The CMJE (Centre for Muslim-Jewish Engagement) is a partnership that has been established by three associations:
- Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
- Omar Ibn Al-Khattab Foundation
- USC’s Center for Religion and Civic Culture
The CMJE is one of the leaders in educational and academic endeavours to formulate solutions for the complicated issues that surround Muslim-Jewish relations. This groundbreaking ‚meeting of cultures‘ was the brainchild and inspiration of Steven B Sample, who is the president of the USC. His vision took on board the broad ideas of collaboration between institutions from both Muslims and Jews in order that the university and communities could reap benefits.
The CMJE is the realisation of a vision of engagement between the Muslim and Jewish communities. The three institutions are less than one mile from each other, and they are working together on a project that will benefit mutual interests and will be paramount to the local community. The CMJE started its existence as a simple friendship between some members of the three organisations named above. This friendship has grown and goes back over 14 years to 2002, when there was an informal collaboration to construct worthwhile programs and broad approaches to improving the understanding between Jewish and Muslim cultures. The initial steps involved just dialogue, but through this, a deep and long lasting mutual respect developed leading to a more formalised arrangement.
Conferences and development
There have been two conferences since 2005. These international affairs taught scholars of the Muslim faith and held talks with prominent scholars from both faiths. The CMJE was established formally in 2008 but by this time, the international initiatives had already been created with the noteworthy establishment of the library holdings for Judaic studies in Bangladesh at the University of Dhaka.
On the domestic front, the CMJE has been applying itself to projects that include:
- A national study of Muslim-Jewish dialogue
- A Religious Action Committee
- The Islamic Society of North America
- The Jewish-Muslim Initiative
As well as the above, there are a large number of leaders of both Muslim and Jewish congregations that have been in contact with the Omar Foundation and the HUR-JIR to ask for guidance to enable them to start programs or improve one that is already in existence.
It is as a result of this type of action that the importance of an academic institution focused primarily on the two communities, and looking at history, culture, and collaboration was established. The Centre for Muslim-Jewish Engagement is the only institution of its kind in the US. It is a ‚think-tank‘ for academics, a resource for the community and has international aims that are focused on issues that relate to Muslim and Jewish interaction. It is through this sort of collaboration that both communities can get beyond any historical difference that they have with each other and also beyond just dialogue. The aim is to fuse a collective action.
Both Muslim and Jewish people, by utilising CMJE, can lay down a sturdy foundation for the future by finding common aims and customs in their traditions. It is believed that by pushing forward that a point will be reached when even major differences between the two will be respected. The CMJE celebrates the unique history of both Jews and Muslims and has the ultimate goal that both religions will bond together in a true spirit of harmony that is not based on individual needs and aspirations, but focuses on universal ’sacred‘ principles that join Muslim and Jewish people.
The Centre for Muslim-Jewish Engagement has put-together Jewish, and Islamic religious texts, which it is hoped will help lay leaders create sermons that draw their themes from both religions. The documents will be drawn up to enable debate and study on a variety of subjects, using acceptable translations from the original writings. This is a project that will grow in the future to provide a user-friendly resource that is easily searched, and can be used for educational purposes. The texts will be taken from:
- Islamic texts including the Hadith and the Qur’an
- Other Islamic recourses
- Jewish texts, which will include The TaNaKh
The mission of the CMJE
The mission is the promotion of dialogue, understanding, and partnership in the oldest and newest of the Abrahamic faiths. The CMJE will fulfil it task by:
- Providing community leaders with skills and motivation to make for fruitful dialogue
- Building community programs to promote understanding
- Building web-based recourses that are easily accessed
- Creating an academic ‚think-tank.‘