The University of Kentucky Interfaith Dialogue Organization (IDO) and Rumi Forum (Washington, D.C.), with the support of Student Government, sponsored a Christian–Muslim Dialogue Event: “A Common Word”, on Monday, March 23, 2009 in the William T. Young Library Auditorium.

It’s such a simple idea really, but so powerful, so full of world-changing potential. Christians and Muslims sitting down together to discuss the two beliefs shared by both religions – love of God and love of one’s neighbor.

This event was inspired by a national initiative, “A Common Word between Us and You,” based around an open letter available to read at that declares the common ground between Islam and Christianity.

“Understanding the relationship between the two religions is crucial because we live in a global society,” Mehmet Saracoglu, IDO President said. “We can isolate each other, especially nowadays, so it’s especially important that we understand the common points.”

From this perspective, IDO and Rumi Forum hosted two distinguished scholars in their respective fields; Mark Swanson and Ismail Acar, to discuss “A Common Word” Initiative.

Mark Swanson is the Harold S. Vogelaar Professor of Christian-Muslim Studies and Interfaith Relations at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago. He also serves as the associate director of the Center of Christian-Muslim Engagement for Peace and Justice. Swanson holds a doctorate from the Pontifical Institute of Arabic and Islamic Studies in Rome and taught at the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo, Egypt.

Ismail Acar is a visiting assistant professor of religion (Islam) at Bard College and recently served as a Visiting Fellow at Harvard Law School Islamic Legal Studies Program, where he was involved in research regarding “Stoning in Islamic Law: A Contemporary Approach.” Prior to joining Bard College, Acar was a visiting scholar of Christian-Muslim relations at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago and the University of California-Los Angeles.