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St. Bonaventure University

Gift from local Islamic Society helps sustain SBU’s Center for Arab and Islamic Studies

Oct 11, 2019

Inspired by the university’s efforts to strengthen Christian and Muslim relations, the Islamic Society of the Southern Tier made a generous donation during Francis Week to St. Bonaventure’s Center for Arab and Islamic Studies.

The gift was made Sept. 30 at the dinner that kicked off the university’s annual celebration of Francis Week and honored guest speaker Jordan Denari Duffner.

Members of the St. Bonaventure community, Islamic Society, area educators and ministers gathered in the University Chapel to hear a lecture by Duffner, author of “Finding Jesus among Muslims: How Loving Islam Makes Me a Better Catholic” (Liturgical Press, 2017).

After the lecture, Dr. Javed Akhtar, chair of the board of trustees for the Islamic Society of the Southern Tier, recognized the importance of such events and those sponsored by the Center for Arab and Islamic Studies.

“It is truly an honor to take part in this event and we are so glad to be able to assist in the ways we can,” said Dr. Akhtar. “I hope this donation will further the mission of the Center for Arab and Islamic Studies so we may continue making a difference not just in our town but in our world.”

CAIS founding director Fr. Michael Calabria, O.F.M., expressed his gratitude for the $5,000 gift.

“Without their continued support, the CAIS would not exist,” he said.

Fr. Michael, who serves as the Franciscan Order’s Special Assistant for Dialogue with Islam, recently held an international gathering in Istanbul commemorating the 800th anniversary of St. Francis’ encounter with the Sultan.

Inspired by that encounter between St. Francis of Assisi and the Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil in 1219, the Center for Arab and Islamic Studies was established at St. Bonaventure in 2015 “to promote an understanding of Arab and Islamic cultures, an appreciation of both their historical and contemporary significance in the global community, and respectful relations between Muslim and Christian people.” 


About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, St. Bonaventure University is a community committed to transforming the lives of our students inside and outside the classroom, inspiring in them a lifelong commitment to service and citizenship. In 2019, St. Bonaventure was named the #1 regional university value in New York and #2 in the North by U.S. News and World Report.