Identity & Muslim Inter/Intra-Faith Dialogue in Atlanta:
A Discourse-Performance Centered Approach
Abbas Barzegar, a PhD student in the West and South Asian Religions at
Emory University, intends to examine the complexity and cultural, religious,
and political diversity of the American Muslim community, recognizing and
relating the critical importance of accurate frameworks for understanding
community dynamics to the broader inter-religious context of coexistence.
Specifically, Mr. Barzegar will conduct a mapping of various aspects of the
American Muslim community in the Atlanta, Georgia area for the purposes of
designing appropriate inter-religious conflict transformation manuals and
Imam trainings that seek to engage the American Muslim community more
extensively and to concretely link the intra-Muslim dialogue to wider interfaith
coexistence in the United States. This will involve producing case studies of
three different Muslim organizations in the area as well as highlighting the
work of various Muslim organizations engaged in peacebuilding, development,
nonviolence and interfaith relations in the Georgia area.
This project initially began with a grant from Harvard's Center for the Study of
Religion's Pluralism Project surveying Muslim organizations in Denver,
Colorado and assessing their varied reactions and community responses to
the September 11, tragedies. Mr. Barzegar has been an adjunct faculty at the
Metro State College of Denver and has won numerous awards for his work in
canvassing various aspects of the American Muslim community, as well as the
political opinions of Muslim youths in Iran, Kuwait and the United Arab
Emirates, in addition to his long-standing record of community service.
Abbas Barzegar M.A.
GDR, Emory University
537 Kilgo Circle
Callaway Memorial Center S214
Atlanta, GA 30322
'Abd al-Hayy Michael Weinman
Dialogue, and the American
'Abd al-Hayy Michael Weinman is developing “Envision Islam in America”
(EIIA), a long-term community-based action research project that is creating
an on-going forum for 1) dialogue within the American Muslim community and
2) for coordinating information to engage the larger American public.
Organized as a collaborative effort to forge greater links and ties between
Islamic communities and the American academy, the EIIA project has initiated
a pilot program based in Albuquerque, New Mexico designed for replicability
across the U.S.. As part of this project, Mr. Weinman is developing trainings,
workshops and manuals that involve interactive community dialogue to
address the specific needs and concerns of the American Muslim community.
In pursuit of community practices that are “best” from a communication
perspective, the EIIA project uses appreciative inquiry dialogic methods to
provide a positive foundation for education and intra-religious coexistence.
This important initiative is carried out in partnership with the University of New
Mexico, the Islamic Center of New Mexico, the Salam Institute in Washington
DC, and other groups, including the Muslim Students Association (MSA).
Mr. Weinman has a background in communication studies and education, with
academic and civic interests in introducing, promoting, and researching
dialogic communication in American Muslim communities; community building
through participative action research; mediation in community; and conflict
resolution. He is currently a PhD candidate at the University of New Mexico
Department of Communication and Journalism.
‘Abd al-Hayy Michael Weinman
Department of Communication & Journalism
The University of New Mexico
C&J Building, Rm 102
Albuquerque, NM 87131-1171
Work: (505) 277-1487
Fax: (505) 758-2760
Sabirah Ashki, Zelah Melinda
Islamic Approaches and
Principles of Dialogue
Sabirah's research focuses on the researching and studying applicable Islamic
principles found in the Qur'an and Hadiths for the development of a
distinctively Islamic approach to dialogue. This research is intended to
investigate the role of Islam in peacebuilding and in communication, and how
these are contextualized and understood among Muslims and within an
interfaith context. These in turn will facilitate ways in which dialogic skills may
be cultivated and employed as a peacebuilding tool within the American
Muslim community and in relation to others.
Ms. Ashki has had extensive experience in the private sector, education, and
counseling in addition considerable experience in the study of religion and
spirituality. She is deeply involved in Iraqi Kurdistan as an area of interest, and
is currently the Mustafa Barzani Peace Fellow at American University Center
for Global Peace. She completed her Master's degree of International Service
this past May, with the intent of pursing a degree in Islamic Studies.
Diana Bandak will be conducting research for the Salam Institute that focuses
on mapping interfaith resources in the United States with the Muslim
community. A key component of this research is documenting practices,
organizations, publications and other resources that are actively engaged and
contribute toward respect for diversity and advances the vision of peaceful
coexistence among religious communities in the U.S. Particular attention will
also be paid to the role of Muslim women in organizations and groups that
work toward interfaith coexistence and peacebuilding.
Patty Anton intends to conduct an investigation into the ethics of dawah. Her
study will seek to identify points of agreement and divergence on the practice
of dawah among contemporary Muslims, particularly those offering aid to
people of other faiths. This research will explore Muslim perspectives of their
mandate to give dawah and what they see as the scope, priorities and limits of
dawah. Further, the study will look into the textual evidence and support
which are deemed salient to the contemporary understanding dawah in the
Ms Anton has been a dialogue trainer for Hands Along the Nile and diversity
coordinator for Connecting Cultures, in addition to working as a training coach
for the United States Institute of Peace and a research training coach for
Project LIGHT (Learning Islamic Guidance on Human Tolerance). She has
worked extensively on interfaith work and conflict resolution training in addition
to extensive community service.
Imam Kazerooni, a long-time activist in interfaith relations and bridge-builder
between Christians and Muslims in the United Kingdom and in the United
States, is focused on developing a “lessons learned” analysis of the golden
period of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim coexistence in Al-Andalusia, Spain for
its relevance and applicability to the American experience of pluralism and
diversity today. An exploration of the conditions and variables that led to
peaceful coexistence will be conducted for positive models which could be
replicated today. In addition, Imam Kazerooni will partner with the Salam
Institute in the conduct and evaluation of Imam trainings in the United States.
Imam Kazerooni attended the Islamic Seminary College in Al-Najaf and Qum,
and has published on tolerance, pluralism and fundamentalism and taught
courses on Islamic exegesis, law and mysticism. He has also been honored as
an Ambassador for Peace by the Inter-Religious and International Federation
for World Peace, and currently lives in the Denver, Colorado area working on
a Master of Theological Studies in the Iliff School of Theology.
Fax: (303) 368-7070
Afra Jalabi focuses on developing resources of Islamic principles of
nonviolence based on close analysis of the Meccan and Medinan period.
Having worked for a number of years on Islamic sources of nonviolent
peacemaking, her research approaches the complexity and challenges of the
subject for peacemakers to “re-contextualize nonviolence as an indigenous
Islamic alternative that has been forgotten and marginalized.” In compiling
historical and traditional resources on nonviolent conflict resolution and social
change, Ms. Jalabi seeks to re-examine the nature of activism and underlying
principles of coexistence through a Muslim lens.
Ms. Jalabi was raised in Syria, Germany and Saudi Arabia before immigrating
to Canada. She has a B.A in anthropology and political science from McGill
University, a master's degree in journalism from Carleton University; and was
a columnist for 4 years for Al-Jadeedah magazine. She has been a member of
the editorial board of the Journal of Law and Religion (Hamline University).
Her interests lie in the theory of nonviolence, early Islamic history and texts,
Quranic exegesis, and feminist theory. She has lectured about these themes
in Canada and the States for the last few years. Ms. Jalabi has been also a
research assistant and editor for her uncle, Jawdat Said, who is one of the few
nonviolent theorists in the Muslim World. She also has been to several
conferences as participant, interpreter or moderator, including a recent
conference in Rome (June, 2004) on nonviolence and dialogue which
included a 2-day workshop with his holiness, the Dalai Lama.