St. Bonaventure University


Calabria, Fr. Michael D.

Fr. Michael Calabria, O.F.M., St. Bonaventure university

World Languages and Cultural Studies
School of Arts and Sciences

Associate Professor, Arab and Islamic Studies
Director, Center for Arab and Islamic Studies
Office phone: (716) 375-2162
Send an email
Plassmann Hall 217
  • ARBC 101-102. Elementary Arabic I & II 
  • ARBC 201-202. Intermediate Arabic I & II 
  • ARBC 301-302. Advanced Intermediate Arabic I & II
  • ARTH 333. Islamic Art and Architecture
  • HIST 365. History of the Modern Middle East 
  • THFS 203. Islam: Religion & Culture 
  • THFS 307. Christian-Muslim Relations: Past, Present & Future
  • THFS 313. Religions of South Asia
  • WS 330. Women in the Ancient & Modern Middle East
  • Ph.D., Islamic Studies, Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies at the University of Exeter, United Kingdom. 
  • M.Div./M.A., Theology, Washington Theological Union, 2003
  • M.L.S., Library Science, Columbia University, 1988
  • M.A., Egyptology, Brown University, 1985
  • B.A., Near Eastern Studies, Johns Hopkins, 1983
Fr. Michael is a Franciscan Friar of Holy Name Province. His experience in the Middle East and the Islamic world began more than 30 years ago when, as an Egyptology student at Johns Hopkins University (BA, 1983) and Brown University (MA, 1985), he performed archaeological work in Egypt. 

After studying library science at Columbia University (MLS, 1988) and working as an academic librarian in New York City, he entered the Franciscan Order in 1996 and studied at the Washington Theological Union (M.Div., MA, 2003). 

As a friar, he lived in Cairo in 2001-02, ministering in a leprosarium; and between 2003-2011 he spent many summers in Egypt teaching English at a Coptic-Catholic seminary in Cairo. 

Fr. Michael began teaching at St. Bonaventure University in 2003. After initiating the program in Arabic, he developed and taught a variety of courses in Islamic Studies that comprised a minor in Arabic and Islamic Studies. 

He left St. Bonaventure in 2012 in order to complete his doctoral studies in Islamic Studies with the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies at the University of Exeter, UK. During this time, he served as a chaplain at Georgetown University where he was active in the programs of the Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding and the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies. In April 2015 he successfully defended his dissertation, an analysis of the Egyptians in the Qur’an, Islamic Exegesis and extra-canonical texts. 

Fr. Michael has traveled extensively in the Islamic world, and has visited and conducted research in Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan Syria, Oman, Turkey and India. He speaks widely on various aspects of Islam and Islamic culture including the Qur’an, Islamic spirituality, art and architecture, and Christian-Muslim relations.

Recent Presentations

  • “Foundations of the Qur’an: Sacred Texts in Sublime Spaces,” Franciscan Spiritual Center, Aston, PA, September 28-29, 2018.
  • “The Sultan and the Saint,” Chatauqua Institution, August 21, 2018.
  • “Because It’s Important: Aspects of Islam for Franciscan Ministry and Mission,” Next Generation of Franciscan Mentors, Buffalo, NY, June 14-15, 2018.
  • “Franciscans and Muslims: Lessons from the Past and Prospects for the Future,” with Sr. Kathy Warren, OSF, 2018 Franciscan Federation Conference, Buffalo, NY, June 12-14, 2018.
  • “Jerusalem: the Dome, the Deal and Diversity in the Holy City,” Islamic Society of the Southern Tier, Allegany, NY, March 15, 2018.

Recently Presented Papers

  • “Heads Will Roll: Decapitation in Mughal Painting – Persecution or Punishment?” Sacred Texts and Human Contexts Symposium, Nazareth College, Rochester, NY, July 29-July 31, 2018.

Recently Presented Conference Papers

  • “By the Book: Women as Calligraphers and Patrons of the Qur’an,” in: Making Gender in the Intersection of the Human and the Divine (Cambridge Scholars forthcoming, 2018).
  • “The Flowering of India: a Mughal Manifesto for Environmentalism,” in: Nature and the Environment in Contemporary Religious Contexts. Cambridge Scholars, 2018. Pp. 251-271.

Recently Published Articles

  • “Christianity and Islam: More in common with one another than previously imagined,” Salaam, v. 40, no. 1 (January 2019), 164-169.
  • “The Unorthodox Orthodoxy of Shah Jahan: a Reassessment of his Religiosity,” South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, v. 41, no. 3 (September 2018): 579-600.
  • “Shah Jahan and Taṣawwūf,” in: Lord the Air Smells Good: Felicitation Volume in Honour of Fr. Paul Jackson, SJ. Edited by Anand Amaladass and Victor Edwin. Bengaluru, India: ATC Publishers, 2018. Pp. 104-129.
  • “A Catholic Issue: Prejudice against Muslims…” U.S. Catholic v. 83, no. 1 (Jan. 2018): 33-35.
  • “Ibn al-Farid: a Sufi Contemporary of St. Francis” (to be presented at: Eighth National Franciscan Forum, Colorado Springs, Col., June 19-22, 2008)
  • Islam, Islamic Spirituality, Christian-Muslim Relation