Pope in historic talks with Grand Imam of Al-Azhar

Article originally appears in Al-Jazeera

Unexpected meeting between Francis and Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb followed easing of tensions during reign of Benedict.

Pope Francis made several gestures towards Islam including bringing Syrian refugees to the Vatican [Reuters]

Pope Francis has met the grand imam of Cairo’s Al-Azhar Mosque at the Vatican in a historic encounter that was sealed with a hugely symbolic hug and exchange of kisses.
The first Vatican meeting on Monday between the leader of the world’s Catholics and the highest authority in Sunni Islam marks the culmination of a significant improvement in relations between the two faiths since Francis took office in 2013.

The Qur’an with Bible References

Frank Kaufmann a Bridges Board member presenting David Foka with a copy of the Qur’an with References to the Bible.

David Foka is Head Emeritus of Pax Christi, Luxembourg. Current Administrative Director for Immigration Settlement, education, and care, Luxembourg. Current Head of Africa in Diaspora, for Europe and International.

Safi Kaskas's photo.
Safi Kaskas's photo.
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Further news from the Qur’an with references to the Bible

Posted on the Facebook page of Safi Kaskas, co-editor of The Qur’an with references to the Bible

Said Homayoun Madjrouh is from one of the founding political families of Afghanistan, and a central rep to the West for securing support of the Afghan resistance to Soviet Occupation. He knows US Presidents, as well as European presidents and UN leaders on the basis of leading from a very interior role in the Afghan resistance.

In later life beyond the war, he moved to humanitarian work with Sanofi Pasteur responsible for vaccinations in India and Africa. He is closely internal to Medicines San Frontiers, and other massive global aid groups

Here he is receiving the Qur’an with References to the Bible from Dr. Frank Kaufmann Bridges Board member.

Safi Kaskas's photo.
Safi Kaskas's photo.
Safi Kaskas's photo.

Muslims and Jews Unite in Solar Project to Aid West Bank Farmers

Jews and Muslims from the United States have recently financed a $100,000 solar project in Auja, West Bank and both Israeli Jews and Palestinian Muslims are on its technical team. The solar project gives local farmers an economic boost, drawing water from deep underground as well as improving electricity efficiency. The project has been fairly successful, and according to Clive Lipchin, director of a water-management center at Arava, they’ve succeeded in part because the project is on private property and thus did not require permission from any political entity.

IRFWP solar array

That isn’t to say, however, that political complexities are nonexistent. During a visit to the solar array this month, Auja mayor Fakhri Injoum, who leans politically toward Fatah (the party that dominates the Palestinian Authority) expressed that “[they] are eager to develop Auja, but projects with the Israelis are not welcomed.”

Nevertheless, the new solar array supplies approximately one-third of the electricity needed to run a subterranean pump, while the local electric company supplies the rest. In addition, the project also includes agricultural training for farmers and surveys to assess farmers’ needs.

Read the entire article here

News on the Qur’an from Bridges to Common Ground

In April Bridges was invited to participate in the Islamic Society of North America’s Annual Government and Interfaith Forum where the Qur’an with References to the Bible was publicly presented and distributed to 100 attendees.

Over the several days Bridges board member Dr. Frank Kaufmann spent in D.C. representing Bridges he had many opportunities to engage with leaders from Muslim and Christian communities.  It was an important and auspicious moment – we celebrate the promotion of the Qur’an at this high level.

Read the entire article here

Jihad and the Path to Peace

Read the entire Digital Journal article here

New York – Religious or not, all people are Jihadis. We battle against that version of ourselves we least admire, and labor, indeed battle with all we can muster to be and become better, step by step, day by day.


This universal quality, common to every person ever is what is known inIslam as Jihad. I can envision, and sometimes almost taste the self I long to be, compassionate, serving, forgiving, trusting, patient. At times I feel it, I’m there, if even for a moment.

Conversely, I know, like the back of my hand my most formidable of all my enemies, the shrewdest, keenest, most deceptive, and most relentless of all people constantly attacking that great me I want to be … me. That me is selfish, self-absorbed, prideful, distracted, thoughtless, impatient, ineducable; repeating for a lifetime the faults, and every shortcoming as often and as fast as I swear off them.

This struggle, this me versus me is Jihad. It is translated as “striving, applying oneself, struggling, persevering.” (article continues here)



Interfaith leaders urge political parties to reject Islamophobia

IRFWP Director, Dr. Frank Kaufmann has been invited as a “featured guest” to events surrounding the efforts of ISNA to highlight Muslim opposition to religious and violent extremism, and to present interfaith solidarity among leaders and believers of all faiths to stand shoulder to shoulder with friends and believers, brothers and sisters in the world’s great faith traditions.

Dr. Kaufmann is featured with ISNA this week representing Bridges to Common Ground, and its recent release of The Qur’an – with References to the Bible: A Contemporary Understanding 

The meeting opened with a press conference that received wide media attention

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick greets Former ISNA President Imam Mohamed Magid during a press conference pushing national political parties to reject anti-Muslim bigotry in the elections at National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on April. 14, 2016. Religion News Service photo by Aysha Khan

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick greets former ISNA President Imam Mohamed Magid during a press conference pushing political parties to reject election anti-Muslim bigotry at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on April 14, 2016. Religion News Service photo by Aysha Khan

Read one such media report on this pressing initiative here

2016-04-14 10.45.42


Continued outreach from Safi Kaskas of Bridges for Muslim Christian harmony

Monsignor Khaled B. Akasheh, PHD, serves as the Head of the Office for Relations with Islam at the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue. As such he was one of the Vatican participants in the 2008 Catholic-Muslim Forum established following the publication of the open letter “A Common Word Between Us and You.” He has also participated in the Vatican’s dialogue with Al-Azhar University and the Islamic Culture and Relations Organization of Tehran.

We presented to him a copy of The Qur’an with References to the Bible. Our discussion focused on interfaith and ways and means to let the results of years of dialogue trickle down to the people. The discussion was so involved, he graciously invited us to lunch to continue the conversation. LOVE wins.

Safi and Eman Kaskas of Bridges to Common Ground

Secretariat for Interreligious Relations is Instituted at the DECR



The section for interreligious contacts of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations is reorganized into the secretariat for interreligious relations with the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill. The secretariat’s responsibilities include development and maintenance of contacts with non-Christian traditional religious association in Russia and abroad, with the Interreligious Councils of Russia and the CIS, as well as dealing with the issues related to the situation of the persecuted Christians.

In compliance with the resolution of the Holy Synod of 24 December 2015, the issues related to the development of interreligious relations were transferred to the DECR; its chairman, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk was appointed representative of the Russian Orthodox Church at the Presidium of the Interreligious Council of Russia.

With the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk appointed Rev. Dimitry Safonov DECR secretary for interreligious relations. He was the head of the sector for interreligious contacts from 2013 and has been executive secretary of the Interreligious Council of Russia since 2016.

Announcement here