Dr. Mehdi Aminrazavi, Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies, is the new director of an exciting new program for UMW students, faculty and the broader community: Khatib Program in Religion & Dialogue, funded by a generous gift from Dr. Reza Khatib and his wife, Georgianna Khatib.
In spring semester 2020, the KPRD sponsored the following courses and events:
1. “Religion 231: The Bible & the Qur`an,” in the Spring of 2020. Professor Benjamin Maton who specializes in inter-religious dialogue and is affiliated with the University of Virginia taught the course.
2. Thomas Jefferson’s Statute of Religious Freedom: On the occasion of Thomas Jefferson’s Statue of Religious Freedom, Professor Mary Beth Mathews of the Religious Studies Program, offered a lecture on the “Religions of Enslaved People” with emphasis on the predominance of Islam among early African Americans. (February 18, 2020.)
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic postponed the following scheduled events for the spring and summer, which KPRD plans to offer in the future:
3. Inter-religious conference.
Representatives of six religions were to present their views in an all-day symposium. This event was scheduled for Friday April 3, 2020 and the following individuals were scheduled to speak:
– Judaism: Rabbi Elizabeth Goldstein
– Christianity: Pastor Benjamin Maton
– Islam: Chaplain Munira Abdalla
– Baha’ism: Bret Breneman, Northern Virginia Baha’i Center
– Buddhism: Rev. Hayashi- Resident Minister of Ekoji Buddhist Temple
– Sikhism: Randhir Chhatwal, Sikh Foundation of Virginia
Sessions were to be moderated by Dr. Daniel Hirshberg, Dr. Steve Rabson and Dr. Mehdi Aminrazavi.
4. Inter-Religious Dialogue at the Smithsonian Institute’s “The National Museum of Asian Art.”
The Khatib Program for Religion & Dialogue in collaboration with the First Millennial Network of scholars and the Smithsonian Institute’s “The National Museum of Asian Art” in Washington, DC jointly organized a roundtable conversation on interreligious dialogue. Participants were to propose new ways to study the complex dynamic between shared, and competing, religious investments in first millennium artifacts and contemporary religious conflicts. This event was scheduled for April 16, 2020. Among the participants were:
Peter Bang, U. of Copenhagen
Richard Hodges, President of The American Academy of Rome
Muriel Debie, Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes
Matthew Canepa, U. of Chicago
Susanna Elm, UC Berkeley
Michael McCormick, Harvard University
Stephanie Mulder, U. of Texas, Austin
D. Ali, UPenn
Valerie Hansen, Yale
Annette Yoshiko Reed, NYU
5. Summer program in Inter-religious dialogue:
Professor Daniel Hirshberg of the Religious Studies Program was going to take a group of our students to Japan to study Japanese religions, such as Zen Buddhism, and Shintoism. Through the Khatib program, modest financial assistance was to be offered to students in order to enable them to complete the program.
The above are among the events which the generous gift of the Khatibs has made possible. We look forward to offering another Khatib sponsored class next year and to implement the events which had to be postponed.