الشيخ أحمد عرفاني
Sheikh Ahmad Iravani in his office
Highly recognized as an Iranian philosopher, Ahmad Iravani is also a respected scholar and clergyman from the Northern region of Iran, along the Caspian Sea. An avid advocate of interfaith and intra-faith peace dialogue, he has dedicated his life to such intellectual subjects. He continually strives to spread peace, tolerance, and acceptance amongst people of all religions and cultures.
Iravani resided in his birthplace, the providence of Golestan Province, until his 11th grade and moved to Mashhad to receive his diploma from Ferdowsi (Aboudhar Ghaffari) High School in 1978. During his early teenage years, he became familiar with writings and work of Ali Shariati. Under the influences of Ali Shariati and Imam Khomeini’s message, Iravani found great interest in learning more about Islam. A year after the Iranian Revolution in 1979, he decided to attend Howze Elmiyeh in Qom to further his education in Islamic studies.
In 1982, following the call of Grand Ayatollah Montazeri to preach Islam around the world, he chose to travel to Africa. During his stay, Iravani promoted intra-faith dialogue amongst Muslims and educated them by holding conferences giving lectures on fighting Islamic fundamentalist ideas, which were spread throughout Africa at the time. Spending some time in West Africa, he established an Islamic Seminary in Accra, Ghana in 1983.
During the summers of 1983 to 1987, he traveled to other West African countries to further the outreach of his mission. He then settled in Zimbabwe from 1987-1990, continuing his objective and aim by establishing the Center of Islamic Studies in Southern Africa.
After returning to Iran in 1990, he resumed his education and received his degree in religious studies called “Rotbe Awwale Kharej” by 1992, the equivalent to doctorate PhD. Iravani then began teaching "Islamic Law, Foundation of Islamic Economy, and Islamic Philosophy" at the Allameh Tabatabai University, "Logic and Methodology" at the Ministry of Justice (Iran), and "Islamic History, Mystics" at Amirkabir University of Technology in Tehran, Iran.
In 1995, he obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Western Philosophy from University of Tehran. Continuously attending Howzeh Elmiyeh, by 1997, Iravani received his “Ejaze-e-Ijtihad” (highest degree of Islamic religious studies). His teachers were Late Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Fazel Lankarani, Late Grand Ayatollah Montazeri and Grand Ayatollah Sane'i who conveyed and gave him the auspicious degree. During the following year, 1998, he received his Master’s degree in Western Philosophy from Allameh Tabatabai University in Tehran, Iran. From 1997-2000 Iravani was the Dean of the School of Philosophy of Mofid University in Qom.
It was by the year 1999 that he met a great philosopher and scholar, Father McLean, an emeritus professor at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.. With the assistance of Father McLean, Iravani moved to the United States to pursue his PhD in Western Philosophy in 2000. Soon after, due to his knowledge and expertise in Islamic Law and Islamic Jurisprudence, he was asked to teach at the Columbus School of Law and School of Theology. Since 2002, Iravani has been teaching “Introduction to Islam” and “Iran Since the Revolution” during summers at University of California, in Davis, CA. In addition to his academic activities, he has diversified his role in the community by participating in many interfaith dialogues around the world.
He has also served as the Director of Islamic Studies and Dialogue at the Center for the Study of Culture and Values until the end of 2009 which has held conferences and exchange of scholars between Iran and United States. In 2010, he founded the Center for the Study of Islam and the Middle East (CSIME) and serves as the President and Executive Director.
In December 2010 he received his Doctor of Philosophy after defending his PhD dissertation under the title of "Foundations of Jacques Maritain’s Political Philosophy" at the Iranian Institute of Philosophy in Tehran, Iran.
Saba Center: Malcolm Shabazz
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