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The Importance of Cultural and Religious Literacy: The Case of Islam
Ali Asani, Professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic Religion and Cultures, Harvard University

Thursday, May 11, 2017 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM

The Thursday, May 11, program in the Council's Islam: Changing Dynamics Series focuses on the challenges of both understanding and participating in a religion.

Our speaker's topic gets to the point of the challenges: "The Importance of Cultural and Religious Literacy: The Case of Islam." Ali Asani is a professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic Religion and Cultures at Harvard University. Dr. Asani's work includes incorporating studies of the arts, such as poetry, in order to help people become more familiar with Islam, nations and cultures.

In a 2015, Harvard Gazette, the university's campus weekly, published an interview with Dr. Asani titled "Battling religious illiteracy." In it, he outlined his motivation for helping people understand Islam:

"When I started teaching Islam, my greatest challenge lay in addressing the stereotypes and misconceptions that had profoundly influenced how my students had come to think about the tradition. I soon came to realize that one of the bigger issues I was confronting was not just ignorance about Islamic history and thought, but a prevailing global illiteracy about the nature of religion and the nature of culture and how the two intersect."

A native of Nairobi, Kenya, Dr. Asani also says he's seen huge gaps globally about knowledge of the African continent and its many cultures.

Since 9/11, the professor has been active in conducting workshops about Islam and Muslim societies for high school and college educators.

He is recipient of the Harvard Foundation Medal for outstanding contributions to improving intercultural and race relations at Harvard and in the nation. Harvard's Division of Continuing Education presented him the Petra C. Shattuck Prize for excellence in teaching.

After finishing high school in Kenya, he attended Harvard College (the university's undergrad liberal arts college), graduating summa cum laude in 1977 with a concentration in Comparative Study of Religion. He did his post-grad work at Harvard in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, receiving his Ph.D. in 1984.

Part of the:

Islam Series

In Partnership with



THURSDAY, MAY 11, 2017
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6 PM Reception
6:30 PM Program
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Belo Mansion
2101 Ross Ave.
Dallas, TX 75201
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$35 Individual
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