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Dinner-lecture on Islamic faith

Nov. 4, 2009

KALAMAZOO--Imam Zaid Shakir will discuss gender, class and racial equality in Islam during the semiannual installment of a free dinner-lecture series sponsored by the Muslim Students Association of Western Michigan University.

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MSA dinner-lecture

In addition to the keynote address, "From Original Sin to the Color of Skin: Gender, Class and Racial Equality in Islam," the evening includes a multicultural dinner and multiethnic exhibition. Events begin at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20, in the Bernhard Center Ballroom.

The dinner-lecture is open to the public free of charge, but reservations are required. They must be made online at www.rso.wmich.edu/msa by Wednesday, Nov. 18. The popular event typically attracts capacity attendance, and those wishing to attend are encouraged to register early. A waiting list will be maintained for late registrants.

The Muslim Students Association, in collaboration with the Arab Student Association, sponsors the dinner-lecture series once each fall and spring semester.

For more information, visit www.rso.wmich.edu/msa or contact Fazila Jafri at rso_msa@wmich.edu.

Speaker's biography

Imam Zaid Shakir is among the most respected and influential Islamic scholars in the West. As an American Muslim who came of age during the civil rights struggles, he has brought both sensitivity about race and poverty issues and scholarly discipline to his faith-based work.

Born in Berkeley, Calif., he accepted Islam in 1977 while serving in the United States Air Force. He obtained bachelor's degree in international relations at American University in Washington, D.C., and later earned a master's in political science from Rutgers University. While at Rutgers, he led a successful campaign for disinvestment from South Africa, and co-founded a local Islamic center, Masjid al-Huda.

After a year of studying Arabic in Cairo, he settled in New Haven, Conn., and continued his community activism, co-founding Masjid al-Islam, the Tri-State Muslim Education Initiative and the Connecticut Muslim Coordinating Committee. As Imam of Masjid al-Islam from 1988 to 1994, he spearheaded a community renewal and grassroots anti-drug effort, and also taught political science and Arabic at Southern Connecticut State University. He then left for Syria to pursue his studies in the traditional Islamic sciences.

For seven years in Syria, and briefly in Morocco, he immersed himself in an intense study of Arabic, Islamic law, Quranic studies, and spirituality with some of the top Muslim scholars of our age. In 2001, he graduated from Syria's prestigious Abu Noor University and returned to Connecticut, serving again as the Imam of Masjid al-Islam, and writing and speaking frequently on a host of issues. That same year, his translation from Arabic into English of "The Heirs of the Prophets" was published by Starlatch Press.

In 2003, he moved to Hayward, Calif., to serve as a resident scholar and lecturer at Zaytuna Institute, where he now teaches courses in Arabic, Islamic law, history and Islamic spirituality. In 2005, Zaytuna Institute published "Scattered Pictures: Reflections of An American Muslim," an anthology of diverse essays penned by Zaid Shakir.

He is a frequent speaker at local and national Muslim events and has emerged as one of the nation's top Islamic scholars and a voice of conscience for American Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

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Media contact: Tonya Durlach, (269) 387-8400, tonya.durlach@wmich.edu

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