Panelist on May 19th and Muslim art and history

The Building Bridges project invites you to virtual workshop dialogues about cities, architecture, and contemporary life in Muslim communities. Expert panelists will offer their insights about these topics from global and local Texas frames, including the Aga Khan Trust for Culture initiativesLearn more about the panelists and this partnership between the Aga Khan Council for the Central US and The University of Texas at Arlington on the project website here.

Panelists will be engaging with workshop participants dedicated to developing short documentary film episodes relevant to these conversations. The Building Bridges project organizers will select 4 short film pitches offered by these workshops participants to fund! After production this summer, the film series will air on Ismaili TV in the fall of 2021. By joining these dialogues, you can learn more about these important topics and get a “behind-the-scenes” look into the film series.


We invite you to REGISTER using this form to gain access to zoom links for the workshop dialogues. Registration ensures that you will receive subsequent communications and links to the virtual events. As a member of the audience, you can attend any or all dialogues as you wish and your availability allows. PLEASE SHARE WITH YOUR NETWORKS!

Workshop Schedule

Mon, May 17 from 7-8:30pm CST on Zoom
Dialogue 1: What is Building Bridges and what is the Aga Khan Trust for Culture?

Panelists: Raj Isar with UTA Faculty Dr. Leah McCurdy and Dr. Douglas Klahr.

Wed, May 19 from 7-9pm CST on Zoom
Dialogue 2: Why is the history of Muslim civilizations and culture significant and why should we preserve historic cities and buildings?

Panelists: Dr. Hussein Rashid and Raj Isar.

Fri, May 21 from 7-9pm CST on Zoom
Dialogue 3: How can architectural conservation impact global Muslim communities and local communities of Texas?

Panelists: Samia Rab Kirchner, David Preziosi, John Brown, and Nancy McCoy.

Mon, May 24 from 7-9pm CST on Zoom
Dialogue 4: How can contemporary architecture and urban spaces impact local communities in Muslim communities around the world?

Panelists: Khalil Pirani, Saif Ul Haque, and Andre Tchelistcheff.

Wed, May 26 from 7-8pm CST on Zoom
Dialogue 5: How can contemporary architecture and urban spaces impact local communities and address needs in the US and Texas? 
Panelists: Zamila Karimi and Lizzie MacWillie

We look forward to zooming with you!

Please contact Leah McCurdy at if you have questions about programming, networks to share the invitation with, or have technical difficulties with the registration form or website.

From Wrongful Arrest to Anti-Prison Activist: Bryonn Bain’s Road to ‘Lyrics From Lockdown’ - Columbia Daily Spectator

From Wrongful Arrest to Anti-Prison Activist: Bryonn Bain’s Road to ‘Lyrics From Lockdown’ - Columbia Daily Spectator.
“Navigating [these politics] came through people like Bryonn who walked me through that racial consciousness and turned that into something very practical,” New School professor Hussein Rashid, who graduated from Columbia College in 1996, recalls. “We had a lot of agency coming into this protest tradition at Columbia.” As campus activists, Bain and his peers in various campus affinity organizations not only challenged institutional injustice at the administrative level but also at the student level. He and others who fought alongside him on issues related to race and racism on campus publicly criticized Spectator’s perceived complicity in upholding structural racism at the University. “Their reporting was very deferential to authority,” Rashid—who wrote several pieces critical of the paper’s treatment of Black and Latinx voices and concerns—says. “There is so much talk about racial justice and equity in these spaces coming from ‘changing the narrative.’ What we really need is a movement that changes the narrators,” Bain adds.

New Article: Diverse Muslim Narratives: Rethinking Islam 101

I have a new academic piece out on The Wabash Center Journal on Teaching. The article is freely available under a Creative Commons license. The abstract is as follows:

The practice of teaching Islam in the American context has a particular intellectual pedigree. At this point, the critique of the Study of Religion as emerging out of a normative Christian framework is well-established in the field. Edward Said’s argument for the ways in which Islam is constructed to meet American political interests, rather than an engagement with Muslims and their religion, is nearly forty years old. These power dynamics mean that students, through popular discourse, understand Wahhabi Islam as Sunni Islam, which they consider the “true Islam” against which other Islams are judged. I propose a model of looking at how Muslims define their religion through contestation and relation which allows students to understand the dynamic nature of their traditions. What I outline as an approach gives a greater sense of covering the breadth of material represented by a global religious community, with over a millennium of history.

Event: Opening the Qur’an: Exploring Muslim Devotional Life at Manhattan College

I'll be giving a talk at Manhattan College's Holocaust, Genocide, and Interfaith Education Center on Thursday, 1 April 2021 at 7PM ET. This is a link to the event. You can register here.

The first seven lines of the Qur’an, known as al-Fatiha, are possibly the most frequently recited verses of the Qur’an. This talk explores the importance of these lines in the lives of Muslims, incorporating calligraphy, theology, music, and theology. Prophet Muhammad said that all of the knowledge of the Qur’an is found in these verses. The ways in which Muslims have explored the depths of al-Fatiha allows us to have a glimpse at the breadth of Muslim devotional life.