Hartford Seminary is proud to announce that it has raised $1.5 million to establish the Imam Ali Chair for the Study of Shi'i Islam and Dialogue Among Islamic Legal Schools. It is believed to be the first chair devoted to Shi'i studies in North America.
Sayed Ammar Nakhjavani, a prominent Shi'i scholar named one of the 500 most influential Muslims in 2015, has been appointed as the first occupant of the chair.
The chair has been established for two primary purposes:
- To establish a voice in the academy for Shi'i Islam
- To encourage dialogue among the diverse Islamic legal schools, including Shi'i and Sunni
"The chair is meant to make a real contribution to Islamic unity," said Dr. Mahmoud Ayoub, a Hartford Seminary faculty associate and well-known Muslim scholar who has been instrumental in establishing the chair.
"I see Hartford Seminary as an important platform for varieties of Christian and Muslim expressions," he said.
In the Shi'i tradition, Imam Ali, for whom the chair is named, is especially revered. Though about 85 percent of the world's Muslims are Sunni, Shi'i Islam is the majority in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and several other countries. Hartford Seminary believes that effective, contemporary interfaith religious understanding and leadership must include both Shi'i and Sunni traditions within Islam.
Hartford Seminary is honored to have Dr. Nakhjavani, known worldwide as a British Iraqi Islamic historian, lecturer and author, as the Imam Ali Faculty Associate in Shi'i Studies and Dialogue among Islamic Legal Schools.
Dr. Nakhjavani 's books include Hujr Ibn Adi: A Victim of Terror; Islam: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity; Ramadan Sermons: A Compilation of Speeches and Lectures; The Fourteen Infallibles: A Compilation of Speeches and Lectures; and The Ten Granted Paradise.
A celebration to inaugurate the Imam Ali Chair will be held at Hartford Seminary on Jan. 22.