Muslims and the Making of America

Amir Hussain’s “Muslims and the Making of America” highlighted leading Muslim figures in U.S. sports and popular music.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017 at 5:30pm in McKinnon Hall

Amir Hussain. On March 8, Amir Hussain, professor of theological studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, presented a lecture entitled “Muslims and the Making of America” based on his recent book of the same name.

Hussain challenged the stereotypes about Islam that are common in post-9/11 America and uncovered the ways in which Islam has been instrumental in the formation of American identity and culture. Hussain argues that America would not exist as it does today without the essential contributions made by its Muslim citizens. In his book, Hussain writes, “Islam is viewed in a three-fold way: as new to America; as foreign to America; and as comprised of adherents who are violent, ‘un-American,’ and a threat to our nation. The reality is that Muslims have helped us to be more American, to be better Americans.”

Hussain writes about contributions of notable Muslim Americans in sports, music, art and politics including Mohammed Ali, Ahmet Etregun, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Keith Ellison. “Muslims and the Making of America” also sketches the history of Islam in North America beginning with the Muslim slaves forcibly brought to the New World.

Hussain has held a longstanding commitment to interfaith work and has written extensively on the topic. He authored a book entitled “Oil and Water: Two Faiths One God” about the relationship between Christians and Muslims in North America today. The book seeks to inspire an ongoing interfaith dialogue between the two groups about finding a space for reconciliation, where both groups can feel recognized and honored by the other.

Hussain holds his bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate from the University of Toronto and has been the co-editor of several textbooks including the fourth editions of “World Religions: Western Traditions” and “World Religions: Eastern Traditions.” He has also published over 50 book chapters and scholarly articles about religion. Hussain serves on the editorial boards of three scholarly journals, the Journal of Religion, Conflict and Peace; the Ethiopian Journal of Religious Studies; and Comparative Islamic Studies.

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Tournées Francophone Film Festival

The CSRCS sponsored the showing of “”Qu’Allah Bénisse la France (May Allah Bless France!)” as the first installment in a six-part film festival.

Sunday, February 19, 2017 in the Global Commons Media Room

May Allah Bless France.In a time of global terror, mass migration and political turmoil, the theme for this year’s annual festival is “Résistance,” a French word connoting both the refusal to accept circumstances and the resilience to overcome them. Each film portrays characters or real people enacting “resistance” in their lives and becoming stronger in the process – a model for our own time and community.

“Qu’Allah Bénisse la France” is the true story of a French teenager who found redemption through Islam and music, overcoming hardships to become one of France’s best-known hip hop artists. The film will be shown in French with English subtitles.

Ariela Marcus-Sells (Department of Religious Studies) introduced the film and led a post-screening discussion.

Tournées Film Festival was made possible with the support of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the U.S., the Centre National du Cinéma et de l’Image Animée (CNC), the French American Cultural Fund, Florence Gould Foundation and Highbrow Entertainment. Additional sponsors include Elon College of Arts and Sciences; Center for the Study of Religion, Culture and Society; Peace and Conflict Studies; The Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life; Muslim Life at Elon; Jewish Studies; and the Departments of English, History and Geography, Philosophy, and World Languages and Cultures.

On the Edge of Apocalypse Symposium

The Inaugural Convening of “On the Edge: New Directions in the Interdisciplinary Study of Religion”

February 9-11, 2017 in the McBride Gathering Space of the Numen Lumen Pavilion

The contours of apocalyptic thinking and movements are well traced. We are unsurprised by the unusual political alliances, militaristic mindsets, and end-of-world expectations to which apocalyptic and millennial thinking give rise. Still, as a mode of thinking and of rhetoric, apocalyptic discourse is nimble and often adapting. Given this, we invite scholars from any discipline to explore with us the edges of apocalyptic thought and practice. Where are the places that apocalyptic patterns, symbols, and rhetorics are unexpected and unexplored, either in the present or in the past? How is apocalyptic discourse as lived or as an academic category being deployed to new ends and in new ways?

“On the Edge” is a bi-annual symposium at Elon University that brings together scholars working at the theoretical and methodological boundaries of those fields that have a stake in the critical analysis of religion—law, history, psychology, anthropology, literature/textual studies, philosophy, art history, political science, classics, and gender studies. “On the Edge” aims to exercise a self-conscious attention to methodological advances that can be made through interdisciplinarity. Its proceedings contribute to a richly contextualized and multi-layered understanding of the role of religion in societies past, present, and future.

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Recap video

Hope, Peace, Reconiliation and Love: The Messages of Marc Chagall in his Artwork and Literature

A highly acclaimed speaker on Marc Chagall, Vivian R. Jacobson visited Elon to lecture on Chagall’s love of creating both art and literature.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016 at 4:30 p.m. in the McBride Gathering Space of the Numen Lumen Pavilion

Vivian R. Jacobson. Few people realize that artist Marc Chagall had a pronounced literary ability equal to that of his art. On Tuesday, Nov. 15 at 4:30 p.m., Vivian R. Jacobson presented an overview of the artist’s love of reading and writing both poetry and prose. Jacobson’s presentation was also accompanied by a presentation displaying the artworks that inspired his writings.
Following the lecture, there was a reception and book signing.

More information about Jacobson

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Guide to the End Times: Theology After You’ve Been Left Behind

Elon’s own Dr. Jeffrey C. Pugh, engaged in a conversation about his newly published book, “The Homebrewed Christianity Guide to the End Times: Theology After You’ve Been Left Behind.”

Tuesday, October 4, 2016 at 5 p.m. at the Oak House

Dr. Jeffrey C. Pugh. Pugh, the Maude Sharpe Powell professor of religious studies at Elon University, needed only recount his life as a college sophomore, a time when he became entranced by Hal Lindsey’s “The Late Great Planet Earth” and later joined an apocalyptic cult, then called The Children of God, before abandoning what he calls “the peculiar world of Rapture culture.”

Those personal experiences have been melded with his vast theological scholarship into “The Homebrewed Christianity Guide to the End Times: Theology After You’ve Been Left Behind,” Pugh’s latest book published this month by Fortress Press. It’s part of a series sponsored by the popular Homebrewed Christianity podcast that takes a unique approach to helping delve into key Christian concepts, figures and ideas. Pugh reflected on some of his experiences and research in this conversation facilitated by Brian Pennington and Lynn Huber, faculty in the Religious Studies department.

Video of this conversation

Agreeing to Disagree: How Jews and Christians Read Scripture Differently

Dr. Amy-Jill Levine, author and University Professor at Vanderbilt University, gave the Truitt Center’s 2016 H. Shelton Smith Lecture.

Thursday, September 29, 2016 at 7 p.m. in the McBride Gathering Space of the Numen Lumen Pavilion

Dr. Amy-Jill Levine. A self-described “Yankee Jewish feminist who teaches in a predominantly Christian divinity school in the buckle of the Bible Belt,” Dr. Amy-Jill Levine, University Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University, offered the Truitt Center’s annual H. Shelton Smith Lecture. Dr. Levine is author of numerous books and articles on the Bible and biblical interpretation, including Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi and The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus.

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The Face of the Syrian War and No End in Sight

Najib Ghadbian, senior negotiator and democracy activist from the Syrian National Coalition spoke on the current state of the civil war and prospects for peace.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016 at 5:30 p.m. in the McBride Gathering Space of the Numen Lumen Pavilion

Najib Ghadbian. Elon University’s Center for the Study of Religion, Culture and Society (CSRCS) hosted Najib Ghadbian, a special representative for the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces to the United States and United Nations on Wednesday, Sept. 7, in the Numen Lumen Pavilion.

Ghadbian helped the Elon community understand the current state of the Syrian civil war, the war-torn country’s future and the effect of the crisis on the entire global community.

According to the United Nations, the Syrian crisis continues to be the “biggest humanitarian emergency of our era.” After five years of war and as many as 500,000 dead, nearly five million refugees have fled to other parts of the Middle East or Europe with no end to the conflict in Syria in sight.

Ghadbian is a Syrian pro-democracy activist and academic. He served on the board of the Day After Project, a cooperative movement by members of the Syrian opposition to outline a plan to rebuild the country and end the Syrian conflict once Bashar al-Assad is out of power.

Helping arrange Ghadbian’s visit to Elon was Associate Professor of Management Systems Haya Ajjan, who was born in Damascus, Syria, and has worked to bring several representatives of the coalition to Elon since the war began in 2011. She has several family members remaining in Syria with whom she is in regular contact. “The situation in the besieged areas of Syria is a humanitarian catastrophe,” Ajjan said. “People are watching their loved ones die of starvation and of diseases and injuries that are treatable. The suffering of civilians is being used as a tactic of war by different fighting groups.”

“Elon is fortunate to host a figure so central to the multinational negotiations over the shape of a post-conflict Syria as Dr. Ghadbian,” said CSRCS Director, Brian Pennington. “Dr. Ghadbian is a long-established champion of democracy in the Middle East and a democratic Syria.”

Video of this event