Announcing the 2014 Goldziher Prize Winner
Professor Meri has taught at the Institute of Isma’ili Studies, London, and at the University of Cambridge, England. He was a Special Scholar in Residence and remains a lifetime Fellow of the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought in Amman, Jordan, where he worked on and was an original signatory to “A Common Word,” an interfaith document of strategic importance.
At Cambridge he was a Research Fellow of St. Edmund’s College and Academic Director in Muslim-Jewish Relations at the Woolf Institute, where he organized academic conferences broaching questions of Jewish and Muslim identities and interactions. As Senior Tutor, Dr. Meri ran the American University/Woolf Institute innovative e-learning course, “Bridging the Great Divide: The Jewish-Muslim Encounter.” He crossed the often impenetrable boundaries between Jew and Muslim, Israeli and Palestinian, by the exercise of good sense, scholarly commitment, and toleration for widely differing views. His work invites all parties to move beyond prejudice or partisan favor in sensitive situations toward mutual respect and understanding. His personal integrity, scholarly insight, and inexhaustible good will are signs of hope for a world so often torn by political and religious strife.
Dr. Meri has authored and edited many volumes in Islamic Studies and in Jewish-Muslim relations, including The Cult of Saints among Muslims and Jews in Medieval Syria (Oxford University Press, 2002). He holds the D.Phil. in Oriental Studies from the University of Oxford, as well as a Masters in Medieval Islamic History from the State University of New York at Binghamton. He earned his Bachelors in Middle Eastern and Near Eastern Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He is a citizen of the United States.
Through the generosity of the William and Mary Greve Foundation and the leadership of John Kiser, a principal of the Foundation, the Center for the Study of Jewish-Christian-Muslim Relations at Merrimack College offers a $25,000 prize every other year in honor of Ignać Goldziher. The prize recognizes scholars and activists whose work contributes significantly to understanding, reverence, and common moral purpose between Jews and Muslims.
Goldziher (1850-1921) was a Jewish scholar who in 1873 and 1874 toured Constantinople, Beirut, Damascus, Jerusalem, and Cairo, where he became a student at Al-Azhar. There he prayed in a mosque and wrote in his diary about the profound effect this had on him. Goldziher, who remained a devoted Jew all his life, established Islamic Studies as an academic discipline in European universities.
Two finalists for the Goldziher Prize are Dr. Ingrid Mattson, London and Windsor Community Chair in Islamic Studies at Huron University College at the University of Western Ontario, London, Canada; and Dr. Edward Kessler MBE, Founder and Executive Director of the Woolf Institute and Fellow of St. Edmund’s College, Cambridge.
The Goldziher Prize will be presented to Dr. Meri at an award dinner in Fall 2014 at Merrimack College.