Nonviolent Interfaith Solidarity Jihad — An Autobiographical Account

Dr. Adis DuderijaMost people yearn for a world of love and real human connection and to live meaningful lives that transcend material well-being, that tie us to the ongoing unfolding of spirit and consciousness, and that connect us with the inherent interdependence and love that permeates and inspires all being. So writes Dr. Adis Duderija, of Griffith University. Dr. Duderija is an Executive Member with Religions for Peace Australia.

My involvement in interfaith dialogue in Australia goes back to my undergraduate days during the late 1990s. At the age of eighteen, I settled in Perth, Western Australia, as a Bosnian refugee, with my parents and older brother. Over time, I became active in the Muslim Student Association at the University of Western Australia and various interfaith initiatives at the local level. My involvement in interfaith activities intensified after 9/11. While engaging in my postgraduate studies in contemporary Islam with an emphasis on interfaith and gender-related issues, I co-founded a local inter-faith group called Abrahamic Alliance (AA) in 2005. I co-led this for five years until the completion of my Doctor of Philosophy.

During that time, with my Christian, Muslim, and Jewish colleagues, we engaged in a variety of interfaith solidarity-based jihad activities, including organizing regular monthly meetings that attracted groups of twenty to thirty people, to larger and more official gatherings that attracted 150–200 people including religious leaders and clerics. In the spirit of nonviolent interfaith solidarity jihad, the main aim of these initiatives was to bring Jews, Christians, and Muslims to meet face to face and eventually develop sufficient levels of trust that would enable the participants to discuss a variety of sensitive topics of both religious and political/activist nature.

My own interfaith solidarity jihad has been underpinned by the theory of progressive Islam that I have been developing in an academic setting for about fifteen years. This has resulted in many publications, most notably two sole authored monographs on the subject (Duderija, 2011, 2017). The main pillars of progressive Islam can be summarized as follows:

1. creative, critical, and innovative thought based on epistemological openness and methodological fluidity;

2. rationalist and contextualist approaches to Islamic theology and ethics;

3. a human rights-based approach to Islamic tradition;

4. contemporary approaches to gender justice;

5. affirmation of religious pluralism;

6. Islamic liberation theology; and

7. Islamic process theology.

These pillars of progressive Islam align closely with the philosophy, vision, and mission of the Network for Spiritual Progressives (NSP) described below.

I left Australia in 2011 due to professional and personal reasons and upon my return, in 2017, with my co-author of this chapter, Dave Andrews, we co-founded an Australian chapter of the Network of Spiritual Progressive or NSP-Australia (The Network of Spiritual Progressives, 2022a).

The mission, visions, and principles of NSP-Australia were adopted to our own local context. The NSP’s philosophy is succinctly described as follows:

Most people yearn for a world of love and real human connection and to live meaningful lives that transcend material well-being, that tie us to the ongoing unfolding of spirit and consciousness, and that connect us with the inherent interdependence and love that permeates and inspires all being. To achieve this world, we need a multifaceted revolution—political, moral, cultural and spiritual—that awakens us to the dignity and value of all peoples, regard-less of race, creed, gender, religion, class, where they’ve come from or what they’ve done, and helps us connect with the beauty and awe of the universe. This revolution must be grounded in love for all people, for life, and for the planet. (The Network of Spiritual Progressives, 2022b).

Network of Spiritual Progressives vision is described in the following manner:

Our well-being depends on the well-being of everyone else on the planet and the well-being of the Earth. We seek a world in which all of life is shaped by peace, justice, environmental stewardship, love, care for one another, care for the earth, generosity, compassion, respect for diversity and differences, and celebration of the miraculous universe in which we live. (The Network of Spiritual Progressives, 2022c)

Its mission statement says:

To build a social change movement—guided by and infused with spiritual and ethical values—to transform our society to one that prioritizes and promotes the well-being of the people and the planet, as well as love, justice, peace, and compassion over money, power and profit. (The Network of Spiritual Progressives, 2022d).

The Network of Spiritual Progressives intellectual outlet is the magazine, Tikkun Olam, edited by Rabbi Micheal Lerner, to which I have had the pleasure of contributing on two occasions (Duderija, 2018a, 2018b, 2018c).

Although the magazine is ‘Jewish’ in its core, it has a strong interfaith orientation and most of its contributors and editorial board members are not Jewish. The magazine is published by Duke University Press and has already reached thirty-five volumes and over 100 individual issues. The aim and nature of the magazine is described on its website as follows:

Tikkun is the voice of all who seek to replace the materialism, extreme individualism and selfishness of Western societies by creating the psychological, spiritual and intellectual foundations for the Caring Society: Caring for Each Other and Caring for the Earth.

Tikkun offers a lively and easy-to-read critique of politics, mass culture, many of the debates in academia, and the still-deepening environmental crisis. And it is the preeminent North American magazine providing analytical articles on Israel and Palestine, latest issues in Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Buddhist religious theory and practice, and the intersection of religion and politics in Western societies, as well as the inheritor of the hopefulness and commitment to an end to racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, xenophobia and anti-Semitism. We seek inner healing and radical nonviolent transformation of our globalized capitalist society. We are the magazine of liberal and progressive Jews, but also of every religion or none (atheists welcomed)—a universalism of the Judaism we affirm leads us to embrace all humanity—and that is reflected in the wide diversity of our readers and authors. (Tikkun, 2011)

Given the above, we consider the philosophy, vision, and mission of the Network of Spiritual Progressives and Tikkun as exemplars par excellence of nonviolent interfaith solidarity jihad. These tenants of progressive Islam as I theorize (Duderija, 2018a, 2018b, 2018c) are also in harmony with the fundamental premises of process-relational, open-relational theology that I will discuss next.

Since 2019, my interfaith solidarity jihad has been increasingly influenced by processes—relational and open theism-based theologies associated with the scholarship of scholar-activists including John Cobb Jr, David Ray Griffin, Jay McDaniel, Patricia Adams Farmer, Bruce Epperly, Thomas Jay Oord, and Andrew M. Davis (Centre for Open & Relational Theology, 2022; Center for Process Studies, 2020b). On its main website the Centre for Process Thought (CPS) lists religion and interfaith dialogue as one of its areas of focus and describes its approach as follows:

Process thought has had a significant impact in the area of theology, religion, and spirituality. From the work of theologians like John Cobb and Marjorie Suchocki, and the emergence of Process Theology (as well as Open-Relational Theology), the process worldview has inspired new formulations of the nature of God—including special attention to notions of power, love, and God’s relation to the world. As an organization committed to the promotion of the common good, the Centre for Process Studies also has a long history as a leader in interreligious dialogue; understood as a practice toward mutual transformation and peace. (Centre for Process Studies, 2020a)

This description is consistent with the definition of nonviolent interfaith solidarity jihad with its focus on interfaith-based commitment to solidarity, peace-making and the common good.


Taken from a recently published academic chapter as per this link:


A decades old patron of New Age Islam, Dr Adis Duderija is a Senior Lecturer in the Study of Islam and Society, School of Humanities, Languages and Social Science; Senior Fellow Centre for Interfaith and Intercultural Dialogue, Griffith University | Nathan | Queensland | Australia. His forthcoming books are ( co-edited)- Shame, Modesty, and Honor in Islam and Interfaith Engagement Beyond the Divide (Springer)


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