionary service among Muslims in Bangladesh from 1976 to 2017. They express his dedication, joy, vivacity and tender love for the people he lived with and worked for, while building compassionate links between Christians and Muslims. Hailing from Iowa, USA he learnt the language of the people with whom he incarnated himself wholeheartedly and in sincere simplicity. Bob’s stories give colourful dramatic pictures of his encounters, his staccato conversations, spiritual experiences, emotion-filled encounters, and unending helpfulfness. He describes how he is inspired by devout Muslims and learns patience, generosity and cheerfulness. All the letters are uplifting and cement relationships between people of different ages, professions, cultures and religions.
The Felicitation volume in honour of Fr. Paul Jackson SJ is a soulful tribute to the lifetime commitment of this creative Jesuit to the cause of Muslim-Christian relations. The engaging title is taken from a text by 13th century mystic Jalal ad-Din ar-Rumi and expresses the aura of the 15 professional articles that the book contains. The introductory piece by Victor Edwin sets the tone for the reader, presenting the personal journey of Fr. Paul Jackson and his nuanced view of the range and depth of interfaith dialogue, especially dialogue between a Muslim and a Christian, as shown in this quote from Jackson: “It is abundantly clear that this whole process of dialogue requires deep Christian faith, for it is more directly focused on receiving than on giving.” The articles are poignant and passionate, composed by professional Islamologists with academic expertise and spiritual wisdom. From Knowledge and Mercy in Mawdudi and Ibn ‘Arabi by David Immanuel Singh, and Nizamuddin to the Nations: Transnational Trajectories at the Origins of the Tablighi Jama’at by Mathew J. Kuiper, and Jesus and Mary in Tafsir Muqatil Ibn Sulayman by F. Zannini, to The Growth of Islamophobia (Fear of Islam) in contemporary German Society as a challenge to the Christians living there by Christian W. Troll, and A Christian-Islam Conversation on Climate Change by Francis Gonsalves we get a panoramic view of the theological, ideological, cultural, socio-political, psycho-philosophical and practical dimensions of Christian-Muslim relations. The book concludes with a list of Jackson’s 8 books and 90 articles.
Victor Edwin SJ