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King Abdullahs advisor to teach at Brandeis

By Carolyn Weisman

Section: News

October 7, 2005

An advisor to a Middle-Eastern monarch will teach at Brandeis in fall of 2006. Joseph Lumbard will leave his post as Jordanian King Abdullahs advisor on interfaith affairs to join the Near Eastern and Judaic Studies department as a professor of Islamic studies.

Lumbard comes to Brandeis after a long immersion in religious studies and Islamic philosophy. As an undergraduate and masters student at George Washington University, Lumbard concentrated on religious studies before continuing on to receive his M. Phil. (2000) and Ph.D. (2003) from Yale University. Upon the completion of his studies, Lumbard taught at the American University in Cairo, as a professor of Islamic Studies.

As an American Muslim, Lumbard has personally chosen to focus on the intellectual traditions of the religion. His main scholarly interest is in Sufism [the mystical, spiritual functions of Islam], though he also has a very strong interest in the connection between classical Islam and the modern world, says NEJS Department chair Marc Brettler of his soon-to-be colleague.

This interest in both the classical and modern Muslim worlds is just what makes Lumbard such an important asset to the Jordanian government. As an advisor to King Abdullah, he has played an active role in the progressive movements of Jordan. Since last years Muslim festival of Ramadan, King Abdullah has begun to make unprecedented strides towards a peaceful coexistence with Israel and the Jewish tradition. He began this series of initiatives by condemning extremist or terrorist activity carried out in the name of Islam.
We want to get beyond the idea of a clash of civilizations to a dialogue of civilizations, said Lumbard of last weeks monumental meeting between King Abdullah and 70 rabbis and Jewish religious leaders. Lumbard reiterated that King Abdullahs hope is to reaffirm traditional Islam, which shows not only tolerance but acceptance.

At Brandeis, Lumbard will continue to study and promote his theories concerning modernization and possibilities of a peaceful existence for the Arab world. He will be teaching courses related to classical Islam and Islamic religion and culture, beginning next September.

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