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Toward a Deeper Understanding of Islam
& Muslim Jewish Relations

Reuven Firestone, Zayn Kassam, David Elcott
7, 14, 21 of December, 2006
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Learn about the Scholars

This course is dedicated to an investigation leading to a more comprehensive and deep understanding of Islam and how this relates to the development of true relationships between Muslims and Jews based on honesty and a holistic understanding of that which unites and divides our heritages. In the first session, Reuven Firestone will explore the foundations and origins of Islamic thought, highlighting the Muslim way of understanding the world. In the second week, Zayn Kassam will lead an investigation of gender issues as they exemplify the intersection of modernity and history, tracing the role of women in Muslim society from classical to contemporary times. In the third and final week of the course, David Elcott will examine the self and Other using historical context to better understand present-day reality.

Cost: Islam & Judaism Minicourse - $100
(Discounts for NAORRR members, students, or other special categories will appear once you add the course to your cart. You will have a chance to review all charges before you checkout.)


How the Program works:

The mini-course consists of three 1-hour presentations by telephone and an email discussion between each of the calls. If you cannot participate in a live session, recordings will become available an hour after the call for you to listen to at your convenience. Throughout the live session’s discussion, you will have a chance to interact with your colleagues and scholars. By registering for a course, the study materials become available for you to download from the course website (including articles, handouts, and/or text) and you can participate in the calls and subsequent email discussions, or listen to them at a later time.

Session Presenter and Title Date and Time


Reuven Firestone

Foundations of Islamic Beliefs and Practices

Thursday, December 7

1 - 2 pm EST
12 - 1 pm CST
11 am - 12 pm MST
10 - 11 am PST


Zayn Kassam

Women in Islam and Muslim Societies

Thursday, December 14

1 - 2 pm EST
12 - 1 pm CST
11 am - 12 pm MST
10 - 11 am PST


David Elcott

Jews and Muslims, Arabs and Israelis

Thursday, December 21

1 - 2 pm EST
12 - 1 pm CST
11 am - 12 pm MST
10 - 11 am PST

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Scholars' Bios

Rabbi Reuven Firestone is Professor of Medieval Jewish and Islamic Studies, HUC-JIR/Los Angeles. He served for eight years as Director of HUC-JIR's Edgar F. Magnin School of Graduate Studies and the Jerome Louchheim School of Undergraduate Jewish Studies at the University of Southern California, which offers degrees in cooperation with HUC-JIR. Prior to joining the HUC-JIR faculty, he taught at Boston University and was Yad Hanadiv Research Fellow at the Hebrew University. He received a Center for Arabic Study Abroad (CASA) III research fellowship for the Spring 2006 semester for study at the American University of Cairo, funded by the Fulbright Binational Committee in Egypt and the U.S. Department of Education. In 2000, Professor Firestone was awarded a fellowship for independent research from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and was chosen to be a fellow of the Institute for Advanced Jewish Studies at the University of Pennsylvania in 2002. His specialties are early Islam and its relationship with Jews and Judaism, scriptural interpretation of the Bible and Qur'an, and the phenomenon of holy war.

Rabbi Firestoneís recent publications include: The Revival of Holy War in Judaism (Forthcoming, 2006); Jews, Christians, Muslims in Dialogue: A Practical Handbook, (Forthcoming, 2007); Children of Abraham: An Introduction to Judaism for Muslims (2001); Jihad: The Origin of Holy War in Islam (1999); Journeys in Holy Lands: The Evolution of the Abraham-Ishmael Legends in Islamic Exegesis (1990).

Zayn Kassam is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Pomona College, Claremont, California and is also on the faculty at Claremont Graduate University, Claremont California. A graduate of McGill University (Ph.D 1995), she teaches courses in Islamic philosophy, mysticism, gender and literature as well as a course on philosophical and mystical texts from a comparative perspective. She has been honored with two Wig Awards for Distinguished Teaching at Pomona College, as well as an American Academy of Religion Excellence in Teaching Award, and has lectured widely on gender issues in the United States, Canada, and Britain.

Zayn’s published articles include: "Muslim Women Writers in South Asia"; "Our Worlds and His: Naguib Mahfouz's Palace Walk"; "Mindfield or Minefield: Teaching Religion in a Multicultural Classroom"; "The Individual and Notions of Community"; and others dealing with ethics and gender. She is currently working on two books, one on aspects of Quranic interpretation in medieval Islamic philosophy, and one on gender issues in the Islamic world.

Dr. David Elcott the Executive Director of Israel Policy Forum, an advocacy think-tank committed to Israelís security by promoting a policy of U.S. support for a two-state solution. With a Ph.D. in Political Psychology and Middle East Studies and as the former Vice-President of CLAL and the U.S. Interreligious Affairs Director for AJC, David has lectured on the Middle East, Arab politics and Muslim-Western cultural conflict across North America, Europe and Israel including House members on Capitol Hill, Christian and Muslim religious leaders and heads major Jewish organizations.

David is author of A Sacred Journey: The Jewish Quest for a Perfect World (1995) and of numerous articles and monographs. He is often cited in the media as a source on interfaith and Middle East affairs.

Technical and Administrative Support

Online help can be found by clicking here.

1. For Administrative and Logistical Help...

For REGISTRATION or other GENERAL Continuing Education questions, please contact:

Ruth Abusch-Magder
Director, Department of Continuing Alumni Education
(973) 275-1789

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Department of eLearning, HUC-JIR
(800) 899-0925 ext. 4236

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