In the wake of 9/11, Professor Ebrahim Moosa was overcome with frustration at the acts of violence being committed in the name of Islam. A devout Muslim himself, he had also been the target of a terrorist attack for speaking out against extremists.
One issue, he realized, was that the curriculum being taught in madrasas, traditional schools of Islam, hadn’t been updated for centuries. It failed to engage with modern science, history, politics, and new research in religion. He thought he could teach some of these subjects to madrasa graduates to illustrate how Islam and modern life could peacefully coexist based on his own experiences. Those lessons, he believed, would be useful for the graduates in their engagement and education of their own communities.
Thus, the Madrasas Discourses project was born at Notre Dame with an inaugural group of 55 Indian and Pakistani madrasa leaders. These students take weekly online courses with Professor Moosa and his colleagues and also meet twice annually. Two years later, Moosa claims the project is the most rewarding accomplishment of his life. The participants, too, are highly enthusiastic. Plans to expand the program and welcome students from sub-Saharan Africa are underway.
As the Keough School of Global Affairs welcomes people from all nationalities, religions, and traditions to help solve the world’s challenges, Professor Moosa serves as a powerful example of how working collaboratively can make dramatic change.