On the 11th of September 2015, ISRA in coordination with Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture held the ‘Scholars Forum’ for the first time. The event hosted international guest Prof Azyumardi Azra, the Rector and Professor of History Universitas Islam Negeri in Indonesia, Rev’d Professor James Haire from Uniting Church of Australia, Rt. Rev’d Professor Stephen Pickard director for Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture and Dr Derya Iner from Centre for Islamic Studies and Civilisation. The speakers highlighted the relevance of their faith traditions to the modern world through theological, prophetic and historical arguments. Mutual support and coherence of the faith traditions in the public sphere was deemed important to maintain relevance and for further enrichment within the fabric of the Australian society.
The event did not only gather the scholars of the Islamic and Christian faiths but also provided an opportunity for the two communities to interact around a scholarly discussion. The night was rich with representatives from different Muslim and Christian organisations taking part. Table discussions were engaging and insightful and became a humble platform of mutual learning. The night was further enriched as the program moderator Mehmet Ozalp went to the tables with a roaming microphone to include the ideas of the audience to the discussion. The general consensus of the was that the two faith traditions cannot be separated from the society and are relevant to the modern world in different scopes and scales. The program hosted at Parramatta Novotel is an example of intellectual engagement and discussion of different communities, which can be further developed and solidified through similar programs in the near future.