Informal gatherings

A time for informal discussion of things that really matter.  Sometimes, participants are invited to open up subjects for conversation: sometimes, we focus on a particular topic.
We meet at 1722 Rice Blvd every Tuesday, 1830-2130.  We need to restrict numbers in order to maintain social distancing, so please email us if you wish to come.

Topic for Tuesday 28th September:  What can we eat?

It seems appropriate to look at this topic as we change our pattern and follow the discussion by a meal together!

The texts are here.


Topic for Tuesdays 14th and 21st September: Responsibility

Last Tuesday's conversation led to the observation that a major reason for the Qur'anic injunctions about women's dress is that the women needed protection against predatory men.  The question then arose as to why the problem was to be solved by covering the women, and the discussion turned to the responsibility of men both then and now.   So we decided that we needed to address the question of male responsibility.  We will do this over two sessions.  First, we will look at human responsibility more broadly, and then we will be ready to think more specifically about male responsibility

Human responsibility texts are here

Texts on male responsibility are here

Topic for Tues 31st August:  Interpreting ancient texts in today’s world.

The questions:  How do we deal with rules which were set down in our scriptures in very different contexts?   Do we simply follow the same rules today?  Or do we give priority to the wider ethical principles given in the same scriptures?  How far and in what way do we take account of the culture in which the rules were given?  How far and in what way do we take account of the histories of interpretation and action in our various traditions?  What might be our criteria for deciding?  

The example:   Head-covering in the New Testament and the Qur’an.

Find the texts and comments here

Topic for Tuesday 24th August: Why gender imbalance?

The most famous 'equality' verses (taken out of their contexts!):


Genesis 1: 26-27, Galatians 3:28

Surah 4:1; 33:35


The most famous 'inequality' verses (taken out of their contexts!):


Genesis 3:16; Ephesians 5:22-24

Surah 4:34

Chapter 4 (and others if you like!) of Ida Glaser's (with Napoleon John) Partners or Prisoners? Christians thinking about women and Islam, Paternoster, 1998.

Topic for Tuesday 17th August:  Justice



First, a little on context of 'justice' in the Qur'an.  Justice is a central theme in the Qur’an, dictating the traditions of law and how they should be put into practice. There are two ways in which justice operates: in a legal sense and in a divine sense. Regarding justice in the legal sense, the Qur’an tells Muslims not only how to conduct themselves, but is also highly important regarding relationships with other people. It states what the various punishments for certain crimes should be along with the justification behind this reasoning. Furthermore, the Qur’an brings across the idea that anyone who propagates the message of justice and acts accordingly will be justly rewarded with their place in jannah.    For such divine justice, religious background is not important:  good deeds will always be rewarded both in this world and hereafter too, enshrining the justice for all by Allah.


A few verses on Justice in the Qur'an: 

"O ye who believe! Be ye staunch in justice, witnesses for Allah, even though it be against yourselves or (your) parents or (your) kindred, whether (the case be of) a rich man or a poor man, for Allah is nearer unto both (them ye are). So follow not passion lest ye lapse (from truth) and if ye lapse or fall away, then lo! Allah is ever Informed of what ye do." Surah An-Nisa (4:135)


"And eat up not one another's property unjustly (in any illegal way e.g. stealing, robbing, deceiving, etc.), nor give bribery to the rulers (judges before presenting your cases) that you may knowingly eat up a part of the property of others sinfully." Sura Al-Baqara:188 (2:188)


"Verily! Allah commands that you should render back the trusts to those to whom they are due; and that when you judge between men, you judge with justice. Verily, how excellent is the teaching which He (Allâh) gives you! Truly, Allâh is Ever All-Hearer, All-Seer."  Sura An-Nisa:58 (4:58)





First, a little on the context of 'Justice' in the Old Testament: 

In the Old Testament, justice is described as a core attribute of God.  The Israelites are called to remember their time of slavery in Egypt, and to do justice in their own lives and communities. "For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes." Deut. 10:17


Therefore:  Deut. 16:18 "Appoint judges and officials for each of your tribes in every town the Lord your God is giving you, and they shall judge the people fairly. 19Do not pervert justice or show partiality. Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the innocent. 20 Follow justice and justice alone, so that you may live and possess the land the Lord your God is giving you."



First, a little on the context of Justice in the New Testament: (modern view) 

Justice is as one of the major themes in the New Testament. English translations often obscure this reality. Under the influence of the King James Version, many modern English translations use the word ‘righteousness’ instead of ‘justice.’ Modern versions however increasingly translate the key term tsedek in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament correctly as ‘justice.’



Matthew 6:20: “For I say unto you, that except your justice shall exceed the justice of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 6:33: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His justice; and all these things shall be added unto you.”  


(In addition, the righteousness of God is virtually synonymous with His justice: While the most common Old Testament word for just means ‘straight,’ and the New Testament word means ‘equal,’ in a moral sense they both mean ‘right.’)

Some of the texts studied in previous 'Tea and Texts' meetings:

'Light amidst Darkness in the Bible'

'Darkness and Light in the Qur'an'

'God is Light' 

1 John 1:5-7

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 

If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 

Καὶ αὕτη ἔστιν ἡ ἐπαγγελία ἣν ἀκηκόαμεν ἀπ' αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀναγγέλλομεν ὑμῖν ὅτι ὁ θεὸς φῶς ἐστιν καὶ σκοτία ἐν αὐτῷ οὐκ ἔστιν οὐδεμία.

Ἐὰν εἴπωμεν ὅτι κοινωνίαν ἔχομεν μετ' αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐν τῷ σκότει περιπατῶμεν ψευδόμεθα καὶ οὐ ποιοῦμεν τὴν ἀλήθειαν· ἐὰν δὲ ἐν τῷ φωτὶ περιπατῶμεν ὡς αὐτός ἐστιν ἐν τῷ φωτί κοινωνίαν ἔχομεν μετ' ἀλλήλων καὶ τὸ αἷμα Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ καθαρίζει ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ πάσης ἁμαρτίας  

Surah 24:35

Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The Parable of His Light is as if there were a Niche and within it a Lamp: the Lamp enclosed in Glass: the glass as it were a brilliant star: Lit from a blessed Tree, an Olive, neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil is well-nigh luminous, though fire scarce touched it: Light upon Light! Allah doth guide whom He will to His Light: Allah doth set forth Parables for men: and Allah doth know all things.

‏ ٱللَّهُ نُورُ ٱلسَّمَوَتِ وَٱلْأَرْضِ ۚ مَثَلُ نُورِهِۦ كَمِشْكَوٰةٍۢ فِيهَا مِصْبَاحٌ ۖ ٱلْمِصْبَاحُ فِى زُجَاجَةٍ ۖ ٱلزُّجَاجَةُ كَأَنَّهَا كَوْكَبٌۭ دُرِّىٌّۭ يُوقَدُ مِن شَجَرَةٍۢ مُّبَرَكَةٍۢ زَيْتُونَةٍۢ لَّا شَرْقِيَّةٍۢ وَلَا غَرْبِيَّةٍۢ يَكَادُ زَيْتُهَا يُضِىٓءُ وَلَوْ لَمْ تَمْسَسْهُ نَارٌۭ ۚ نُّورٌ عَلَىٰ نُورٍۢ ۗ يَهْدِى ٱللَّهُ لِنُورِهِۦ مَن يَشَآءُ ۚ وَيَضْرِبُ ٱللَّهُ ٱلْأَمْثَلَ لِلنَّاسِ ۗ وَٱللَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَىْءٍ عَلِيمٌۭ

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"The tea and text with CMCS has provided me with a practical means to build meaningful relationships across religious difference. The guided conversation rooted in each faith’s religious text has offered a rich source for mutual understanding in a welcoming environment."

Esmeralda Sánchez Salazar

Ph.D. Candidate in Sociology, Rice University

Transforming Muslim & Christian relationships through shared study