Teaching Divine Mercy at the Vatican

By Raleigh Basinger 

Mustansir Mir, professor in the department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, presented his paper “The Qur’anic Concept of Divine Mercy” at the Muslim and Christian Studies conference in Rome from Oct. 13 to Oct. 15.

The conference was held at the Vatican, and featured international speakers who discussed Islamic and Christian teachings.

Mir’s paper was about God’s mercy, he said. In this paper he discussed the nature of divine mercy and explained why people should be merciful towards other people with different faiths.

“Mercifulness is the most important attribute of God,” Mir said.

Presentations were made by some of the greatest scholars in the field. Mir and the other presenters were given a tour of the Vatican.

“It was quite comprehensive and many thought provoking presentations were made,” Mir said. “There was great hospitality.”

Angelika Neuwirth, a German professor, spoke with Mir on a panel during a workshop. Neuwirth talked about how Europe regards Islam as a part of their own tradition, so Islam is more welcomed in Europe than the U.S.

A book that holds all the major papers that were presented in the conference will be published, including Mir’s.

Bruce Waller, professor in the department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, said Mir is acknowledged as one of the most important world authorities on Christian and Muslim comparison studies.

He said he admires his colleague and the work he does.

“Mir is certainly a person who really loves the areas he works in, the material he teaches, and also enjoys his students,” Waller said. “It is a genuine passion for communicating his material that he loves and infecting others with that fascination with that material.”

A  session titled “How I Discovered Mercy in the Face of the Other”, which featured two testimonies by experts in the field, was one of Mir’s favorite sessions.

“This i think was extremely interesting paper and fulfilled the purpose of the conference very well,” Mir said. “A Christian scholar and Muslim scholar presented their experiences with interacting with each others religion. So how this interaction enables them to appreciate some aspects of mercy.”