Ibrahim M. Abu-Rabi‘ (1956-2011)

Ibrahim M. Abu-Rabi‘  was Professor and Edmonton Council of Muslim Communities Chair in Islamic Studies in the Department of History and Classics at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada. His primary areas of academic specialization were the Middle East and International Relations.

Prof. Abu-Rabi‘  earned his Ph.D. in Islamic Studies, with concentrations in Modern Islamic Thought and Comparative Islamic Cultures, from the Temple University Department of Religion in 1987. His dissertation was entitled, “Islam and Search for Social Order in Modern Egypt: An Intellectual Biography of Shaykh al-Azhar ‘Abd al-Halim Mahmud.” Prior to that, he earned a M.A. in Religious Studies from Temple University (1983) and an M.A. in Political Science from the University of Cincinnati (1982). Prof. Abu-Rabi‘  was born and attended primary and secondary schools in Nazareth, Galilee, Palestine/Israel. He was fluent in English, Arabic, Hebrew, French, German, and Turkish.

Prof. Abu-Rabi‘  taught at many institutions of higher learning, including the Al-Fatih al-Islami Institute in Damascus, Syria; the Becket Institute at Oxford University; the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilizations (ISTAC) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; the International Islamic University in Daru El-Ehsan, Malaysia; the Tantur Ecumenical Institute in Jerusalem; Virginia Commonwealth University (where he was Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies); Temple University; Union Theological Seminary in New York City; University of Cincinnati; and the University Texas at Austin. He had been an esteemed Professor of Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations at Hartford Seminary in Hartford, Connecticut from 1991 to 2008; and from 2009 until his death, he was Professor of History and Political Science and the occupant of the Edmonton Council of Muslim Communities Chair in Islamic Studies at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. Among many courses he taught were Modern Islam; The Qur’an; The Life of the Prophet Mohammed [Sirah]; Islamic Mysticism and Devotional Practices; Modern and Contemporary Islamic Intellectual History; Modern History of the Middle East and North Africa; Modern History of Indonesia; Islam and the West; Christian-Muslim Relations; Comparative Muslim Cultures; and History of Islamic Philosophy.

Prof. Abu-Rabi‘ served as Co-Director of the Macdonald Center for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations at the Hartford Seminary; Senior Editor of The Muslim World, an academic quarterly of Islamic Studies; Co-Coordinator of the Luce Forum in Abrahamic religions, administered jointly by the University of Hartford and Hartford Seminary; and Program Chairman of the Annual Conference of the American Council for the Study of Islamic Societies.

Prof. Abu-Rabi‘ was a prolific author and editor of numerous scholarly books. Among them are: The Contemporary Arab Reader on Political Islam (Pluto/University of Alberta 2010); Theodicy and Social Justice in Modern Islamic Thought (Ashgate 2010); Spiritual Dimensions of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi’s Risale-i-Nur (SUNY 2008); Contemporary Islamic Conversations: M. Fethullah Gulen on Turkey, Islam, and the West (SUNY 2008); The Blackwell Companion to Contemporary Islamic Thought (2006); Contemporary Arab Thought: Studies in Post-1967 Arab Intellectual History (Pluto 2005); Islam at the Crossroads: On the Life and Thought of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi (SUNY 2004); Modernlik ve Cagdash Islam Dushuncesi (Yonelish 2003); Intellectual Origins of Islamic Resurgence in the Modern Arab World (SUNY 1996); and The Pearls of Wisdom by the North African Mystic Ibn al-Sabbagh (SUNY 1996). He also translated several books from English into Urdu, Turkish, Arabic, Bosnian, and German, and from Arabic into English.

Prof. Abu-Rabi‘ was the recipient of numerous awards, including a four-year scholarship from Birzeit University; a research fellowship and a teaching scholarship from the University of Cincinnati; a research scholarship, dissertation scholarship, and a post-doctoral fellowship from Temple University; a Visiting Scholarship at Al-Fatih al-Islami Institute in Damascus; a Senior Visiting Scholarship at the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilizations (ISTAC) in Kuala Lumpur; a Senior Fulbright Fellowship in Singapore and Indonesia; a Fulbright Fellowship in Southeast Asia; a Russell Tolson Visiting Scholarship at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California; a Senior Research Fellowship at St. Hughes College of Oxford University; a Research Fellowship at the International Institute of Islamic Thought in Herndon, Virginia; a Fulbright Fellowship at the Middle East Civilization Program in Morocco, Egypt, and Syria; an American Council of Learned Societies Grants-in-Aid; a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship at the Institute for the Study of Literature, Religion, and Society in the Contemporary Middle East of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Texas at Austin; a Virginia Foundation for the Humanities Grant; and a Senior Fulbright Scholarship at the Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and at the Graduate Program of Religious Studies of Ghadja Mada University in Jokygarta.

He held memberships in the American Academy of Religion; The Middle East Institute; the Association of Middle Eastern Studies; and the United States Conference of Religions for Peace, New York.