Dr. Reza Shah-Kazemi writes on a range of topics from metaphysics and doctrine to contemplation and prayer. He is presently a Research Associate at the Institute of Ismaili Studies in London, where, amongst other projects, he has been working on a new, annotated translation of Nahj al-Balagha, the discourses of Imam ‘Ali. Dr. Shah-Kazemi is also the founding editor of the Islamic World Report. His degrees include International Relations and Politics at Sussex and Exeter Universities, and a PhD in Comparative Religion from the University of Kent in 1994. He later acted as a consultant to the Institute for Policy Research in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia.
Dr. Shah-Kazemi has authored and translated several works, including Paths of Transcendence: Shankara, Ibn Arabi and Meister Eckhart on Transcendent Spiritual Realization (World Wisdom Books, 2006), Doctrines of Shi‘i Islam (I. B. Tauris in association with The Institute of Ismaili Studies, 2001), Avicenna: Prince of Physicians (Hood Hood, 1997) and Crisis in Chechnya (Islamic World Report, 1995). Reza Shah-Kazemi has edited several books, including Algeria: Revolution Revisited (Islamic World Report, 1997). He has also published numerous articles and reviews in academic journals.
Rumi’s poetry is widely considered one of the great masterpieces of Islamic literatures, and Rumi is now the best-selling poet in America. This talk will serve as a deep introduction to Rumi’s masterpiece, by taking the audience inside the main teachings and structure of the Masnavi. No background or language is necessary.
Dr. Omid Safi is a leading public Muslim intellectual in America. He is a Professor of Islamic Studies at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, specializing in contemporary Islamic thought and classical Islam. He is the past Chair for the Study of Islam and the current Chair for the Islamic Mysticism Group at the American Academy of Religion, the largest international organization devoted to the academic study of religion.
Omid is an award-winning teacher and speaker, and was nominated six times at Colgate University for the “Professor of the Year” award, and before that twice at Duke University for the Distinguished Lecturer award. At the University of North Carolina, he received the award for mentoring minority students in 2009, and the Sitterson Teaching Award for Professor of the Year in April of 2010.
He is the editor of the volume Progressive Muslims: On Justice, Gender, and Pluralism (Oxford: Oneworld Publications, 2003). His work Politics of Knowledge in Premodern Islam, dealing with medieval Islamic history and politics, was published by UNC Press in 2006. His Voices of Islam: Voices of Change, was published by Praeger in 2006. His last book was published by HarperCollins, titled Memories of Muhammad, and deals with the biography and legacy of the Prophet Muhammad. He has a forthcoming volume from Princeton University Press on the famed mystic Rumi. The Carnegie Foundation recognized Omid as a leading Scholar of Islam in 2007-2008 for studying contemporary Islamic debates in Iran. That topic will be the topic of his next book from Harvard University Press. His volume on American Islam is forthcoming from Cambridge University Press.
Dr. Aref Ali Nayed answers the question whether God can create a stone so heavy even He can’t lift it.
Dr. Aref Ali Nayed is a theological scholar and founder of Kalam Research & Media (http://www.kalamresearch.com). Kalam Research & Media (KRM) is a collegial think tank and training centre dedicated to research, education, content development, and capacity building in the following core areas: Islamic theology (kalam), Inter-faith engagement, Islamic philosophy & wisdom, Inter-faith conflict prevention & resolution, Islamic philosophy of science, technology, the environment, scriptural reasoning & hermeneutics, Islamic professional & business ethics, and creative & critical thinking.