Highly regarded scholar and award-winning author Omid Safi will visit Ithaca College on November 12-13 to lead a discussion series entitled “Belief in the Public Sphere: Perspectives.” Free and open to the public, this discussion series will explore the role of religion in the public sphere and the intersections of religion and social change.

“In the United States generally and in higher education particularly, we often stumble over how to articulate how our beliefs guide us,” said Hierald Osorto, director of the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life. “Here at Ithaca College, I hope that this series will help us cultivate a campus climate that encourages us to bring our whole selves — including our religious, spiritual and philosophical traditions — to public service and academic engagement.”

Safi will give a keynote address on Tuesday, November 12, at 7 p.m. in Emerson Suites. Titled “From Spirituality to Activism: Healing a Broken World,” the keynote will be followed by a question-and-answer session. Earlier in the day, Safi will host a brown-bag lunch lecture at 12:15 p.m. in Muller Chapel. On Wednesday, November 13, from 5:30-7 p.m., Safi will host a roundtable discussion on “The Intersections of Spirituality and Activism” at the Tompkins Center for History and Culture in downtown Ithaca.

A professor in the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at Duke University, Safi specializes in contemporary Islamic thought and spirituality. Eric Steinschneider, assistant professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at IC, describes Safi as “an expert on Persian Sufism and progressive Islamic thought, and one of the most sought-after speakers on Islam in North America.” He has authored several books, including “Radical Love: Teachings from the Islamic Mystical Tradition” and “Memories of Muhammad: Why the Prophet Matters.”

While in Ithaca, Safi will also meet with students in Steinschneider’s “Religion and Literature” class to discuss “Radical Love,” which explores Sufi love poetry.

“We just finished reading a novel about Islamic miniaturist painting in 16th-century Istanbul, which featured a lot of Sufi themes related to the connection between religion and art,” Steinschneider said. “I think that [Safi’s] new book will be a wonderful way to go a bit deeper into some of these ideas, so I am very excited!”

“Belief in the Public Sphere: Perspectives” is sponsored by the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, the Department of Philosophy and Religion, the School of Humanities and Sciences, the Center for IDEAS and the Muslim cultures minor.

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