Members of the Notre Dame community gathered on March 24 to celebrate the establishment of the Mirza Family Professorship of Islamic Thought and Muslim Societies, the university’s first endowed professorship in Islamic studies held by a Muslim scholar.
The Mirza Family Professorship was awarded to the Keough School’s Ebrahim Moosa, a pre-eminent scholar of classical and modern Islamic thought, who has been a member of the Notre Dame faculty since 2014. Delivering his inaugural lecture, titled “Debating Progress and History in Islamic Thought,” Moosa skillfully integrated perspectives from philosophy, religion, history, and ethics to explore the relationship between progress and human flourishing.
The Mirza Family Professorship was established by a gift from Notre Dame alumna Sue Scribner Mirza to honor the legacy of her late husband Muzzafar “Muzzi” Mirza.
“With this generous gift, the Mirza family has ensured that Notre Dame students will be able to appreciate Islam ‘beyond the headlines’ and from the perspective of its leading scholars,” said Scott Appleby, Marilyn Keough Dean, in his introductory remarks at the Eck Visitors Center Auditorium. “Islam and Catholicism are the world’s truly global missionizing religions, and the world will not be at peace without the friendship of these great faiths.”
Appleby praised Moosa as a “truly global figure” whose academic career began in his native Cape Town, South Africa, and later extended to Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Qatar, and the United States.
“Moosa has been an influential voice as a public intellectual, serving as a translator of Islam to a nervous world after 9/11 and also as an opponent of apartheid in South Africa,” Appleby said. “He has been a supremely effective educator and a courageous voice for justice.”
Moosa, who holds a joint appointment in the Department of History, conducts research on Islam that incorporates history, theology, religio-legal ethics, moral philosophy, and critical theory. He was awarded a multi-million dollar Templeton Foundation grant to advance theology and scientific literacy among graduates of madrasas, or Islamic schools, in India and Pakistan. Launched in 2017 as the Madrasa Discourses project, this initiative brings together former madrasa students from the two countries for continued education in history, Western thought, and science.
Moosa has established a reputation as a world-class research scholar. He is the author of Ghazali and the Poetics of Imagination, an award-winning book on the work of the pre-eminent Muslim thinker Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, and also What is a Madrasa?, a personal memoir, history, and qualitative study of Indian and Pakistani madrasas.
Founded in 2014, the Keough School of Global Affairs at the University of Notre Dame advances integral human development through research, policy and practice; transformative educational programs, and partnerships for global engagement. The Keough School builds on the strengths of nine institutes focused on international research, scholarship, and education at Notre Dame.
Top photo: Ebrahim Moosa offers remarks after being installed as the Mirza Family Professors of Islamic Thought and Muslim Societies on March 24, 2022.