More than 50 students gathered in Boston University’s College of Arts and Sciences Monday afternoon for a conversation about the history of religion, sexuality and LGBT rights in America.
The talk, “Reforming Sex: Religion and Politics in Modern America,” was organized by BU professor Stephen Prothero, who teaches a class on religion and politics at BU. He opened the discussion with a disclaimer. read more….
“Male Authority in Islamic Jurisprudence: Qiwama and Wilaya”
What are قوامة and ولاية in Islam? and how are they applied in today’s world?
Professor Kecia Ali will give an overview of these two premodern Islamic legal concepts that were fundamental to the development of Muslim rules governing marriage and the mutual rights of spouses.
She will also discuss the ways contemporary Muslim women scholars and activists have sought to reinterpret and challenge the understanding and application of these concepts in vastly changed contexts.
Professor Ali is Associate Professor of Religion at Boston University and the author of Marriage and Slavery in Early Islam (Harvard 2010) and Sexual Ethics and Islam (2nd edition, Oneworld 2016).
The U.S. is now part of a global pandemic that threatens religious pluralism and minority rights.
I went to a conference in Venice last month on the rise of strongmen, alt-right populists, and ethnic and religious nationalists in India, Turkey, Western Europe and the United States. An economist from Rome worried about the ways in which skyrocketing economic inequality was fueling these trends. A sociologist from Paris observed how rising Islamophobia was driving young women in France to take up arms with the Islamic State terrorist group. A former Italian ambassador fretted about the growing influence worldwide of “peddlers of reactionary utopias.” more….
President Trump: What Will He Do?
BU experts weigh in on portents of 2016 election
By BU Today staff
Donald Trump claimed victory Tuesday in the presidential election; BU experts offer their views on what his presidency might mean. Photo by Getty Images
Stephen Prothero, Professor of Religion, College of Arts & Sciences
The election revealed on one level what we already knew—that the country is deeply divided over the culture wars question that has bedeviled us since the beginning of the republic: Who is and who is not a true American? Many white voters turned their back on a Democratic Party that for two decades has turned its back on the working class, staking claim to their Americanness by voting for a candidate who would exile Muslims, Mexicans, and African Americans from the American family. Read more…
Kecia Ali, Associate Professor of Religion, CAS; past president, Society for the Study of Muslim Ethics
Trump’s victory bodes extremely ill for American Muslims, not only for what damage he may do while in office, but also for what it says about the majority of white Americans. The conjoining of racism, sexism, and Islamophobia in his campaign rhetoric was unprecedented. By loudly and proudly espousing sentiments, policies, and acts that had previously been off-limits in polite political circles, he opens the way for government officials and private citizens to do the same, with increasing impunity. Read more…
Yesterday, on the second day of the month of Sivan in the year 5776 (July 2, 2016), on a Sabbath, Elie Wiesel passed away in his Manhattan home. He was 87 years old. He is survived by his wife Marion, his son Elisha, a step-daughter, and two grandchildren. As colleagues and students of Elie Wiesel who taught at Boston University from 1976 until 2013, we are deeply saddened by his passing. We are also humbled by these many years of his regular presence on campus, his teaching and his friendship. This is a great loss for Boston University and the greater Boston area, where many felt they had a special connection to the author, speaker, and “witness to humanity” that he was.
The fact of his passing was transported around the world almost instantaneously, and one can read about his life and work in the many obituaries that have begun to appear. The world remembers him as a Holocaust survivor who felt compelled to bear witness and did so in exemplary ways. As Joseph Berger writes in the New York Times, Elie Wiesel filled a void; his memoire Night, appeared at a time when trauma and survivor’s guilt plagued the victims and denial silenced the perpetrators. As Michael Berenbaum notes in the Forward, Elie’s literary voice helped to transform victims into witnesses and allowed the children of perpretrators to confront the past.
With international recognition came visibility and greater responsibility. As a Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel spoke out for Soviet Jewry and used his visibility to draw public attention to atrocities and human rights violations on every continent.
Elie Wiesel joined BU in 1976 where he served as the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities and Professor of Philosophy and Religion. He retired from this position in 2013, a year after after the death of BU president John Silber, who had brought him to BU. Elie gave his last public annual lectures in the fall of 2012, shortly after Silber’s death. During his time at BU, Elie Wiesel taught every fall, two courses on Literature and Memory. Only once in thirty five years of teaching did he teach a course on the Holocaust and he disliked it so much, he never tried again. Elie’s long-time assistant Martha Hauptman was the one who fielded student applications and vetted the teaching assistants. Taking a course with Elie Wiesel was the highlight of many students’ experience at Boston University. Students described their experience in his classroom in essays that were published in 2014 by the Elie Wiesel Center under the title Take a Teacher, Make a Friend: Students Write for Elie Wiesel. The contributors to this volume include a German Catholic theologian, a computer engineer and his daughter, a rabbi and a classics professor, a poet and a cantor, a professor of medicine and a speech pathologist, a professor of Italian literature and another rabbi, a theater director and a medievalist, a professor of constitutional law and a singer, a physicist/science editor and a thanatologist, a self-declared groupie and a scholar of Hasidism, two doctoral students (one from China) and another historian. This range speaks for itself.
At Boston University, Professor Wiesel held faculty positions in Religion and Philosophy and he lectured to the CAS Core Curriculum. But it is the title of Professor in the Humanities that indicates what his teaching was about. When the late John Silber brought Elie Wiesel to BU, he brought not just a prolific author but an eminently humane voice to Boston, to teach us and the wider community something about the humanities that required the special qualifications that he saw in Elie Wiesel.
Part of this legacy at BU is the Elie Wiesel Center for Jewish Studies. The fact that it exists is a testament to the friendship between Elie Wiesel and John Silber, who had been Boston University’s president for only five years when he persuaded Elie to join. Their friendship not only brought Wiesel to Boston, but kept him here for all these years, and it finally persuaded him to link his name indelibly with the University. Our task now is to live up to Elie’s legacy and follow his example of an existential commitment of the teacher to bearing witness, to bring to life the joy of Jewish text and tradition, and to make sure we remember the Holocaust, to speak for victims everywhere and don’t allow ourselves to be silenced. We are proud and humbled to have known Elie Wiesel as a colleague and friend. May his memory be for a blessing!
Michael Zank Director, The Elie Wiesel Center for Jewish Studies
Purohit studies the history of Islam, focusing on conceptions of religion in modern Islam and the impact of colonialism on modern Muslim intellectual thought. Her first book, The Aga Khan Case: Religion and Identity in Colonial India (Harvard University Press, 2012), was critically acclaimed. An expert in Sanskrit and Urdu, she is currently working on a second book, Making Islam Modern.
The Department of Religion welcomes our new Chinese Religions scholar, April Hughes. Hughes received her Ph.D. from Princeton University and has been an assistant professor at Gonzaga University in Spokane since 2014. Her research interests include early Chinese Buddhism and apocalyptic themes in Chinese religion. She will begin offering courses in Asian religions this fall.