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College of Human Development, Culture, and Media

Institute for Communication and Religion Hosts Imam Nasaruddin Umar

Image of Imam Nasaruddin Umar. On February 15, the Institute for Communication and Religion and the College of Human Development, Culture, and Media hosted renowned Imam Nasaruddin Umar. Speaking to a group of faculty, the Imam explained his role in Indonesia, elaborated on his interpretation of the Quran, highlighted the potential for future relationships between Jewish, Muslim and Christian scholars, and answered questions from various professors at the event.

Seton Hall was one of the many stops on the Imam’s tour of the United States. While in the United States the Imam had been visiting with many scholars and leaders of various religious organizations of Christian, Muslim and Jewish denominations. Among others, he met with New York Archbishop Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Dean of the Washington National Cathedral Reverend Randolph Hollerith and President of the Nation’s Mosque Imam Talib Shareef.

Umar is the grand imam of Istiqlal State Mosque of Indonesia, rector of University of Qur’anic Science in Jakarta, Indonesia, a professor of Islamic studies at the State Islamic University of Syarif Hidayatullah Jakarta, and the founder of Indonesian interfaith organization Masharakat Dialog Antar Umat Beragama. Founder of the Interfaith Organization Society for Interfaith Dialog, Grand Imam Umar has hosted delegations of all religious backgrounds. He has published several books discussing Islam and interpreting the Quran, including a series of books examining women’s expanding role in Islamic practices.

Describing Umar’s role in more detail, Rabbi Alan Brill, Ph.D., the Cooperman/Ross Endowed chair for Jewish-Christian Studies and director of Graduate Studies for the Department of Religion, said, "He is the education leader for 70 million Muslims and his mosque gets 250,000 worshippers for Friday prayers. This mosque is the largest in Southeast Asia and ranks as the ninth largest globally in terms of worshiper capacity. His mosque also functions as a community education center to help spread tolerance and equality." Most notably, under the Imam’s leadership, Indonesia’s national mosque has become a leading institution in promoting interfaith harmony, environmental sustainability and globally informed religious scholarship.

Describing the importance of Umar’s visit, Brill added, "Seton Hall was one of the representative schools he visited to learn about American religious diversity especially, he wants to create a humanistic Islam of globally informed Imams, and he wants to integrate Judaism and Jewish-Christian studies into his Mosque." Moreover, Brill noted that because of Seton Hall’s tradition of interreligious studies, the University is the perfect place for the Imam to learn more about Jewish-Christian studies, and interreligious studies, more broadly.

About the Institute for Communication and Religion

Launched in Fall 2017, the Institute for Communication and Religion within the College of Human Development, Culture, and Media provides a nexus for ongoing scholarly exploration of communication topics critically important to religion and society. Guided by the spirit of ecumenical and interreligious cooperation, the Institute seeks to engage in public dialogue and debate, promote academic inquiry and support the religious dimension of creativity — all while upholding the values of servant leadership, curricular innovation and intellectual excellence. 

Categories: Arts and Culture, Faith and Service