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Duncan Black MacDonald

Duncan Black 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 School.

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).

Books about him and his writings

The MacDonald Presentation Volume
Development of Muslim Theology, Jurisprudence and Constitutional Theory (1903)
Religious Attitude and Life in Islam (1909)
Aspects of Islam (1911)

Hartford Seminary - MacDonald Center
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 us.

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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