Eboo Patel: One Muslim’s Vision for Interfaith Dialogue and Service

Eboo Patel speaks with students, University of Chicago Divinity School Photo: Stephen J. Carrera

On September 27  October 19, Here on Earth Host Jean Feraca will speak with Eboo Patel, founder of Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), to discuss the latest IFYC success in promoting dialogue and strengthening communities through service.

Building on his previous experience with interfaith service projects in South Africa, India, and Sri Lanka, Eboo Patel started Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) in 2002 from the humble settings of a Chicago basement. In just under a decade, Patel’s vision to build religious pluralism has created interfaith dialogue and service projects on all six continents and IFYC has hosted delegations and trainings from 16 countries.

Conferences, trainings, and dialogue are important to IFYC, but the primary purpose of Patel and the other 30 full-time IFYC staff is to build leadership within all faith communities. Patel notes that while 99% the world “inclines towards tolerance and cooperation,” a large portion of the remaining 1% are strong leaders and successful in their pursuit to discriminate and divide. Patel believes that if a larger portion of that 99% become leaders in their own communities, a better, stronger world will emerge.

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Becoming a Pakistani-American

Zehra Imam is an alumna of the University of Michigan-Dearborn. She is currently designing a course, “The Patterns of Struggle and Triumph” to foster self-development within students. She is also working on “Desegregating Detroit in Delhi,”an experiential-learning fellowship to serve as an avenue for dialogue among student leaders in Metropolitan Detroit.

Painting: Zehra Imam

I’m not going to sugar-coat this complex terrain that is my motherland. My family immigrated to America due to religious and political unrest in Pakistan. I feel like my native land has grown to become a superstar since our family left – always in the news, always getting caught doing something that warrants a comment, always in the limelight. But something else other than natural ties still compels me to call a part of myself Pakistani and retain my dual identity of Pakistani-American. It has taken me a long time to say that I am from Pakistan with pride, and that I am choosing to live in America with gratitude.

I was fifteen when the attacks took place.

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