Imam and Activist To Present Multiple Events at Allegheny College

MEADVILLE, Pa. – Feb. 7, 2011 – Activist Imam Daayiee Abdullah, who is visiting Allegheny College as a diversity scholar in February, will present several public events during his residency at the college. His presentations are part of Allegheny’s Year of Global Citizenship, a series of events and activities aimed at enhancing the campus and community’s understanding of what it means to be a citizen in an increasingly globalized world.

“We are so pleased to have Imam Daayiee Abdullah join us on campus,” said Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Vika Gardner. “Imam is a title given to those considered knowledgeable about Islamic religious doctrine, and we are grateful to be able to share with our students and the community not only the imam’s knowledge but his​ experience and perspective from both within the African-American community and his global outreach efforts.  Although some within the Islamic community may disagree with him, our discussions with him will help us all grow in understanding the minority communities of our global world.”

The documentary “Gender Me,” about gay men in the Middle East, including some who have migrated to Europe, will be shown on Monday, Feb. 14, at 7 p.m. in Henderson Auditorium in Quigley Hall. Imam Abdullah, who will lead a discussion following the film, appears in “Gender Me” as he attempts to engage leaders of mosques in Norway in dialogue―as well as engaging in interfaith dialogue―about issues of homosexuality. The film focuses on Turkish gay men interacting with their families, going about their work, and discussing how they are perceived.

“The presentations in the film are not what our stereotypes about Muslims might lead us to believe,” Gardner noted. “Imam Abdullah’s speech in a Norwegian church is an especially moving part of the documentary.”

Imam Abdullah will present a lecture, titled “The Role of Alternative Voices within Progressive Muslim Thought,” on Tuesday, Feb. 15, at 7 p.m. in the Tillotson Room of the Tippie Alumni Center. Many think of Muslims as being conservative at best, and repressive at worst. Even the Muslim progressive movement, which works for change from within the religion, is thought to be monolithic.  Yet many within the Islamic community are working for change within the normative structures of Islam.  This talk will present and discuss voices that are rarely presented in media discussions of Islam. A question and answer period will follow.

A public class on interpreting the Qurʾān will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 16, at 5 p.m. in Room 122 of Quigley Hall. Imam Abdullah will speak on verse 4:34 of the Qurʾān, a verse that presents several issues frequently debated by Muslims and that discusses what the Qurʾān presents to be a proper relationship between men and women.

“This is an excellent way for non-Muslims and Muslims alike to experience working with the rich scriptural text and see the range of possibilities that interpretation opens to us,” Gardner said. “The audience is invited to participate in working through the analysis of the verse.”

Later that day, at 8 p.m. in Henderson Auditorium of Quigley Hall, the college’s Center for Political Participation will present a panel discussion on the role of religious groups in rights movements and the treatment of those groups in American culture. The panel will include Imam Abdullah, Rabbi Ron Bernstein-Goff and College Chaplain Jane Ellen Nickell.

Last year Allegheny College invited Rabbi Steve Greenberg, an openly gay Orthodox rabbi who has worked toward gay inclusion in both civil and religious frameworks, to speak about issues similar to those that Imam Abdullah will explore during his visit to campus.

“Events such as Imam Abdullah’s visit and the earlier visit by Rabbi Greenberg are a coming together of diverse groups on campus — students and faculty, different religious traditions, different races, different sexualities — to discuss what we have in common,” Gardner said.

For more information on events related to Imam Abdullah’s visit, e-mail Vika Gardner at More information on the Year of Global Citizenship can be found at