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Muslim scholar to speak at Canadian Mennonite University

Dr. Mohammad Ali Shomali of Qom, Iran to deliver lecture entitled, “The Impact of Christian-Muslim Relations on World Peace”

A revered Muslim scholar will give a public lecture exploring Christian-Muslim relations at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) this month.

Dr. Mohammad Ali Shomali, Founding Director of the International Institute for Islamic Studies (IIIS) in Qom, Iran, will present the lecture, entitled, “The Impact of Christian-Muslim Relations on World Peace,” at 7:00 PM on Wednesday, March 30. Shomali will speak in Marpeck Commons (2299 Grant Ave.). Admission is free, and all are welcome.

2016_shomali“We are excited to host Dr. Shomali at CMU,” says Dr. Harry Huebner, Director of International and Inter-Faith Theological Initiatives at CMU. “He has a deep commitment to peace, justice, love, and mercy. It will be interesting to hear him speak on the significance of the relationship between Christians and Muslims on world peace.”

A successful teacher and an engaging storyteller, Shomali is a graduate of the Islamic Seminaries of Qom, and also holds Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in Western Philosophy from the University of Tehran. He earned his PhD from the University of Manchester in the UK and wrote his doctoral thesis on ethical relativism.

In addition to his work with the IIIS, Shomali is the Director of London’s Islamic Centre of England.

Shomali’s visit stems from an ongoing relationship between Shi’a Muslim scholars from Iran and Mennonite scholars from Canada and the U.S. These scholars first met in 2002 to start an ongoing series of dialogues that aim to improve understanding between Muslims and Christians.

The seventh dialogue is scheduled to take place at CMU in 2017.

Huebner adds that Islam is often misunderstood in the mainstream media, and hearing from Muslims directly is one way for people to explore new perspectives.

The March 30 lecture marks the first time Shomali will make a public presentation as part of his visit to CMU, providing the public with a unique opportunity.

“The news doesn’t give us a good understanding of what Islam is,” Huebner says. “Getting to know people from Iran is one way of cutting across that.”

View a report by Dr. Shomali on the lecture, as appeared in the May 2016 issue of Islam Today, here.

About CMU

A Christian university in the Anabaptist tradition, CMU’s Shaftesbury campus offers undergraduate degrees in arts, business, humanities, music, sciences, and social sciences, as well as graduate degrees in theology, ministry, peacebuilding and collaborative development, and an MBA. CMU has over 800 full-time equivalent students, including those enrolled in degree programs at the Shaftesbury and Menno Simons College campuses and in its Outtatown certificate program.

For information about CMU visit www.cmu.ca.

For additional information, please contact:
Kevin Kilbrei, Director of Communications & Marketing
kkilbrei@cmu.ca; 204.487.3300 Ext. 621
Canadian Mennonite University
500 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, MB  R3P 2N2


Footage from the public lecture event

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Inaugural Scientist-in-Residence offers hope during week on campus

Asking questions and being faithful central themes as Dr. Henry Janzen visits CMU

The importance of community, asking questions, collaborating, and trusting God were key themes as Dr. Henry Janzen visited Canadian Mennonite University earlier this month as the university’s first-ever Scientist-in-Residence.
 
Janzen, a research scientist in soil biochemistry at the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada research centre in Lethbridge, AB, was on campus February 2-6.
 
He shared his insights, observations, experience, and personal reflections in a number of speaking events including a student forum, chapel, and lecture.
 
While sharing his faith story during a Tuesday morning chapel gathering, Janzen told students, faculty, and staff how he grew up as a timid farm boy ensconced in the church: “two robust sermons on Sundays, bolstered by Sunday and Saturday school” allowed him to grow in his faith.
 
Dr. Janzen addresses the audience at public lecture
Dr. Janzen addresses the audience at the public lecture on  February 4 at CMU’s Marpeck Commons

As he left home to study and advanced in his education, Janzen’s questions—and his once-simple faith—became more complex. The words of the disciple Thomas echoed in his mind: “Lord, I don’t know where you are going, so how can I know the way?”

 
Janzen went on to share that studying the story of Thomas has helped him see that questions are “not a peril, but a treasure.”
 
He added four things that he has learned during a lifetime of questioning: exploring questions is best done with other people; asking questions demands honesty and precise phrasing; the questions that hound him are often shared by others; and that Anabaptism compels him to test his “faith hypotheses in the experiment of daily dilemmas.”
 
Janzen then quoted T.S. Eliot: “We shall not cease from exploration / And the end of all our exploring / Will be to arrive where we started / And know the place for the first time.”
 
“That’s what I live for, my all-consuming hypothesis,” Janzen said. “That the end of all my exploring will find me nearing home again, forgiven, quickening, re-awakening in the will and wake of One who all this time has been urging me home, steering me with the questions.”
 
In addition to sharing his faith story, Janzen gave a public lecture on February 4, titled, “Following Carbon Flows Through Life and Times.” Janzen provided an overview of the carbon cycle and the way its flows connect all species in a planet-wide continuum. He also explored some questions that emerge: questions relevant to all of us, enfolding interwoven strands of science, of ethics, and ultimately, of hope.
 
The following evening, Janzen participated in the latest installment of “Germinating Conversations,” an ongoing series of dialogues that brings together people from urban and rural locations to discuss faith, food, farming, and land from a range of perspectives.
 
During his time at CMU, Janzen lived in the university’s residence and ate in the cafeteria, where he eagerly interacted with students.
He also made presentations about his work in two biology classes.
 
DSC04283
Dr. Janzen (r) with CMU President Cheryl Pauls

Dr. John Brubacher, Assistant Professor of Biology at CMU, said he greatly appreciated Janzen’s visit and the fresh perspectives he brought to campus.

 
“He’s a soil chemist but he speaks like a poet,” Brubacher said. “He’s got a great way of communicating and a deep humility that make him very accessible and approachable.”
 
Dr. Tim Rogalsky, Chair of the Science and Faith Advisory Committee, which was responsible for organizing Janzen’s visit, agreed.
 
“Henry is an engaging speaker, and he offered a sense of hopefulness despite some of the doom and gloom surrounding issues of global environmental change,” Rogalsky said. “It was a great week.”
 
Janzen, a long-time CMU supporter whose three children were students at the university, described his time as Scientist-in-Residence as enlightening and energizing.
 
“I’ve had a real education here in a week,” Janzen said, adding that being able to dialogue with faculty from a variety of disciplines, as well as students and members of the wider community, stretched his thinking.
 
“I’m very grateful for the privilege I’ve had here,” Janzen said. “I’m coming away from (CMU) with a renewed gratitude for this place.”

 

February 27, 2015 Update
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Events Lectures News Releases

CMU welcomes inaugural Scientist in Residence to campus

Research scientist Dr. Henry Janzen interested in fostering hope at events

Canadian Mennonite University is pleased to announce it will host Dr. Henry Janzen as its first-ever Scientist-in-Residence.

Janzen, a research scientist in soil biochemistry at the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada research centre in Lethbridge, Alberta, will be on campus February 2-6 to share his insights, observations, experience, and personal reflections in a number of speaking events open to the public.

CMU is looking forward to hosting Janzen, says Dr. Tim Rogalsky, Chair of the Science and Faith Advisory Committee, which is responsible for organizing Janzen’s visit.

“He is a respected scholar in soil science, he’s a deep thinker, he’s a Christian, he’s a great storyteller, and he’s concerned about the state of the world,” says Rogalsky, Associate Professor of Mathematics at CMU. “It’s going to be great to have him here for the week.”

Janzen’s confirmed speaking engagements are as follows:

  • A student forum titled, “Footprints on a Greening Planet,” on Monday, February 2 from 11:30 AM to 12 PM in the CMU Chapel. This event will look at how humans can live more gently and creatively on the land of their grandchildren, and how people of faith can foster hope, in the face of many troubles on a rapidly-transforming planet.
  • A chapel on Tuesday, February 3 in which Janzen will share his faith story, titled, “How Can I Know the Way?” In this presentation, he will focus on the anguished exhilaration of seeking clarity from the muddiness of admitted ignorance, both in science and in matters of the spirit. The event begins at 11:30 AM in the CMU Chapel.
  • A public lecture on Wednesday, February 4 at 7 PM in Marpeck Commons. In the lecture, titled “Following Carbon Flows Through Life and Times,” Janzen will provide an overview of the carbon cycle and the way its flows connect all species in a planet-wide continuum. He will then explore some questions that emerge: questions relevant to all of us, enfolding interwoven strands of science, of ethics, and ultimately, of hope.

Janzen says that he is looking forward to interacting in an academic community that is also a community of faith.

“What’s important to me is not only what I might bring to CMU,” Janzen says. “I suspect the one who learns the most may be me.”

He adds that there is typically a lot of doom and pessimism involved when ecological challenges such as climate change, food security, and biodiversity conservation, are discussed. He will be looking for ways, during this visit, to jointly foster hope.

“This is one of the reasons I’m interested in looking at these questions in the community of CMU,” Janzen says. “I suspect there may be answers lurking there that will help us together forge a way forward that is ultimately hopeful.

The challenges that have been identified by science will not be resolved by science and technology alone, he adds.

“The way forward, I think, will be guided also by the artists – musicians, poets, essayists, and writers,” Janzen says. “It’s not to leave these problems to the technologists. We may also want to change the way we live, and maybe artists can help direct us there.”

A scientist for the past 30 years, Janzen studies how farming and other human practices affect prairie ecosystems, with emphasis on the carbon and nitrogen flows within them.

In recent years, his interests have expanded to also explore other socio-ecological issues, such as growing more food, preserving biodiversity, conserving soils, using energy wisely, seeking beauty, and fostering social harmony.

Janzen and his wife, Sandra, live on a small farm near Lethbridge. They have three adult children and attend Coaldale Mennonite Church.

For more information, visit www.cmu.ca/sir.

About CMU
A Christian university in the Anabaptist tradition, CMU’s Shaftesbury campus offers undergraduate degrees in arts, business, humanities, music, sciences and social sciences, and graduate degrees in Theology and Ministry. CMU has over 1,600 students, including those enrolled in degree programs at the Shaftesbury Campus and in its Menno Simons College and Outtatown programs.

For information about CMU, visit: www.cmu.ca.

For additional information, please contact:

Kevin Kilbrei, Director of Communications & Marketing
kkilbrei@cmu.ca; 204.487.3300 Ext. 621
Canadian Mennonite University
500 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, MB  R3P 2N2