Community News (V13-I410

October 6, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Ali Asani named head of Islamic Studies program at Harvard

092409_Asani_015.jpgCAMBRIDGE,MA–Ali Asani, professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic religion and cultures and chair of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, has been named the director of Harvard’s the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies.

Established in 2005, the program aims to foster understanding between the Islamic world and the West through scholarship, teaching, and educational programming. As director, Asani will be responsible for coordinating the activities of the program, proposing outreach efforts to promote informed education about Islam and providing overall direction with the help of the program’s steering committee.

A world-renowned scholar on Islam and Muslim cultures, Asani has worked with students and educators from Texas to Pakistan and served on theAmerican Academy of Religion’s task force on religion in schools. He lectures extensively on various aspects of the Islamic tradition. At Harvard, in addition to seminars for graduate students, he offers several general education courses on Islam and Muslim societies designed to educate undergraduate students about the dynamic relationship between religion and the complex contexts in which it is embedded. In 2002, Asani was awarded the Harvard Foundation medal for his efforts to improve intercultural relations through a better understanding of Islam and Muslim cultures.

Ali Shakouri appointed director of Purdue Center

WEST LAFAYETTE, IN– A leading researcher advancing efforts in thermoelectric energy conversion at the University of California, Santa Cruz, has been selected as the new Mary Jo and Robert L. Kirk Director of the Birck Nanotechnology Center at Purdue University’s Discovery Park.Ali Shakouri, a professor of electrical engineering at UCSC, succeeds James Cooper, who has served as Birck’s interim director since March 2010 when former director Tim Sands was appointed provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at Purdue.

“Professor Shakouri is an internationally recognized leader in his areas of specialization in the research field of nanotechnology,” said Alan Rebar, executive director of Discovery Park and senior associate vice president for research at Purdue. “We are very pleased and excited to welcome him as the director of Birck, one of our cornerstones for interdisciplinary research here at Purdue.”

In addition to leading the Birck Nanotechnology Center, Shakouri will serve as professor of electrical and computer engineering.

“Birck Nanotechnology Center has propelled Purdue into the top tier of this exciting research field in just a few short years,” Shakouri said.

“The facility has been a major resource for recruiting some of the best and brightest faculty members and researchers to advance how nanotechnology can improve our lives. What an honor and a privilege to be joining an internationally renowned research university like Purdue and to lead one of the most advanced nanotechnology facilities on a university campus anywhere in the world.”

Shakouri has focused his research on nanoscale heat and current transport in semiconductor devices, high-resolution thermal imaging, micro refrigerators on a chip and waste-heat recovery. He received his master’s and doctoral degrees from the California Institute of Technology in 1995 and his bachelor’s degree in engineering from Telecom ParisTech in France in 1990.

He directs the Thermionic Energy Conversion Center, a multiuniversity collaboration including Purdue that is working to improve direct thermal to electric energy conversion technologies. This project is funded by the Office of Naval Research and the Defense Sciences Office at the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, known as DARPA.

A part of the Quantum Electronics Group at UCSC, Shakouri also is working with colleagues in engineering and social sciences on a new sustainability curriculum. He initiated an international summer school on renewable energy sources in practice. Shakouri received the Packard Fellowship in Science and Engineering in 1999, a National Science Foundation Career Award in 2000 and the UCSC School of Engineering FIRST Professor Award in 2004.Project researchers are exploring the capacity of nanostructured materials to channel the random jostling of heat energy into the orderly flow of electricity. The research has applications in advancing technology for electric-powered ships and other electric vehicles.

Murfreesboro mosque breaks ground

MURFREESBORO,TN– After years of controversy, the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro broke ground on a new $1.8 million mosque on Wednesday,Channel 5 reports.
It may only look like a few shovels full of dirt, but to the members of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro it represents a new beginning.

“Murfreesboro is our town and I’m so happy we reached this point,” said supporter Safaa Fathy.

“We believe that if you love God you cannot hate anyone,” said Imam Osama Bahloul who has always known they would get here. “If you do what’s right you will achieve what you want,” he said.

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Over $150K Raised to Support Group’s Civil Rights Work

August 4, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

0703_john_espositoOn Saturday July 30, 2011, hundreds of community members, interfaith leaders, activists and public officials turned out for the nearly sold-out CAIR Texas Annual Banquet.

Some 400 people heard Muslim scholar Dr. John Esposito, Professor of Religion and International Affairs and of Islamic Studies at Georgetown University, and founding Director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding in the Walsh School of Foreign Service offer the keynote address.

Corey Saylor, CAIR Government Affairs Director gave an update of the many challenges facing the Muslim community, and how CAIR is addressing those issues nationally.

Rais Bhuiyan, one of the first hate crime victims post September 11, 2001, shared with attendees his near death experience and his journey of healing leading to compassion and mercy for his assailant, Mark Stroman, who was executed July 20th, despite Rais’ attempts to use lawsuits to intervene.

The banquets raised over $150,000 in contributions to support CAIR’s civil rights work.

CAIR Texas Executive Director Mustafaa Carroll states “We are grateful to God first and foremost, and to our community for its broad and unending support.”

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Muslim 500 – A Listing of the 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World

November 17, 2009 by · 12 Comments 

By Adil James, MMNS

mabda500cover-v2 A fascinating new book has just been issued by The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center (in Jordan) in concert with Georgetown’s Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding.

The book lists the 500 most influential people in the Muslim world, breaking the people into several distinct categories, scholarly, political, administrative, lineage, preachers, women, youth, philanthropy, development, science and technology, arts and culture, media, and radicals.

Before this breakdown begins however, the absolute most influential 50 people are listed, starting with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.  The top 50 fit into 6 broad categories as follows:  12 are political leaders (kings, generals, presidents), 4 are spiritual leaders (Sufi shaykhs), 14 are national or international religious authorities, 3 are “preachers,” 6 are high-level scholars, 11 are leaders of movements or organizations.

The 500 appear to have been chosen largely in terms of their overt influence, however the top 50 have been chosen and perhaps listed in a “politically correct” order designed not to cause offense.  For example, the first person listed is the Sunni political leader of Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah.  The second person listed is the head of the largest Shi’a power, Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei.  As these are not the two Muslim countries with the largest populations, and do not even represent the two countries with the most spiritual or religious relevance (Saudi Arabia yes, Iran no) therefore clearly the decision of spots one or two appears to have been motivated by a sense of political correctness.

In total 72 Americans are among the 500 most influential Muslims, a disproportionately strong showing, but only one among the top 50.  Sheikh Hamza Yusuf Hanson of Zaytuna Institute is listed surprisingly at number 38.  The world leader of the Naqshbandi Haqqani Sufi order, however, Sheikh Nazim al Haqqani, with millions of followers worldwide, spiritual adviser to kings, presidents, doctors, lawyers, professors and others across the spectrum of profession, race, and ethnicity on seven continents, is listed at number 49.  While Sheikh Hamza Yusuf has successfully built the Zaytuna Institute, his influence is confined mostly to American academia, scholars and students.  Surprisingly, Khaled Mashaal, leader of Hamas, (at number 34) is listed before any American Muslim. 

It seems strange that Yusuf is the only American listed in the top 50. Especially when Rep. Keith Ellison (D-5-MN), Tariq Ramadan and Ingrid Mattson are listed among the “honorable mentions” in the book (“honorable mentions” were almost among the top 50 but not quite—they are still listed among the 500).  Ingrid Mattson alone is likely more influential than Hamza Yusuf Hanson, for instance.  Not to mention Rep. Keith Ellison.  Even the Nobel prize winner Mohammad Yunus is listed only among the honorable mentions.

Sheikh Hisham Kabbani in the USA is listed among the most influential scholars in the Muslim world, and his relative Mohammad Rashid Qabbani, the Grand Mufti of Lebanon and its leading Sunni scholar, is also among the most influential scholars.  The Shi’a marja Ayatullah Sayeed Mohammad Fadlallah is the other listed scholar for Lebanon. 

The 18 prominent American Muslims in the Scholars section of the book also include Yusuf Estes, Sulayman Nyang, Muzammil Siddiqui, Sherman Jackson, Zaid Shakir, and Nuh Keller.  Two Americans are listed as Political figures in North America.  Nine Americans are listed as Administrative leaders, including Siraj Wahhaj—surprising to list him as an administrative leader rather than a preacher.  One Canadian is listed under the Lineage section, namely Jamal Badawi, but no Americans.  Under the Women heading appear six very recognizable names, perhaps most recognizable among them Ingrid Mattson, the controversial Amina Wadud, and the extremely influential Dalia Mogahed (who wrote the perhaps watershed work Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think.)  Two Americans are listed in the Youth category.  Under the Philanthropy category is listed one person, Dr. Tariq Cheema, co-founder of the World Congress of Muslim Philanthropists.  13 Americans are listed under Development, including strangely the boxer Mohammad Ali.  Four Americans are listed under Science and Technology, perhaps most recognizably Dr. Mehmed Oz, who frequently appears on morning television to help explain medical situations to people, and who shows an interest in the overlap between traditional medicine and spirituality.  Seven Americans are listed under Arts and Culture, including the notable actors Mos Def and Dave Chappelle, also the calligrapher Mohammad Zakaria.  Nine Americans are listed in the Media section, including Fareed Zakaria and the filmmaker Michael Wolfe.

The book’s appendices comprehensively list populations of Muslims in nations worldwide, and its introduction gives a snapshot view of different ideological movements within the Muslim world, breaking down clearly distinctions between traditional Islam and recent radical innovations.

People who are themselves prominent scholars contributed to or edited the book, including of course Georgetown University’s Professor John Esposito and Professor Ibrahim Kalin.  Ed Marques and Usra Ghazi also edited and prepared the book.  The book lists as consultants Dr. Hamza Abed al Karim Hammad, and Siti Sarah Muwahidah, with thanks to other contributors.

The entire book is available online (here:  http://www.rissc.jo/muslim500v-1L.pdf) and we hope that it will be available for sale soon inside the United States.  Currently it is not available.

To encourage the printing and release of the book in the United States you can contact Georgetown’s Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at cmcu@georgetown.edu, or by phone at 202-687-8375.

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