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Seminary To Get $2 Million For Islamic Studies Position

Faculty Chair Funding To Promote Understanding Of The Contemporary Faith

November 10, 2006
Report By Courant Staff

Hartford Seminary will receive a gift of $2 million from a Muslim community in Turkey to advance the study of contemporary Islam.

This is the largest gift from the Muslim community in the history of Hartford Seminary, said David S. Barrett, director of public and institutional affairs at the seminary. The largest gift ever received by the seminary was $6 million in 1997, he said.

The donation, announced by the seminary Thursday, will be used to fund a faculty chair bearing the title of professor of contemporary Islamic studies. The donor, Ali Bayram, a Turkish scholar and representative of the Muslim community made up of followers of Turkish theologian and religious leader Fethullah Gülen, said he hopes the chair will help in the understanding of contemporary Islam.

"For many unfortunate reasons, Islam has been greatly misunderstood," Bayram stated in a release issued by the seminary. "Neutral scholarly knowledge on Islam is missing from the discussion and not highlighted."

A key aspect of the gift is that, in accordance with Islamic principles, it may not be invested in companies or funds that are based on the sale or promotion of alcohol, gambling or tobacco.

Hartford Seminary houses the Macdonald Center for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim relations. The chair will be housed in the Macdonald Center to enhance its program.

The seminary has worked with the Gülen community for many years. The community, which condemns violence in the name of Islam, has several students studying at the seminary, and has had scholars come to the seminary for sabbatical work. Its followers favor modernism, tolerance, dialogue and democracy without sacrificing religious precepts.

"The study of Islam is especially important in these difficult times, and this gift will allow us to offer precedent-setting research and teaching on contemporary Islam as it is lived out in the world today," said Hartford Seminary President Heidi Hadsell in the release.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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