CHICAGO – Zakat Foundation of America announced its sponsorship of Chicago Theological Seminary’s Combatting Islamophobia Through Education & Action program Friday April 6.
“We have teamed up to shine a light of truth into the growing dark space of anti-Muslim bias in America because it has reached crisis levels dangerous to our community and American society,” says Halil Demir, Zakat Foundation’s executive director.
“Our support brings Muslim scholars, students, and institutional leaders together with followers and trusted academic and community groups of other faiths. We need to nurture environments of cooperation and understanding across American society against the false and rampant narrative of global religious conflict, which bad actors promote because they profit from friction between religions.”
Zakat Foundation’s partner, the Chicago Theological Seminary (CTS), has a stellar 160-year history of taking the serious academic study of people of different faiths into American society to foster openness and equality.
CTS has a long history of “working at the intersection of academic discovery and public life,” reads its Combatting Islamophobia proposal. The Seminary is perfectly positioned to bring “diverse voices and perspectives” together for the sake of “greater justice, mercy, and true religious pluralism” in American society.
Zakat Foundation’s participation will enable the Muslim community to help select a special scholar to work with CTS students and on curriculum development. It will also create an active teaching relationship with the newly launched InterReligious Institute (IRI), which will give Muslims a public educational voice on critical social issues important to the Muslim community.
Zakat Foundation backing helps the graduate school give a full scholarship to a student in Muslim studies and increases the number of Muslims in the CTS student body. Students can take graduate courses at the University of Chicago.
“We want to prepare young Muslims to take part in the public discussion all around us that so overwhelmingly focuses on Islam and Muslims,” says Demir.
“We don’t need the monotone, negative narrative anymore, which does nothing but deceive and damage our community and society.”
“It’s time for multi-track stereo in the public discussion on Islam and Muslims. That can only happen when aware, trained, educated Muslims publically articulate the perspectives of Islam and Muslims with knowledge and skill, and without inhibition.”
“That’s what this step is all about.”