Featured image is a composite of graphic depictions of left: a mosque, by artist Zizi; top right: Pope Francis: I Believe in Mercy, an illustrated book by Regina Dorman, art by Sean Lam; and bottom right: Francis, the comic strip by Pat Marrin, March 2, 2021, the National Catholic Reporter.
Yes!! iPub is embarking on a new, courageous project to bring the story of Pope Francis and Muslim-Catholic dialogue into the realm of the illustrated, or graphic, book. It is our hope to share with kids and adults the importance of both learning about each other’s religions and the tremendous opportunities to achieve peace and sister/brotherhood around the world through dialogue, wherever these 2 faiths exist.
The authors of this illustrated book, Khaleel Mohammed, Professor, Moussa Serge Traore, Catholic Priest, and Leonard Swidler, Professor, will place this story in Iraq. It will follow the visit of Pope Francis to that country on a dialogue building mission to create peace, tolerance and unity between Catholics and Muslims there in March of 2021.
“This is our inspirational history of peaceful coexistence, love, and brotherhood. And this is our present, built upon these high and noble values.” – Iraqi President Barham Salih
Why an Illustrated Book on this topic? A Plea for Continued Dialogue and Support
Our world needs a simple message of awareness and communication of our mutual problems and we need to direct others toward peace through cooperation and understanding of our commonalities. The most impressionable learners are represented in our children with their curious and open minds.
One of the best teaching conduits is through a comic-book style storyboard with colorful illustrations and a simple message of love and coexistence through shared knowledge. Youth and curious adults will assimilate this message of our mutual human condition and learn from a plea for continued future dialogue towards the cessation of hate and fear generated through ignorance. The message is simply this: positive change is possible and critical for the future peace of our planet.
Why Learn About Each Other’s Religions?
In a world that has seen too much acrimony between religions, Pope Francis comes forth as one of the servants of God seeking to create harmony and dialogue among people.
To learn about each other’s religions is to seek the face of God in the lives of the followers of other religions. In this way, we can each deepen our own religions as we come to see the same God we know is at work beyond the boundaries of our own creed. Through the illustrated series of events and stories, we learn from Pope Francis’ discourses with Muslims and discover a core question in Christian-Muslim relations …How can we live what we profess?
Integrity and credibility are central to relationships. When a belief is challenged, especially one given to us when we were children, what can be more profound than maintaining integrity throughout the process of learning from another?
This book ought to be required reading for any who seek to promote love among their neighbors who share this planet.
Your unrelenting quest for peace, social justice and confronting poverty, and your tireless endeavors in the pursuit of dialogue, coexistence and human brotherhood, are a source of pride and appreciation, and your noble care for life and humanity are an inspiration to all. – Iraqi President Barham Salih
Our relationship is based on the firm conviction that authentic teachings of religions invite us to remain rooted in the values of peace. – Pope Francis
Meet The Authors
KHALEEL MOHAMMED, PROFESSOR
I must admit that over and above my religious perspective, I have an intensely personal reason for working on this book. I am a South American Muslim, and I feel that Pope Francis, being Argentinian, represents me. Throughout his ministry, he has sought to promote harmony and compassion among all of God’s children. He is, to me, the embodiment of one the Qur’an identifies among the Christians as close to me “Among them are priests and
monks, and they wax not proud.”
I am Director for the Center for Islamic and Arabic Studies at San Diego State University where I have been a Professor of Religious Studies since 2003. Some of the courses I teach in addition to World Religions are The Qur’an, Women in the Qur’an, Abrahamic Religions, Biblical Narratives in the Qur’an, Methods and Theory, Sikhism, Islamic Philosophy, Violence and Nonviolence in World Religions, Extremism/Global Change, and Hadith.
MOUSSA SERGE TRAORE, CATHOLIC PRIEST
I am a Roman Catholic Priest from Burkina Faso (West Africa). I was born and grew up in a Muslim-Christian family where my mother was Muslim and my father Catholic. They taught me how to respect the other in his or her uniqueness. I grew up admiring the beauty of each religion and loving my Christian and Muslim relatives. We were one in humanity and also one in religion. I experienced in my family the conviction of the Church that Muslims together with Catholics adore the same one God. I became a Missionary Catholic Priest in the Society of the Missionaries of Africa, a Catholic religious order founded in the Islamic desert of Algeria with the noble aim of promoting life-giving encounters between Catholics and Muslims.
From this and my Catholic religious missionary work, I learned how to seek and find God in the life of all believers. Faithful to my religion, I dedicate my life to promoting Muslim-Christian dialogue through recognizing, preserving, and promoting whatever is true and holy in Islam and in the life of Muslims. I am formed in the study of religions and cultures, interreligious dialogue, Islamic studies, and Muslim-Christian relations from the Pontifical Gregorian University and the Pontifical Institute for the Study of Arabic and Islamics. I authored a book (The Truth in Islam) and many articles on Muslim-Catholic Dialogue. I am currently studying for PhD research in the history of African Muslims at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London.
LEONARD SWIDLER, PROFESSOR
I am a global philosopher, historian, and theologian, having devoted my adult life of over a half-century (born January 6,1929) to building bridges among followers of the world’s Religions and Life-Understandings, as well as between Women-Men and Human-Nature. I have taught in universities around the world since 1953. In 1963, my wife, Arlene Anderson Swidler, and I founded the scholarly Journal of Ecumenical Studies; and in 1974, The Dialogue Institute: Inter-Religious, Inter-Cultural, International.
In 2018, I founded iPub Global Connection with my sister Sandi Billingslea and in 2019, the Arlene and Leonard Swidler Chair in Interreligious Dialogue and Modern Catholic Thought at Temple University. In 2021, I formed the Arlene and Leonard Swidler Family Foundation. My two most worldwide viral articles (even before the existence of the web!) were, Jesus Was a Feminist and the Dialogue Decalogue.
We must reach children and young adults. This book will do just that. – Professor Swidler
Why Iraq? Iraq Is a World Sentinel for Dialogue
This book will show what Catholics and Muslims have accomplished over the years in seeking brotherhood and dialogue. The Pope’s visit to Iraq shows a strong commitment to continued dialogue. There is an opportunity for Iraq to reclaim its position and once again become a world sentinel for hope in religious dialogue, as was done with the Bayt al-Hikmah in the ninth century. This book addresses the youth and adults of both paths to show that harmonious coexistence IS POSSIBLE.
“It is our great pleasure to have you among us here in Iraq, in the land of Mesopotamia, in the land of the prophets and of heavenly religions. Welcome to Baghdad, the city of peace, and to other Iraqi cities, Najaf, Mosul, Erbil, Qaraqosh. Welcome to Ur, our first city, which introduced writing and was the blessed birthplace of the Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him), the father of the prophets, the city that the hearts of believers yearn for.” – Iraqi President Barham Salih to Pope Francis upon his visit in March 2021
“I am grateful for the opportunity to visit this land … Iraq is a cradle of civilization … It is the land of the history of salvation … It is the land of the Patriarch Abraham.” – Pope Francis
- Identify Iraqi artists and other graphic professionals
- Signal important influencers in Iraq and Europe
- Translate into Arabic, Spanish, and other languages
- Pre-orders of books
If you are interested in this project, please let us know! For other reads on inter-religious dialogue, check out The Power of Dialogue: Jewish – Christian – Muslim Agreement and Collaboration by Rueven Firestone, Khalid Duran, and Leonard Swidler and Building Bridges: Understanding the Religions of Others by Antony Fernando