DR. MAHMOUD AYOUB
Dr. Mahmoud Ayoub is a Professor of Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut. He has a Ph.D. in the History of Religion from Harvard University, an M.A. in Religious Thought from University of Pennsylvania, and a B.A. in Philosophy from American University of Beirut. From 1988 to 2008, he was Professor and Director of Islamic Studies at Temple University, Philadelphia, Adjunct Professor at Hartford Seminary, Research Fellow at the Middle East Center, University of Pennsylvania, and the Tolson Visiting Professor at the Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley. In 1998, Dr. Ayoub helped plan and launch a graduate M.A.-level program in Muslim-Christian relations and comparative religion for the Centre for Christian-Muslim Studies, University of Balamand, Lebanon, and has been its visiting professor since 1999. Mahmoud Ayoub also taught at San Diego State University, the University of Toronto, and McGill University. Throughout his academic career, Dr. Mahmoud Ayoub has received distinguished awards and scholarships, both for his achievements and research. He was a recipient of the Kent Doctoral Fellowship and the Canada Council Fellowship. In 1994-5, he participated in the Fulbright Exchange of Scholars program for Malaysia. In 2000, he undertook a research project on Christian-Muslim relations in Egypt and Lebanon, also on a Fulbright scholarship. Mahmoud Ayoub has authored numerous books including, A Muslim View of Christianity (2007); Islam: Faith and History (2004); The Qur’an and Its Interpreters, vol. 1 (1984) & vol. 2 (1992), The Crisis of Muslim History (2003), and Redemptive Suffering in Islam (1978). He has published similar work in Arabic, e.g., Dirasat fi al-‘Alaqat al-Masihiyyah al-Islamiyyah (Studies in Christian-Muslim Relations). Additionally, his articles have appeared in books and journals such as The Muslim World, Journal of the American Oriental Society, Bulletin of the Institute of Middle Eastern Studies (Tokyo) and Islamochristiana (Rome), among many others. Mahmoud Ayoub’s authority in both the scholarship and comparative study of Islam and Muslim-Christian relations, as well as inter-religious dialogue, is evidenced by the international recognition he has received.
RABBI REUVEN FIRESTONE
Reuven Firestone is Professor of Medieval Judaism and Islam at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles, founder and co-director of the Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement at the University of Southern California, and senior fellow at the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture. An ordained rabbi (HUC 1982), he received a Ph.D. in Arabic and Islamic Studies from New York University (1988); an M.A. in Hebrew Literature and History from HUC-JIR (1980); and a B.A. in Sociology/Anthropology (Middle East Area Studies) from Antioch College (1974). From 1987–92, he taught Hebrew literature and directed the Hebrew and Arabic language programs at Boston University. He’s taught at Hebrew Union College since 1993. Firestone is the author of Introduction to Islam for Jews (2008); Children of Abraham: An Introduction to Judaism for Muslims (2000); Trialogue: Jews, Christians, Muslims in Dialogue with Leonard Swidler and Khalid Duran (2007); Who Are the Real Chosen People? The Meaning of Chosenness in Judaism, Christianity and Islam (2011); Journeys in Holy Lands: The Evolution of the Abraham-Ishmael Legends in Islamic Exegesis (1990); and Jihad: The Origin of Holy War in Islam (Oxford University Press, 1999). His articles appear in numerous journals, including The Journal of Semitic Studies, The Journal of Near Eastern Studies, The Journal of Religious Ethics, The Journal of the American Academy of Religion, The Journal of Jewish Studies, Jewish Quarterly Review, Judaism, Studia Islamica, The Muslim World, The Journal of Ecumenical Studies, The Encyclopedia of Islam, The Encyclopedia of the Qur’an, and The Encyclopedia of Religion. He has lived in Israel and Egypt, and traveled extensively in the Middle East. Firestone also served on the international "Voice of Peace" radio project and has been involved in a variety of committees and commissions exploring Jewish-Muslim and Jewish-Arab relations. His areas of expertise are Early Islam and its relationship with Jews and Judaism; Scriptural interpretation of the Bible and Qur'an; The phenomenon of holy war; Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; Jihad: its meaning, historical application, and influences on the Arab/Palestinian-Israeli conflict; Inter-religious Polemic.
DR. JAMES M. FREEMAN
Dr. James Freeman is Emeritus Professor of Cultural Anthropology at San Jose State University. He holds a doctorate from Harvard University and is a former Fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. Dr. Freeman's rich academic career has advanced tikkun olam (repairing the world) with award-winning research on untouchability in India, and on Vietnamese refugees and immigrants in California. He is the author of numerous ethnographies including: Scarcity and Opportunity in an Indian Village; Untouchable: An Indian Life History, winner of the 1979 Choice Outstanding Academic Book; Hearts of Sorrow: Vietnamese-American Lives, winner of the 1990 American Book Award, Before Columbus Foundation, and the 1990 Outstanding Book Award, Association for Asian-American Studies; Changing Identities: Vietnamese Americans 1975-1995; and he co-authored Voices from the Camps: Vietnamese Children Seeking Asylum with Nguyen Dinh Huu. Dr. Freeman is also Co-founder and former Board Chair of both Friends of Hue Foundation and Aid to Children without Parents, charitable organizations providing assistance to children and families suffering from poverty in Vietnam.
DR. AARON HAHN TAPPER
Dr. Aaron Hahn Tapper is the Mae and Benjamin Swig Associate Professor in Jewish Studies, and the founding Director of the University of San Francisco Swig Program in Jewish Studies and Social Justice, the first academic program in the country formally linking these two fields. Prior to this appointment he served on the faculty of the Religious Studies Department at California State University, Northridge. Aaron also served as the Founder and Co-Executive Director of Abraham's Vision, a conflict transformation organization that explored group and individual identities through experiential and political educational programs that focus on the Jewish, Muslim, Israeli, and Palestinian communities. Aaron previously lived in the Middle East for five years—four years in Jerusalem and one year in Cairo—and has traveled extensively in Jordan, Morocco, Lebanon, and Syria. Aaron received a BA in Psychology from the Johns Hopkins University, a Master's degree from Harvard Divinity School, focusing on World Religions, and a PhD in Comparative Religions from the University of California, Santa Barbara. His doctoral dissertation, "From Gaza to the Golan: Religious Nonviolence, Power, and the Politics of Interpretation," explores the relationship between the socio-political context of Israel and Palestine, religious law, and power. His interdisciplinary research interests are comparative religions, the history of religions, the interplay between politics and religion, Judaism, Islam, nonviolence, and the relationship between power and religious authority. Aaron is also a Co-Executive Director and Co-Founder of Center for Transformative Education, and co-editor of Muslims and Jews in America: Commonalities, Contentions, and Complexities with Reza Aslan.
DR. AMIR HUSSAIN
Dr. Amir Hussain, a Canadian Muslim, is Professor of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University, the Jesuit university in Los Angeles. He specializes in the study of contemporary Muslim societies in North America, and comparative theology. He is deeply committed to his students, and holds the distinction of being the only male to serve as Dean of Women at University College, University of Toronto. In both 2008 and 2009, Amir was chosen by vote of LMU students as Professor of the Year. Amir is active in academic groups such as the Canadian Society for the Study of Religion and the American Academy of Religion, where he is co-chair of the Contemporary Islam group, and serves on the steering committee of the Religion in South Asia section. He is on the editorial boards of three scholarly journals: Contemporary Islam: Dynamics of Muslim Life; Comparative Islamic Studies
; and the Journal of Religion, Conflict, and Peace
. In 2008, he was appointed as a fellow of the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities. Amir's latest book, Oil and Water: Two Faiths, One God
, is an introduction to Islam for North Americans. Amir has been involved in interfaith work across North America for almost three decades, working primarily with Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities. He is a signatory of the award-winning and historic letter of peace from global Muslim leaders to Christian leaders everywhere in October 2007, A Common Word Among Us and You
. Amir attends the Islamic Centre of Southern California. As a Muslim from a working class background, Amir is particularly interested in issues of social and economic justice.
RABBI SHELDON LEWIS
Rabbi Sheldon Lewis studied at the University of Chicago and at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City, where he received rabbinic ordination. He was a student of Prof. Abraham Joshua Heschel and was an active participant with him in the civil rights movement. Rabbi Lewis served as a chaplain in the U.S. Army, including a year in Vietnam where the experiences of war were seared into his consciousness. He has been active in human rights causes and in peacemaking internationally. He was especially engaged in the struggle for the liberation of Russian Jews. Along with an abiding interest in reconciliation efforts in the Middle East, he has been deeply involved in interfaith work to promote mutual respect and advance the common good. He is Rabbi Emeritus of Congregation Kol Emeth in Palo Alto, California, which he served for thirty-three years. As former president of the Northern California Board of Rabbis, Rabbi Lewis has been committed to nurturing bonds of unity among various streams of Jewish expression. After 9/11, as a personal response, Rabbi Lewis began a search for peacemaking wisdom in Jewish sacred texts, an effort which culminated in the publication of his book, Torah of Reconciliation. Following the annual cycle of Torah readings, Torah of Reconciliation reveals a wealth of resources available in Judaism for the crucial task of peacemaking in the modern world by expanding thematic verses and passages through the lens of rabbinic commentary.
DR. BRIAN D. McLAREN
Brian McLaren is an author, speaker, pastor, and networker among innovative Christian leaders, thinkers, and activists. Brian is a frequent guest on television, radio, and news media programs, such as Larry King Live, Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, and Nightline. His work has also been covered in TIME Magazine (where he was listed as one of America's 25 most influential evangelicals), Christianity Today, Christian Century, The Washington Post, and many other print media. He is the author of A New Kind of Christian; More Ready Than You Realize; The Church of the Other Side; Adventures in Missing the Point (with Tony Campolo); and Finding Faith.His book A Generous Orthodoxy has been called a manifesto of the emerging church conversation. He dedicated The Secret Message of Jesus "to all who work for peace among nations, races, classes, religions, and individuals, because these people are part of something bigger and more important than we fully understand." His more recent books Everything Must Change and A New Kind of Christianity issue a call for radical hope amidst profound global dilemmas with communities based on justice, peace, equality and compassion. Brian is actively involved in Emergent Village, which aims to "join in the activity of God in the world... as God's dreams for our world come true." He is a former Board chair for Sojourners, an organization committed to articulating the biblical call to social justice, inspiring hope and building a movement to transform individuals, communities, the church, and the world. He is a founding member of Red Letter Christians, and has also served on the boards of Mars Hill Graduate School, and Off The Map.
DR. EJAZ NAQVI
Dr. Ejaz Naqvi studied medicine at University of Karachi, Pakistan, then completed his internship and residency at University of Southern California. Dr. Naqvi is the director of Graduate Medical Education for the Diablo Service Area of Kaiser-Permanente, and sub-chief of the Chronic Pain Program. He oversees the education of medical residents in the departments of surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, podiatry, and internal medicine; and serves as an associate clinical professor at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Naqvi is the former president of the Islamic Center of Zahra in Pleasanton, California. He presently serves on the executive board of the Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County, and on the Board of Directors of Islamic Scholarship Fund, a non-profit organization providing academic scholarships to Muslim students in the United States. Dr. Naqvi describes himself as a "born-again Muslim." After reading a translation of the Qur'an as an adult and pondering its verses, he discovered that much of its teaching remains arcane. Subsequent study of the Qur'an and Bible revealed tremendous common ground, which he shares in his book, The Quran: With or Against the Bible? (2012). Dr. Naqvi is the host of radio talk show, "Frank Talk with Dr. Ejaz : The Forum for Civil Dialogue on Religion and Wellness", on Toginet Radio.
REV. JON TALBERT
Rev. Jon Talbert served as the Pastor of Compassion at Westgate Church in Saratoga, California and is the founder of Beautiful Day, an outreach uniting churches across denominational lines under the banner of compassion to serve communities. Beautiful Day started as an idea to answer the question: If our church burned to the ground, would the community care? Convinced it would not, Jon mobilized his church in 2004 to serve the community through generosity, compassion and justice. Jon describes Beautiful Day as "Emptying Churches. Filling needs. Imagine... if we stopped being a church of 'come and see', but instead were told 'go and be' like Jesus in our city, modeled Christ-like humility to our neighbors, and asked for nothing in return?" Soon thereafter, he mobilized other churches, local businesses, government and educational institutions, and other groups willing to serve their communities. Beautiful Day has since mobilized thousands of volunteers from over 200 churches around the US to engage in innovative community service projects ranging from public school make-overs with Teacher Survival Kits, wheelchair ramp builds for the handicapped, home makeovers for the elderly, and HIV/AIDS care in partnership with The Living Center, The Health Trust, and AIDS Coalition Silicon Valley. In 2008, Beautiful Day was the single largest participating and funding team in AIDS Walk history. Beautiful Day recently integrated recycle and reuse efforts within faith-based communities through Expressions of Green initiatives. Jon also serves as Chaplain of the San Jose Earthquakes, a professional soccer team in San Jose, California. Jon received his doctorate from George Fox University in Emerging Culture Leadership.
| || |
| || |