Message from the Director
Aiming for the Co-existence of Islamic, Judaic, and Christian civilizations
The Center for Interdisciplinary Study of Monotheistic Religions (CISMOR), Doshisha University was established in 2003, at about the same time the university’s School of Theology was selected as a 21st Century Center of Excellence (COE) Program by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). Thanks to the support and assistance of many individuals and organizations inside and outside Japan, we were able to conduct interdisciplinary research on the three monotheistic religions born in the Middle East -Judaism, Christianity, and Islam- and their worlds.
After the end of the 21st Century COE Program, Doshisha University decided to continue CISMOR as a research center belonging to its Office for Advanced Research and Education. In September 2008, CISMOR was chosen by MEXT as a 'Program to Support Formation of Strategic Research Bases in Private Universities,' and received research grants for a five-year period. Similar to the COE, this support program seeks to create world-class research centers. With our 'Basic and Applied Research on the Monotheistic Religions and Their Worlds' project, we are able to continue our interdisciplinary research on monotheistic religions in the same manner as the 21st Century COE Program.
CISMOR carries out interdisciplinary and comprehensive research on the monotheistic religions and their worlds. By transmitting our research results to the world, we seek to be an intermediary between the Islamic, Judaic, and Christian worlds.
The three monotheistic religions originating in the Middle East – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – are related like brothers. However, there has also been a history of repeated antagonism and conflicts between Europe and the U.S. on one side and the Islamic world on the other. To achieve co-existence of civilizations and security urgently needed in the world today, we need comprehensive and interdisciplinary research on the monotheistic religions from a theory-of-civilization perspective. Since the founding of Doshisha University by Joe H. Neesima, the university has received critical acclaim for its devotion to research on Christianity and American society. In order to study monotheistic civilizations in their totality, CISMOR has expanded the scope of its research on religions to include not only Christianity, but also Islam and Judaism. We have expanded the scope of our regional research to cover not just the United States, but also the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and the European Union. In this way, CISMOR is implementing its research in an interdisciplinary and comprehensive manner.
CISMOR is a research center that could be established only in Japan, precisely because Japan is free from historical constraints on such studies. It is not an exaggeration to say that research that allows active study of the three monotheistic religions of the world at once in an interdisciplinary manner is not only rare in Japan, but in the world as well. Research on monotheistic religions in Japan has only a brief history, and there is much to learn. By deepening our understanding of the monotheistic religions and their worlds, we also hope to contribute to a deeper understanding of Japanese culture, which is based on polytheism, antithetical to monotheism.
One of CISMOR’s distinct features is the presentation of its research findings in three languages: Japanese, English, and Arabic. Not only do we publish CISMOR’s academic journal, Journal of the Interdisciplinary Study of Monotheistic Religions (JISMOR) in those three languages, we also do the same for our website. We also publish in the three languages the entire text of presentations, commentaries, and discussions given at our international workshops, made possible by dialog between scholars and religious leaders of the three monotheistic religions, in booklets and also on our website. Such international workshops are not possible in the Middle East, Europe, or the U.S.; they are possible only in Japan.
With such research activities and achievements, we can feel our gains slowly but surely. Research institutions and government agencies of the Islamic countries in the Middle East and Southeast Asia are especially taking note of CISMOR’s existence and activities, and enthusiastically send proposals seeking cooperative relationships and joint research. Several prominent theological and religious studies institutions in the U.S. also subscribe to the English edition of JISMOR.
Unfortunately, while antagonism and conflict between the monotheistic religions and their worlds may have decreased in the six years that CISMOR has been active, their intensity has risen. In the midst of such reality, we do not feel a sense of helplessness, but rather continue to steadily advance basic ideological and theological research on monotheism. To achieve peace and co-existence between the monotheistic worlds, we must continue to think about what we can do from Kyoto, from Japan in the Far East. More than ever, we appreciate your continuing assistance and support.
Director, Center for Interdisciplinary Study of Monotheistic Religions (CISMOR)