Macdonald: A Man Ahead of his Time?
Jane Smith, Prof. Emer.
As Hartford Seminary professor from 1892-1932, Duncan Black Macdonald
belonged to a time of great Orientalists (Goldziher, Massignon, Asin
Palacios...). In the fields of classical Islamic thought, jurisprudence,
and popular Arabic literature, he was in the United States a primus
inter pares, where few could be called his peers. As a Christian
missionary, Macdonald promoted a new approach to relating to the Muslim
world, stressing conversation over conversion, which proved quite
revolutionary for his epoch.
Speaker Jane Smith was Professor of Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim
Relations and co-director of the Macdonald Center for the Study of Islam
and Christian-Muslim Relations at Hartford Seminary. She also was
co-editor of The Muslim World journal.
She left the Seminary in July 2008 to become Associate Dean for Academic
Affairs and Senior Lecturer in Islamic Studies at Harvard Divinity
Smith is an alumna of the Seminary, earning a Bachelor of Divinity
degree. She earned her Ph.D. at Harvard.
Smith is the author of Islam in America (1999, revised 2009) and
Muslims, Christians and the Challenge of Interfaith Dialogue (2007). She
has co-edited Educating the Muslims of America (with F. Senzai and Y.
Haddad, 2009), Muslim Women in America (with Y. Haddad, 2006), Becoming
American: Immigration and Religious Life in the United States (with J.
Esposito and Y. Haddad, 2004), Religion and Immigration: Christian,
Jewish, and Muslim Experiences in the United States (with Y. Haddad and
J. Esposito, 2003), Muslim Minorities in the West: Visible and Invisible
(with Y. Haddad, 2002), Muslim Communities in North America (with Y.
Haddad, 1994), Mission to America: Five Islamic Sectarian Movements in
North America (with Y. Haddad, 1992), and The Islamic Understanding of
Death and Resurrection (with Y. Haddad, 1981, revised 2003).
Hartford Seminary -
With roots that go back to 1834, Hartford Seminary is a
non-denominational graduate school for religious and theological
studies. What makes us unique is our multi-faith environment and our
proven ability to prepare leaders for the complex world that surrounds
The Macdonald Center for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim
Relations is the country’s oldest center for such study.
The Macdonald Center challenges scholars, students, the media and the
general public to move beyond stereotypes and develop an accurate
awareness and appreciation of Islamic religion, law and culture.
It is committed to the premise that through intensive study and
academically guided dialogue, mutual respect and cooperation between
Muslims and Christians can and must develop.
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