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U of A Islam researcher presses for bridge-building

Meghan Hurley, The Edmonton Journal
Published: Saturday, June 30, 2007

EDMONTON - The man who will take on the task of building up the University of Alberta's Islamic studies program hopes to open up interfaith dialogue.

"It's very clear that there is a major hunger at the academic level on Islam and the Muslim world," Ibrahim Abu-Rabi, currently a professor at the Hartford Theological Seminary in Connecticut, said Saturday. "It is very important, especially after 9/11 to teach academic courses on the Muslim world and to have dialogue between Muslims and westerners."

Abu-Rabi will become the university's first research chair, starting July 1, 2008. He is in Edmonton this weekend with his wife and two young children, meeting university faculty and students.

Abu-Rabi was brought in to help build one of Canada's best programs in the study of Islam.

But the University of Alberta will face tough competitors, he said.

"McGill is very famous and has major relationships with the Muslim world," he said. "It's very clear that this is a major university in Canada and they are interested in globalization and internationalization."

Abu-Rabi has developed his own relationships with key members of the international Islam community. He brings contacts from Asia, the Middle East, Turkey and Europe.

© The Edmonton Journal 2007

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