30 Mosques, 30 States, 30 Days-One Unique Road Trip across the US

Project Nur, the Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies Program, Interfaith Chaplaincy and the Brandeis Muslim Students Association will be holding an event tonight!

Aman Ali and Bassam Tariq will reflect on their road trip across US to 30 different mosques in 30 different states over the course of 30 days. They were featured in CNN, Time, and NPR.

It is free and open to the public. It will be held in Harlan Chapel between 7.30 and 9.30 pm.

Check out our Facebook event here.

For more information on the speakers, follow these links-


NPR article on 30Mosques

Brandeis prof’s book bowdlerized by publisher


Brandeis politics professor Jytte Klausen’s new book on the 2005 Danish Muhammed cartoon controversy has been selectively censored by its publisher, the Yale University Press. The New York Times reports today that Yale ordered the images of the actual cartoons to be removed from the book.  Entitled The Cartoons That Shook The World, the book was intended to be the definitive account of the incident which caused riots and 200 deaths, as well as a worldwide debate over journalistic ethics. The Yale Press stated that the publishing of the actual cartoons in the context of a book about them “could be interpreted easily as gratuitous.” But even more controversially, Yale removed images of Muhammed other than the cartoons from the book, and furthermore told Prof. Klausen that it would only allow her to read the reasons for the decision if she agreed not to disclose them to anyone.

Personally,  I find the Yale Press’s action utterly unreasonable. Admittedly, I do not know the full reasoning behind the decision, since the Press will not disclose it. But seeing the cartoons is an important part of understanding the controversy about them, and the book will lose much of its value without being able to show its subject. I hope this decision is reversed or Prof. Klausen finds a new publisher.

Yale Press Bans Images of Muhammed in New Book by Jytte Klausen. The New York Times. August 12, 2009.

An Interfaith Success Story

If you could sum up successful interfaith dialogue in three words, what would they be?

How about “Homies in Harmony”?

If those aren’t quite the words you had in mind, then you clearly weren’t one of the organizers of last week’s Jews and Muslims Session: Homies in Harmony III.  I wish that I had been able to make the event, because it seems like it was just as successful and entertaining as its name.  Check out this story in the Justice for a full overview of the event, but the basic premise was to create an interfaith conversation that would both allow for discussion of personal, controversial feelings and maintain a level of respect that would encourage participants to form friendships with people from unfamiliar faith tradition.  My good friend Neda Eid helped to organize the event, and she told me after the fact that she was very excited by how well it turned out.  Judging by the quotes from the article, it seems most of the participants felt the same way.

Last year marked a low point for interfaith dialogue at Brandeis.  It seemed that every few weeks introduced another controversy that played itself out in the papers and left a lot of hurt feelings.  The charter of Students for Justice in Palestine, the Israel 60th birthday resolution, aspects of the Mamoon Darwish saga and of the Senator-at-Large election and Judiciary case — I’m sure most of you still have sour memories of all of these events.  Even the Boston Globe took note of the firestorm the campus had become.  It’s counterproductive to go back and assign blame for everything that happened (I certainly don’t claim to be innocent myself), but I think it was clear to everyone that something had to change.

And something did change.  To the credit of the entire Brandeis community, this year has been almost completely free of the public battles that marred ’07-’08.  It’s hard to say exactly what did it; perhaps everyone just got tired of seeing so much bad blood.  Regardless, everyone at Brandeis should be proud that the interfaith dialogue on campus has improved so substantially over last year.

However, this clearly doesn’t mean that anger and bitterness don’t still exist.  Tension among religious groups has existed as long as humans have; should we really expect it to disappear overnight from our campus?  And just because it isn’t spilled out over the front pages of the Hoot and the Justice doesn’t mean that it has no effect and that we are best off ignoring it.  JAM Session should serve as a model for how to deal with these tensions productively and turn them into tools for strengthening our community.  It seems that plans are already in place to develop a more frequent series of conversations, and I encourage everyone to get involved with this in some way.  The elephant in the room is the Israeli-Palestinian tension, the biggest source of interfaith conflict on campus.  JAM Session wisely kept the focus on more general interfaith issues (though Israel/Palestine wasn’t explicitly excluded), but eventually that discussion needs to be had.  We should look at JAM Session as a model for approaching these issues in a way that allows respectful disagreement and productive action.  Brandeis has come a long way since last year, and though we may not be there yet, I have great confidence that we’ll eventually be able to engage even the thorniest of issues and remain homies in harmony.