The Madrasa-Midrasha Program Announces 2022 Haas Student Research Grant Recipients

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Madrasa-Midrasha Program

2022 Grant Recipients

We are pleased to announce the recipients of 2022 summer research grants for GTU students working on interreligious projects related to Judaism and/or Islam. Please see the list of distinguished students and their projects below.

We would like to thank the Walter & Elise Haas Fund for their generous support of this program, which has made these research projects possible as part of a multi-faceted $75,000 grant to the GTU in support of the Madrasa-Midrasha Program, a collaborative interreligious effort of the Center for Islamic Studies and the Richard S. Dinner Center for Jewish Studies.

Women Standing Up and Standing Out: An Examination of the Female Impact in Judaism and Islam

When looking at Abrahamic religions, our society places Judaism and Islam on opposite ends of the spectrum. By looking at how women played a significant role in the formation of these religions, my research will show how Judaism and Islam are more similar than different. I will examine the social structure of women, the impact that women from other lands contributed to the growth of the religions, the morality of their stories and the impact they made within the religious community to show that not all women were subjected to male rule (qawwamun), and that there were those who sometimes spoke out against it. Through sharing these women’s stories, I will highlight their devotion to God (HaShem /Allah) and how they are remembered. A close examination of women’s roles within these religious traditions will reveal that women had a bigger role than previously acknowledged.

Raya Hazini holds a BA in Religious Studies from CSU Sacramento and an MA in Religious Studies from Cardinal Stritch University. Her personal religious ancestry comes from Judaism, Catholicism, Protestantism, and Islam and five generations ago her family became part of the Bahá’í Faith. As a fifth generation Bahá’í, she wants to honor her ancestry through her work. Born and raised in California, Raya loves to be outdoors on her paddle board.

Study of Fetus Development in Islamic and Jewish Religious Resources

The research aims to enhance the knowledge of fetus development in the light of Islamic and Jewish religious resources as a natural event. There are few works of literature on similar biblical and quranic historical events. Quran verses and sayings of the prophet Muhammed will be collected and Biblical and Talmudic passages. The research is to open a new dimension in interreligious study and dialogue. Moreover, the research will find a common perspective in Islam and Judaism on fetus development and how these religions have discussed this natural event to help believers comprehend a biological process as a sign of the divine when creating humans. Passages in these sources would be collected stating and resembling the fetus's development process. This method helps to bring all scattered verses and narrations into a single document about the fetus's growth and hence helps the reader find all related literature at once.

Interreligious Peacebuilding through Promoting Holistic Justice: Exploring Israeli-Jewish and Palestinian-Muslim Women Grassroots Models of Holistic Interreligious Peacebuilding Joint Initiative

One of the protracted conflicts in the world today that seem to defy the efforts of experts in conflict transformation and peace building is Israel-Palestine conflicts. Peace building treaties have been signed and collapsed over the years and hope for a new future has been flashing on and off. Most often, the focus has been the high ranking peace building meetings involving international diplomats and using top-bottom approaches. Perhaps, few have tempted to investigate the presence of bottom-up approaches to peacebuilding: efforts taken by the local communities. In this regard, this project endeavors to explore the ground efforts to peace building that get less publicity on the international media, yet there are evidence of tremendous positive fruits from these seemingly insignificant efforts. Jerusalem link is one of such organizations comprised of Israeli-Jewish and Palestinian-Muslim women in Hebron; model project where complicated and multifaceted conflicts are discussed on face to face encounter. It’s an organization that demonstrates how interreligious dialogue through social economic issues can effect positive change in the society.

Raphael D. Mkuzi is a third year PhD Candidate in the Department of Historical and Cultural Studies of Religion (HCSR) at Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, where his concentration is in the area of Comparative Religion. He also takes courses in economics from the University of California, Berkeley. Originally he comes from Malawi, Africa, with an academic background in interreligious dialogue and peacebuilding between Muslims and Christians. He did his Advanced Masters degree in Systematic Theology at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium. His current research interest is on the theme: Interreligious Peacebuilding through Promoting Economic Justice in the Context of Malawi, Africa.

The Unrecognized Purge: Recovering the Muslim Narrative from a Joint Jewish-Muslim Experience

Historically, both Spanish Jews and Muslims have been victims of forced Christianization and eventual exile from the peninsula. Whereas Spain has officially apologized for its genocide against Sephardic Jews and granted dual citizenship rights for Jews with Sephardic ancestry, no analogous actions have been taken vis-à-vis the descendants of Spanish Muslims. I intend for my research to shed light on how the Muslim experience in sixteenth-century Spain mirrored the Jews’ earlier experience, and why it is necessary to holistically understand the Christian European origins of modern Islamophobia and antisemitism if both are to be defeated. Antisemitism and Islamophobia are both diseases of (Christian) Europe; Muslims should be at the forefront of fighting antisemitism, and Jews should be at the forefront of fighting Islamophobia. Andalucía is arguably the only place in the world that has passed permanently out of Dar al-Islam. These days, as Giles Tremlett notes, Andalucía (especially Granada) is heavily marketed to tourists as “Moorishland,” a type of “orientalism-with-tapas.” Yet Andalucía lacks a living indigenous Muslim population – a 400-year-old tragedy that was, for all intents and purposes, a cultural genocide, but has not been officially recognized as such.

Laura Miller is currently a doctoral student in Islamic Studies (History and Culture). She is studying Spain’s Muslim population from 1492-1609, in order to understand how Spanish Muslims went from being the rulers of Al-Andalus to a racialized Morisco minority, which culminated with their expulsion from Spain in 1609.