Following the Erbial meeting, a conference on  Reconciliation and Citizenship in Iraq:
A Consultation of Civic and Religious Leaders, was held in Bern, 18–19 June 2016.
This was organized by the Peace Research Institute of Oslo (PRIO),  Hikmat Center for Dialogue and CSIME.
Among the participants from Iraq were Dr. Mashhadani (former speaker of Parliament), Dr. Waleed al Hilli advisor to the Prime Minister of Iraq, Archbishop Nawfali of Basrah and South Chaldean Church, and a few other prominent scholars and thinkers.
In addition to Iraqis, some European ambassadors and scholars were also attended the conference.
Right after the meeting, Organizers and Dr. Mashhadani, had a private meeting with Mr. Rosseir ,the State Secretary of Switzerland in which they discussed the current situation of Iraq and ways of defeating ISIS and how to rebuild Mosel after Daish.
CSIME board member and senior advisor, Mr. David Laylin, participated in a symposium Sept 7th, organized by the Washington think tank, the Atlantic Council. The subject was the disappearing Hamoun wetlands of Sistan, Iran and the need for technical and financial assistance from the World Bank. The documentary film, Once a Hamoun, directed by the well-known film maker, Mohammad Ehsani, was shown. David Laylin was instrumental in getting this film made, approved and shown. He also participated in the panel discussion.
There is a webcast available at:
Click the link to here for his remarks.
 

 

Dr. Noori’s talk at the ILEC 2016 International Legal Ethics Conference VII

The seventh International Legal Ethics Conference was held from July 14 to 16 at Fordham Law School. The three-day conference, held every other year in a different country, featured more than 80 programs on a range of topics including access to justice, international rule of law, challenges to judicial integrity, and professional regulation. More than 400 prominent academics, practicing lawyers, and regulators from around the world presented papers, spoke on panels, and engaged in discussions concerning the legal profession and legal ethics.

“For the first time, hundreds of lawyers and legal academics from 60 countries gathered in one place to discuss the role of lawyers and judges in promoting the rule of law in both developed and developing countries,” said Bruce Green, director of the Stein Center and holder of the Louis Stein Chair of Law. “Despite differences in our legal systems and cultures, lawyers from around the world can learn from each other.” The theme of this year’s conference was the “Ethics and Regulation of Lawyers Worldwide: Comparative and Interdisciplinary Perspectives.”

Dr. Seyed Masoud Noori, (Trinity University Center for International Engagement/ US) and his colleagues Zoha Savadkouhifar, (University of Tehran/ Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto University of Law/ Pakistan); Muhammad Sarfaraz Ali Metlo, (Qaisar & Metlo Law Chambers/ Pakistan) and Rana Sajjad Ahmad, (Advocate, High Court/ Pakistan) had a panel discussion titled “Comparative Study on Legal Education and Ethics in Two Islamic Neighbor Countries: Current Situation and Future Perspectives”

About this Program: Iran and Pakistan are among the four countries that are called “Islamic Republics” in their Constitutions.  Therefore, Islamic rules are points of connection between them.  However, their legal systems differ, and they have different codes of conduct for judges and different regulation of judges and lawyers.  In this program, the panelists will begin by describing the current state of judicial and legal ethics in Iran and Pakistan, based on the rules, education system of law students, and their own experiences.  They will then discuss challenges and opportunities ahead, and suggest guidelines and solutions, to promote ethical practice of judges and lawyers toward the end of promoting the rule of law in both countries.  Finally, the panelists will invite questions, feedback and suggestions from attendees in light of the experience in their own judicial and legal systems.

This was the third time that Dr. Iravani attended this significant gathering which comprised of various world leaders. As a scholar and as a member of Global Agenda Council, he played an active role at the Forum.

Dr. Iravani, as a panelist, contributed in four public and private sessions.

In addition, he started his first day by offering prayer and some words at the church.

He was able to meet with world leaders including U.S.  Vice Presedent Baidn, Secretary of State Dr. Kerry, Iranian Chief of Staff and  Special Envoy Dr. Nahavandian, Iranian Foreign minster D. Zarif, Dr. Ashraf Ghani Afghanistan President, Dr al Ibadi Prime Minster of Iraq. In all of these meeting he discussed the significant roles of faith and faith leaders in bringing peace and stability to the region. Also, he expressed his thanks and appreciation for all of those countries which played a positive role and supported the deal between Iran and the West.

He also participated in Dr. Davoutpglou’s dinner reception, Prime Minister of Turkey in which they discussed the positive effects of Turkey utilizing its friendly relations to create peace between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Report April 2016 – Dr. Akhlaq

 

Dr. Akhlaq presentation at Borah Symposium in Idaho University

Following official invitation of Borah Committee, Borah Symposium 2016 on “Waging Peace,” 4-6 April in University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho, Dr. Sayed Hassan Akhlaq presented at the Panel Discussion on Refugee Crisis alongside with Kristin Haltinner (Assistant Professor, UI), Jan Reeves (Director, Idaho Office for Refugees), and Craig Redmond (Senior Vice President of Programs, Mercy Corps). Dr. Akhlaq criticized the reproachful propaganda about Refugees Crisis and called for a return to roots of European culture in the Enlightenment. During his stay in Idaho, Dr. Akhlaq presented a talk about Islamic Philosophy at the Philosophy Department of UI. Both panel and talk were followed with QA which provided a chance for detailed discussion.

For more information about Borah Symposium look at the following link:

https://www.uidaho.edu/class/borah/2016/sayed-hassan-akhlaq

 

CSIMI at Indiana University,

Dr. Akhlaq presented his last work on Salman, the Persian, and his Position in Inter and Intra-Faith Dialogue in Earlier Islam at a Professional workshop on “Workshop on Holistic Approaches to the Study of Early Islam and the Late Antique World,” April 15-17, 2016, in Indiana University.  The purpose of workshop was to trace the intercultural and inter-faith study to the earlier time of Islam and the late antiquity. During stay at Indiana University Dr. Akhlaq also had several meetings with Professor Nazif Shahrani, the distinguished Afghani anthropologist.

UntitledFor more information about the workshop, see the following link:

http://indiana.edu/~relstud/news/islam_workshop

 

CSIME at the Special Seminar on “Divine Will, Creation and providence in Arab Philosophy”

Dr. Akhlaq represented CSIME at the special seminar held Marquette University on the Marquette Campus with attendance via Skype throughout the World. There were 8 Friday and Monday meetings during Winter/Spring 2016 on “Divine Will, Creation and Providence in the Greek, Arabic, and Latin Medieval Traditions.” Dr. Akhlaq attended the meeting with many comments on comparative philosophy as well as examining Islamic philosopher from an insider viewpoint.  To learn more, click the following link:

http://academic.mu.edu/taylorr/Aquinas_and_the_Arabs/Special_Seminar_Winter_Spring_2016.html

 

CSIME at the Event Understanding and Overcoming Poverty

Dr. Akhlaq gave a talk at the Catholic University of America on the vent: “Poverty through the Lens of Culture and Values: Case Studies of Latin America and Islam” at April 14, 2016. The presentation discussed the meaning and implications of Zakat in Islam. It was followed by AQ session and welcomed by audiences. To learn more, see the following link:

https://nest.cua.edu/organization/cscv/calendar/details/935072

 

CSIME at the American Academy of Religion

Dr. Akhlaq represented CSIME at the MAR-AAR 2016 Annual Conference at Hyatt Regency, New Brunswick, NJ, March 9-11, 2016.  He presented two papers. The first at the Section “Religion, Conflict, and Peace” and Session on The Impact of Religious Belief and Practice on Peace and Violence. Dr. Akhlaq Presented “Peacemaking Is a Manifest Victory – Inside and Outside; the Quranic Chapter 48.” The second at the Section “Religion, Gender, and Sexuality” and Session on Interfaith Spirituality and Women. Dr. Akhlaq presented “Reflections on Feminist Steaks in Averroes.”  For more information, the detailed program is available at the following link:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9N7lik-JDyUUzBCQktJejRHSzQ/view?pref=2&pli=1

 

 

In cooperation with  Hikmat Center for Dialogue, CSIME arranged a visit for the director and senior advisers of Peace Research Center of Oslo (PRIO) on January 2016.

During the visit, Dr. Iravani, and Norwegian delegation met with Grand Ayatollah Hakim, lectured at Kufah University, and met and discussed the current situation of Iraq with clergies, writers, and civil society activists.

They also paid visit to the orphanage facility of Grand Ayatollah Hakim which provides different kinds of help to thousand of children and widows.

Dr. Iravain also payed visit to Al Alamain University. He met with the President as well as HE Syed Bahraloloum along with some faculties.

In their meetings, they explored different ways of cooperation between two institutions.

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This declaration sums up the joint recommendations of a group of intellectuals and religious leaders from a wide range of Iraqi communities and from several European countries. It resulted from a conference that took place in Erbil on 2-5 June 2016. The declaration is based on an inclusive concept of Iraqi citizenship where sectarian identities must be overcome and aim at promoting constructive political engagement within Iraqi society.  It elucidates how respect for the dignity of the individual, for diversity and the rule of law willfurther democracy in Iraq and provide the basis for necessary reconciliation processes.  The conference was hosted by the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), the Hikmeh Center for Dialogue and Cooperation (HCDC), and the Center for the Study of Islam and the Middle East(CSIME).

To read the Erbil Declaration in English Click Here. You can also read the Arabic version Here.

[lvca_accordion style=”style2″][lvca_panel panel_title=”Freedom vs Control: for a democratic response, World Forum for Democracy, Strasbourg, France”]

Dr Iravani, was invited by Dr. Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, to address the fourth edition of the World Forum for Democracy which took place from 18 to 20 November at the Council of Europe and other venues in Strasbourg, France.

After the dramatic events earlier this year in Europe, the rise of extremism and terrorism in the world, and in the context of the global debate on surveillance, the organizers decided that the theme of this year’s Forum will focus on the tensions which democracies face and to examine the threats to freedom or “Freedom vs control: for a democratic response.”

This year, the Forum was a unique platform for dialogue on institutional and community solutions and innovative ideas to understand the security measures to be implemented today without compromising freedom and democratic stability.

The tragic event of Paris which was right before the opening of the forum gave more importance to the meeting and create an opportunity to look at the problem more seriously.

As the president of the Center for the Study of Islam and the Middle East, which is committed to promoting mutual understanding between people of different faiths and cultures through research and education, Dr. Iravani had a chance to share his ideas and concerns regarding how to build trust and resilience among divers societies and how to contribute to peaceful intercultural relations.

Over 1500 participants from a wide range of backgrounds – politicians, academics, activists, media and business professionals from around the world – attended the Forum and thousands more followed the live sessions on the internet.

[/lvca_panel][lvca_panel panel_title=”Duties of the faith community in response to the issue of homelessness in America”]

 Duties of the faith community in response to the issue of homelessness in America was the focus of discussion on July 12, 2015 at the IMAN Cultural Center in Los Angeles, CA.  Dr. Sadegh Namazikhah, president and founder of the IMAN Cultural Center, introduced Mr. Mohammad Mohanna CSIME”S President of the Wes Coast) at this interfaith event.  Many political, academic, and religious leaders were present, along with a diverse audience of Christians, Jewish, Muslims, and other faiths at the Iftar dinner gala.
The Sacramento documentary movie on homelessness, substance abuse, showcased the 30-year work of Mohanna in establishing a continuum of care facility in one of his buildings for the city’s underprivileged and marginalized.
Remarkable dialogue and conversation began among the leaders of the faith community of Southern California and the capitol of the golden state, Sacramento.

[/lvca_panel][lvca_panel panel_title=”Atlantic Council, Albright-Hadley Iftar Reception, Washington, DC”]

On July 9th following the invitation of Atlantic Council Dr. Iravani, attended a second series of “public hearings” convened by Co-Chairs, Secretary Albright and Stephen Hadley. The hearing was on the role religion does or does not play in the current disorder in the region: the civil wars, the phenomena of radicalization, and increased sectarian tensions. The event had the theme “What’s Religion Got to Do with It?” The point was to explore to what extent religion or politics (or something else entirely) is the main driver – and, to illuminate how religion is often instrumentalized by extremists for political purposes.

There was an Iftar reception immediately afterward and Dr. Iravani talked about the significance of Ramadan and the Iftar to the Washington policy crowd.

Iravani said that In Islam, the way He sees and understands it: all the rituals and laws and regulations related to them are means to an end and a goal. That goal is to become a better person and become closer to God in way that he or she will manifest Absolut Good.

He also talked about ritual and social dimension of fasting and at the end prayed for peace and prosperity in the world in particular for a good agreement based on respect, dignity and trust between Iran and the USA.

[/lvca_panel][lvca_panel panel_title=”Lectures at the Islamic Cultural Center of North California”]

Following the invitation of the Islamic Cultural Center of North California, Dr. Akhlaq attended and delivered a series of 10 lectures from July 2th to July 12th on occasion of Holy Month of Ramazan in which he presented speeches on “The Unique Features of the Noble Quran,” “The Inward Etiquettes of Reciting the Quran,” and “Imam Ali ibn Abitalib and his Contribution to Benevolence, Beauty and the Knowledge”.  The main focus of speeches was how Muslims should recite the Quran or look at Imam Ali in order to promote virtues, goodness, and the existential qualities for building a better community.  The presentations, following with Q and A sessions, were highly appreciated by Muslim community of the North California with various background including Iranians and Afghanis.  Dr. Akhlaq also talked separately about Muslim Youths and Modern World with Muslim Students of Bleckley and Stanford Universities during his trip to Bay Areas.

[/lvca_panel][lvca_panel panel_title=”Iftar Reception at Iranian Interest Section, Washington, DC”]

On July 3rd, following the invitation Director of Iranian Interest Section, Mr. Atefat, Dr. Iravani attended Iftar reception and was asked to talk.

In his remark, he mentioned about the unique position of this month that no other months have it.

Nights, days, and hours, and of this month are superior to all times. Ramadan is a time of spiritual reflection, improvement and increased devotion and worship. A month that all Evils and Satan are in chained and doors of repentance and forgiveness are opened.

Then he talked about the importance of “Ibrahim Dialogue” that has been going on between Iranians and Americans for the last 15 years that had tremendous impacts on better understanding and establishing friendship and trust among both sides leaders and thinkers.

Talking about the importance of prayer in the Holly month of Ramdhan, Iravani prayed for peace all around the world in particular between Iran and the USA. A kind of lasting peace that based on respect, trust and dignity.

[/lvca_panel][lvca_panel panel_title=”World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa”]

 Dr. Iravani attended The World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa which took place on 21-23 May 2015 at the Dead Sea, Jordan.

Convening under the theme Creating a Regional Framework for Prosperity and Peace Through Public-Private Cooperation, the meeting gathered top decision-makers from the Persian Gulf countries, the Levant, Maghreb and around the world at a pivotal time for the future of the region. Set in the context of national and industry transformations, the program focused on new opportunities for public-private collaboration, which can advance growth and development and address the youth employment imperative.
Meeting also involved high-level multi stake holder dialogues on how to address the humanitarian situation in the Levant and achieve peace and security.

In addition of some private meetings with NGOs, some World leaders and businessmen, Dr. Iravani was part of two panels and workshops:

The first one was about “The Changing Security Landscape interactive workshop” which explored the changing security landscape and the impact of geopolitical trends on the Middle East and North Africa. Participants identified the drivers of change in security and their implications for regional and industry agendas and include experts and stakeholders relevant to security in the region – from business, government, international organizations, civil society and academia.

The second one was being a Discussion Leader at a public session on “radicalization” The role of the Discussion Leader was to facilitate the conversation among a break out group of high level participants considering the psychological complexities around the phenomenon of violent radicalization of youth. As facilitator, He kept the participants focused on the key objectives of the discussion and help advance constructive dialogue on the issue.

http://www.weforum.org/events/world-economic-forum-middle-east-and-north-africa-2015

[/lvca_panel][lvca_panel panel_title=”The 15th International Likhachov Scientific Conference 14-15 May 2015″]

 Following the invitation of Professor Alexander Zapesotsky, Rector of St. Petersburg University of Humanities and Social Sciences and Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Dr. Iravani attended the 15th International Likhachov Scientific Conference On “Contemporary Global Challenges and National Interests” in which he presented a paper on “National Interest Challenged: Religion, part of the solution”.

Please click the link for the full text of speeches

http://www.lihachev.ru/chten_eng/2015/

[/lvca_panel][lvca_panel panel_title=”Webinar on relationship between Jewish and Muslim thought”]

The Catholic University of America (CUA), Columbus School of Law, along with the CSIME hosted the second webinar which was held on February 23rd of 2015. The other partners were the University of Religion and Denominations, Qom, Iran, University of Kufah, Iraq and University of Chicago. More than 6 professors of Jewish studies from different part of American universities and colleges, and 10 Iraqi and 6 Iranian professors of Islamic studies were participated in this webinar.

This 90 minute webinar was moderated by Dr. Iravani. After a brief introduction, he asked Dr. Ali Shabazi, Research Fellow and Lecturer at the University of Religion and Denominations, to present his paper on “Jewish Theological Systematization in the Context of Islamic Culture”.    Following Dr. Shabazi’s talk, there was an opportunity for some participants to raise questions and comments.

This was the second session of a series of interactive webinars between Iranian/Iraqi/American professors of Islamic and Jewish Studies exploring the relationship between Jewish and Muslim thought. The first session was moderated by Prof. Breger and Professor Josef Stern of the University of Chicago presented his paper.

Two Audio Files Available at:  http://lib.law.cua.edu/mockup/Breger/webinar/

[/lvca_panel][lvca_panel panel_title=”Prayer and talk at St. Anselm’s Abbey, Washington, D.C.”]

On 12 of February 2015, the Rt. Rev. Dom James Wiseman of St. Anselm’s Abbey invited Dr. Ahmad Iravani to take part in a prayer and discuss issues ranging from Iran and US relations to extremism and fundamentalism. St. Anselm’s Abbey is a Benedictine Abbey based in Washington, D.C.  Dr. Iravani had dinner with the Fathers and Abbots of St. Anselm’s Abbey. After dinner, Dr. Iravani discussed his journey from Iran to the United States. Dr. Iravani also talked about his recent trip to the Middle East that included his visits to the nations of Iran and Iraq. The audience then asked Dr. Iravani questions about the current conflict in the region.

He also talked about the United States and Iranian relationship. Dr. Iravani discussed the growing extremism and fundamentalism in the region and around the world. At the end of the gathering, Dr. Iravani prayed along side the Monks for peace and guidance throughout the world. The visit of Dr. Iravani to St. Anselm’s Abbey is an effort to further interfaith dialogues that will foster understanding among religious leaders from different faiths. Dr. Iravani was honored to be able to speak about his life experience that has led him from humble beginnings in Iran to the United States.

[/lvca_panel][lvca_panel panel_title=”Director of UNESCO Chair at Kufa University Dr. Nadhem visits CSIME”]

On the 5th of February 2015, Dr. Ahmad Iravani along with Dr. Mosoud Noori hosted Dr. Hassan Nadhem, director of UNESCO Chair at Kufa University in Iraq and Dr. Abbas Kadhim, a postdoctoral fellow at John Hopkins’ Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies and CSIME. At the meeting, both participants agreed to work closely by running projects together in order to advance understanding between the Middle East and the United States.

As part of the discussions and talks, Dr. Iravani offered CSIME’s aid in providing support and opportunity for students and scholars, who desire to come to the United States for a short term or long term to study, train or conduct research in American institutions. Following the meeting at CSIME, Dr. Iravani invited both Dr. Nadhem and Dr. Kadhim for light visit at the Catholic University of America (CUA). At CUA, Dr. Nadhem and Dr. Kadhim along with Dr. Iravani had a meeting with Robert Destro, Professor of law and the founding director of the Interdisciplinary Program in Law and Religion at CUA and Marshal Breger, Professor of law at the Columbus School of Law and CUA.

At the meeting, professors Destro and Breger agreed that the Law School at CUA along with Professor Destro’s Center are ready and willing conduct joint programs Kufa University and CSIME. The gathering was made possible following Dr. Iravani’s trip to Iraq where he met with the Chancellor and Dean of Kufa University. The meeting prompted a wider dialogue on the need to have exchanges of scholars and students between Iraqi institutions and American institutions. During his visit at Kufa University, Dr. Iravani gave a lecture as well.

[/lvca_panel][lvca_panel panel_title=”Speech at the National Prayer Breakfast,Washington, D.C.”]

Dr. Ahmad Iravani, director of the Center for the Study of Islam and the Middle East (CSIME) was invited to deliver a message about Muslim and Iranian perspective on Jesus at the 2015 National Prayer Breakfast. The National Prayer Breakfast is a yearly event held in Washington, D.C., on the first Thursday of February each year. Some 3,500 guests including international invitees from over 100 countries attend the National Prayer Breakfast.  The event is designed as a forum for the political, social, and business elite to assemble and build relationships.

Dr. Ahmad Fatfat, a Lebanese politician and a Sunni Muslim, joined Dr. Iravani, a Shiite Muslim on stage. One of the major aspects and ideals of the National Prayer Breakfast is the idea that people who would normally be defined as mortal enemies can come together despite their differences because of Jesus.

In his remarks at the gathering, Dr. Iravani told those in attendance that Jesus has a very unique position within Islam that no one has or will ever have. Dr. Iravani talked about the birth of Jesus and stated that according to the Quran, Jesus was born to Mary or Mariam as a result of vaginal conception. Dr. Iravani also spoke about the departure of Jesus from the earth. Dr. Iravani told the audience that Muslims don’t believe that Jesus was crucified but rather was raised by God to heaven and will return. Dr. Iravani told the audience that in Islam, Jesus is a prophet and thus submits to the will of God like all prophets. Dr. Iravani said that Jesus was the only prophet in Islam that had the capacity level of performing miracles such as healing the blind and raising the dead.

Dr. Iravani listed other two attributes to Jesus. The first was that Jesus was worthy of respect in this world and after. Dr. Iravani told the audience that the second attribute to Jesus was Mubarak, which translates to blessed. Dr. Iravani said that Mubarak also means a source of benefit for others. Dr. Iravani urged the audience that we should all follow Jesus in that manner as a source of benefit for others especially in today’s world where people are seeking and crying out for help.

While speaking on the need to follow Jesus’ example as a source of benefit for others, Dr. Iravani paused to pay tribute and sympathy to the nation of Jordan after the Jordanian pilot, Moaz al-Kassasbeh, was brutally burned to death by the terrorist group ISIS. Dr. Iravani also paid tribute to the people of France after what they had gone through during the Charlie Hebdo attacks by extremists. He also offered his profound sympathy to the people of Iraq and Syria for what they are enduring at the moment.

In his conclusion, Dr. Iravani told the audience that Jesus had two other exceptional talents that belonged to him alone. The first was that Jesus was the word of God and the second being that Jesus was the spread of God. In the end, Dr. Iravani told those in attendance that Iranian literature and hundreds of poems are filled with description of Jesus’ personality. Those personalities of Jesus include his detachment from material love, his sacrifice for others, and his care for the poor. Dr. Iravani concluded by stating that we are all blessed and proud to be followers of Jesus. Dr. Iravani told the audience that we are praying and asking God to bring together the nations of Iran and America and for God to give the leaders of these two nations wisdom in order to bring peace between the two great nations. Dr. Iravani finished his remarks by telling that the audience their prayers are needed.

The underlining message that Dr. Iravani gave the audience was the idea that we all should follow Jesus’ example in all aspects of our lives. The world is hurting and people are looking for help. We can all answer that call by being a source of benefit for the less fortunate among us.

This was the 13th times that Iravani was attending. During the gathering he had many meetings with religious, business and political leaders both national and international. 

[/lvca_panel][/lvca_accordion]

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[lvca_accordion style=”style2″][lvca_panel panel_title=”Trip to Iraq”]

 In December of 2014, Dr. Ahmad Iravani visited the nation of Iraq after his visits in Iran. Dr. Iravani received the invitation to visit Iraq from the office of Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Saeed Al-Hakim. Ayatollah Al-Hakim is the most senior Shia clerics in Iraq after Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. While in his visit to Iraq, Dr. Iravani met with Grand Ayatollah Basheer al-Najafi, Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Ishaq al-Fayyad. Dr. Iravani was able to visit a charity established by Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Saeed Al-Hakim. The charity is responsible for taking care of 80,000 families that have been affected by the recent eruption of violence in the region. Dr. Iravani also visited a local refugee camp that hosts several families who have fled from their homes and territories controlled by the Islamic State and other extremist groups in the region.

While in Iraq, Dr. Iravani visited University of Kufa and met with the Dean of Law School Dr. Hadi Hussein Abid Ali and the Dean of Sharia. Dr. Iravani gave a lecture to the faculty, professors, and students. The lecture given by Dr. Iravani was centered on the need of dialogue amongst not just within the different groups within Iraq but the need of dialogue that extends to the West that would foster understanding between the Muslim world and West. Dr. Iravani told the audience at Kufa University about his own experience on how concrete dialogue can bring understanding not only to people with different faiths but to communities and cultures that will enable unity between the Muslim world and the West.

Dr. Iravani met with Dr. Hassan Nadhem, Director of UNESCO Chair for the Development of Interreligious Dialogue Studies in the Islamic World at the University of Kufa. Dr. Iravani and Dr. Nadhem discussed different ways that the Center for the Study of Islam and the Middle East (CSIME) and University of Kufa can cooperate to further understanding between the West and the Middle East. The two men proposed setting a program where students and scholars from Kufa can come to the United States through CSIME to study and conduct research at American institutions for number weeks.

During the meeting with the Grand Ayatollahs, Dr. Iravani gave them a detailed report about the lives of the Shiite Muslims living in the United States. Dr. Iravani urged the Grand Ayatollahs to use more and new tactics to curtail the new generation of Muslims in the West. Dr. Iravani urged the Grand Ayatollahs not to go back to the old ways but to modernize with the changing world to get the attention of young Muslims around the globe.

Dr. Iravani also met with the head of the Supreme Council of Iraq, the Deputy of the Iraqi government, and the head of the Islamic Dawa Party, which currently holds power in Iraq. Dr. Iravani visited University of Baghdad where he met with the Dean of Humanities and Sciences. Dr. Iravani lectured at the University of Baghdad where he spoke and shared his own personal journey that led him from Iran to the United States. The visit at the University of Baghdad was also an opportunity to explore partnership and cooperation between the University and CSIME. Before concluding his trip to Iraq, Dr. Iravani visited the Syriac Orthodox Church in Baghdad where he celebrated with the fathers and was able to spend the evening with refugees sheltered there from the affliction of war. Dr. Iravani last stop on his visit to Iraq was the Mutanabbi Street, a historic center of Baghdad bookselling filled with bookstores and outdoor bookstalls. Named after the 10th century classical Iraqi poet Al-Mutanabbi, Mutanabbi Street is well established for bookselling and has often been referred to as the heart and soul of the Baghdad literacy and intellectual community.

[/lvca_panel][lvca_panel panel_title=”Trip to Iran”]

 

Dr. Ahmad Iravani, executive director of the Center for the Study of Islam and the Middle East (CSIME) attended the World Against Violence and Extremism (WAVE) conference in Tehran, Iran on December 9th and 10th of 2014. WAVE conference was an idea proposed by Iranian president Hassan Rouhani at the 68th annual session of the United Nations General Assembly in 2013 to combat violence and extremism. At the core of the WAVE initiative, the goal and mission is to contribute toward resolving some of the most outstanding problems of the 21st century caused by acts of violence and extremism, especially the various brutal acts of violence carried out in the name of religion in the Muslim world, which have spread terror and fear in the Middle East.

Dr. Iravani was invited to attend the WAVE conference by the foreign ministry of the Republic of Iran. At the conference, Dr. Iravani lectured on the ideas of fighting, combating, and facing extremism. Dr. Iravani told the audience in attendance that the leaders of this terror groups might be puppets doing the bids of others or may actually have their own agendas and elect to misuse religion to accommodate and further their agenda. Dr. Iravani also went on to tell the audience that many of the followers of these extremist and terrorist groups are in many ways brainwashed in their beliefs.

Dr. Iravani told the audience that extremist interpretations and narratives of Islam, though still representing a small minority of the faithful, cannot be written off as simply “un-Islamic”. Dr. Iravani said it is this reading of Islam that strikes a chord with a disillusioned, angry, alienated but often educated cohort of Muslim youth. To deal with rise of radicalism and extremism, Dr. Iravani laid two options of either expelling those using religion to further their extremist agenda from Islam or accept that they are indeed Muslims who have gone astray from the teachings of the prophet. Dr. Iravani believes that the latter is the right way to counter extremism. He believes that in order to combat the rise of extremism and radicalism in the Arab world, its vital to acknowledge that these extremist groups are indeed Muslims who have perverted Islam to benefit their agendas.

Dr. Iravani explained that the long-term way to combat radicalism and extremism is by reaching out to Muslim communities and families as partners, not as targets; as human beings and agencies, not as suspects. By doing this, Dr. Iravani believes the outreach should help families and communities hear authentic narratives of Islam, which promote peace, mercy, and the real practice of Prophet Muhammad. Dr. Iravani also proposed bringing together the highest authorities of Islam from different schools to articulate the competing narrative that is both authentic and practiced by the vast majority of Muslims. Dr. Iravani believes that social services of religious institutions and life styles of community leaders can play a vital role in shaping youth’s perception and behavior. The last proposal that Dr. Iravani told the audience is to tackle the structural problem of economic exclusion, which does not lend itself to one-size-fits-all solutions and require government and private-sector coordination and contribution.

While in Tehran, Dr. Iravani met with Iranian political, business and religious leaders to discuss ways to improve dialogue between Iran and the west, specifically Iranian institutions and American institutions. Dr. Iravani met with former Iranian president Ali Khamenei, chief justice of Iran, Jewish members of parliament and clerical leaders from Sunni and Shiite groups. The meeting was very substantive as Dr. Iravani discussed with clerics the role of dialogue and the work that CSIME is doing. The theme during the meeting was one of improving understanding between the West and the Muslim world through dialogues among the religious leaders from both sides of the world. The Tehran visit concluded with Dr. Iravani meeting with the Iranian foreign minister Dr. Javad Zarif and the former prime minister of Norway Dr. Bondeveick.

[/lvca_panel][lvca_panel panel_title=”Visiting Iran and attending ICRO’s Conference”]

 In November of 2014, after his Dubai trip at the World Economic Forum Summit on Global Agenda, Dr. Iravani visited Iran and attended a conference hosted by Islamic Culture and Relations Organization (ICRO). ICRO aims to create enduring partnership between Iran and other cultures by creating opportunities to connect with the latest skills, ideas and experience from Iran. ICRO seeks to promote mutual understanding among peoples of different cultures, to preserve and promote cultural heritage, both tangible and intangible, and to enhance the cultural activities and creativity. The ICRO conference was held to celebrate 20 years of dialogue, partnership, and cooperation between the Shiite Muslims and the Catholic Church in Iran. The conference was hosted and led by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran. Cardinal Tauran is the President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and he is also in charge of the Commission for Religious Relations with Muslims. In 2010, Dr. Iravani and Cardinal Tauran participated in the Christian-Muslim Summit held in Rome vowing to walk hand in hand in an effort to promote peace. During the ICRO conference, Dr. Iravani was able to conduct meetings with religious and political leaders emphasizing the need for dialogue that will give birth to more understanding and unity between people of different beliefs and faiths.

[/lvca_panel][lvca_panel panel_title=”Dr. Wolfgang Brandstetter, Federal Minister of Justice of the Republic of Austria, spoke at the CUA”]

 Dr. Wolfgang Brandstetter, Federal Minister of Justice of the Republic of Austria, spoke at the Columbus School of Law on September 29 about Human Trafficking.

The event was sponsored by  The Interdisciplinary Program on Law and Religion, Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies and The Center for the Study of Islam and the Middle East.

[/lvca_panel][lvca_panel panel_title=”Dr. Noori, CSIME Research Director’s Visit to West Coast”]

 By invitation of the Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California (ICCNC) which is an independent, non-profit, community based organization, as well as through Mr. Mohammad Mohanna’s and Dr. Alireza Mahmoudieh’s (two members of CSIME Board of Directors and Advisors) countless efforts, collaboration and support, Dr. Noori traveled to California from July 9 – 26.

In this trip Dr. Noori gave three religious lectures on July 10 – 12 at the ICCNC as well a talk on July 12th at the interfaith gathering on celebration of Ramadan. He emphasized on three points that interfaith cooperation should focused on, in the contemporary world: confronting religious extremism, human rights, especially children, the future of the environment.
ON Monday 14 July he had a meeting for the feasibility of developing cooperation between the CSIME and UC Davis. Presents at the meeting were:
– Dr. Bob Kerr – Assistant Vice Provost of International Affairs, UC Davis
– Dr. James Thorne – Research Scientist at Information Center for the Environment, UC Davis
– Professor Arnold Bloom – Professor of Climate Change, UC Davis
– Professor Warren Pickett – Professor of Physics, UC Davis and faculty contact at Sharif University (recently returned from Iran)
– Dr. Noori – Research Director, CSIME
– Mr. Moe Mohanna – President of West Coast, CSIMEM
– Nikky Mohanna – Special Projects Manager, CSIME

On Monday 14 July he had another meeting at UC Davis focused on environmental issues and the possibility of cooperation in exchanging UC Davis experiences and knowledge about the ways to deal with the environment crisis to religious leaders and institutions in the Middle East.
Presents at the meeting were:
– Dr. Bob Kerr – Assistant Vice Provost of International Affairs, UC Davis
– Professor Warren Pickett – Professor of Physics, UC Davis and faculty contact at Sharif University
– Professor Richard Frank – Director of California Environmental Law & Policy Center, UC Davis School of Law, and Professor of Environmental Practice
– Dr. Noori – Research Director, CSIME
– Mr. Moe Mohanna – President of West Coast, CSIME
– Nikky Mohanna – Special Projects Manager, CSIME

Another meeting was held on July 23 with a number of Iranian activist and friend CSIME in Sacramento and surrounding towns to give them a report on CSIME activities and future plans.
Other meeting was on 24 July with Professor Brian K. Landsberg in his office at Mc-George School of Law, University of the Pacific. In this visit which was accompanied by Mr. Mohanna, Dr. Noori presented a report of CSIME activities and programs. Due to the scope of work and expertise of Prof. Landsberg they talked about a conference/workshop to exchange experiences among Middle Eastern and Western Judges, as well as workshops to assist Middle Eastern Law schools to update their law education and expand their clinical activities. Prof. Landsberg welcomed the idea of holding these programs and expressed their interest to cooperate.
Dr. Noori during his stay in the Sacramento and Davis gave 10 religious lectures in three Islamic centers.

[/lvca_panel][lvca_panel panel_title=”A Conversation on Diplomacy and Religion in the Middle East”]

 What is the relationship between diplomacy and religion in the Middle East? What are the scope and limits for cooperation between clerics and diplomats? How can religion and diplomacy work together on specific problems such as Iran, Syria, Iraq, and Israeli-Palestinian issues? Why have Secretaries of State Clinton and Kerry given new emphasis to the role of religion in diplomacy, especially in the Middle East? These were among the questions that were addressed by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington, and Ayatollah Dr. Ahmad Iravani, President and Executive Director of the Center for the Study of Islam and the Middle East (CSIME), and Fellow at the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies, Catholic University in a conversation moderated by MEI Scholar and retired Foreign Service officer Allen Keiswetter. The event drew a significant media presence and a crowd of over 80 people. The podcast and video from the event are available on the Middle East Institute website. What is the relationship between diplomacy and religion in the Middle East? What are the scope and limits for cooperation between clerics and diplomats? How can religion and diplomacy work together on specific problems such as Iran, Syria, Iraq, and Israeli-Palestinian issues? Why have Secretaries of State Clinton and Kerry given new emphasis to the role of religion in diplomacy, especially in the Middle East? These were among the questions that were addressed by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington, and Ayatollah Dr. Ahmad Iravani, President and Executive Director of the Center for the Study of Islam and the Middle East (CSIME), and Fellow at the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies, Catholic University in a conversation moderated by MEI Scholar and retired Foreign Service officer Allen Keiswetter. The event drew a significant media presence and a crowd of over 80 people. The podcast and video from the event are available on the Middle East Institute website.  

[/lvca_panel][lvca_panel panel_title=”CSIME Leads Abrahamic Delegation to Iran”]

 From May 23 to June 1, 2014, CSIME led an extraordinary delegation of top religious leaders in the United States to Iran. Delegates included Pastor Dr. Joel Hunter, Obama’s Spiritual Adviser, Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner, President of the Skinner Leadership Institute, Dr. Roy Medley, General Secretary of the American Baptist Churches USA, Dr. Bob Roberts, founding Senior Pastor of NorthWood Church, the megachurch in Dallas, Texas, Dr. Sayyid Syeed, the National Director of the Office for Interfaith and Community Alliances for the Islamic Society of North America, Dr. James Kowalski, Dean of the Cathedral of Saint John in New York and Dr. Robert Destro, Law Professor and Founding Director of the Interdisciplinary Program in Law and Religion at the Catholic University of America, and Dr. Ahmad Iravani the President of CSIME. This delegation of Abrahamic faith leaders traveled to Tehran, Esfahan and the holy city of Qom to engage in dialogue with top religious leaders in Iran and discuss matters of mutual interest. On May 25, 2014, the delegation attended the “World Free from Violence and Extremism from the Perspective of Abrahamic Religions” Conference held at the Islamic Culture and Relations Organization in Tehran. This conference paved the way for open dialogue between Iranian religious thinkers and parliamentary leaders and U.S. religious leaders. This unprecedented dialogue which was focused on religious tolerance fostered new perspectives and brought the Abrahamic faiths together on common ground. “We found a genuine openness to American ideas and approaches, and a common desire to build a faith-based path to peace,” delegate Dr. Bob Roberts stated. On the evening of May 27, 2014, Mohammad Mohanna, CSIME President of the West Coast, hosted a dinner for the delegates in Tehran. The head of the budget committee of the Parliament in Iran, Ayatollah Mesbahi-Moghaddam was a special speaker and made remarks on the importance of increasing dialogue between the American and Iranian people. Dr. Ayatollahi, the former representative of Iran to the International Atomic Energy Agency, was also present and commented on the progress we have made between the US and Iran, and was optimistic about the future of our relations. Throughout the delegation, CSIME held several positive meetings with top Iranian officials, Parliamentary leaders, and President Rouhani’s Office. The outcome of these exchanges provided optimism for peaceful relations and has paved the way for more Abrahamic dialogues and building of trust between our two nations.

[/lvca_panel][lvca_panel panel_title=”Interfaith Council of Greater Sacramento Event”]

 On May 15, 2014, Mr. Mohammad Mohanna, President of CSIME West Coast Division, sponsored the annual Power of One event for the Interfaith Council of Greater Sacramento. At the event, interfaith groups across Northern California came together to recognize the power of interfaith dialogue and understanding. Pastor Rick Cole of the Capital Christian Center was honored at the event for his work in organizing a Winter Sanctuary Staging Ground at facilities donated by Mohanna, for the homeless guests at the Loaves and Fishes Campus in Sacramento. In addition, Women’s Empowerment, a non-profit co-founded by Mohanna, was honored at the event and praised for its work in helping homeless women get the necessary job training and skills to end the vicious cycle of homelessness. The Power of One event recognized the importance of bringing interfaith leaders of various backgrounds together to advocate for sustainable solutions for the less fortunate.

[/lvca_panel][lvca_panel panel_title=”CSIME hosts delegation of top Iranian law students to U.S.”]

 CSIME organized and hosted a delegation of top Iranian law students from Shahid Beheshti University to attend the Philip C. Jessup Moot Court Competition, the world’s largest moot court in International Law, in Washington DC from April 6-12, 2014. The team competed amongst top law students from countries all around the world including Russia, Singapore, Puerto Rico and the Baltic Region. CSIME arranged various meetings for these top students in Washington DC and New York, including a visit to the United Nations. During this trip, CSIME provided opportunities for the law students to familiarize themselves with the US legal system and explore international opportunities and career prospects. The success of this delegation paves the way for future top law students of Iran to engage in further international competitions and establish long-lasting connections with colleagues from around the world. CSIME is dedicated to ensuring opportunities for top Iranian students to travel to the U.S. and engage in dialogue with their peers in fields of interest, building crucial relationships between the future leaders of Iran and the U.S.

[/lvca_panel][lvca_panel panel_title=”62nd National Prayer Breakfast Washington D.C.”]

 Dr. Iravani Brings Message of Faith at National Prayer Breakfast WASHINGTON — CSIME executive director Ayatollah Iravani told participants at the 2014 National Prayer Breakfast that faith and spirituality is important to international peace and should be a central tenet of diplomacy. The National Prayer Breakfast an annual event held in Washington DC on the first Thursday of February, he told attendees, is an opportunity to “help overcome misconceptions and prejudice about other religions and understand that we are all children of God.” This year the event was hosted by the bipartisan duo of Reps. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) and Janice Hahn (D-CA). Ayatollah Iravani emphasized throughout the event the universality of faith and noted the various ways in which people can unite through interfaith endeavors. Moreover, Ayatollah Iravani explained how he had experienced faith and its power throughout his lifetime and stressed how dialogue among those different religions can strengthen peace and tolerance to the world. Ayatollah Iravani also emphasized how the opinions of religious leaders should play a role in diplomacy in the United States and called on government officials to take their opinions into consideration in policy making. He suggested it was clear that the opinions of religious leaders in the United States have been neglected in the past and policy makers need to communicate more often with religious leaders. He himself, the executive director, met with various elected officials and high level representatives as an imperative for the United States to promote further communication with religious leaders. 

[/lvca_panel][lvca_panel panel_title=”CSIME’s Dr. Iravani Attends World Economic Forum”]

 CSIME’s Dr. Iravani attends World Economic Forum Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, 23 January 2014- The Center for the Study of Islam and the Middle East founder and executive director, Dr. Ahmad Iravani, delivered a message of engagement, cooperation, friendship and the importance of interfaith endeavors to the participants at the Davos World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2014. The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2014 took place from January 22 to 25, with the theme of “The Reshaping of the World: Consequences for Society, Politics and Business.” The annual World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, is the place the most powerful and influential people meet: nearly 50 heads of state, thousands of CEOs, members of international organizations, non-governmental organization leaders and also importantly religious leaders. Many of the sessions are televised or streamed online; however majority of the sessions take place under of the record Chathman House rules- reporters are free to quote from the discussion, however are not allowed to say who made which statement. Power Sharing and Political Islam Iravani participated in the off-the-record session, “Power Sharing and Political Islam: How is political Islam dealing with the backlash it is suffering in the Arab world?” This panel discussion included, Dr. Gilbert Lacroix, the vice president of CA Technologies, Dr. Aref A. Naye, Islamic scholar and the Libyan Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates. , Dr. Tasneem A. Siddiqui, the Chairman of Saiban, Dr. Mohamed Ashmawey, Chief Executive Office of Islamic Relief Worldwide and Dr. Ghassan Salamé, Dean of the Paris School of International Affairs. Dr. Iravani was asked to discuss Iran’s perspective on political Islam as it has evolved in the past three years in the Arab world. Interfaith Efforts and Beyond According to WEF, this year was the first time a large delegation of religious leaders were invited to discuss how ethics and morality can guide the globalization process, among other topics as well. The invitation to Dr. Iravani and other international religious leaders in this year’s World Economic Forum reflects the increasing recognition of how religion plays a vital role in the global agenda. The potential for further interfaith endeavors was explored when Dr. Iravani with other religious leaders in attendance including, Professor Michael Czerny S.J. of Georgetown University, Cardinal John O. Onaiyekan of the Cardinal and Roman Catholic Archbishop of Nigeria and Cardinal Peter Turkson of the Roman Catholic Church of Ghana/ Dr. Iravani sat down with Cardinal Turkson and Cardinal Onaiyekan to discuss how Islam and Christianity, in particular Shiites and Catholics, can bring peace to conflict areas and for further International interfaith endeavors. After the discussion, Cardinal Onaiyekan invited Ayatollah Iravani to take place in an interfaith conference between Muslims and Christians in Nigeria. Indonesia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Marty Natalegawa, impressed with Dr. Iravani’s interfaith efforts, also invited him to visit Indonesia in order to explore opportunities to facilitate interfaith dialogue and cooperation between religious leaders and intellectuals in the United States and Indonesia. “We hope the path of international interfaith dialogue and cooperation will continue, ensuring the removal of all existing issues between faiths. CSIME has so far done its best in that regard and will continue to do so,” Iravani told reporters in Davos. Dr. Iravani also expressed how the WEF conference was a great opportunity to not only meet with religious and business leaders but also past and present politicians. These include but are not limited to: President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Dr. Hassan Rouhani, Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Dr. Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Chief of Staff of the President of Iran, Dr. Mohammad Nahavandian, Dr. Nabil Fahmy, Foreign Minister of Egypt, Former United Nations Secretary-General Honorable Kofi Anan and Lady Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy for the European Union. Dr. Iravani also met with Sweden’s Foreign Minister, Honorable Carl Bildt, Norway’s Foreign Honorable Børge Brende, and Jordan’s Foreign Minister Honorable Nasser Judeh. When asked about Iran’s role in the region and the current conflict in Syria, Dr. Iravani emphasized how throughout all of his talks and meetings with representatives and officials he encouraged everyone to continue reaching out to Iran for further cooperation based on mutual respect concerning matters in the region. He went on to also illustrate how the conflict in Syria and broader conflicts in the Middle East will only be resolved once Iran and Saudi Arabia are able to settle their differences and work towards stabilization together. Before his flight to Washington DC, Iravani also expressed to the reporters how he is thankful for the World Economic Forum for recognizing the important role religion and religious leaders play in the world and that he hopes that the relationships fostered in Davos would launch a number of interfaith initiatives across the globe.

[/lvca_panel][lvca_panel panel_title=”CSIME Plays Host to Interfaith Dialogue with Ayatollah Sayed Ali al-Hakim”]

 CSIME Plays Host to Interfaith Dialogue With Ayatollah Sayed Ali al-Hakim Interfaith dialogue between Abrahamic Faiths ‘can overcome negative misconceptions of Islam in the West,’ said Ayatollah Sayad Ali el- Hakim of Iraq. WASHINGTON- CSIME hosted an annual seminar at Catholic University with renowned professor and writer, Ayatollah Sayed Ali el-Hakim where he gave a lecture discussing the role of human rights in Islam. “Islam protects man’s right to believe or not to believe and many verses of the Quran proves this,” said Ayatollah Sayad Ali el-Hakim, who has been the General Secretary of the Imam al-Hakim Foundation since its establishment in 2008. He explained that “the Medina Constitution given by the Prophet Muhammad established a free state for everyone including, Muslims, Jews and pagans.” Held January 31 at the Columbus School of Law at Catholic University along with the efforts of Professor Ahmad Iravani and Professor Robert A. Destro, the seminar on human rights in Islam along with others are held in hopes of opening further doors for interfaith dialogue between Abrahamic faiths. It included in depth discussions, Q&A with Ayatollah al-Hakim, and interfaith dialogue. The seminar drew law students studying at Catholic University and young adults of the Catholic and Muslim religions. Emphasizing the need for deeper interfaith dialogue among Abrahamic faiths, participants discussed how to foster cooperation and understanding between followers of these religions. Ayatollah Ali al-Hakim, who is now based out of Lebanon, explained how Imam Ali, whom Shiites believe is the first rightful successor to the Prophet Muhammad, said it best when he proclaimed ‘mankind is either your brother in faith, or your equal in humanity.’ Since the Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphates, Muslims continue to have tremendous issues with political groups or governments who commit unjust crimes in the name of Islam, he said. These sins and crimes, however, have never had anything to do with real Islam and unfortunately have had a negative impact on Western perception of Islam. “Many who came after the Prophet Muhammad, gone against what made him sacred and have confiscated Islam themselves for political and personal reasons, the reality of this is that this has resulted in being a very dangerous thing for Muslims ,” Ayatollah Ali al-Hakim said. 

 
[/lvca_panel][lvca_panel panel_title=”Highlights of Ayatollah Iravani’s Trip to Iraq”]

 Highlights of Ayatollah Iravani’s trip to Iraq CSIME executive director, Ahmad Iravani, visited Iraq from January 14-22 with goals of advancing CSIME mission and vision by expanding ties and fostering future joint interfaith endeavors. While in Iraq, Iravani traveled to Baghdad, Najaf and Karbala to discuss mutual agendas and exchange views with 18 prominent religious and political leaders. In the first phase of the trip while visiting Baghdad, Ayatollah Iravani met with H.E. Sayyid Ammar al-Hakim, the president of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, one of the largest political parties in the country. H.E. Al-Hakim has had a positive impact throughout the Islamic world in cultural, social and political fields for his faith in interfaith dialogue, acceptance of others and continuous opposition to violence and extremism. Afterwards a discussion was scheduled with Sheikh Dr. Human Hamoudi, one of the most important figures in Iraqi politics today. Sheikh Hamoudi is a member of the Council of Representatives of Iraq representing the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA). Sheikh Hamoudi is second in command of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council . Third on the agenda was meeting with the head of Iraq’s Shia Endowment, Sayyid Saleh Al-Heidari. Before his departure for Najaf and Karbala, Ayatollah Iravani met with Dr. Adil Abdul-Mahdi al-Muntajiki a politician, economist, and one of the Vice Presidents of Iraq from 2005 to 2011. He was formerly the Finance Minister in the Interim government. In the second phase of the trip Ayatollah Iravani visited Najaf, the holiest city in Shi’ite Islam and the center of political power in Iraq, and also Karbala, the second holiest city in Shi’ite Islam. While in Najaf, Ayatollah Iravani met with Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Muhammad Sa’id al-Tabataba’I al-Hakim. Grand Ayatollah al-Hakim is one of the five members of the Hawza of Najaf and the second most senior Shiite cleric after Ayatollah al-Sistani. Dr. Iravani discussed issues facing the Muslim Community in the United States, in particular the Shi’ite community, and what steps need to be taken for greater mutual cooperation and dialogue. Next, Sheikh Iravani met with Secretariats-General of the Imam Hussein and El-Abbas holy shrines, Sayyid Ahmed El-Safi. In Ayatollah Iravani’s honor, Sayyid Hossein al-Hakim, along with invited top scholars from the Howzeh Ilmiyya Najaf (the seminary traditional Islamic school of higher learning in Najaf) hosted a tribute dinner. They thanked Ayatollah Iravani for his international interfaith endeavors and dedication to higher education and hoped that greater cooperation be established in the future. From there Ayatollah Iravani met with Ayatollah Barh ol-Oloom, a distinguished scholar, politician and the current president of the higher institution in Kufa. Through this trip, Ayatollah Iravani believes CSIME’s relations with Iraqi partners and institutions entered a new phase and hopes this trend continues. CSIME hopes Ayatollah Iravani’s dialogue with prominent Iraqi leaders will serve as a positive example for further future dialogue throughout the region.

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[lvca_accordion style=”style2″][lvca_panel panel_title=”CSIME In Asia “]

 Dr. Iravani traveled to China, Korea and Japan. In Korea he visited Donghwasa Temple, at Daegu and was welcomed by The Great Seon Master Jinje who is the spiritual leader of Korean Buddhism, which is composed of 20,000 monks and twenty million lay people. In addition of a few hours of private discussions, Iravani spoke at the Temple for hundreds of Monks after they heard Master Jinje’s lecture. The main subject of his discussion was how religions can be seen as a source of peace rather than the source of conflict. In Japan Dr. Iravani met with Dr. Koji Yamazaki who is the head of National Prayer Breakfast of Japan. For more information about Master Jinje click here

[/lvca_panel][lvca_panel panel_title=”CSIME in Vienna, Austria”]

 Vienna, Austria Dr. Iravani attended a conference on “Extremism and Violence: Abrahamic Perspective.” This was held in Vienna, Austria and was organized by the Catholic University of America, the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) and Iranian Academy of Sciences. 

[/lvca_panel][lvca_panel panel_title=”Ayatollah Mojtahid Visits CSIME”]

 Washington, D.C. On Monday December 2nd, Ayatollah Mojahid one of the top religious leaders of Afghanistan paid visit to the CSIME office in Washington DC and. In his meeting with the CSIME’s Preisdent Dr.iravani and CSIME’s senior top advisers Mr. David Laylin and Dr. Akhlaq, different ways of cooperation between the Center and religious communities in Afghanistan were discussed. Ayatollah Mojahid then met with Professors Destro and Breger at the Law School at Catholic University. From the left: Laylin, Ayatollah, Iravani, Hosseini, Prof. Breger, Iravani, Ayatollah, Prof. Destro, Akhlaq, Laylin.

[/lvca_panel][lvca_panel panel_title=”Dr. Iravani at the Global Faith Forum”]

 Keller, Texas Dr. Iravani spoke at the Global Faith Forum, which was organized by the Northwood Church of Texas. Please watch Ayatollah Ahmad Iravani Speaks 11:00 Service 11-17-13 and This for more information please see the following website: Globalfaithforum Dr. Rashad Hussein, U.S. Special Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Poster Dr. Bob Roberts interviewing Ayatollah Iravani.

[/lvca_panel][lvca_panel panel_title=”Sacramento leaders to promote sister-city relationship with Tehran”]

 On Wednesday, November 20, 2013, core Sacramento business and community leaders met at a Pacifteen event, hosted by Mr. Moe Mohanna (President of the CSIME West Coast), at his Temple Grand Ballroom to engage in dialogue with Mayor Kevin Johnson regarding the continued effort to build better relationships with Sacramento’s political leaders and policy makers. In the discussion Mayor Johnson and Pro Tem Senator Darrel Steinberg acknowledged the importance of fostering a better relationship between Iran and the U.S; a relationship that is based on mutual respect and understanding. Outside of Iran, California holds one of the greatest populations of Iranians, and currently no city in the U.S. has a close relationship with an Iranian city. Business and Community leaders in Sacramento realize the importance of establishing a sister-city relationship between Tehran, the capital of Iran, and Sacramento, the capital of California. Through a sister-city affiliation, the two cities will develop greater mutual respect, understanding and cooperation, while encouraging deeper friendship ties between individuals and local organizations. Despite the political sensitivity and heightened tension between the U.S. and Iran, the alliance brought about through a sister city relationship will transcend all difference for the ultimate goal of building dialogue, cooperation, and peace.

[/lvca_panel][lvca_panel panel_title=”CSIME, Persian Wildlife Foundation and National Academy of Sciences in Iran”]

 Continuing Mr. Laylin’s efforts to improve natural resource conservation and management activities in Iran, though the Persian Wildlife Foundation and National Academy of Sciences – and with the assistance of CSIME – David spent the month of November travelling around Iran and meeting with a number of Government, Academic and NGO officials. (During the past year, he has spent three months travelling to and inside Iran. To see the full report Please click here Game wardens (Mohitbans) in Hezar Masjed wildlife Protected Area, North Khorrasan- David and Dr. Najafi ( Head of Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization) 

[/lvca_panel][lvca_panel panel_title=”Dr. Iravani in Northern California”]

 Ayatollah Iravani lectured for the last two weeks of the holy month of Ramdhan at the Islamic Center of Northern California in Oakland, California where tens of people attended. He also led the Eid prayer and delivered two sermons (Khotbah) both in English and Persian. For more information in Persian please Clickگزارش اختصاصی همشهری آنلاین؛ مراسم عيد فطر در مركز اسلامي   

[/lvca_panel][lvca_panel panel_title=”CSIME in Kosovo”]

 Week of Tolerance in Kosovo On May 24th, the Kosovo Week of Tolerance and Reconciliation launched the opening of the Interfaith Conference in Peja. Brought together representatives of key religions in the region, and the international interfaith community, this was the largest such event to take place in Kosovo and the region. Whilst this conference examined the centrality of religion to Kosovo’s past, present and future – it also confronted debate on the future of interfaith dialogue. Over 160 faith leaders, community leaders and experts from 42 countries discussed reconciliation and how faith can be a unifying force, both regionally and globally. Dr. Iravani is invited not only for this conference but for the whole week of tolerance. The conference was organized in partnership with the Soul of Europe and the Balkan Institute and supported by the British and Norwegian Embassies, the British Council and the Tony Blair Faith Foundation. During his visit (May 20th through May 27th), he had opportunity: A- to meet with many political as well as religious leaders including but not limited to HE President of Republic of Kosovo Atifete Jahjaga, Kosovo Minister of Health Dr. Ferid Agani, deputy foreign minister of Kosovo Mr. Selimi, Kosovo Grand Mufti Naim Tërnava and a few members of parliament. During the meetings, the attendees discussed the horizons of future cooperation between the CSIME and the religious and academic institutions of Kosovo in order to introduce a moderate kind of Islam which is based on tolerance and rationality. He offered CSIM’s humble facilities in Washington DC in this regard. B- He took part in10th Anniversary of South East European Gathering – Breakfast Prayer Ceremony which was held in Pristina. C- Dr. Iravani also participated in The Stone for Peace Ceremony. For more information please visit: the week of tolerance HE President of Republic of Kosovo Atifete Jahjaga Right to left: Lord Hylton, member of the House of Lords, Archbishop Malkhaz Songulashvili, primate of the Evangelical Baptist Church of Georgia and The Reverend Donald Reeves, Founder of the Soul of Europe The World Leader of the Bektashi Order, Haji Baba Edmond Brahimaj HE Deputy foreign minister of Kosovo Mr. Selimi (left) and Prof. Bregre (Catholic University of America) Archbishop Malkhaz Songulashvili, primate of the Evangelical Baptist Church of Georgia Bishop of Raška and Prizren Teodosije (Šibalić)

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 Interfaith Summit On June 11th, 2013 Mr. Mohammad  Mohanna, President of the CSIME (West Coast), in partnership with the Interfaith Council of Greater Sacramento hosted an Interfaith Summit at his Capitol Plaza Building, featuring Keynote speaker Reverend James Trapp. This summit gathering allowed for key business members, faith organizers, and community leaders of diverse backgrounds of Sacramento, to break bread and participate in collaborative efforts to promote interfaith dialogue and relationships.   In order to get a Persian version of the West Office activites, please click here .

[/lvca_panel][lvca_panel panel_title=”CSIME’s Environmental Efforts in Iran”]

 Mr. David Laylin, a senior adviser to CSIME, visited Iran over a period of five weeks (April and May). The main reasons for his trip are to assist in expanding information exchange programs between Iran and the US and to work with appropriate Iranian NGOs and officials to improve conservation and management of natural resources. He has met with the Deputy Director of Mohit Zist, the Director of UNDP, a senior cleric, the Deputy Director of the Iranian Academy of Sciences, the representative of a large multi-national corporation, various NGOs and senior hydrologists. He has also been able to visit many interesting historical sites in Northern and Southern Khorasan provinces and had the good fortune of praying at the Shrine of Imam Reza (AS) in Meshed and of holding a conversation with Sheikh Basiri of the Gonabadi Sufi order. Mr. Laylin visited Zabol, to inspect the Hamoun Lakes and irrigation facilities of the Helmand River. Subsequently, he had a number of semi-official meetings in Tehran, before returning to the USA. 

[/lvca_panel][lvca_panel panel_title=”Luncheon with Clergy in Northern California”]

 Mohammad Mohanna hosted a luncheon with clergy from various faiths and religious backgrounds at his facilities in the Loaves and Fishes campus in Sacramento, California on November 7, 2013. Jon Fish, President of the Interfaith Council of Greater Sacramento and Allen Warren, Sacramento City Council member, were the guest speakers at the event and offered their support for a solution to homelessness. The luncheon brought the faith community together to lobby with political leaders to approve an overnight emergency shelter for homeless women and children at the Loaves and Fishes campus. The interfaith leaders and clergy sat together with the homeless guests to discuss potential solutions and bring about a call to action for the rest of the faith community. 

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