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The Comparison Project hosts lecture on Quranic miracles

September 22, 2017

Umeyye Isra Yazicioglu

The Comparison Project will present the second event in its 2017–2018 series on miracles. Umeyye Isra Yazicioglu, associate professor of Islamic Studies at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia, Penn., will deliver a lecture on Quranic Miracles titled “Miracles as Transforming Invitations to Wonder & Gratitude: An Islamic Perspective.” The lecture is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 5, at Sussman Theater in the Olmsted Center on Drake’s campus.

Yazicioglu’s lecture will examine how miracle stories in the Quran interrupt our familiarity with the world. The Quran (not unlike other scriptures) shocks us with stories like that of virgin birth, instant healing with touch, fire not burning, and a staff becoming a serpent. The talk will suggest that these miracle stories in the Quran are in fact transformative invitations to wonder & gratitude. In making this point, the talk will make use of two insightful Islamic theologians, Ghazali (11th century) and Said Nursi (20th century), with a focus on their approach to the Quran, natural order, and human life.

Yazicioglu's research is on interpretation of the Quran in the contemporary age, Islamic theology and spirituality, with a focus on the works of a significant Muslim theologian, Said Nursi. Her book Understanding Quranic Miracle Stories in the Modern Age (Penn State University Press, 2013) brings Muslim thinkers into conversation with Western thinkers. Her other works include articles such as “Engaging with Abraham and His Knife: Interpretation of Abraham’s Sacrifice in the Muslim Tradition,” “Perhaps their Harmony is not that Simple: Said Nursi on the Qur’an and Modern Science,” and “Affliction, Patience and Prayer: Reading Prophet Job in the Qur’an.” She is also a team member of an Islamic spirituality non-profit, Receiving Nur. Yazicioglu holds a Master of Arts in Islam & Christian-Muslim Relations from Hartford Seminary and a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from University of Virginia.

The Comparison Project enacts global philosophy of religion in the local Des Moines community. It is supported by the Drake University Center for the Humanities, Humanities Iowa, the Medbury Fund, the Drake University Principal Financial Group Center for Global Citizenship, the Des Moines Area Religious Council, and Cultivating Compassion: The Dr. Richard Deming Foundation.

Future events in The Comparison Project's series on miracles include:

  • Thursday, October 26: “Does ‘the Biblical God who acts’ really act?  Special divine action via quantum mechanics that is objective but not miraculous.” Robert J. Russell, founder and director of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences and Ian G. Barbour, professor of theology and science, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley. 7 p.m., Sussman Theater.
  • Thursday, November 16: “On the Role of Miracles in the Vimalakirti Sutra in the Early Medieval China.” Shi Jingpeng, Minzu University of China, Beijing. 7 p.m., Sussman Theater.
  • Saturday, December 2: A Course in Miracles Workshop, offered by local instructors of A Course in Miracles, including Debra Landwehr Engle, author ofThe Only Little Prayer You Need. 8:30 a.m. to noon., Meredith Hall