Mar 282017
 March 28, 2017  Tagged with: ,

Imam Abdullah Antepli , left, shares a laugh with Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks during the pair’s public talk, “Civility & Difference.”

In front of a crowd filled with Duke and Durham community members of a variety of faiths, two religious leaders urged about 200 people March 27 to see humanity as the overriding feature that can unite people across beliefs, cultures and geographical boundaries.

In a discussion co-sponsored by Religions and Public Life at the Kenan Institute for Ethics, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks and Imam Abdullah Antepli spoke about their personal journeys through religion, and how engaging in inter-religious dialogue has made them better people and deepened their appreciation for all religion.

“The true, beating heart of monotheism isn’t ‘one god, one truth, one way,’ but the unity in heaven creates diversity down here on Earth,” said Sacks, a British philosopher, scholar and former Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth. “It is in our particularity that is born our universality.”

The talk, moderated by Ellen Davis, Amos Ragan Kearns Professor of Bible and Practical Theology at the Duke Divinity School, highlighted the experiences of Sacks and Antepli as a way to show the value of civility among differences. Throughout their conversation, both men stressed how interacting with people outside their religions has shaped their life in positive ways.

“When I became an Imam, understanding Judaism and Christianity and Hinduism and Buddhism became an essential part of my intellectual and theological work,” said Antepli, Duke’s Chief Representative of Muslim Affairs and a Senior Fellow for the Duke Office of Civic Engagement. “It also became an essential response for problem solving.”

For example, Antepli said, he may spend just as much time – if not more – with people of other faith systems as he does the Muslim community. Doing so creates a deeper connection to his own religion at the same time he came to learn and appreciate others, he said.

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, left, speaks to the audience while answering a question from Professor Ellen Davis, right.

Love, Sacks echoed, is what can be found at the heart of religion and allows inter-faith relationships to develop. He spoke of Mitzvah Day, an annual event for faith-based social action started in 2005, where members of England’s Jewish community volunteered time to offer acts of kindness to people outside their religion. By 2010, British Hindu organizations got involved, which also led to Muslims and Christians joining. Within a decade, each religious community decided to take part as a way to move beyond differences in beliefs to better the lives of others, Sacks said. Instead of face-to-face, they began interacting side-by-side.

“The beauty of side-by-side is it involves no theology, it’s street level and what it does isn’t produce agreement, it produces friendship,” Sacks said. “When you have friendship, you discover the people not ‘like us’ are people like us. When that happens, conversation can begin. It’s not easy, but when it is there, rooted in an existing friendship, it becomes real and it becomes strong.”

Duke and local community members are invited to Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks’ public talk at 5:30 p.m. March 28, “Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence,” the 2017 Terry Sanford Distinguished Lecture. The event will be held at the Fleishman Commons in the Sanford School of Public Policy. For more information, visit this website.

Jan 242017
 January 24, 2017  Tagged with: ,

Undergraduate and graduate students invited to apply. Rolling application deadline during Spring 2017.

The Religions and Pubic Life Initiative at the Kenan Institute for Ethics, in collaboration with the Duke Center for Jewish Studies, is pleased to announce a summer short course, July 12-17, on religious exchange and historical collaboration among the three Abrahamic Religions at Bar-Ilan University, Israel. A competitive fellowship to attend is available, funded by the Center for Jewish Studies.

Download the syllabus and find application instructions here.

For any questions, contact Amber Díaz Pearson.

Oct 282016
 October 28, 2016  Tagged with:

The Duke Interreligious Scholars Program provides a context for students of multiple religious and nonreligious identities to build relationships, work on social issues of shared concern, connect their (non)religious identities with civic life and their professional goals, and increase their religious and interreligious literacy. The program combines curricular and co-curricular opportunities with intentional living, service, and social action. Visit the website for more information.

Oct 202016
 October 20, 2016  Tagged with: ,

Russia-Mellon11-11Robert G. Morrison, professor and chair of the religion department at Bowdoin College, will be giving a public talk as well as participating in the Muslim Diasporas Seminar of the Religions and Public Initiative at the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke.

Prof. Morrison came to Bowdoin College since 2008.  He teaches courses in the academic study of both Islam and Judaism, but address, in addition, comparative topics. Prof. Morrison’s research has focused on the role of science in Islamic and Jewish texts, as well as in the history of Islamic science.  He has contributed the chapters on Islamic astronomy to the New Cambridge History of Islam and the Cambridge History of Science.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

This spring, the Religions and Public Life Initiative at the Kenan Institute for Ethics in collaboration with FHI Humanities Futures and the Department of History, will host three scholars of Islamic and comparative studies. Each will give a public talk and participate in the Muslim Diasporas working group seminar during their visit.

Oct 172016
 October 17, 2016  Tagged with: ,

Please join the Religions and Public Life Society of Scholars graduate student group, along with the Conversion Working Group, for a seminar with Nicole Reinhardt on Monday evening, April 17.

Dr. Reinhardt’s talk is titled, “Merit, Sin, and Politics in Early Modern Casuistry.” A major problem accompanying the expansion of the state in the early modern period was the distribution of offices. But what did it mean to appoint a qualified person, and how free were monarchs to appoint ministers, or sell offices? For early modern moral theologians such questions were sources of deep moral and political anxiety, and they debated them fiercely. The key theological concept at stake was that of acceptio personarum (‘respect of person’), which Thomas Aquinas had declared the foremost sin against distributive justice. As this talk will show, the coordinates of the controversies widened throughout the sixteenth century in line with the expanding geographical, political, and financial horizons of early modern monarchies. To follow their evolution and critical junctures allows us to explore the ethical turmoil state-building caused and which is all too often been overlooked by intellectual historians.

Nicole Reinhardt is Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) for early modern European History at the University of Durham (UK). She studied History and Romance Languages at the universities of Heidelberg, Coimbra, and Freiburg i. Br., and she holds a PhD in History and Civilization from the European University Institute in Florence. She specializes in the comparative history of political and religious culture of seventeenth-century Catholic Europe (Italy, Spain, and France). She has held fellowships at the Harry Ransom Center in Austin/Texas (2017); IAS Princeton (2014-2015); the Max-Weber-Kolleg Erfurt (2011-2012), and she has been visiting professor at the university Paris I-Sorbonne (2011) and the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa (2007). Her latest book, Voices of Conscience. Royal Confessors and Political Counsel in Seventeenth-Century Spain and France, appeared in October 2016 with Oxford University Press.

Monday, April 17
Ahmadieh Family Conference Room
(West Duke 101, East Campus)

Sep 272016
 September 27, 2016  Tagged with: ,

Presented by Muslim Europe: African and Asian Diasporas, Migrations and Continental Histories, and The Program for Archives of Africa, Asia, and the Mediterranean, the Symposium on Muslim African Intellectual History will have Prof. Ousmane Oumar Kane give the keynote address, entitled, “Beyond Timbuktu: An Intellectual History of Muslim West Africa.”  He is the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Chair on Contemporary Islamic Religion and Society at the Harvard Divinity School and the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization at Harvard University.

The keynote address will be followed by a panel and round-table discussion featuring:

“Fulbe Literature in Arabic in 19th-century West Africa”
Mohamed Diagayété, Associate Director, Institut des Hautes Études et de Recherche Islamique – Ahmad Baba, Timbuktu, Mali

“L’esclavage à travers les fatawa ouest-africaines” (with translation)
Mahamane Mahamoudou, Independent scholar, Timbutku, Mali

“Reading the Life and Politics of a 20th-century Timbuktu Religious Scholar Through his Historiography,”
Mohamed Shaid Mathee, University of Johannesburg, South Africa

“The Correspondence of Ahmad al-Bakkay al-Kunti (d.1865)”
Ali Diakité, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Monday, March 27, 2017
Ahmadieh Family Conference Room
101 West Duke Bldg, East Campus

This spring, the Religions and Public Life Initiative at the Kenan Institute for Ethics in collaboration with FHI Humanities Futures and the Department of History, will host three scholars of Islamic and comparative studies. Each will give a public talk and participate in the Muslim Diasporas working group seminar during their visit.

Sep 252016
 September 25, 2016  Tagged with: ,

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, a religious leader, philosopher and author of more than 30 books, will deliver a 2017 Terry Sanford Distinguished Lecture, “Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence,” with an introduction by Duke President Richard Brodhead.  Sacks’ most recent book, “Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence,” examines the concept of “altruistic evil” and identifies the roots of faith-based violence in misreadings of key biblical texts.

Seating is first-come, first-served. The lecture will be followed by a reception and book signing.

Tuesday, March 28
Fleishman Commons, Sanford School of Public Policy

For more information about the event, see this Duke Today story.

Co-sponsored by Duke Center for Jewish Studies, Religion and Public Life at the Kenan Institute for Ethics, and The Sanford School of Public Policy.

Sep 222016
 September 22, 2016  Tagged with:

Gregg Carlstrom writes for Foreign Policy‘s Argument section, “Israel Declares War on Gaza’s NGOs”:

The new restrictions on NGOs are threatening Gaza’s already fragile economy and raising the odds of a fourth round of conflict between Israel and Hamas. Travel permits for aid workers and ordinary Gazans have been revoked on vague security grounds, and Israeli banks are increasingly reluctant to transfer salaries to workers in Gaza, something they have willingly done for years.

Read the article here.