Dante’s pilgrimage in the Divina Commedia exemplifies a profound change of mind and heart, one that for centuries has inspired countless spiritual seekers. Particularly in the concluding canto, Paradiso, the poet presents the insights and impetus for a contemplative practice that guides the seeker toward mystical union with the divine.
Read from another perspective, Dante’s magnum opus marks a stage in the Western reception of Islam.
His placement of the prophet Muhammad among the schismatics and of Saladin among the righteous unbaptized represents a range of reactions toward the Muslim world that continued to evolve in the following centuries. Over this period a change of attitude from hostility to toleration to engagement has opened the way for the many interreligious encounters that now exist and that offer a vivid example of “minds being remade” and, consequently, of the world being changed.
Dennis McAuliffe, who has written on Dante and contemplation, and Jane McAuliffe, whose publications deal with Islam and interreligious understanding, will speak from their respective areas of expertise.
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