Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Local mosque to offer educational courses

By Mary E. O’Leary
Register Topics Editor
— A city mosque, which already has committed time and money to improving the physical condition of its neighborhood, has put together an educational component to reach out to Greater New Haven residents.
Jimmy Jones, an associate professor of world religions at Manhattanville College in New York, said Masjid Al-Islam, which is in the Dwight neighborhood, has started a joint venture with Cordoba University in Virginia to offer three courses this month and in March.
The project will operate through the Greenwood Institute, which is named for the Greenwood section of Dwight, where the mosque moved 13 years ago.
“The purpose of the Greenwood Institute is to provide high quality, intellectually rigorous educational programs about Arabic and Islam to the broader community. Given the apparent lack of knowledge about Islam in the general populace, this is a much-needed effort,” Jones said.
The first course, Islam 101, which is free and open to the public, will focus on a general overview of the history and practice of Islam.
It runs from 7 to 9 p.m. at the main downtown library, 133 Elm St. tonight, TUESDAYWednesday and Feb. 26, 27. Pre-registration is required by calling 376-1210 oCQr e-mailing thegreenwoodinstitute@yahoo.com, as there are only 25 seats.
The instructors are Saifuddin Hasaan, Siraj Muhammad, Yusuf Samara and Matiniah Yahya. Participants are advised to attend all four sessions.
Jones, who has taught at the college level for decades, said the institute “wants to be a source of information about Islam. It won’t be confessional or preachy, but rather it will be factual.” He said the approach is academic, rather than theological.
The other courses are: “Culturally Specific Counseling: Muslims” and “Introduction to the Arabic Language,” which will be held at Linsly-Chittenden Hall on High Street at Yale University.
Each course is 15 hours and runs 7 to 9 p.m. March 14; 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., and 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. March 15; and 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. March 15. The courses run concurrently, cost $150 and count as certified educational units. To register, call the same number at the institute.
Jones will teach the counseling course, while Sahmuddeen Harun, who has taught Arabic at several colleges, including the University of Texas at Austin, will teach the language course.
The mosque at 624 George St., across from the Hospital of Saint Raphael, helped form a block watch a dozen years ago that is an active presence on the street, while it has encouraged worshippers to move to the area. It also works in tandem with the city to get blighted properties cleaned up.
Cordoba University in Virginia houses the Graduate School of Islamic and Social Studies, where Jones also teaches and heads its Arabic immersion program.
“We see this as capacity building in terms of the community. We do these (programs) on a regular basis. We just want to make them more accessible to people,” Jones said.

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