The English publisher, Gilgamesh, held a reception at the Church of England’s Lambeth Palace in London on November 25, to launch the book Three Windows on Heaven – Acceptance of Others, Dialogue and Peace in the Sacred Texts of the Three Abrahamic Religions. The book, written by prominent international Jewish, Christian and Muslim specialists, was edited by Dr. Aly El-Samman, president of the International Union for Intercultural and Interfaith Dialogue and Peace Education (ADIC).
Speaking to an audience of distinguished guests, religious figures, journalists, and ambassadors were Rev. Dr. Toby Howarth, secretary of Interreligious Affairs to the archbishop of Canterbury; Max Scott, director of Gilgamesh; and Dr. Aly El-Samman, ADIC president. One of the co-authors, Dr. Marie-Laure Mimoun-Sorel, from the Australian Catholic University and the Loreto Mandeville Hall school, came from Melbourne to participate in the event.
In his speech, Max Scott explained, “It is impossible to underestimate the importance of what Dr. Aly El-Samman is setting out to do in this remarkable book. He has set out to make a difference, aiming at the broader picture and bringing together faith leaders from across the three Abrahamic faiths to point to the sections of their religious scriptures that illustrate the harmony that all our faith systems, in their purest form, seek to achieve.”
Rev. Dr. Toby Howarth spoke of, “…the importance of interreligious dialogue and the history of relationships of the Church of England with Dr. Aly El-Samman back to year 2001 when an agreement was signed between the Church of England and Al-Azhar. To illustrate this event I have the pleasure to present you a framed enlarged photo of the original text of this agreement, where you can see Dr. Aly El-Samman’s signature.”
Dr. Aly El-Samman said, “To deliver a speech in front of such a distinguished audience is not easy but what will make my task easier is to let myself be inspired by this great place, which means a lot to me, Lambeth Palace, where I came in 2001 for the signing of the agreement between Al-Azhar and the Anglican Communion.
I want to pay tribute to Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby for his high concern in interfaith dialogue, to Rev. Dr. Toby Howarth, secretary of Interreligious Affairs to the archbishop of Canterbury, who organized the launching event, to Rev. Dr. Mounir Hanna Anis who was the first to open the doors of Lambeth Palace to me, to Max Scott for his belief in these values, and to Adel Darwish, my friend, who inspired the title of the book.
I also want to express my gratitude to all the eminent contributors who brought this book to fruition. This book, written in an authoritative voice of some of the best minds of the field, is a reminder that faith is an assertion, not a negation, of a basic equation: to accept and to be accepted is to live in peace. I hope this book will illuminate the heart of Jewish, Christian and Muslims acts of faith and help believers to know one another better in the service of peace.”
Dr. Marie-Laure Mimoun-Sorel emphasized her view, “Writing this book has been a long journey and holding it in our hands represents an amazing accomplishment. However, we do not want it to become a still trophy on the chimney. Having Three Windows on Heaven published is just a beginning, as it has an educative role in opening people’s consciousnesses to what unites the children of Abraham. In such a challenging epoch, acceptance of others, dialogue and peace between cultures and religions have become essential learning which has the potential to transform the way we see ourselves and the world.”