Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A visit to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi


The School of Arts and Sciences, Middle East Studies Division, recently invited its students to discover the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi.

“Field visits to places of worship are an important feature in the study of religion in both schools and universities," explains Dr. Pamela Chrabieh, Assistant Professor of Middle Eastern Studies.
She continues “the opportunity to contextualize theoretical study of a religion by seeing the faith in practice and the objects of worship is vital for students to gain an understanding of religious worldviews, so as to say cognitive benefits from experiential encounters. Furthermore, there are affective benefits from visits including the fact that the atmosphere of a place can speak to the feelings.”

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque was initiated by the late president of the United Arab Emirates, H.H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who wanted to build a place of worship which unites the cultural diversity of the Islamic world, as well as the historical and modern values of architecture and art.
It is the largest mosque in the United Arab Emirates. Its design and construction used artisans and materials such as marble stone, gold, semi-precious stones, crystals and ceramics from many countries, including Italy, Germany, Morocco, Pakistan, Turkey, Malaysia, Iran, China, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Greece and United Arab Emirates.

The visit came in the context of the following courses: MEST 350 Religions of the Middle East and WLDC 301 Religions of the World

COURSE DESCRIPTION

MEST 350 | RELIGIONS OF THE MIDDLE EAST 
This course examines the beliefs, practices and institutions of the three Abrahamic faiths in the Middle East: Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. This course also considers the shared origins and histories of these three religions, in particular the history of their interaction and interdependence in the Middle East.

WLDC 301 | RELIGIONS OF THE WORLD
This course surveys all of the most widely recognized (practiced) global religions (Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism) as well as other, more regionally located religions (i.e., Jainism, Shinto, Zoroastrianism). Readings from various sacred texts are explored. The course also examines what is/is not traditionally regarded as a “religion.” Also explored is the interconnection between religion and the culture(s) with which they are most closely associated.

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Saturday, February 14, 2015

Judaism, Christianity and Islam - Deconstructing Stereotypes (Workshop)

With my WLDC-301 Religions of the World students at the American University in Dubai.
February 2015


Paving the way for the development of intercultural/interreligious awareness is not an overnight business. It necessitates theoretical frameworks and classroom activities to move beyond superficial understandings of issues such as race, ethnicity, gender, identity construction and religion.

Following lectures/power point presentations on Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the workshop’s goal is to help students look at these religions from a different angle, interrogate their own assumptions and ideas, challenge most common stereotypes, and produce alternative narratives.

Viewing the world (and describing it) with the opportunity of removing the mono-cultural glasses and adopt intercultural/interreligious lens.