by Rabbi Ron Kronish
“The title of this blog post may surprise many people. Is it possible that Islam is being reformed? And in Israel! The answer is yes, as I discovered when I attended a fascinating research seminar last week at Tel Aviv University on “Contemporary Islamic Thought in Israel”. The seminar, which took place at Tel Aviv University, brought together Jewish and Arab scholars and practitioners (like me) as well as Jewish and Muslim clergy and educators. It was a groundbreaking program, which reinforced my own experience of many years that has taught me that there is a fascinating phenomenon in Israel which I call “Israeli Islam”.
The main speaker at the conference was my friend, Kadi Iyad Zahalka, a kadi (religious judge) of the Muslim Sharia court of the state of Israel, which functions under Israel’s Ministry of Justice. I have known and admired Kadi Zahalka for the past several years. We traveled together on a speaking tour to the USA last fall, and will go again this coming fall. And, a few months ago we began a new Jewish-Muslim Dialogue and Action group comprised of local religious leaders, educators, academics, community leaders, and journalists, which we call Kodesh — Kolot Dati’im L’Shalom — Religious Voices for Peace. We will study together, discuss issues of mutual concern, and take action together in our communities.
I wanted to hear Kadi Zahalka speak about the research he has been doing for his doctorate in Islamic Thought at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His topic is how Islamic jurisprudence can be applied to Muslims who live in non-Muslim countries — such as Europe countries or the United States — and especially in Israel. This is a topic that is close to his mind and heart and he is very passionate about it.”
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