updated 16th August 2021
The reality of Islam in Africa makes training
in Christian-Muslim dialogue more urgent.
Islam has been present on African soil for more than a thousand years, both in North Africa and south of the Sahara. Its visibility and its hold on the lives of African peoples have increased significantly in recent decades. Some recent conflicts in Africa, without being religious wars, have a confessional dimension where religion is easily instrumentalised by both sides.
Churches in Africa cannot ignore the challenge of a dynamic and sometimes invasive presence of Islam.
The Second Synod of Bishops for Africa clearly underlined the urgency of inter-religious dialogue
for a peaceful climate in Africa:
- “The Synod Fathers have highlighted the complexity of the Muslim reality on the African Continent…”
- “I exhort the Church, in every situation, to persevere in esteeming Muslims…”
- “I invite the whole Church to seek a patient dialogue with Muslims.”
These are the key phrases of Pope Benedict XVI on dialogue with Islam in No. 94 of the Apostolic Exhortation “Africae Munus”.
The previous proposals of the Fathers of this same Synod concretise and reinforce the Pope’s words:
“Dialogue with other religions and especially with Islam and traditional religions is an integral part of the proclamation of the Gospel and of the pastoral care of reconciliation and peace.”
Proposal 12 states: “With regard to relations with Muslims, it is necessary :
- Promote dialogue of life and social and reconciliation partnership.
- Take into account the plurality of situations and experiences.
- To provide for a better knowledge of Islam in the training of priests, religious and lay people.
The charism of the Missionaries of Africa
at the service of the churches in Africa.
Since its foundation in North Africa, the Society of Missionaries of Africa has considered proximity to and encounter with Islamic believers as one of the fundamental aspects of its missionary charism. It therefore has a long tradition and experience in this field. The Pontifical Institute for Arabic Studies and Islamology (PISAT) in Rome is a concrete illustration of this.
In Africa south of the Sahara, too, Missionaries of Africa have lived this aspect of their missionary vocation through specific insertions in the Muslim milieu, through the animation of diocesan, national and even regional commissions of inter-religious dialogue.
The Institute of Christian-Islamic Formation (IFIC), in Bamako, is part of this long tradition in order to be at the service and disposal of the Churches in Africa. It takes over, for the French-speaking countries of Africa, the pastoral section “Islam and Christian Reflection”, which operated at PISAI in Rome. In leaving Rome for Africa, the idea was to offer Africans and others who live and work there, a teaching in context and in line with African realities and context.
Who is IFIC intended for?
IFIC is an institute for the training of trainers for the encounter and dialogue between Christians and Muslims, a Church structure where people (priests, Protestant pastors, religious and lay people) duly mandated or sent by their ecclesiastical authority, acquire a theological and pastoral training in order to be able to guide others in the multifaceted adventure of the Muslim-Christian encounter.
It is therefore neither a research institute nor simply a place to acquire knowledge about the realities of Islam.
IFIC is primarily aimed at people who already have experience of Christian life or pastoral work in contact with Muslims. It enables them to review this experience in the light of a better knowledge of Islam and to deepen it through reflection on the basic data of the faith.
Profile of the candidates for the training
The Institute of Islamic-Christian Education (IFIC) offers you some eligibility criteria for candidates to send to IFIC. :
- IFIC provides training for trainers in Islamology and Christian-Muslim dialogue
- The academic programme lasts 8 months from the second week of October to mid-June.
- IFIC is at the service of the Churches of French-speaking Africa.
- IFIC achieves its mission thanks to its financial partners who offer scholarships. However, they announce that they can no longer carry the entire burden of training.
- Scholarships are awarded on the basis of enrolment. The administration therefore asks you to present your candidates in time, by the end of July at the latest.
- The age of the candidate must be between 25 and 65 years.
- In the file a letter duly signed by the person in charge certifying the candidate’s pastoral commitment in his/her community.
- The candidate must write a letter stating his/her motivation and commitment to follow the entire I.F.I.C. programme assiduously from Monday to Friday.
- The candidate must be French-speaking, and able to write a paper on Islamology or Christian-Muslim dialogue. In his/her file the diplomas previously obtained.
- Participation in the cost of the training: 30,000 FCFA/month (i.e. 240,000 FCFA per year) for Malian students and 40,000 FCFA/month (i.e. 320,000 FCFA per year) for foreign students.
- Transport to and from Bamako, health and life insurance, medical care and pocket money are not covered by the scholarship.
- For Malian students living in Bamako, accommodation, medical care and meals are at their own expense.
Summary of contributions required
by dioceses or institutes sending candidates.
- i. FOR STUDENTS FROM OUTSIDE MALI
At the expense of the sending diocese, congregation or church:
- Travel costs from the country of origin to Bamako (plane, bus or train): round trip
- Visa fees for the stay in Mali
- Medical care during the stay in Mali
- Pocket money
- Participation in the cost of the training (320,000 FCFA).
ii. FOR MALIAN STUDENTS
A la charge du diocèse, congrégation ou Eglise qui envoie des étudiants :
- Accommodation and catering
- Medical care during the academic year
- Pocket money
- Participation in the cost of the training (240,000 FCFA).
NB: The scholarship granted to the student by the I.F.I.C. after examination of the application file is not the property of the student but rather of I.F.I.C., which has an obligation of management and reporting towards its financial partners. Therefore, all students who have obtained a scholarship from I.F.I.C. are obliged to complete the entire I.F.I.C. programme, under penalty of legal proceedings for reimbursement of the said scholarship. And absences will result in the withdrawal of the scholarship and the dismissal of the student.
Duration of training at IFIC :
It lasts for one academic year, i.e. 8 months from October to mid-June. Since October 2007, different classes of students of different nationalities have come to IFIC. Back home, some of them start to share what they have received.
What degree can be obtained at IFIC?
IFIC welcomes people of different levels and backgrounds. They take an assessment at the end of the course. Thus, they obtain either a diploma of pastoral studies: specialisation in Islamology and Christian-Islamic dialogue, given by the PISAI, or a Certificate of pastoral studies in Islamology and Christian-Islamic dialogue; or finally, an attestation of training in Islamology for those who do not follow all the courses.
The team of trainers
The courses are taught by a specialised faculty. The professors, almost all of whom are graduates of the PISAI in Rome, have a deep knowledge of Islam and years of pastoral experience in various parts of Africa.
The programme is structured around two axes:
1- Objective knowledge of Islam.
- Basic introduction to Muslim realities with a focus on current trends.
- Islam in Africa and in particular in sub-Saharan Africa (the particularity).
- Study of Muslim religious texts.
- An Arabic course as an introduction to the Muslim religious language.
This first axis is only the presupposition of the second, which is the main objective of the training:
2- A Christian reflection on Muslim realities.
- The Christian approach to other religions Mission and Dialogue.
- The Christian-Muslim dialogue, history, reciprocal views, specific reflection on proximities and distances on the doctrinal level.
- Examination of concrete pastoral problems. This last part is also treated in the form of practical work or weekly seminars.
The student is asked to produce a research paper on the respective Muslim milieu(s) of his or her place of apostolate and the paths of encounter with the men and women of this milieu(s).
A more detailed programme is available for those who request it or who wish to register for the training.
Location of the course.
Mali has always been a crossroads and a land of welcome. Relations between a Muslim majority and a Christian minority are marked by respect and conviviality. The human and ecclesial environment of Mali in general and of Bamako in particular, contributes favourably to the objectives sought by this pastoral training.
IFIC is located in part of the premises of the Centre Foi et Rencontre in Bamako. A room is specially equipped for the courses. The students benefit from the library of the Centre Foi et Rencontre and from the Internet. The students also benefit from the conferences given each month at the Centre Foi et Rencontre; conferences that deal with transversal themes that also touch on traditional African religions (RTA).
The cost of the training.
The IFIC Administration is looking for scholarships to offer to African Churches and Congregations. These scholarships cover all or part of the cost of study and stay in Bamako. The costs of transport (return) and health insurance are the responsibility of the candidates or those who send them.
IFIC does not yet have a reception structure for students. It accommodates them in presbyteries or in religious communities.
IFIC is looking for funds to build the house that will house the teachers and students.
Institut de Formation Islamo-Chrétienne
Director : Father Imani Pascal Kapilimba
B.P. 298 – Bamako – Mali
Tel: (223) 20 29 68 42 / 78 29 67 91
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org