Home Testimonial 2021

REVIEWS ON THE SALAAM NETWORK POSTED ON GREATNONPROFITS.ORG WEBSITE (2021)

DRS. MARCIA TEXLER SEGAL & EDWIN S. SEGAL Louisville, KY

(Core Members) 09/04/2021

It has been gratifying to work with The Salaam Network (TSN) toward the goal of promoting unity within the Greater Louisville community through education and outreach. TSN fosters understanding and challenges ignorance, prejudice and animosity toward marginalized faiths and groups. To meet growing concerns about the prevalence of Islamophobia we became members of a core group of educators, clergy and activists representing the three Abrahamic faiths who joined together to develop a series of programs to be presented in religious, educational and secular venues.

Louisville is a religiously and ethnically diverse community. Every major religious faith is represented by long-time residents and newer immigrants. We are officially a Compassionate Community, appreciative of diversity and welcoming to newcomers. Nevertheless, there is a tendency for groups to be isolated. Knowledge can begin to break down this isolation on both interpersonal and policy levels. The self-image of our city as one that strives for wholeness provides an opportunity for type of outreach that shapes the TSN mission.

2020 and 2021 have been especially challenging years for the work of TSN. The pandemic caught us in the middle of our adult education series at a local university in March, 2020; we completed our classes via Zoom, a relatively new experience for some of us and some of our audience, in August. Racial justice protests here in Louisville and around the country turned our attention from broader education about our faith communities to how those communities are responding to the call for social justice; we published words of support. In September, working with a local Unitarian congregation, we launched a book and movie club that has continued via Zoom through August 2021. In November we offered a four-week series of Zoom programs open to and publicized through the local community and reaching people beyond our regional boarders. One of the strengths of TSN is its ability to adapt and respond to pressing needs.

As TSN core members and presenters we have drawn upon our academic backgrounds in sociology and anthropology including focuses on gender, diversity and religion, our extensive international experience as well as our grounding in Judaism, our own religious tradition. We have both learned an immeasurable amount from those we have worked with in TSN. We have become better prepared to work toward wholeness and have seen how effective TSN outreach has been. The questions participants in our programs ask have become more focused and nuanced. Members of the wider community and of our own congregation who have attended our programs and are not only eager for more, but also tell us that they have shared what they have learned and want to know when and where the next offering will be so they can encourage others to attend.TSN is justifiably proud of the work it has done and continues to do.

Marcia Texler Segal, PhD Professor of Sociology & Dean for Research Emerita, Indiana University Southeast Co-Editor, Advances in Gender Research, Faculty Member Louisville Florence Melton Adult Mini-School; Edwin S. Segal, PhD Professor of Anthropology Emeritus, University of Louisville Board Member Congregation Adath Jeshurun, Faculty Member Louisville Florence Melton Adult Mini-School.

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SISTER KATHRYN M. HUBER, OSB

(Facilitator) September 21, 2021

The Salaam Network (TSN) is the brainchild of a distinguished educator and bridge-builder, Dr. Riffat Hassan. Riffat Hassan is a Pakistani-American theologian and a leading Islamic feminist scholar of the Qur’an. Her dedicated work in interfaith understanding has been well acknowledged for many decades not only in the Louisville area, but also in the USA and around the world. The Salaam Network provides a wonderful opportunity for community engagement on important social and religious matters.

I have been related to The Salaam Network (TSN) and its founder, Dr. Riffat Hassan, for almost five years. The Salaam Network is a group of interfaith educators, peacemakers, justice activists, and interested citizenry who are committed to promoting greater understanding and wholeness in the city of Louisville and the area known locally as “Kentuckiana” (Kentucky and Southern Indiana). The purpose is to make Louisville and the surrounding areas more understanding and compassionate in receiving “The Other.” The TSN programs help overcome prejudices and discriminations in Louisville and the surrounding communities.

I have attended TSN programs and am involved in an Islamic Study Group. I also have been a presenter in a program, Mary, the mother of Jesus, as presented in the Christian Scriptures and in the Quran. TSN has done much education on various aspects of Islam and Islamophobia. All programs have been both enlightening and enriching for presenters and participants.

I am greatly enriched by being involved in The Salaam Network. Louisville is blessed to have The Salaam Network in its city.

Peace and all good,

Sister Kathryn M. Huber, OSB, MA, Sisters of St. Benedict, Monastery Immaculate Conception,

802 E 10th St., Ferdinand, IN 47532

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RON SMITH

(Facilitator) September 21, 2021

There is so much information bombarding Americans these days that many times it’s near impossible to sift through the static to find what is truly valuable. Those challenges apply to discerning fact from fiction in spiritual matters. The Salaam Network does an excellent job of creating forums that feature learned speakers who stimulate thinking and debate. Understanding “The Other” is the primary but many times elusive goal of interfaith organizations. Judging from my experience, The Salaam Network has been successful in reaching that standard.

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ELLEN WADE

(General Member of the Public) 09/21/2021

As a member of All Peoples, a progressive Unitarian-Universalist congregation in the Louisville community, I have been given the opportunity to learn truthful information about Islam and its commonalities with the other major religions, Christianity and Judaism. The Salaam Network’s values and mission to educate our community aligns with mine to enhance my understanding of how diversity enriches our local community. It’s important for The Salaam Network to continue its efforts to educate peacefully to bring our community closer together. I am indebted to the members of this group in widening my circle of understanding.

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DR. BRADLEY BOWMAN, Ph. D

Middle East and Islamic Studies, Director Department of History Gottschalk Hall, 103 A 502-852-1392 September 22, 2021

The Salaam Network Testimonial

I have been involved with The Salaam Network since its beginning and I firmly believe its educational outreach agenda is as important as ever. Set against a rising tide of Islamophobia across the globe, The Salaam Network has hosted countless events, talks, and presentations designed to promote unity and understanding between faith traditions. Dr. Riffat Hassan and the TSN team have done a remarkable job of preparing and promoting these events to the public over the past several years. These talks have drawn local faculty and students, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim organizations, as well as concerned citizens. I am honored to be a part of such an organization!

University of Louisville • Louisville, KY 40292

P: 502-852-6817 F: 502-852-0770 E: bbbowm01@louisvile.edu W: louisville.edu/history

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DR. QAISAR SULTANA

(Professor Emerita) 09/22/2021

I first heard the name, Dr. Riffat Hassan from a former colleague, a Professor of Religion at Eastern Kentucky University. It was soon after my arrival as Chairperson of the Department of Special Education at E.K.U. in the early 1980s. I often saw her name mentioned in newspapers in the context of religious dialogue. A few years later, I attended an annual conference at which Dr. Hassan was a speaker. I was overwhelmed by the depth and breadth of her knowledge, her sharp intellect, her passion, and her energy. She became my mentor. I kept up with her through her professional writings and presentations at professional conferences. Over the years we developed a personal friendship.

About four years ago, a student in my department who was from Louisville, told me that she had attended meetings of The Salaam Network. Every weekend she went home to be with her parents. Every Monday this student would come to my office and tell me about the latest Salaam meeting with great excitement. I was very happy to see my undergraduate student enthused about what she learned over the weekend. It was heart- warming to see Salaam’s impact on this young student.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had one positive impact on me. I have been able to participate in The Salaam Network’s meetings and discussions through Zoom. I have been actively involved with the Christian Muslim Dialogue in Lexington for more than two decades and I have served on its Steering Committee for years. It was not until The Salaam Network’s recent discussion titled “10 Principles of a Dialogue” that clarified my thinking on the subject. The Salaam Network is rich in its diverse topics of discussion and in its human resources of discussion leaders. The leadership of The Salaam Network is noticeably scholarly, intellectual seekers of truth. The Network keeps its subscribers continuously engaged and informed with such materials as copies of articles, books, videos, scholarly papers, etc.

I thank The Salaam Network for serving humanity by developing a fact-based understanding of “The Other.” Finally, I congratulate the Network organizers for making presentations available to a wide audience via Zoom.

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MARCIA DORMAN

(General Member of the Public) 09/22/2021

The Salaam Network, of which I have been a guest for the past year, is made up of hardworking, intelligent, compassionate people. Their mission is to enlighten the community on the true beliefs of Islam as grounded in the Qur’an. This mission was advanced in our meetings through books we read and movies we viewed about Muhammad. Also, speakers of national and international renown with whom the director, Dr. Riffat Hassan, had collaborated spoke at various meetings on inter-faith topics. There was much discussion on effective means of dispelling the harms of Islamophobia in our community. Gatherings had been held in churches, mosques, schools and halls for the accomplishment of this purpose. I was pleased I attended these meetings as I began to learn about the Islam faith and its parallels to the other two Abrahamic religions.

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LANE STUMLER

(Core Member) 09/28/2021

I became been a core member of The Salaam Network shortly after it started five years ago, after attending a presentation at St. Andrew United Church of Christ. This interfaith panel was on “Inheriting Abraham: One Ancestral Family: Three Faiths: An exploration of the legacy of Abrahamic tradition in Judaism, Christianity and Islam.” I have attended almost every program and presentation of The Salaam Network. I have learned a great deal about Islam and the commonalities among the three Abrahamic religions. I have taken part in its educational programs on women’s issues and LGBTQ matters and found them to be very helpful and educational. As a gay man I had particularly interest in the presentations by Jewish, Christian and Muslim scholars explaining the correct interpretation of the sacred texts of their traditions relating to LGBTQ persons. What I have learned from The Salaam Network’s programs has benefited me greatly, not only intellectually but also existentially.

Since the start of the pandemic when in-person meetings could not be held, The Salaam Network began a bi-monthly Book-Movie Club/Interfaith Study Group in which we discussed significant books and movies on Islam and listened to and interacted with distinguished presenters on various aspects of interfaith dialogue. It has been a very enriching and enlightening experience. I am writing this letter to re-affirm my strong support for The Salaam Network which has made a real difference in my life and in the larger community.

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JIM AALEN

(Professional with expertise in this field) 09/28/2021

Since 2016 The Salaam Network in Louisville, KY, has provided admission free educational events to aid the public in understanding the true, non-violent, nature of Islam.

As Sir Francis Bacon wrote, “Knowledge is power.” The power here is a whittling down of stereotypes toward the truth and inclusivity.

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MIRZA ASLAM BEG

(Core Member) 10/05/2021

I am a member of The Salaam Network Inc. since its inception and have attended its programs regularly. Its programs are educational which have enlightened me a lot and have changed my view about “The Other”.

Since January 2020 in-person bi-monthly educational programs have been replaced by zoom programs which are equally good – indeed better for all participants during the pandemic. The interreligious study group is very effective in promoting understanding and harmony amongst different people. The speakers are highly qualified persons.

I wish The Salaam Network Godspeed.

Mirza Aslam Beg