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HomeNewsArchivesMuslim Imam Yahya Hendi to Speak on St. Thomas

Muslim Imam Yahya Hendi to Speak on St. Thomas

Feb. 3, 2005 – Imam Yahya Hendi is the Muslim chaplain of the first American university to staff a full time Imam. He is also chaplain of the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. He has published on numerous topics, including "Women and Gender Relations in Islam," and "The Coming of the Messiah." He is among the Muslim leaders who met with President George W. Bush in the wake of the Sept. 11 tragedy, and on Friday night he will be at the St. Thomas Synagogue to share his views on unity and understanding.
Hendi's appearance at the synagogue is one of four speaking engagements he will be making on the island at the request of Rabbi Arthur Starr of the St. Thomas Hebrew Congregation.
"Most of us know nothing about Islam. We see them portrayed on television and in the movies as terrorists, and we're afraid," Starr said during an interview Thursday. Starr invited Hendi to St. Thomas in order to begin to change that perception.
The two religious leaders first met last year at a multi-denominational conference held in Hartford, Ct. "I was impressed with his eloquence, his message of unity and understanding," Starr said.
Asked about the reason for inviting Hendi to address the St. Thomas community, Starr said he wanted to "confirm what I already knew, that the essential message of the world's monotheistic religions is the same." Starr's hope is that in these days of global strife, much of which appears to bear a religious stamp, "people will realize how much we have in common."
According to Hendi's Web site, he was born in the Palestinian town of Kefl-Hares. He earned a bachelor's degree in Islamic law and theology at the University of Jordan, holds two master's degrees, one in comparative religion, and is a Ph.D candidate in the comparative religion program at Temple University, according to a release from the Hebrew Congregation. He has lectured widely as an expert on religious topics, and has appeared on a number of national and international radio and television programs.
Hendi explains his calling on his Web site, "My decision to pursue religious education was influenced by my experiences growing up in a small village, where I felt that people lived only for themselves without sense of community or sense of care for the human race. I came to believe that people need God to develop this missing sense of love for their fellow human beings, for I have always believed that in religion lies the straight path."
Hendi will be guest speaker at the St. Thomas Islamic Center, at 1 p.m. on Friday. That evening he will also speak at the Hebrew Congregation's 6:30 p.m. Shabbat service. On Sunday he will speak at the St. Thomas Reformed Church 9 a.m. Sunday worship service, and on Monday he will present "Judaism, Christianity and Islam: Confrontation or Cooperation," at 6:30 p.m. at Frederick Lutheran Church.

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