2008-2009 Activities

Tuesday and Wednesday, June 16 and 17 – "Global Leadership Forum 2009: Conversations on Respect, Reconcilliation, and Religious Freedom.” GLF 2009 featured an honest conversation between Muslims and Evangelicals about their deepest differences as well as shared values and concerns. The forum sought to equip participants with a practical perspective for understanding those of another faith. It featured three conversations, organized thematically around the concepts of respect, reconciliation and religious freedom. Co-hosted with the Institute for Global Engagement.


Wednesday, June 3 – "Inside Islam: What a Billion Muslims Really Think." Featuring opening remarks by ACMCU Associate Director Dr. John Voll and a keynote address by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, the world premiere of Inside Islam brought together nearly 700 audience members from government, education, media, and non-profits. Based on the Gallup World Poll, the film seeks to dispel the notion that political tensions between the United States and the Muslim world are based on differences in fundamental values, but, rather, that they are based on political grievances and specific foreign policy issues. Co-hosted with Unity Productions Foundation.


Wednesday, April 24 – The Arabic Language: A Lunch Discussion with Professor Leslie McLoughlin. Professor McLoughlin drew on his decades of experience in interpreting for Heads of State and Government to address questions relating to the interpretation process between Arabic and English, both a theoretical standpoint and from the requirements of practical life. He also touched on issues such as the role of interpreters and the pedagological requirements of teaching the Arabic as a foreign language.


Wednesday, April 15 – Book Launch: Jonathan Lyons "The House of Wisdom: How the Arabs Transformed Western Civilization." Mr. Lyons discussed his book, which reveals the critical role Arab and Muslim thinkers had in reconstituting ancient knowledge, augmenting it greatly with profound new insights and discoveries, and then transferring it to the Christian West.


Wednesday, March 25 – Book Launch: Juan Cole "Engaging the Muslim World." Professor Cole introduced his new book and gave substantive policy prescriptions for the new administration to pursue to repair the strained relationship between the United States and the Muslim world.


Thursday, March 19 – Symposium: “Pluralism and Democracy in Southeast Asian Islam: Muslim Voices from the Region” Visiting delegation of five Muslim academics from Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines came together to discuss critical questions around issues of politics, culture and gender in Southeast Asian Islam. Co-sponsored by ACMCU and University of Michigan.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009, 12-2pm – ACMCU Monthly Briefing on the Sudan Ending a Civil War? Sudan in Historical and Comparative Perspective. Professor John Voll, John Harbeson, and Jacqueline Wilson worked to show broader issues and practices of conflict resolution in the context of the Sudan.


Thursday, February 19, 2009, 8am-5pm – Conference: “The American Mosque in the 21st Century”. The ACMCU American Muslim Studies Program hosted a day-long conference on this issue.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009, 4-6pm –Panel Discussion: “Evangelicals and the Middle East”- Stephen Spector, author of Evangelicals and Israel: The Story of American Christian Zionism discussed his book as well as the broader issue of Evangelicals and the Middle East. Panel discussants to include Dr. John Voll and Pastor Jason Poling. Co-sponsored with Program for Jewish Civilization.


Wednesday, February 4, 2009 – Briefing: “Obama’s Challenges in the Muslim World.” In President Obama’s inauguration speech he stated: “We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non-believers… To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect.” Four leading experts on American policy towards the Muslim world, John Esposito, Hisham Melhem, Aaron David Miller and Paula Newberg, discussed what Obama needs to do in order to fulfill this pledge. Co-sponsored with The Center for Peace and Security Studies and the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy. View a transcript of this event here.


Wednesday, January 14 2009 – Visiting Delegation of Saudi Arabian and Egyptian Scholars. As part of a program set up by the University of Delaware and the U.S. State Department, ACMCU hosted a group of academics from Saudi Arabia and Egypt. These scholars represent prestigious institutions such as Riyadh University and Al Azhar University. They are experts in Islam, law, political science, sociology and inter-faith issues. The aim of the trip was to engage in serious dialogue on issues that cover US-Islamic, US-Saudi, US-Egyptian, Islam-Christian, Islamic-Jewish relations and broadly on democracy and faith and religion in public sphere.


Tuesday, January 13 2009 – Film Screening: “Allah Made Me Funny.” This landmark concert film follows three acclaimed comedians on stage and off as they lift the veil to reveal the humorous truth of what it's really like to be Muslim in America. Mo Amer, Azhar Usman, and Preacher Moss poke fun at themselves, their communities, government, human nature and the tricky predicament of living in post-9/11 America. Featuring music of rising indie scene artists, Allah Made Me Funny: Live in Concert is rollicking good fun and gives people of all cultural backgrounds an opportunity to laugh hard, drop their guard and open their minds. Co-sponsored by ACMCU, MEI and Unity Productions Foundation.


Tuesday, 9 December 2009 - Book Launch: “Reformist Voices of Islam”: Dr. Shireen Hunter discussed her new book dealing reformist figures and movements in a variety of cultural and political contexts; she then took questions from the audience.


Monday, 8 December 2008 – Film Screening: “I Love Hip Hop in Morocco.”- This film follows the creation of Morocco's first ever Hip Hop festival and the remarkable young artists who band together to bring this dream to the stage, against all odds. Co-sponsored by ACMCU and CCAS.


Monday, 24 November 2008 – Panel Discussion: “Jerusalem Women Speak!” Bringing together three women of three different faiths to discuss the current situation in Israel and Palestine. Despite their differences, the women are all working in different ways to build peace and understanding. The women come to the U.S. to educate the American pubic about the situation and to give each of the women the opportunity to have their voices heard. Co-sponsored by ACMCU and Partners for Peace.


Thursday, 20 November 2008 – Nostra Aetate Lecture: “Challenges to Islam, Christianity and Judaism in Today’s Global Crisis.” Professor Hans Kung came to give a speech as part of President DeGioia’s Nostra Aetate Lecture Series. He discussed the possibilities resolution of the worlds difficulties based on dialogue and mutual respect. Co-sponsored by the Office of the President and ACMCU


Friday, 14 November 2008 - Symposium: “Islam in the Age of Global Challenges: Alternative Perspectives of the Gulen Movement.” This conference focused on the global challenges of war, poverty and ignorance. It is important to examine the perspectives of the Gülen movement toward the solutions to these problems for two main reasons. First, this movement is primarily inspired by a Muslim worldview. In the aftermath of 9/11, Muslims are, unfortunately, largely regarded as part of the problems of the global village. To challenge this misperception, the conference explored this Muslim movement's contributions to addressing global challenges. Second, the volunteer movement that Fethullah Gülen inspired has become an important actor working toward the solutions to global problems. It has organized interfaith dialogue activities to avoid religious conflicts, educational institutions to fight ignorance, and charity organizations and business associations to defeat poverty. Therefore, it provides an intriguing case that can open new discussions to diverse aspects of the global challenges and their solutions. Co-sponsored by ACMCU, The Rumi Forum and Georgetown University President’s Office.


Thursday, 6 November 2008 – Sunday, 9 November 2008 – American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute: “Civic Engagement in an Islamic Context.” The American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute (AMCLI) is an initiative designed for emerging American Muslim leaders who are leading their communities towards greater civic participation. AMCLI is housed at the University of Southern California’s Center for Religion and Civic Culture (CRCC), working in partnership with the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim Christian Understanding (ACMCU) at Georgetown University. The program is made possible with funding from the Carnegie Corporation, the Ford Foundation, and One Nation for All. AMCLI is a nine-month program for twenty selected participants across the country. The institute is comprised of three, four-day residential programs and an on-line participatory component. From November 6-9, delegates participated in a variety of conferences and workshops, including “Civic Engagement from an Islamic Context”, “Voicing Your Vision”, State of Muslim Engagement in the United States”, Effective Advocacy for Faith-Based Communities”, “Successful Examples of Community-Based Organizations and Networks”, “Successful Campaigns of the Faith Community”, Developing High Impact Organizations, “The Power of Presence: Developing Personal Narratives”, “Assessing the Election Outcomes” and “Introduction to Case Study Assignment and Personal Development Accounts”. Visit the AMCLI website here.


Monday, 3 November 2008 – Lecture: “Death Metal, Gangsta Rap and the Struggle for Democracy.”: Professor Mark Levine (UC Irvine) delivered a lecture on the development of new forms of musical expression across the Muslim world. In particular, he focused on heavy metal and hip-hop music as genres that allowed for the formation of identities that set themselves apart from, and sometimes against, the prevailing political culture. He noted how these musical forms often have risen in the Middle East and greater Muslim world, as they did in the west, as an outlet for youths who have felt themselves outside the mainstream of an increasingly industrializing, globalizing society. He pointed, for example, to the origins of hip-hop in urban areas in the United States being directly related to increasing unemployment, as people who had received vocational training in electronics and related field applied those skills to creating a new style of music. Something similar, he suggests, could be happening in the globalizing Muslim world, as traditional patterns of living and working are changing at a rapid pace and leaving many young people behind.

Professor Levine also noted the tendency of heavy metal in both places to go through a similar trajectory. First they begin as overtly and explicitly political, often as a form of protest against both formalized governmental institutions and structures as well as generalized norms of behavior and role-expectations. They then, as they increase in popularity and acceptance, become somewhat less political, sometimes as a result of direct pressure from authorities. Then, on occasion, the music actually enters into the mainstream to such an extent that it becomes officially sponsored and commercialized. Professor Levine pointed to the example of Morocco: where at one time the government opposed the playing of heavy metal, it eventually accepted and even sponsored concerts officially. Some have viewed this as an attempt to co-opt the music and it’s ability to be seen as a form of resistance by putting the stamp of official acceptance on it.

Though the presence of heavy metal and hip-hop music as an outlet in the Muslim world might not be expected by some, that religion has played that role is certainly well known. While some might tend to view these movements as opposite ends of a social spectrum, Professor Levine warns us that this view is too simplistic. First, he notes, many of the people playing this music are pious Muslims. Also, he notes, many of the messages that are contained in the lyrics of heavy metal and hip-hop are the same or similar to those contained in the writings and preachings of religious conservatives and revivalists, showing that they are better seen as differing means of dealing with the realities of one’s place in societies in which these kinds of outlets are few in number.


Tuesday, 11 November 2008 - Film Screening and Discussion: Understanding the Spiritual Legacy of Slavery in America- This event was inspired by the PBS documentary Prince Among Slaves, recently awarded Best Documentary at the American Black Film Festival, the event entailed a screening and panel with esteemed religious leaders, scholars and filmmakers speaking about the historical and contemporary legacy of the religious lives of enslaved Africans in America. The event was co-hosted by Muslim Ministry of Georgetown University, Unity Productions Foundation, the producers of Prince Among Slaves, and ACMCU.


Friday, 24 October, 2008 – Academic Council Meeting


Thursday, October 23, 2008: "Is There a Role for Shari'ah in Modern States?"This conference brought together leading scholars of Islamic Law to discuss both the practical and theoretical application of Shari’ah in today’s world. Topics covered included the historical context of Shari’ah, objectives of Shari’ah, public opinion and perception of Shari’ah, staus of women and non-Muslim minorities, and Shari’ah in the West. The Keynote, “The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State” was given by Professor Noah Feldman. Panelists to include Madhavi Sunder, Sherman Jackson, Jonathan Brown, Clark Lombardi, Intisarr Rabb, Nathan Brown, Abdulaziz Sachedina, Mohammad Fadel and Andrew March


Tuesday, 21 October, 2008: Lecture: “Pakistan, the War on Terrorism and US Foreign Policy.” Pakistani Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, graduate of SFS, and currently General Secretary of the center-right Pakistan Muslim League(Q), came to speak to Dr. John Esposito’s Seminar about current political events in Pakistan.


Tuesday, 14 October 2008: Informational Luncheon and Discussion: “The Abraham Path Initiative- Crossing Boundaries and Connecting People Step by Step.” The Abraham Path is a route of cultural tourism that honors the shared cultural heritage of Abraham (Ibrahim) by "linking together into a single itinerary of outstanding interest and beauty the ancient sites associated with Abraham and his family”. Dr. Joshua Weiss, Ms. Arzu Yilmaz and Ms. Deena Shakir spoke about the Abraham Path Initiative, and its role in promoting an understanding among people across the world, an economic catalyst and a way of highlighting the unique heritage and hospitality of the region. Co-sponsored by ACMCU, CCAS and The Master of Arts Program in Conflict Resolution.


Wednesday, October 8, 2008-"Religion and Politics in Turkey Today"


Tuesday, September 30, 2008-"Muslim Apocalypse: Between the Book of Revelation and Modern Mahdis"


Tuesday, 16 September 2008 – Iftar with the Georgetown Muslim Students Association- This event was co-sponsored by ACMCU and the Georgetown MSA, and brought together the Georgetown Community to celebrate Iftar together, with remarks made by Dr. Ibrahim Kalin, ACMCU faculty member. Co-sponsored by ACMCU and Georgetown MSA.


Sunday, 14 September 2008: 9/11 Unity Walk-Like Gandhi's walks, the internationally broadcast 9/11 Unity Walk draws people from all faith backgrounds and religious affiliations to participate in a "Gandhi" style walk down Embassy Row in Washington, D.C. The largest event of its kind, thousands of people representing hundreds of organizations, religious groups and embassies walk in "unity," building bridges of understanding and respect. Co-sponsored by ACMCU and Friends of the 9/11 Unity Walk.


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