January 21, 2020

Cyrus Zargar is the Endowed Al-Ghazali Distinguished Professor in Islamic Studies, who is currently teaching Medieval Philosophy. The Al-Ghazali Distinguished Professorship was created from the donations of hundreds of members from Central Florida’s Islamic community, with the intent of promoting the understanding and appreciation of Islam and Muslim communities. These funds enabled Zargar to advance his work, especially by building the Islamic Studies program through guest speakers, frequent events, and vehicles for interfaith dialogue.

In July of last year, Zargar received a Gerda Henkel Stiftung grant to complete a book he is currently working on called Religion of Love: Farīd al-Dīn ʿAṭṭār and the Sufi Tradition for the Islamic Texts Institute which is about ʿAṭṭār’s vision for humanity and how that vision might comment on contemporary questions in religion. Zargar also gave an invited lecture at Yale Law School, which was for the Abdallah S. Kamel Center for the Study of Islamic Law and Civilization. His talk was titled “Transcending Character: The Place of Virtue in Post-Classical Sufi Ethical Commentaries.”

In September, the Al-Ghazali Program hosted a symposium titled “African-American History: Justice and Islam,” which was done in coordination with Africana Studies. One of the speakers included Dr. Michael Muhammad Knight, who currently teaches about Islam as well as Western Mysticism. These scholars shared their insights on the historical relationship between Islamic conceptions of justice and black Americans. “Forty-eight students and faculty attended the event, with an exciting Q&A session afterward,” says Zargar.

Most recently, in November of last year, Zargar organized and chaired an international seminar on Islamic ethics. The seminar was called “Reconsidering the Manly and the Fraternal in Islamic Virtue Ethics: The Case of Futuwwa,” and featured eminent scholars from around the world. This was held in Doha, Qatar, and covered the study of gender in Islamic intellectual history, as well as Islamic virtue ethics.

Zargar’s long-term goal with his students as well as faculty is to create connections while talking about religion, social issues, and theology. He wants to serve as a guide for students through questions and concerns. To learn more about the Islamic Studies program as well as the courses Zargar offers, visit here.