About Symposium on Islam and Sectarian De-escalation

From the rise of ISIS and militant extremism in the context of an eroding Arab state system to the intensification of the Iran-Saudi cold war in the wake of the nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers, the dire consequences of Shi’a-Sunni sectarianism and conflict—which can tear apart the societies of the Islamic world—have never been greater in modern history. Now more than ever, dialogue both within the Islamic tradition and between different religious groups is critical for the future peace, stability, and prosperity of the Middle East, the broader Islamic world, and transnational Muslim communities across the globe, including in Europe and North America.

In conjunction with serious attempts to place different Muslim faith traditions in conversation, it is equally pressing that the U.S. policy making world and scholarly community is objectively informed and knowledgeable of the relevant issues and perspectives at hand in order to make a positive impact on policy and enable the grounds for peaceful conflict resolution. The First Annual Symposium on Islam, Dialogue, and Sectarian De-Escalation at the Harvard Kennedy School has gathered a diversity of voices from leading scholars, religious authorities, civic community leaders, and policymakers alike to push forward analytical understanding and dialogue on the pressing topic of sectarianism in the Muslim world.

The symposium is convened by the Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs’ Iran Project and co-sponsored by Harvard’s Center for Middle East Studies, the Asia Center, the Alwaleed Islamic Studies Program, and the South Asia Institute.

Lunch and refreshments will be provided. 

Date: Saturday, April 14 & Sunday, April 15
Location: CGIS South, Tsai Auditorium, 1730 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02138


Iran Project Symposium Sectarian De-Escalation

schedule IDSD

Location: CGIS South, Tsai Auditorium, 1730 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02138

Saturday, April 14, 2018

  • 10:00AM: Introductory Address


    Dr. Payam Mohseni, Iran Project Director & Fellow for Iran Studies at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School; Lecturer of Government at the Department of Government, Harvard University

    Dr. Gary Samore, Executive Director for Research at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School and former White House Coordinator for Arms Control and Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

  • 10:15AM - 11:45PM: Regional Geopolitics and the New Sectarianism in the Middle East


    Ms. Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, Joint Research Fellow with the Iran Project and Project on Managing the Atom at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and former Director for Iran and Iran Nuclear Implementation on the White House National Security Council (NSC)


    H.E. Mr. Hussein Kalout, Special Secretary for Strategic Affairs of the Brazilian government and Associate at the Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center’s Iran Project

    Dr. Simon Mabon, Lecturer at Lancaster University, U.K., and Director of the Richardson Institute for Peace Studies

    Dr. Lenore Martin, Professor and Chair, Department of Political Science and International Studies, Emmanuel College; Associate of both the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs and the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University 

    Dr. Payam Mohseni, Iran Project Director & Fellow for Iran Studies at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School; Lecturer of Government at the Department of Government, Harvard University

  • 11:45PM - 12:45PM: Lunch

    Lunch Break

  • 12:45PM - 2:15PM: Clergy & Religious Authority in Sectarian De-escalation


    Dr. Payam Mohseni, Iran Project Director & Fellow for Iran Studies at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School; Lecturer of Government at the Department of Government, Harvard University


    Sheikh Fadhil Sahlani, Representative of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in North America

    Imam Dr. Khalid Nasr, Imam of the Islamic Center of New England

    Dr. Seyed Ammar Nakhjavani, Associate of the Iran Project at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and former Imam Ali Chair in Shi’a Studies and Dialogue among Islamic Legal Schools at Hartford Seminary

    Shaykh Yasir Fahmy, Imam of the Islamic Center of Boston and first American to lecture at Al-Azhar Mosque, Cairo, Egypt

  • 2:30PM - 3:45PM: Religious Pluralism and Muslim Identity in the West and Islamic World


    Dr. Diana Eck, Professor of Comparative Religion and Indian Studies, Fredric Wertham Professor of Law and Psychiatry in Society in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Director of The Pluralism Project, Harvard University


    Mr. Wasif Rizvi, Founding President, Habib University

    Imam Mohamad Bashar Arafat, Founder and President of Civilizations Exchange and Cooperation Foundation (CECF), Founder of Al Basheer Seminary, Interfaith Center & Institute (Maryland), and former Imam in Damascus, Syria

    Syed Meesam Razvi, Director of International Affairs at the Al-Khoei Foundation

  • 4:00PM - 5:30PM: Religion & Civic Activism in the North American Muslim Diaspora Community


    Dr. Hassan Abbas, Professor of International Security Studies at National Defense University's College of International Security Affairs, National Fellow at New America, and Senior advisor at The Asia Society


    Ms. Daisy Khan, Executive Director of the Women's Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality (WISE)

    Mr. Arif Asaria, Secretary-General of North American Shia Ithna-Asheri Muslim Communities (NASIMCO)

    Mr. Rahat Husain, Advocacy Director of the Universal Muslim Association of America (UMMA)

    Dr. Hasnain Walji, Executive Director, United Global Initiative, and Chair, Khoja Heritage Project, World Federation of KSIM

  • 5:45PM - 7:00PM: Fireside Chat – US Policymakers and Sectarian Geopolitics in the Middle East


    Dr. Gary Samore, Executive Director for Research at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School and former White House Coordinator for Arms Control and Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


    Dr. Hassan Abbas, Professor of International Security Studies at National Defense University's College of International Security Affairs, National Fellow at New America, and Senior advisor at The Asia Society

    Ms. Farah Pandith, Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, Senior fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, and former special representative to Muslim Communities (U.S. State Department)

Sunday, April 15, 2018

  • 10:15AM - 11:45AM: Geopolitics in Iran and Iraq


    Mr. José Antonio Sabadell, Rafael del Pino-MAEC Fellow, Future of Diplomacy Project, Harvard University, and former Ambassador and Head of the European Union Delegation to the Islamic Republic of Mauritania


    H.E. Mr. Lukman Faily, Former Iraqi Ambassador to the United States

    Dr. Heidi E. Lane, Associate Professor of Strategy and Policy and Director of the Greater Middle East Research Study Group, US Naval War College

    Dr. Hassan Ahmadian, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Belfer Center Iran Project and Assistant Professor of Middle East and North Africa Studies at the University of Tehran

    Dr. Muhammad H. AlMaliky, Director, Iraqi American Institute and Associate at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University

  • 11:45PM - 12:45PM: Lunch

    Lunch Break

  • 12:45PM - 2:15PM: Resources for Engaging with Difference: Theology, Literature, and the Arts


    Dr. Ali Asani, Professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic Religion and Cultures, Committee on the Study of Religion and Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University


    Dr. Nicholas Boylston, Lecturer on the Study of Religion, Visiting Post-Doctoral Fellow at Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University and Visiting Fellow, Harvard Center for the Study of World Religions

    Dr. Mohd Faizal Musa, Research Fellow at Institute of the Malay World and Civilization (ATMA), National University of Malaysia (UKM)

    Dr. Shenila Khoja-Moolji, Visiting Scholar in the University of Pennsylvania's Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies program

    Mr. Mohammad Sagha, Iran Project Coordinator, Belfer Center, Harvard Kennedy School, and PhD Student in Islamic History and Civilization and Director of the Shi’i Studies Group at the University of Chicago

  • 2:30PM - 4:00PM: Does Theology Matter? Politics and the Role of Religion and Sectarianism in the Contemporary Muslim World


    Dr. Elizabeth Prodromou, Visiting Associate Professor of Conflict Resolution at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University; former Commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom; former Advisory Member of U.S. Secretary of State’s Religion & Foreign Policy Working Group


    Mr. Mehdi Hasan, Columnist, the Intercept

    Dr. Jonathan Brown, The Alwaleed bin Talal Chair of Islamic Civilization in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, and Director of the Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim Christian Understanding

    Mr. Mustafa Akyol, Senior Visiting Fellow, The Freedom Project, Wellesley College and Contributing Opinion Writer, New York Times

    Shaykh Dr. Ibrahim Kazerooni, Imam of the Islamic Center of America, Dearborn, MI and Adjunct Faculty at the University of Detroit Mercy

  • 4:00PM: Closing Remarks

    Dr. Payam Mohseni, Iran Project Director & Fellow for Iran Studies at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School; Lecturer of Government at the Department of Government, Harvard University

Symposium on Islam and Sectarian De-escalation speakers

Payam Mohseni


Dr. Payam Mohseni is the Director of the Iran Project at the Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. He is also a Lecturer in the Department of Government at Harvard University where he teaches Iranian and Middle East politics and is a multiple recipient of the Harvard Excellence in Teaching award. Dr. Mohseni serves as a scholar and member of Harvard’s Iran Working Group, which he co-chairs with Professor Graham Allison, and manages the Belfer Center’s Special Initiative Iran Matters, a premier outlet for policy analysis on all aspects of contemporary Iranian affairs. Dr. Mohseni is also a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in New York.

Dr. Mohseni’s research focuses on Iranian foreign and domestic politics, Shi'a thought and identity, Islam and sectarian conflict in the Middle East, and the politics of authoritarianism and hybrid regimes. Dr. Mohseni is fluent in Persian and travels frequently to Iran and the region. His analysis has been featured in The New York Times, Foreign Affairs, Washington Post, The National Interest, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists,Bloomberg, U.S. News and World Report, and MSNBC, among others, including prominent international and Iranian media outlets.

Previously, Dr. Mohseni co-chaired Harvard’s Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies Study Group on the Eastern Mediterranean and Europe from 2014 to 2016. Prior to that, he was a postdoctoral Research Fellow with the Belfer Center's International Security Program, a Junior Research Fellow at the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University, and a member of the Iran Study Group at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) in Washington, D.C. He holds a Ph.D. in Government from Georgetown University, an M.A. in Conflict, Security, and Development from the Department of War Studies at King’s College London, and a B.A. in Development Studies from the University of California, Berkeley.

Gary Samore


Gary Samore is Executive Director for Research at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. In December 2015, Dr. Samore was appointed as a member of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board (SEAB) under Secretary Ernest Moniz and served until January 2017. He is also a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and member of the advisory board for United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), a non-profit organization that seeks to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

He served for four years as President Obama’s White House Coordinator for Arms Control and Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), including as U.S. Sherpa for the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, DC and the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, Korea.  From 2006 to 2009, Dr. Samore was Vice President for Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in New York, where he held the Maurice R. Greenberg chair and directed the David Rockefeller Studies Program. Before joining CFR, Dr. Samore was vice president for global security and sustainability at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in Chicago, and from 2001 to 2005, he was Director of Studies and Senior Fellow for Nonproliferation at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in London.  At IISS, he produced three “strategic dossiers” on Iran (2005), North Korea (2004), and Iraq (2002), which are considered authoritative and exemplary assessments of nuclear, biological, chemical, and missile programs in those countries.

Dr. Samore was Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Nonproliferation and Export controls during the Clinton Administration. Before the National Security Council, Dr. Samore worked on nonproliferation issues at the State Department. In 1995, he received the Secretary of Defense Medal for Meritorious Civilian Service for his role in negotiating the 1994 North Korea nuclear agreement. Prior to the State Department, he worked at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the Rand Corporation.

Dr. Samore was a National Science Foundation Fellow at Harvard University, where he received his MA and PhD in government in 1984.  While at Harvard, he was a pre-doctoral fellow at what was then the Harvard Center for Science and International Affairs, later to become the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

Seyed Ammar Nakhjavani


Dr. Seyed Ammar Nakhjavani is an Associate of the Iran Project at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs where he focuses on Islamic political and intellectual thought as well as sectarian conflict and peace building in the Middle East. Dr. Nakhjavani is a historian and specialist of Islamic intellectual history and was the Inaugural Imam Ali Chair in Shi’a Studies and Dialogue among Islamic Legal Schools at Hartford Seminary and a Visiting Scholar at Columbia University’s Middle East Institute. Prior to joining Hartford, Dr. Nakhjavani served as a Visiting Scholar of Islamic Studies at the University of Cambridge. He obtained his doctorate from the University of Exeter and his MA from Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran. Dr. Nakhjavani serves as a Special Representative to the United Nations where he promotes women's rights initiatives, social development, and religious tolerance and was listed as one the top 500 most influential Muslims.

Sheikh Fadhel Al-Sahlani

sheikh fadel

Sheikh Fadhel Al-Sahlani is one of the most senior Shi'a Muslim clerics in North America and is the Representative of the Grand Marja' Ayatollah Ali Al-Hussaini Al-Sistani in the region. He attended Bahth al-Kharij (advanced stage of Shi'a religious studies) and completed graduation in Kulliyatul Fiqh from the Holy City of Najaf Al-Ashraf. He also has a Master's degree in Islamic Studies from Cairo University. He was born in Iraq but left the country in 1979 due to threats to his life from Saddam Hussain. He eventually immigrated to the United States where he is currently the Director of Imam Al-Khoei Foundation in New York.

Hassan Abbas

hassan abbas

Hassan Abbas is professor and chair of the Department of Regional and Analytical Studies at National Defense University’s College of International Security Affairs in Washington, DC. He is also a senior adviser at the Asia Society. Previously, he served as the distinguished Quaid i Azam chair professor at Columbia University and a senior adviser at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. He holds a PhD. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, an LLM in International Law from the Nottingham University, UK and MA in Political Science from Punjab University, Pakistan. He regularly appears as an analyst on international media and writes pieces for various leading international newspapers and academic publications. His latest book, The Taliban Revival (Yale University Press, June 2014) chronicles the Taliban’s survival and resurgence after 2001, through firsthand research and interviews in the area.

Mohammad Sagha


Mohammad Sagha is the Iran Project Coordinator at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. He is concurrently undertaking his PhD studies in Islamic History and Civilization at the University of Chicago where he is also Co-Director of the Shi'i Studies Group and facilitates the university’s annual Shi’i Studies Symposium. He is additionally an editor for SHARIAsource at the Islamic Legal Studies Program at Harvard Law School. Sagha’s research focuses on the origins of Muslim sectarian identity and political institutions, early Islamic transregional religious movements and military organization, and the historical development of Islamic political thought. In particular, he studies early Shi’i underground social networks and the foundation of Shi’i dynastic power under the Buyids and their contemporaries. Sagha also studies modern Islamic political thought and the geopolitics of the Middle East with a focus on Islamist movements, Iran, and the Shi’i Arab Middle East.

Previously, Sagha was a Visiting Scholar at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard, working under the supervision of Professor Roy Mottahedeh on early Islamic dynastic military politics, and has received an MA in Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Chicago. Mohammad travels frequently to the region and has studied extensively in Iran, including as a researcher at the University of Tehran.  He is fluent in Persian, has advanced command of Arabic, and reading knowledge of German and French.

Sahar Nowrouzzadeh


Sahar Nowrouzzadeh is a joint research fellow with the Iran Project and Project on Managing the Atom at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.  Her research focuses on Iran’s leadership decision-making and nuclear program. Beginning her tenure as a career civil servant within the U.S. government in 2005, she has focused on Iran under three U.S. administrations.  She was charged with covering the Iran portfolio on the Secretary of State’s Policy Planning Staff between 2016 and 2017 and served as a Director for Iran and Iran Nuclear Implementation on the White House National Security Council (NSC) Staff from 2014 to 2016.  At the NSC, she was part of President Obama’s team responsible for supporting the negotiation and implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) reached between the P5+1, the European Union and Iran in 2015.  She also previously served as a Team Chief and Senior Analyst at the U.S. Department of Defense and a Foreign Affairs Officer and Persian Language Spokesperson at the U.S. Department of State.  She is the recipient of such awards as the State Department Superior Honor Award, a National Intelligence Meritorious Unit Citation and the Secretary of Defense Medal for the Global War on Terrorism.

Sahar earned her Bachelor’s Degree in International Affairs with a double concentration in International Economics and Middle East Studies from the Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University in 2005. She earned her Master’s Degree in Persian Studies from the University of Maryland-College Park in 2007. Sahar knows several languages, including Persian, Spanish and Arabic.  She was born and raised in Connecticut.

Lukman Faily

lukman faily

Lukman Faily served as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Iraq to the United States from 2013-2016. In that capacity, he was a high-profile spokesperson for his government, engaging with members of Congress, academia and think tank communities. Ambassador Faily makes regular appearances on TV and radio news and is particularly active on social media. He frequently speaks at public events in Washington and across the United States and United Kingdom. He served previously as Iraq’s ambassador to Japan for three years.

Ambassador Faily represents a rising generation of professionals, business leaders and civic activists who have returned to Iraq to help build the country’s fledgling a free-market democracy. He brings to his position extensive experience in diplomacy, leadership, negotiation, stakeholder management, crisis management, political analysis, policy recommendations, strategic planning, communication, business organization management and development, marketing, information technology and civic activism, as well as familiarity with Middle Eastern, oriental and Anglo-American traditions and institutions.

Ambassador Faily lived in the United Kingdom for 20 years and held management and leadership roles in the British affiliates of two American companies for over a decade. An active leader in the large Iraqi diaspora community, Ambassador Faily served as a trustee of several Iraqi NGOs while in the UK. He was an outspoken opponent of Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship and advocated for democracy, dialogue, development and rule of law in Iraq. Fluent in English, Arabic and Kurdish, Ambassador Faily was born in Baghdad on February 6, 1966. He is married to Lameis Faily and is the father of four boys. An avid runner, Ambassador Faily participated in marathons in Tokyo in 2012 and 2013, and in the Boston and New York Marathons in 2014.

Hussein Kalout


Hussein Kalout is Special Secretary for Strategic Affairs of the Brazilian government, Associate at the Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center’s Iran Project, Research Scholar at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University, Member of the Advisory Board of the Harvard International Review, and Senior Associate Fellow (non-resident) at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington-DC, Senior Columnist on International Politics in the most influential Brazilian daily Folha de São Paulo, and Co-President of the Kalout-Degaut Institute for Politics and Strategy. In 2016, Mr. Kalout was short-listed by the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva for the UN position as Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967. Previously, Mr. Kalout has occupied prominent positions in the Brazilian public administration and he advised the Brazilian government on Iran foreign policy and the Iranian nuclear negotiations. Mr. Kalout worked as senior consultant at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as the Head of International Affairs of the Brazilian Supreme Court, and as the Director-General of the Department for International legal Cooperation at the Prosecutor-General of the Republic Office. As a specialist on Brazilian foreign policy and Middle Eastern affairs, Mr. Kalout collaborates as a special counselor with the Brazil’s Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and with the Ministry of Defense on the Brazilian Maritime Task Force (MTF) of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). Additionally, Mr. Kalout is the director of the Program on Middle Eastern and Islamic studies at the Brazilian Diplomatic Academy. Furthermore, Mr. Kalout was also Secretary-General of the Latin American and European Union Joint Commission on International Legal Cooperation and acted as senior consultant of the UN Development Program (UNDP). He directed several programs related to international cooperation with countries in Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East on matters concerning democratization, nation building, modernization, and legal public policies. He has authored numerous op-eds, articles, and papers in scientific journals including the Foreign Affairs, Harvard International Review, and the Brazilian Journal on Foreign Policy. As a research scholar at Harvard University, his field of interest and expertise includes Middle Eastern geopolitics, decision making in foreign policy, international security, sectarianism, national fragmentation, international law of armed conflict, and armed movements and terrorism in the Islamic world. Mr. Kalout is fluent in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Arabic.

Simon Mabon

Simon Mabon

Dr. Simon Mabon is Lecturer in International Relations and Director of the Richardson Institute. He is the author of Saudi Arabia and Iran: Soft Power Rivalry in the Middle East (London: I.B. Tauris, 2013), Houses Built on Sand (New York: Oxford University Press, forthcoming) and The Struggle for Supremacy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming). He is the co-author of The Origins of ISIS (London: I.B. Tauris, 2017), Hezbollah: From Islamic Resistance to Government (Santa Barbara: Praeger, 2015), and British Foreign Policy Since 1945 (London: Routledge, 2017). Dr Mabon has also written articles for journals including The Middle East Journal; British Journal of Middle East Studies; Middle East Policy; Third World Quarterly; Politics, Religion and Ideology; Global Discourse amongst others. He served as academic advisor to the House of Lords International Relations Committee and works with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and Ministry of Defence. He is regularly found on international media outlets including the BBC, CNN, CNBC, Al Jazeera, Sky and many others. He tweets at @drmabon 

Lenore G. Martin

Lenore Martin

Lenore G. Martin is Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science and International Studies, at Emmanuel College in Boston, and an Associate of both the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs and the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University. She co-chairs the Middle East Seminar, at Harvard. She has received three Fulbright awards, the last one in 2010 as a Senior Fulbright Researcher at Middle East Technical University, working on Turkey and the Middle East. She has written books and numerous articles analyzing national security in the Gulf, the larger Middle East and Turkey, including: The Unstable Gulf: Threats from Within, Lexington Books 1984, New Frontiers in Middle East Security, edited, St. Martin’s/Palgrave 1999 and 2001, and The Future of Turkish Foreign Policy, co-edited with Dimitris Keridis, MIT 2004.  In 2010, as a member of the Boston Study Group on Middle East Peace she co-authored, Israel and Palestine-Two States for Two Peoples: If Not Now, When? an on-line book with the Foreign Policy Association. From 1999-2017 she co-chaired the Seminar on Turkey in the Modern World at Harvard University. In 2012 and 2016 she spent the Trinity Term at St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford as a Senior Associate Member and Visiting Academic respectively. 

Ali Asani

ali asaniAli Asani is Professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic Religion and Cultures at Harvard and former Director of the university’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Islamic Studies Program. After completing his high school education in Kenya, he attended Harvard receiving his undergraduate degree in the Comparative Study of Religion. After being awarded his doctorate in Indo-Muslim Culture from Harvard’s Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations (NELC) he joined the faculty. Prof. Asani holds a joint appointment between the Committee on the Study of Religion and NELC. He also serves on the faculty of the Departments of South Asian Studies and African and African-American Studies. He offers instruction in a variety of South Asian and African languages and literatures as well as courses on various aspects of the Islamic A specialist of Islam in South Asia, Professor Asani's research focuses on Shia and Sufi devotional traditions in the region. In addition, he studies popular or folk forms of Muslim devotional life, and Muslim communities in the West.

His books include The Bujh Niranjan: An Ismaili Mystical Poem; The Harvard Collection of Ismaili Literature in Indic Languages: A Descriptive Catalog and Finding Aid; Celebrating Muhammad: Images of the Prophet in Muslim Devotional Poetry (co-author); Ecstasy and Enlightenment: The Ismaili Devotional Literatures of South Asia. In addition, he has published numerous articles in journals and encyclopedias .

Professor Asani has been particularly active post-Sept 11 in improving the understanding of Islam and its role in Muslim societies by conducting workshops for high school and college educators as well as making presentations at various public forums. He is particularly interested in the arts, broadly defined, as the primary means by which Muslims have experienced their faith and their potential as pedagogic bridges to foster a better understandings of the Islamic tradition. He has been involved in the Islamic Cultural Studies Initiative, an international professional development program for high school teachers in Kenya, Pakistan and Texas intended to promote a culturally and historically based approach to the study of Islam and Muslim societies. He has also served on the American Academy of Religion's Task Force on the teaching of religion in schools and as a consultant for the National Endowment for the Humanities Bridging Cultures Muslim Journeys Bookshelf Project. He is a member of the Harvard’s Presidential Task Force on Inclusion and Belonging. Professor Asani is recipient of the Harvard Foundation medal for his outstanding contributions to improving intercultural and race relations through a better understanding of Islam. More recently he was awarded the Petra C. Shattuck prize for excellence in teaching.

Shaykh Dr. Ibrahim Kazerooni

shaykhIbrahim Kazerooni was born in 1958 in the city of Al-Najaf in southern Iraq into a family of theologians. The paternal side of his family has been prominent Shiite clerics. Ibrahim began his religious studies at an early age and continued with his studies until his life took an unexpected turn. In 1974, he was arrested by Saddam Hussein’s regime and imprisoned for more than 5 months. After being released, he left Iraq and spent few years in the Middle East traveling to Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, and Iran. While in Iran, he completed his theological studies. Fearful of Iraq’s secret police, he fled to England and began his secular education.

Ibrahim has taught Comparative Mysticism, Introduction to Islamic Law & Theology, Qur’anic Exegeses, The History of Hadith, Islamic History, Islam for beginners (introduction), Reading comparative scriptures (Torah and Qur’an), and Christian/Muslim dialogue: Methodology and Practice; and the foundation of Islamic law and Human Rights.

Ibrahim has traveled to many countries in pastoral capacity as an Imam. He has been to several cities in the U.S and internationally on lecture tours.  He currently resides in Detroit. He is former board member of the Housing Justice, Interfaith Alliance, Stapleton Interfaith, the religious advisory to the University of Denver Bridges to the Future Program and We Believe Colorado as well as a former member of the Board of Religious Advisers to the Denver Police Chief. He is the former Director of the Abrahamic Initiative Program at St. John Cathedral in Denver. He worked with the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Community in Boulder. He is a regular contributor and Middle East commentator to the KGNU Radio. He has received a number of awards for his bridge building and peace initiative, including, Faith to Faith Award for interfaith works. (2005), Martin Luther King Award for services in peace building (2007), the “Iliff/D.U Joint Ph.D. Award for Community Service (2007), and Honored with Congressional Record for working to end the war in Iraq. (2004)

In addition to Islamic Theological studies in both Najaf (Iraq) and Qum (Iran), Ibrahim holds BEng., Mining/Petroleum Eng., MBA in Management, Master in Global Studies (DU), and Master of Theological Studies (Iliff School of Theology). He gained his Ph.D from the University of Denver and Iliff School of Theology. He is a Fellow at the Center for the Study of Human Trafficking (Korbel School of International Studies, DU) Currently he is an adjunct faculty at the University of Detroit Mercy and Imam of the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn

Hassan Ahmadian


Dr. Hassan Ahmadian is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Iran Project, Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Dr. Ahmadian is an Assistant Professor of Middle East and North Africa studies at the University of Tehran, and is also a Middle East security and politics fellow at the Center for Strategic Research, Tehran. He received his PhD in Area Studies from the University of Tehran. His research and teaching work is mainly focused on Iran’s foreign policy and relations, political change, civil-military relations and Islamist movements in the Middle East. His research and analyses have appeared in peer-reviewed journals as well as prestigious Persian, English and Arabic outlets.

Shaykh Yasir F. Fahmy

yasir fahmy

Shaykh Yasir F. Fahmy joined the ISBCC community as our Imam on September 1, 2015 from New Jersey, where he was born and raised. Before the ISBCC, he served as Scholar-in-Residence at Islamic Center of Passaic County in New Jersey from 2013-2015.

Shaykh Yasir began the study of Arabic and Islamic Sciences in his high school years under the guidance of local teachers. At the age of seventeen, he traveled to Amman, where he spent a year studying at the Islamic University of Jordan. He returned to America and completed a Bachelor’s of Science from Rutgers University. After working in corporate America for three years in finance, he decide to return to his real passion of learning and teaching Islam. He traveled to the Middle East and enrolled in the prestigious Al-Azhar University in Cairo.

After seven years of intensive study, Shaykh Yasir received a degree in Islamic Studies from Al-Azhar and attained numerous ‘ijazas (independent certifications) in the subjects of Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh), the Islamic oral tradition (hadith), theology (aqida), principles of jurisprudence (usul al-fiqh), life of the Prophet (sirah), self-purification (tazkiyyah), logic (mantiq), Arabic grammar (nahu), morphology (sarf) and rhetoric (balagha). In 2013, Shaykh Yasir Fahmy became the first American Azhari to teach in the renowned Al-Azhar Mosque.

Syed Meesam Razvi

syed messam

Syed Meesam Razvi is an entrepreneur and the Director of International Affairs at Al-Khoei Foundation, New York where he represents the Foundation at the United Nations Headquarters. He is also a Founding Trustee of the Global Initiative, an organization dedicated to promoting just, peaceful and inclusive societies. Syed Meesam has directed several development, democracy and governance initiatives, specifically addressing International Religious Freedom, Media Transparency and Human Rights, IDPs and refugees in Iraq, Pakistan and Syria. He has a Masters degree in International Relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Boston and an Undergraduate Degree in Business from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

Elizabeth Prodromou

elizabeth prodromouDr. Elizabeth H. Prodromou is Visiting Associate Professor of Conflict Resolution at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. She is currently a Visiting Fellow at the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom (Washington, DC) and a non-resident Fellow at The Hedayah International Center of Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism (Abu Dhabi). She has been a Senior Fellow in National Security and International Policy at the Center for American Progress (Washington, DC). Prodromou served as Vice Chair and Commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (2004-2012), and was a member of the U.S. Secretary of State’s Religion & Foreign Policy Working Group (2011-2015). Her research focuses on the intersection of religion and geopolitics, with particular focus on the relationship between religion, democracy, and security in the Middle East and Balkans. She is currently leading a research project at The Fletcher School, with international partners, on migration, religion, and security in Eurasia. Published widely in scholarly and policy journals, she is a frequent commentator and contributor on matters of religion and geopolitics in US and international media. She has been involved in research and advisory work for international and non-governmental organizations on religious freedom and human rights, and has been active in inter-faith and ecumenical peacebuilding initiatives in the United States, Europe, and the Middle East. She is co-editor and contributor to Eastern Orthodox Christianity and American Higher Education and Thinking Through Faith: New Perspectives from Orthodox Christian Scholars. She holds a Ph.D. and an S. M. in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), an M.A.L.D. in international relations from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and is a Phi Beta Kappa recipient and summa cum laude graduate with a B.A. in history and international relations from Tufts University.

Wasif Rizvi

Wasif Rizvi Wasif Rizvi is the founding President of Habib University. Wasif has led the vision of the first liberal arts institution of higher learning in Pakistan. Under his leadership, Habib University, has become a globally recognized and appreciated university with established collaborations with leading institutions including Carnegie Mellon University and Texas A&M University at Qatar, Stanford University, University of Michigan and the Claremont consortium of liberal arts colleges. His achievements are visible by Habib University’s unmatched global partnerships, distinguished faculty, well recognized curriculum, exponentially growing number of student applications and an innovative campus design that received accolade and international awards of excellence in planning for a new campus. Wasif has been involved in various areas of education development in the developing world for the last two decades. Prior to initiating the Habib University project, Wasif had led Aga Khan Education Service in Pakistan and many other development projects in Asia and Africa. Wasif holds twin graduate degrees from Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard School of Education

Imam Khalid Nasr

khalid nasr

Imam Dr. Khalid Nasr (born in 1971) is an Imam of Egyptian origin, who although knowledgeable in several disciplines, specializes in the various styles of Qiraat (recitation of the Quran, or the Islamic Holy Scripture). Most of his life was spent living and learning in Egypt, although he moved to the United States in 2000 where he has since stayed and worked as an Imam (Islamic religious leader).
Imam Khalid was always interested in learning Quran, and this interest led him to eventually memorizing the whole Quran, reciting it with full authenticity, and qualifying as a teacher of it, with the help of an experienced shaykh. He then went on to study the Ten Quranic Recitation Styles along with Quranic Sciences and Islamic Jurispudence (according to the teachings of Imam Abu Hanifah) at Al-Azhar (the most famous Islamic Academic Institute). As he continued to pursue his Quran studies under some of Egypt’s well-known scholars, his recitation ability improved until he obtained certification (Ijaazah) as a reciter and teacher of the Ten Authentic Recitation Styles.

Additionally, Imam Khalid studied Arabic and Islam at the Dar-ul-Uloom College, where he later completed his Master’s Degree, and at al-Azhar, where he obtained a Qiraat certificate. His post-graduation work includes teaching and researching Islamic Studies in Egypt, as well as preparing Islamic radio programs and leading congregational prayers there. His other achievements include winning several Quran competitions and reciting Quran at public gatherings. He completed his work on his Ph.D in Hanafi Fiqh (Jurispudence) through Cairo University, although he lives with his family in the United States.

Diana L. Eck

diana eck

Diana L. Eck is Professor of Comparative Religion and Indian Studies at Harvard University and Director of the Pluralism Project.  As a scholar of India, she has published Banaras, City of Light; Darsan: Seeing the Divine Image in India; and India: A Sacred Geography. With the Pluralism Project, she has turned her attention to the U.S. and has produced an most extensive web-based resource for basic religious literacy, On Common Ground: World Religions in America. She has written A New Religious America: How A ‘Christian’ Country Has Become the World’s Most Religiously Diverse Nation. In 1998, she received the National Humanities Medal from President Clinton for her work on religious pluralism in America.

Hasnain Walji

hasnain walji

Dr. Hasnain Walji is an educator, historian, author, and scientist in the field of nutrition.  He has penned 26 books on Nutrition and Natural Medicine. From an early age to his golden years he has been on a quest to learn and observe the trajectory of history and social trends to help address evolving issues in the Muslim Community.  The hallmark of his service is to empower our communities to remain relevant and progressive as we confront new realities and challenges, yet remain true to our faith and traditions.
Born and raised in Tanzania, at the foothills of Kilimanjaro, Hasnain’s institutional work for the Muslim community spans four continents and four decades. In 1976, he was appointed as the Secretary-General and ultimately succeeded to the presidency of theLondon based, World Federation of Khoja Shia IthnAsheri Muslim Communities. His pioneering establishments of various institutions, reflect his progressive vision of addressing emerging needs of our communities. They range from  the founding director  of the Mulla Asghar Resource Center in Toronto,  Director of religious affairs of Institute of Islamic Learning (IILM) in Dallas, Vice President  of the Interfaith Peace Ministry of Orange County, Vice President  of the Shia Muslim Council of Southern California, Chair of the Center For Islamic Learning of NASIMCO, and of late, as the Executive Director of the  United Global Initiative, in Houston where henow resides and serves as the Executive Director.
As a dedicated oral historian of the Khoja communities he has directed and produced a groundbreaking anthropological documentary “The Khojas – A Journey of Faith” that spans the past 600 years of its history, and currently serves as the Chair of the Khoja Heritage Project of the World Federation of KSIMC.

Daisy Khan

daisy khan

Daisy Khan is Founder and Executive Director of the Women’s Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality (WISE), a women-led organization committed to peacebuilding, equality, and justice for Muslims around the globe. Khan has dedicated her life to promoting an expression of Islam based on cultural and religious harmony. A frequent speaker and media commentator, she lectures across the U.S. and internationally at conferences and academic and religious institutions on various issues, including Islam in America, Women’s Rights within Islam, and Violent Extremism. She is the recipient of numerous awards, most notably the Edinburgh Peace Award, the Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action Award, and Women’s E-News “21 leaders for the 21st Century.”

Through WISE, Ms. Khan recently hit a major milestone. With the help of 72 contributors (academics, scholars, imams, activists and specialists), WISE published a 375-page research and evidence-based report, WISE Up: Knowledge Ends Extremism. Launched in October 2017, WISE Up is a movement for knowledge aimed at fighting extremism and Islamophobia with experience, knowledge and good judgment, and to show that the American Muslim community is collectively speaking out against all forms of hate, including terrorism and Islamophobia. 

Nicholas Boylston

nicholas boylston

Dr. Nicholas Boylston studies Islamic intellectual history, Persian literature and Shi‘i Islam through the lenses of religious, intellectual and literary pluralism. He is particularly interested in the way 12th century Persian authors created texts that are discursively pluralistic - drawing on multiple sources and espousing multiple intellectual and ethical perspectives - whilst also maintaining both narrative and intellectual consistency. He also researches the role of literature as a means of negotiating multiple religious identities in late Qajar Iran, focusing on the versified commentary and translation of the Quran by the Shi'i-Sufi, Safi ‘Ali-Shah. These projects are part of a wider concern for understanding how Muslim authors have come to terms with the diversity of their own tradition and understood the religious other in differing cultural contexts. He is currently working on a book manuscript entitled The Kaleidoscope of Reality: Perspectivism and the Integration of Diversity in 12th Century Persian Metaphysical Literature, and is continuing his work on the complex relationships between Shi'ism and Sufism through history.

Imam Mohamad Bashar Arafat

bashar arafatBorn and raised in Damascus, Syria, Imam Arafat attended Damascus University and graduated with a degree in Islamic Studies and Arabic Language in 1987 and a degree in Islamic Law in 1988. From 1975 to 1989 under the guidance and mentorship of the late Grand Mufti of Syria, Sheikh Ahmad Kuftaro, he studied Qur’anic interpretation, wisdom of the "Shari'ah" and the Islamic spiritual teachings. From 1989 to 1997, he accompanied the Grand Mufti during most of his international programs and conferences. He served as Imam in Damascus from 1981 to 1989 and was then invited to the United States to lecture in various Islamic Centers. He was Imam of the Islamic Society of Baltimore in Maryland from 1989 to 1993, founded An-Nur Institute for Islamic Studies and Arabic Language in Baltimore in 1993, co-founded An-Nur Mosque in Carney, Maryland and was the Imam from 1995 to 1997. Currently he is President of the Islamic Affairs Council of Maryland, based in Baltimore. He taught courses on Islamic Studies at the Ecumenical Institute of Theology at St. Mary's Seminary & University, the University of Maryland in Baltimore County (UMBC), Johns Hopkins University, Goucher College, the Renaissance Institute, as well as Comparative Religions at Potomac College in Washington, DC. Currently he is teaching at Notre Dame of Maryland University.

Mehdi Hasan

mehdi hasanMehdi Hasan is an award-winning British columnist, broadcaster, and author based in Washington, D.C. He hosts UpFront on Al Jazeera English and has interviewed, among others, Edward Snowden, Hamid Karzai, Ehud Olmert, and Gen. Michael Flynn. In March, he began hosting a new weekly podcast called Deconstructed for The Intercept magazine in New York, where he is also a columnist and senior contributor. He is also the author of two books — a biography of former U.K. Labor Party leader Ed Miliband and an e-book on the financial crisis and austerity economics. Mehdi has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, The Guardian, and the Times of London, among others, and is the former political director of the Huffington Post U.K. and a contributing editor to the New Statesman. He has been included in the annual list of the 500 most influential Muslims in the world and named as one of the 100 most influential Britons on Twitter.

Jonathan Brown

jonathan brown

Jonathan Brown is the Alwaleed bin Talal Chair of Islamic Civilization in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, and he is the Director of the Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim Christian Understanding. He received his BA in History from Georgetown University in 2000 and his doctorate in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from the University of Chicago in 2006. Dr. Brown has studied and conducted research in countries such as Egypt, Syria, Turkey, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, South Africa, India, Indonesia and Iran. His book publications include The Canonization of al-Bukhari and Muslim: The Formation and Function of the Sunni Hadith Canon (Brill, 2007), Hadith: Muhammad’s Legacy in the Medieval and Modern World (Oneworld, 2009) and Muhammad: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2011), which was selected for the National Endowment for the Humanities' Bridging Cultures Muslim Journeys Bookshelf. His most recent book, Misquoting Muhammad: The Challenges and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet’s Legacy (Oneworld, 2014), was named one of the top books on religion in 2014 by the Independent. He has published articles in the fields of Hadith, Islamic law, Salafism, Sufism, Arabic lexical theory and Pre-Islamic poetry and is the editor in chief of the Oxford Encyclopedia of Islam and Law. Dr. Brown’s current research interests include Islamic legal reform and a translation of Sahih al-Bukhari.

Heidi E. Lane

heidi laneHeidi E. Lane is Associate Professor of Strategy and Policy and Director of the Greater Middle East Research Study Group at the Naval War College. She specializes in Comparative Politics and International Relations of the Middle East with a focus on security sector development, ethnic and religious nationalism, and rule of law in transitioning societies. Her co-edited book Building Rule of Law in the Arab World and Beyond was published in 2016. She is currently completing research on a book manuscript about counterterrorism and state liberalization in the Middle East. Dr. Lane has served as a visiting research affiliate with the Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, a U.S. Fulbright scholar in Syria, and as a research fellow with the International Security Program at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University. She is currently a senior associate at the Center for Irregular Warfare and Armed Groups (CIWAG) at the Naval War College. She holds an M.A and Ph.D. in Islamic Studies from the Center for Near Eastern Studies, University of California, Los Angeles and a B.A. from the University of Chicago and is trained in Arabic, Hebrew, and Persian and is proficient in German.

Mustafa Akyol

mustafa akyol

Mustafa Akyol is a Turkish journalist and author with acclaimed books such as Islam without Extremes (2011) and The Islamic Jesus (2017). He is a monthly contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and a weekly columnist for Al-Monitor.com: The Pulse of the Middle East. Since January 2017, he is also a senior visiting fellow at the Freedom Project at Wellesley College based in Massachusetts, USA.

Mohd Faizal Musa

mohd faizalDr. Mohd Faizal Musa (also known as Faisal Tehrani) is a Research Fellow at the Institute of the Malay World and Civilization (ATMA), National University of Malaysia (UKM). The Jakarta Post dated 28 August 2017 called him ‘Malaysia’s Rebel Author’. Andrew Fowler, a famous Australian journalist and the author of ‘The Most Dangerous Man in the World’ stated that Faisal’s translated works into English, ‘The Nurse’ (Misi), and ‘Crises’ (Kegawatan) were ‘great narratives on the battle for ideas and freedom in Malaysia’. Meanwhile ASEAN (South East Asian) Literary Festival’s official page 2017 named him as ‘one of Malaysia’s and Southeast Asia’s important writers’. Seven of Faisal’s literary works have been banned by the Malaysian government. His best remembered novels are ‘1515’, ‘Profesor’, and ‘Bagaimana Anyss Naik Ke Langit’ translated into English by Brigitte Bresson as ‘How Anyss Went to Heaven’. Among his key academic publications are ‘The Malaysian Shi‘a: A Preliminary Study of Their History, Oppression, and Denied Rights’ (2013, Journal of Shi‘a Islamic Studies), and ‘The Axiology of Pilgrimage: The Malaysian Shi’ites Ziyarat to Iran and Iraq’ (2013, International Journal of Philosophy of Culture and Axiology), ‘Religious Freedom in Malaysia: The Reading of the Qur’an 2:256’ (2016, The Qur’an in the Malay-Indonesian World, Routledge Studies in the Qur’an), and ‘State-backed discrimination against Shia Muslims in Malaysia’ (2016, Critical Asian Studies 49: 3)

Shenila Khoja-Moolji

shenilaDr. Shenila Khoja-Moolji is a Visiting Scholar in the University of Pennsylvania's Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies program. She researches and writes about the interplay of gender, race, religion, and power in transnational contexts. She explores this theme particularly in relation to Muslim populations. Dr. Khoja-Moolji is the author of Forging the Ideal Educated Girl: The Production of Desirable Subjects in Muslim South Asia (University of California Press). The book combines historical and cultural studies analyses with ethnographic work to examine the construction of the figure of the ‘educated girl’ in colonial India and postcolonial Pakistan. Dr. Khoja-Moolji is working on her second book, which examines the intersections of militarism, biopolitics, and masculinism.

Arif Asaria

arif asariaArif Asaria (CEO, Asaria Developments Inc.) has combined a highly successful business career with a lifetime of volunteering. His business interests have stretched across Canada, the United States and Central America, while his work with the Toronto Jamaat has helped it become a role model for Khoja communities around the world. Moving as a child from his birthplace of Nampula, Mozambique, to Canada, he went on to study Economics and Philosophy in Toronto. He worked for various multinationals as a supply chain management consultant before starting his own business in 2001. Asaria soon built a distribution network across Canada, the US and Central America, and replicated that success in 2006, when he established a fine paper merchant distribution business. This was again based in Toronto and again international in its scope, serving more than 500 customers throughout Canada and the US. Asaria is fluent in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Hindi and Gujarati.

In 2007, Asaria was elected Honorary Secretary of the ISIJ of Toronto for the term 2007-2009, and his tenure was so successful that he was re-elected for the term 2009-2011. He augmented his Secretarial duties by taking on the very challenging role as Honorary Project Manager of Jaffari Village, which also included the Jaffari Community Centre. The Jaffari Community Centre today is the beacon of all the activities of the Toronto Jamaat, and stands as a model amongst all the Khoja Ithnasheri Jamaats around the world, serving over 6,000 congregants. In 2017, Asaria was appointed as Secretary General by the newly elected President of NASIMCO, Br. Razak Damani. Asaria is also involved in philanthropic efforts as a director of the Asaria Family Foundation, whose mission is the “eradication of poverty through education”. Established in 2009, the Foundation has contributed to various World Federation and Africa Federation sponsored projects around the world, focusing on education, outreach, economic uplift, health and welfare, and supporting the building of mosques. The Foundation works with local churches and ministries to get the maximum impact in these Costa Rican communities. This work will continue as an ongoing legacy on behalf of the beloved matriarch of the family, Marhuma Fatima bai Asaria binte Najarali (Al Fateha).

Farah Pandith


Farah Pandith is a diplomatic entrepreneur, foreign policy strategist and author. She is a world-leading expert and pioneer on how to halt extremist recruitment of Muslim youth. Appointed the first-ever special representative to Muslim communities in 2009, she served under both Secretary Clinton and Secretary John Kerry. In this role, she was responsible for engagement with Muslims around the world.  She served as a political appointee in the George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Barack H. Obama administrations at the National Security Council, US Agency for International Development and US Department of State. She believes we can win the war on terror, “but only if we have the courage to rethink, reinvent, reimagine”. Her book is How We Win: How Cutting-Edge Entrepreneurs, Political Visionaries, Enlightened Business Leaders and Social Media Mavens Can Defeat the Extremist Threat.

Since leaving government in 2014, Ms. Pandith has been advising governments and building innovative global programs and organizations dedicated to mobilizing youth against extremist ideologies. Ms. Pandith, served on the Homeland Security Advisory Council from 2015-2017. Prior to re-entering government in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, Ms. Pandith was Vice President of International Business at ML Strategies, LLC in Boston, Massachusetts.  She is a frequent media commentator and public speaker and an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a senior fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

Muhamed Almaliky

almalikyMuhamed Almaliky is Associate of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University and practicing physician in cardiology at the University of Pennsylvania Health System in Philadelphia. While at the Weatherhead, he researches post-2003 Iraq’s democratization: elections, political party formation, constitutional processes security, as well as Iraq’s foreign policy. He has taught, lectures and written on Iraq including a course titled: Iraq, a State in Flux that covers a century-long struggle to consolidate the Iraqi state. He has also lectured on political Islam,terrorism and ISIS at the University and beyond. His latest articles Mending Iraq, Foreign Affairs 2015, and Is There Hope for Iraq, Cairo Review 2017 address governance challenges in post-Saddam Iraq. His latest endeavor, the Iraqi American Institute is aiming at offering a platform for Iraq’s social scientists to interact and present their research. He also runs the “Politics of Disease” study group for Harvard College students that explores how political structures and processes shape health outcomes. He holds an MD degree from Basra University, Iraq; post-graduate medical training at Temple University, Philadlphia, in addition to MPH and MPA from Harvard University.

José Antonio Sabadell

José Antonio SabadellJosé Antonio Sabadell has been a Spanish diplomat since 1993. He served as Ambassador and Head of the European Union Delegation to the Islamic Republic of Mauritania until August 2017. Prior to this post, he was Head of Division North Africa, Deputy Chief of Staff at the Cabinet of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation and Technical Counsellor in the area of Arms Control.

He has served in a number of other capacities including in Afghanistan, OSCE (in charge of politico-military affairs), Guatemala, Ecuador and Riyadh. Sabadell attained both his Bachelor Degree in Law and his Certificate for Legal Business Advising from Universidad Pontificia Comillas (ICADE) in June, 1991. He completed his Certificate of Advanced Studies on Political Science and Sociology in the Department of Social History and History of Political Thought from Universidad Nacional de Educacion a Distancia in November, 2002, with a paper on the Political Control of Military Actions.

His current research focuses on Islamic Extremism, in particular the perception of the West by radical Islamic groups. He is also following issues related to Security, the Sahel and Migration.

Rahat Husain

rahat husainRahat Husain is the Advocacy Director at the Universal Muslim Association of America (UMAA). Mr. Husain has met with President Obama, the Dalai Lama, and many other key decision makers in the course of his work to promote advancement for Shia Muslims around the world. Mr. Husain is also an attorney and a renowned columnist with the Washington Times and with CDN News. With an interest in America and Islam, Rahat is a prolific writer on contemporary and international issues.

Mr. Husain previously served as the Executive Director of the Islamic Information Center, while managing its American Leadership Initiative for Muslims and the Honors Gemstone Internship Program. For the past six years, Mr. Husain has worked with Congressmen, Senators, federal agencies, think tanks, NGOs, policy institutes, and academic experts to advocate on behalf of Shia Muslim issues, both political and humanitarian. He holds a Juris Doctorate from the University of Maryland School of Law, a Master's of Science from Georgetown University, and a Bachelor's of Science with General Honors from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.



Symposium on Islam and Sectarian De-escalation contact

Questions, Comments, Concerns?
For more information about the symposium, please contact Mohammad Sagha:

Email: Mohammad_Sagha@hks.harvard.edu
Phone: 617-496-8271