Dr. Ibrahim Abu-Rabi?, an expert on contemporary Muslim thought, died suddenly of a heart attack on July 2 while attending a conference in Amman, Jordan. He had been an esteemed Professor of Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations at Hartford Seminary from 1991 to 2008.
When Dr. Abu-Rabi? came to Hartford Seminary in 1991, he was the first full-time Muslim faculty at an accredited Christian seminary. He also served as Co-Director of the Duncan Black Macdonald Center for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations and Senior Editor of The Muslim World journal.
Since 2008, Dr. Abu-Rabi? has taught at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta. He was the first holder of the Edmonton Council of Muslim Communities Chair in Islamic Studies, the first teaching and research chair of its kind in Canada.
?Ibrahim’s contribution to the study of Islam and Christian-Muslim relations at Hartford Seminary was immense and reached all over the world. We will never forget him,? President Heidi Hadsell said.
?We will honor and remember him in a memorial service,” she said. [Editor’s note: The memorial service now is scheduled for Sunday, October 2 at Hartford Seminary. Gather at 1:30 p.m.; program at 2 p.m.]
Dr. Abu-Rabi? received his Ph.D. at Temple University in Philadelphia. Pa. His dissertation topic was “Islam and the Search for Social Order in Modern Egypt: An Intellectual Biography of Shaykh ‘Abd al-Halim Mahmud.” He also earned a Master of Arts at Temple, and a Master of Arts at the University of Cincinnati.
Dr. Abu-Rabi? had a special interest in contemporary Islamic thought and movements, and the interaction between Muslims and Christians in the Muslim world.
He traveled widely in the Muslim world and believed that building bridges among faith communities is necessary in a highly globalized world. While at Hartford Seminary, he helped place the Seminary in a leading position in Muslim-Christian relations around the world. Students came from many countries ? among them Turkey, Syria, Egypt, Indonesia, Singapore, and Pakistan ? to study with Dr. Abu-Rabi?.
At the Seminary, Abu-Rabi? was extremely popular with students. His hospitality at his home was outstanding, and he made sure students received both an excellent academic experience and a comfortable living experience.
In recent years, Dr. Abu-Rabi’s research interests turned to Turkey, focusing in particular on the writings of the 20th-century thinker, Bediuzzaman Said Nursi and Fethullah GŸlen.
In 2006 he was the Senior Fulbright Scholar in Singapore and Indonesia at the Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.
Dr. Abu-Rabi? has published numerous articles and 19 books, the most recent of which are the edited Blackwell Companion to Contemporary Islamic Thought and the edited Challenges and Responses of Contemporary Islamic Thought: The Contributions of M. Fethullah GŸlen.
Dr. Abu-Rabi? spoke Arabic, Hebrew, English, French, and Turkish. He was born in Nazareth and is a graduate of Birzeit University on the West Bank.
He leaves his wife Fatima and two children, Yasmin and Yusuf.