Graduate Theological & Religious Programs | Hartford Seminary

EXPLORING DIFFERENCES, DEEPENING FAITH

EXPLORING DIFFERENCES, DEEPENING FAITH

EXPLORING DIFFERENCES, DEEPENING FAITH

The Leader in Graduate Interfaith Education

With roots that go back to 1834, Hartford Seminary is a non-denominational graduate school for religious and theological studies. What makes us unique is our multi-faith environment and our proven ability to prepare leaders for the complex world that surrounds us.

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Dr. Bilal Ansari to Speak at National Iftar on April 22
Dr. Bilal Ansari, Co-Director of both the Islamic Chaplaincy Program and the new MA in Chaplaincy, will be a featured speaker at the National Iftar at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 22. The event is produced by Muslim Advocates, a national civil rights organization, and three Muslim members of Congress are the honorary co-chairs -- Reps. André Carson, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib. The livestreamed event will be free and open to the public, but registration is required. For information about the event and to register, visit this link. Dr. Ansari is one of nine featured acts or speakers so far named. Others include: The Reminders - Artist Naïmah - Artist Sami Yusuf - Artist Ryan Harris - Super Bowl Champion Dr. Omid Safi - Scholar Christopher Benjamin - Florida State Representative Zainab Johnson - Comedian Adam McKay - Film Director The program is expected to last about 50 minutes and will feature performances, speakers, and information about the important issues facing American Muslims. All are welcome.
Hartford Seminary Mourns the Passing of Princeton Chaplain Sohaib Sultan '10
Chaplain Sohaib Sultan '10, a Hartford Seminary corporator and active alumnus, passed away Friday at the age of 40. He was the first full-time Muslim Life Coordinator and Chaplain at Princeton University, a job he held for the last 13 years. Chaplain Sultan was a graduate of Hartford Seminary's Islamic Chaplaincy Program, having been recruited by its founder Dr. Ingrid Mattson during a convention of the Islamic Society of North America. President Joel N. Lohr offered these words: "Our dear brother and friend Chaplain Sohaib Sultan was such a powerful presence at Hartford Seminary as a student and then as an alum. He never turned down a request to visit and to educate our students about what it means to be a chaplain. He was a gift from our Maker and he will be sorely missed. The Association of Muslim Chaplains has requested that we plant a tree on our grounds that will remind everyone of Chaplain Sultan’s important legacy, and we are honored to do so." Chaplain Sultan was a highly regarded and highly visible figure in the U.S. Muslim community, the author of The Koran for Dummies (2004) and The Qur’an and Sayings of Prophet Muhammad: Selection Annotated and Explained (2007). According to Dr. Bilal Ansari, Co-Director of the Islamic Chaplaincy Program and Faculty Associate in Muslim Pastoral Theology, a posthumous work is forthcoming that expands Chaplain Sultan's master's thesis at Hartford Seminary on Muslim preaching. He was considered a trailblazer among Muslim chaplains and an important figure in interfaith peacebuilding. "When the elect of Muslim chaplains in the field close their eyes and say 'chaplain,' Sohaib Sultan immediately comes to mind," Dr. Ansari said. "If your eyes never met him or ears have yet to hear his words, then know he was a gentle and kind chaplain. It was love at first sight 16 years ago for me, and I long to see him in the highest company, God willing. Dr. Timur Yuskaev, Co-Director of the Islamic Chaplaincy Program and Associate Professor of Contemporary Islam, echoed that sentiment: "I am afraid to think of the world without Sohaib. Thank God I do not have to. Thank you, Sohaib, for helping so many of us lower our voices in the presence of the Creator. Thank you, Sohaib, for balancing us as we walk through this world. We love you. As one of our teachers would say, see you on the other side of forever." Another close friend, Khalil Abdullah '19, Muslim Advisor at Dartmouth College, said Chaplain Sultan showed everyone who knew him how to live with gratitude and gentleness. "Sohaib was my companion and kindred spirit. During the past few months, we spoke often. He always listened deeply and gently guided me, and so many others, with sage wisdom and compassion. He cared about human beings and their happiness, no matter who or where they were on their spiritual journey. He wanted nothing more than to serve his family, friends, and community, with humility and a joyful heart." Chaplain Sultan was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer just over a year ago, and he has been open about his journey with the terminal disease. A few weeks ago, he gave his final Jummah Bayyan at Princeton and talked about the challenge of living with gentleness and compassion when in pain. He also thanked those who have been praying for him for the last year, to which he attributed extra time he was given to spend with his wife and young daughter. The community at Princeton organized a virtual khatam al Qur'an (completion of the Qur'an) for him last week. "There are no words to describe how dear Imam Sohaib is to our hearts. He gave so much of himself even as he struggled with cancer all this time, always more concerned for others than he was for himself," Sabrina F. Mirza, Assistant to the Muslim Life Chaplain at Princeton, said in a message to the community. A virtual service was planned for 2:30 p.m. EST on Saturday, April 17 and can be found at this link. There are two charities that are actively collecting funds, one is Chaplain Sultan's charitable fund, accessed at this link. https://www.launchgood.com/campaign/support_the_imam_sohaib_sultan_charitable_fund The other is for a family trust: https://www.launchgood.com/campaign/support_the_imam_sohaib_sultan_family_trust#!/ Chaplain Sultan last visited Hartford Seminary in February 2020, just before both the pandemic and his cancer diagnosis, for a meeting of the National Association of College and University Chaplains. He spoke at a gathering to honor Dr. Mattson held in the Seminary's Budd Interfaith Building, home of the Macdonald Center for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations. Chaplain Aida Mansoor, Director of Field Education, has very fond memories of studying with Chaplain Sultan at Hartford Seminary. "My first memory of Chaplain Sohaib was when we had a Qur’an study circle with Hartford Seminary students and their families and the Greater Hartford community in Connecticut, and Chaplain Sohaib led it with such compassion and gentleness," she said. "He would take time especially with the kids - encouraging them to speak. My son, who was a four-year-old at the time, simply loved Sohaib as he felt valued and heard. A true sign of an excellent chaplain. I will truly miss this amazing and beautiful soul."      
Indonesian Student Reacts to Bombing in Hometown
Following a deadly bombing at the door of the Makassar Cathedral Church, Sunday morning, at 10:30 local time, March 28, MA student Muhammed Saleh of Indonesia had these reflections to share. Makassar Profile Makassar City is the capital city of South Sulawesi Province, inhabited by urban residents from 20 surrounding regencies/cities, with a total of 9.07 million people according to the 2020 census. Makassar is known as a modern industrial city with an international airport and port, and a working population made up mostly of national and international merchants, in addition to several other professions. The population of Makassar consists of two major tribes, Buginese and Makassarnese, and of two minority tribes, Torajanese and Mandarnese. The city of Makassar is on the map of the world, as it is on a trade route traversed and visited by international traders. Further, it is known for its high-quality and abundant agricultural products such as spices and rice. These two factors caused the Dutch and their allies, especially the Portuguese to colonize and inhabit the city of Makassar for several centuries. Makassar has three well-known universities; Hasanuddin Makassar University (Unhas); Makassar Public University (UNEM); and Alauddin Islamic University (UIN Alauddin Makassar). Makassar has several figures and scholars who have national and international prestige. One of them is Muhammad Jusuf Kalla, former Vice President of the Republic of Indonesia (for two separate terms, 2004-2009 and 2014-2019). He is known as an inter-religious and ethnic peacemaker, having resolved conflicts in Poso, 2001, and in Maluku, 2002. He also helped end conflict between the Government and the Free Aceh Movement (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka), 2005. Makassar has long been inhabited by followers of several major religions such as Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism. They live in peace and harmony. Makassar is the most modern city in Eastern Indonesia, known as the gateway to the Eastern Archipelago. Terrorist Movements In the last few decades, Makassar, like other cities/districts throughout Indonesia, has not escaped the influence of radical and terrorist groups, which use the city as their destination for escape, network development, and hiding place for followers. These are better known as the Jihadist groups, people who feel bound to uphold the caliphate and rejects the legitimacy of the legitimate government, by means of terror and suicide. Most of the Jihadists have been arrested and dozens have been shot dead for resisting police officers. As far as I can remember, there were two cases of terrorist bombs that exploded in Makassar. They were very detrimental to the good name and greatness of the city of Makassar. First, in 2002 there was a bombing in fast food restaurants, McDonald's, malls; and second, last week, Sunday morning, at the door of the Cathedral Church. The 2002 bombing killed three people and injured 11 people. As for the bombing yesterday, two victims were killed, the perpetrators, a husband and wife, who were still young, 26 years old; and dozens of people were injured as a result of the bomb fragments. The bomb was suspected to have high explosive power and was carried by inexperienced terrorists on motorbikes. Government's Attitude In the hours after the bomb blast in Makassar, our President, officials and local, regional and national leaders, leaders of religious organizations and social organizations have simultaneously strongly condemned this act and asked the police to immediately arrest and expose the radicalism and terrorism network in Makassar. I am interested in quoting the statement of our President, Joko Widodo: “I strongly condemn this act of terrorism and I have commanded the Police Chief to thoroughly investigate the perpetrators and expose his network to its roots. The entire state apparatus will not tolerate acts of terrorism like this and I ask the public to remain calm in carrying out their worship because the State guarantees the security of religious people to worship without fear…” Conclusion I am a local son who was born in Sidrap Regency, a neighbor of the city of Makassar, and graduated from the senior high school and university in Makassar, so I also feel how this violent act has damaged the good name and reputation of Makassar. I imagine how difficult it will be for the local government and all stakeholders to rebuild the good name of Makassar. Investors and tourists will certainly experience concerns and considerations over investing and visiting tourist centers that have high historical value in Makassar.  Unlike the majority of the Indonesian population, the people who carry out terror are those who do not have a sense of humanity. They are people who have wrongly chosen teachers, friends, and the community in learning religious studies. They have failed to understand the core and spirit of their religions, which teaches peace-love. They are willing to kill themselves and others in the hope of going to heaven. That view is a form of wrong and shows a fatal understanding of their religion’s teaching. I believe that there is no religion in this world that teaches hatred and enmity toward people simply because we have different ways of understanding a religion. The number of people who have been caught up in groups of radicalism and terrorism has reached enormous numbers and worries those who want to live in peace with love. The two main factors that foster the notion of radicalism and terrorism in Indonesia are domestic and global. From domestic circles are those who fail to achieve justice according to their group; and from global influence are the ISIS and Al-Qaedah movements, which want to establish an Islamic or caliphate model state. However, I am optimistic that our government, together with police officers, soldiers, educated circles, and humanitarian activists will continue to build unity, and they will mutually reduce and save our young generation from the influence of radical and extreme religious teachings. As a student, of course I must be more enthusiastic in seeking knowledge and experience, and be actively involved in several activities, especially those related to establishing inter-religious dialogue and peace in the Hartford Seminary environment.                

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Human Struggle: Christian and Muslim Perspectives
Please join us for the biennial Willem A. Bijlefeld Lecture as we welcome Dr. Mona Siddiqui, known internationally as a public intellectual and a speaker on issues around religion, ethics, and public life. Suffering and struggle give meaning to the human condition and are a constant theme in philosophy, theology and psychology. Drawing upon her recent book, Human Struggle: Christian and Muslim Perspectives, Dr. Siddiqui compares how two prominent theologians, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Sayyid Qutb, wrestled with their faith when they experienced a deep personal struggle. The Willem A. Bijlefeld Lecture is named after the first director of the Macdonald Center for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations. It brings a distinguished scholar to campus for a public presentation on Islam or Christian-Muslim relations to promote interreligious understanding and mutual respect in the local, national and world communities. For those who would like to earn 3 graduate credits, Dr. Siddiqui will be team-teaching the course Suffering and Struggle with Dr. David D. Grafton. Visit this link to learn more. Note: Hartford Seminary is committed to providing accessibility for all. Please contact Susan Schoenberger at sschoenberger@hartsem.edu or 860-509-9519 at least 14 days in advance if you have questions about our accessibility or need reasonable accommodations for this event. About the Speaker Mona Siddiqui is Professor of Islamic and Interreligious Studies, Assistant Principal for Religion and Society and Dean international for the Middle-East at the University of Edinburgh.  Her research areas are primarily in the field of Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) and ethics and Christian-Muslim relations. Her most recent publications include Hospitality in Islam: Welcoming in God’s Name (Yale UP, 2015), Human Struggle: Christian and Muslim Perspectives, (Cambridge UP 2021) She has held numerous international research grants and her most recent award is from the Issachar Fund on the theme of Gratitude in Christian and Islamic thought; in 2021 she launches a new project on Loyalty and Fidelity. Professor Siddiqui is also well known internationally as a public intellectual and a speaker on issues around religion, ethics and public life. She is a regular commentator in the media, known especially for her appearances on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio Scotland’s Thought for the Day and The Moral Maze. She chairs the BBC’s Religious Advisory Committee in Scotland and during 2016 served as chair of the Scotland "Stronger In" pro-Europe campaign.  In April 2016, she was invited by the Home Office to lead an independent review of shari`a councils in the UK; the report was published by the Home Office in February 2018. She is a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and holds an honorary fellowship of the Royal Society of Scottish Architects for her contributions to public life. In September 2020, she was invited to join the board of the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation. In 2011, she was awarded an OBE for her interfaith work. She has spoken on religion and politics at the World Economic Forum in Davos and been listed in the Debretts top 500 list of the most influential people in the UK. In April 2019, she received the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Hubert Walter Award for Reconciliation and Interfaith Cooperation. In April 2019 she was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and in December 2020, she was elected honorary member and first speaker of the Royal Scottish Academy.  
DID YOU KNOW...
Hartford Seminary became the first seminary in America to open its doors to women, in 1889.
In 1902, Hartford Seminary was a founding member of the American Association of Schools of Religious Education.
The first American center for the study of Islam and Christian-Muslim relations opened at Hartford Seminary in 1973.
In 1990, Hartford Seminary became the first nondenominational theological institution in North America to name a female president.
Naming a Muslim to the core faculty was a first for nondenominational theological institutions in North America in 1991.
Hartford Seminary established the first Islamic Chaplaincy Program in America in 2001.
The first chair of Shi’i Studies in North America launched at Hartford Seminary in 2015.

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