Monday, January 15, 2007
At Qatar University's College of Shari'a and at the Georgetown Univ School of Foreign Service at Education City
We visited the Shari'a school, which is the theological college in Doha, and met with the dean and a number of professors, as well as a student representative. Interestingly, the dean is a woman, the first female to hold such a post in the Arab world. QU hosts the annual interfaith dialgue conference, which will have its fifth meeting in April. For the past two years, Jews have also been a part of the dialogue, a remarkable thing and a risky one in this part of the world. We are looking at ways to partner with them in the States and perhaps the UK.
The dean, Dr Aisha, is sitting in the middle with the white skirt. The woman sitting to her left is the head of what would be the equivalent of the systematic theology department at QU. What I wouldn't give to bring these two women to the US to speak to our seminary!
Then we met with one of the profs, an American Jesuit priest, and a number of sophomore students (3 women, two men) at Georgetown's School of Foriegn Service. The women were Qatari Muslims. One of the men was a Christian from Lebanon, the other was a Muslim from Bosnia. The women were very progressive in their outlook; they see themselves as the future political movers and shakers of the country. Although they wear headscarves and abaya, their abayas were open from the waist down and we could see their (designer) jeans and their (Manolo Blahnik and Jimmy Choo) shoes. The guys were a tad more conservative, but as Fr. Ryan from Georgetown said, the students really self-select to apply to this school; you are going to see the kids who were brought up with a British style education (the girls were in an IB program at Qatar Academy) and who are the most progressive in their viewpoints applying to a school like this. They seemed very bright and mature beyond their years. I hope the government will take advantage of their training and intelligence.
Just another one of the amazing adventures of the last few days.