Yahya Hendi wants to talk about his faith.
More broadly, he wants to talk about his role in America as a member—and imam—of the most vilified religion in generations. Can one be both a patriotic American and a devout Muslim? Is there room for religious inclusiveness in Islam? Are the five pillars still relevant in the United States in the 21st century?
On Tuesday, Sept. 14, Imam Hendi will speak at Bellarmine University on “Islam and America: Confrontation or Cooperation.” As the Muslim chaplain at the historically Catholic Georgetown University—the first American university to employ a full-time Muslim chaplain—and at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., Hendi has a significant perspective regarding the image of Muslims in the United States. His prominence and proximity to Washington, D.C. led to him being one of the Muslim leaders to meet with George W. Bush in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, and several times beyond 2001.
The Palestine-born Hendi frequently presents interfaith and general-themed lectures (including themes of gender relations, social justice and environmental responsibility) around the world, and focuses on the unity and positive relationship among the three Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam), often speaking at churches and synagogues. In the spirit of this quest for universal accord, Hendi founded Clergy Beyond Borders, where he currently serves as secretary general.
The discussion is presented by Bellarmine’s Campus Ministry and the Office of Multicultural Affairs. Imam Hendi’s address begins at 7 p.m. in Hilary’s in Horrigan Hall, and the presentation is free and open to the public. Visitors are encouraged to enter the campus from Newburg Road and look for building #1 in the center of campus per the Bellarmine map.
Photo: Courtesy Bellarmine University