Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations
The Macdonald Center challenges scholars, students, the media and the general public to move beyond stereotypes and develop an accurate awareness and appreciation of Islamic religion, law and culture.
It is committed to the premise that through intensive study and academically guided dialogue, mutual respect and cooperation between Muslims and Christians can and must develop.
The Macdonald Center is an academic unit within Hartford Seminary dedicated to scholarly research, teaching and publication. It is responsible for the Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations Master of Arts program, a Graduate Certificate in Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations, the Islamic Chaplaincy program, the Ph.D. program in Islamic Studies and numerous global study tours.
Under the Seminary’s aegis, the Center edits the bi-annual scholarly journal, The Muslim World, which reaches subscribers in 65 countries.
The Center is responsible for the Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations component of the Seminary’s MA and PhD programs, and the Islamic Chaplaincy program. Named for one of the nation’s early, pre-eminent scholars of Islam, the Macdonald Center is the country’s oldest center for such study.
Academic courses taught through the Macdonald Center cover a range of topics, including Islamic history, law and theology; study of the Qur’an, sunnah and hadith; contemporary social and political movements; Christian-Muslim relations in their historical and current contexts; Sufism; Arabic; and comparative religion.
Professors Yahya Michot, Mahmoud Ayoub, Timur Yuskaev, Feryal Salem and Steven Blackburn base their teaching on their on-going research, and have published in a broad spectrum of subjects.
A major part of the activity of the Macdonald Center is involvement in interfaith dialogue, with particular emphasis on Christian-Muslim relations. All Center faculty and personnel are committed to the importance of better understanding between and among faiths, and to supporting efforts toward building relationships based on tolerance and trust.
The Macdonald Center provides resources as well as a gathering place for its local and international students, and participants in Center activities find it a “safe place” where they are free to share their perspectives on a range of issues. While the Macdonald Center is frequently the locale for conversations among members of several religious traditions, often focusing specifically on Christian-Muslim-Jewish interactions, its history and particular expertise is interaction and dialogue between Muslims and Christians.
A major part of the activity of the Macdonald Center is dedicated to relationships with the wider community. Faculty regularly speak and participate in meetings and conferences in the greater Hartford area, nationally and in the international context, and are available to provide information for members of the press and other media, researchers, local churches and institutions, and the public in general.
The Duncan Black Macdonald Center for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations is the country’s oldest center for such study. The Macdonald Center embodies Hartford Seminary’s long-term commitment — begun in 1893 — to the study of Islam and Christianity and the complex relationship between the two religions throughout history and in the modern world.
The Macdonald Center challenges scholars, students, members of religious institutions, community groups, the media and the general public to go beyond stereotypes and prejudices and develop a profound awareness and appreciation of Islamic religion, law and culture. It is committed to the premise that through intensive study and academically guided dialogue, mutual respect and cooperation between Muslims and Christians can and must develop.
The Macdonald Center is an academic unit within Hartford Seminary dedicated to scholarly research, teaching and publication. The Center is responsible for the Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations component of the Seminary’s nationally acclaimed Master of Arts degree program. The Seminary also offers a Graduate Certificate in Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations and has an Islamic Chaplaincy program to train and certify institutional chaplains. Macdonald Center faculty are responsible for instruction in the study of Islam and Christian-Muslim relations concentration of the Doctor of Philosophy degree program.
Under the Seminary’s aegis, the Center edits the bi-annual scholarly journal, The Muslim World, which reaches subscribers in 65 countries. The Muslim World is dedicated to the promotion and dissemination of scholarly research on Islam and Muslim societies and on historical and current aspects of Christian-Muslim relations.
Complementing its rigorous academic work, the Macdonald Center is actively engaged in community service through Hartford Seminary’s educational outreach and professional consultations activities.
It also sponsors lectures and programs each semester, as well as the biennial Willem Bijlefeld lecture in Islam and Christian-Muslim relations. In these ways, the Center works to promote understanding between the two faiths and to foster mutual tolerance in local, national and worldwide communities.
More information on the history of Hartford Seminary and the Macdonald Center:
By Alexis Rankin Popik for the Hog River Journal, Summer 2005
By Willem A. Bijlefeld for The Muslim World, April 1993
Partnerships and Resources
The work of the Macdonald Center is enhanced by various institutional partnerships. As part of the Seminary’s joint doctoral program with the University of Exeter, Macdonald Center faculty guide and supervise the work of students studying Islam and Christian-Muslim relations.
The M.A. concentration is strengthened through cooperation with the Department of Religion at Temple University in Philadelphia. The Macdonald Center enjoys a special cooperative arrangement with the Office of Interfaith Relations of the National Council of Churches of Christ USA, and works with several local and national Muslim organizations. Hartford Seminary is an active participant in the Connecticut Council for Interfaith Understanding.
In addition to these resources, scholars and participants in the Macdonald Center’s programs can take full advantage of the Hartford Seminary Library, roughly half of whose 60,000 volumes focus on Islamic studies and the historical relationship between Christians and Muslims.
The Library also houses special research collections, including 1,600 Arabic Islamic manuscripts, 1,300 volumes of the Arabian Nights in various languages and editions, and a collection of medieval European literature on Islam.
Every other year, the Macdonald Center in consultation with the President and Dean organizes an international study seminar. These seminars provide participants with a rare opportunity to meet Muslim, Christian, Jewish and other religious leaders in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and elsewhere and to learn about local efforts at inter-faith cooperation.