Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies at Allegheny College Younus Mirza, Ph.D., has joined Shenandoah University as a scholar-in-residence and director of the Barzinji Project.
The project is a year-and-half-long program connecting Shenandoah and another Virginia institution of higher learning with similar institutions in Muslim-majority societies for purposes of cultural exchange and improvement of educational programs.
Dr. Mirza, of Herndon, Virginia, who is on pre-tenure leave from Allegheny College, is familiar with living in Muslim-majority societies, having lived in Qatar for two years, and having spent time learning Arabic in Jordan. And, upon encountering Shenandoah, he said he was excited by what he saw: “the innovation, the energy; people were excited to collaborate, to learn. I felt like I fit in really well.”
This position is a hands-on way, through global exchange, of continuing his cross-cultural academic pursuits. Mirza, who taught previously at two United Methodist Church-affiliated institutions, has been involved in the study of Muslim-Christian relations and co-written a book, “The Bible and the Qur’an: Biblical Figures in the Islamic Tradition.” He noted that his first name, Younus, is Biblical, being the Arabic equivalent of the name Jonah.
Through the project, students will learn about the experience of living in Muslim-majority societies, while also welcoming students from such societies to Shenandoah. He will also teach a course each in the spring and fall semesters, with the first being the fall 2018 First-Year Seminar course, “Marriage and Sexuality in Islam.”
He said that his hope is that when people involved in the project meet, they will see their “commonalities and shared humanity.” Common ground can include educational goals, family concerns, career paths, and more. He believes the project could lead to the creation of international projects between institutions in areas such as health care, business, and virtual reality and various STEM fields.
The project will promote true cultural exchange and partnership, he said. “I’m excited to see how it all turns out.”
Learn more about Dr. Mirza at http://dryounusmirza.com.