Reuven Firestone

Dr. Reuven Firestone

Dr. Reuven Firestone is Professor of Medieval Judaism and Islam at Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles. He received his doctorate in Arabic and Islamic studies from New York University. He is the founder and director of the Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement at the University of Southern California. Rabbi Firestone serves on numerous committees on interfaith relations and serves on the editorial boards of numerous scholarly publications. He teaches Introduction to Islam and Quran, Interreligious Dialog Theory & Practice, Jerusalem as Holy City.

“I have been to Hizmet programs and organizations in Los Angeles, and in Atlanta, and in Texas, and in Colorado, and now I’m going to actually be in Istanbul for a project there. And I have found, really, it quite consistent, that they are concerned with making the world a better place.

We live in a world that is full of fear. And a lot of fear in the West is fear of Muslims. The Hizmet Movement has been tremendously effective, in my opinion, in showing the true face of Islam. That it’s a religious tradition that in many ways is no different than Judaism and Christianity. There are good people in the tradition, there are problematic people in the tradition, but the religion itself is a religion of great depth and beauty. That’s a very important message.”

“…That’s exactly the program that I see coming from the Hizmet movement; a way of understanding Islam in a manner that will promote good things for human beings, not only for Muslims, but for the world at large.”

“In my community, there are some people who say we should not be engaging in dialog with other religions, because there is a fear that those who engage in dialog are really trying to convert us. And we have a history of persecution as a minority religion in many parts of the world, so we’re very sensitive to this. First of all, I don’t see this happening at all with the Hizmet Movement. The Hizmet Movement, to me, is trying to present Islam positively, but not only that. This is something that’s special about this Movement. They don’t only want to present Islam positively; they genuinely want to learn about my tradition.”