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FAROUQ/ The Religious Sense as seen by a Muslim

Wael Farouq, a Muslim, talks about the importance of Father Giussani’s book, The Religious Sense, for his life and for all of Egypt    

Fr. Luigi Giussani Fr. Luigi Giussani

The Religious Sense by Father Giussani is important for those living in Egypt because it has taught us a new method that is helpful for dialogue. The idea of talking with God using masterpieces of poetry, music, and stories struck me from the beginning. And every time I have applied this method in Cairo, I have found practical confirmation of its truth”. These words were spoken by Wael Farouq, a Muslim and a professor of Arabic at the American University of Cairo. Farouq read The Religious Sense for the first time in English ten years ago. Then, in 2007, he presented it when it was translated into Arabic. His observation is not so obvious considering, for example, the fact that no one has dared to apply the method of literary criticism to the Koran.

Professor Farouq, how can The Religious Sense be useful for a Muslim?

The importance of The Religious Sense lies not only in its ideas, but first of all in the method utilized by Father Giussani in presenting those ideas. He uses poetry, literature, music and painting as examples. His idea of the importance of beauty as a common language among human beings inspired my friends and I to organize the Meeting in Cairo last October. It was not by chance that we gave it the title “Beauty: The Space of Dialogue”. Then, when the church in Alexandria, Egypt, was attacked on New Year’s, we expressed our indignation by organizing a classical music concert.  Father Giussani does not just explain concepts. Rather, he gives us something to apply to everyday life, and every time we do that, we become more certain that this is the right path to follow.

So it is a way to encourage dialogue…

Personally I do not really like the word dialogue, and this is also something that I learned from Father Giussani. I prefer the word encounter because dialogue could be taken as a means of dividing people, or a process by which one forms two groups and then tries to artificially establish points of contact between them. On the contrary, in Egypt there are not two separate groups. We live in the same reality and we can meet each other on all levels of life. Therefore, what has enabled Muslims and Christians to live together for centuries was not an abstract dialogue, but the elementary experience of meaning used by Father Giussani.

Before Father Giussani, was there anyone in the Muslim world who developed a similar method?