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Skidmore College
Greenberg Middle East Scholar-In-Residence


2011 Scholar-in-Residence Lecture:

The First of The Two Directions of Prayer, The Second of Mosques, The Third of Sanctuaries: Jerusalem in Islamic Thought and History

Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Davis Auditorium
8 p.m.
Free and open to the public

According to Islamic lore, Jerusalem preceded Mecca as the first direction of prayer for Muslims. The Prophet Muhammad paid it a visit on his miraculous night journey; Umar, the second caliph, accepted the surrender of its bishop in 636, the Umayyad caliphs adorned its Temple Mount with the magnificent edifices of the Dome of the Rock and the Mosque of al-Aqsa; crusaders and warriors of jihad competed for it in the Middle Ages; Jews and Muslims swear never to give it up today.

Daniella Talmon-Heller (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev) will explain the special place of Jerusalem in Islamic thought and history from the seventh until the 21st century, and the role it is expected to play at the end of times.

2011 Scholar-in-Residence: Daniella Talmon-Heller

Daniella Talmon-Heller, senior lecturer and chair of the Department of Middle East Studies at Ben-Gurion University, will be in residence at Skidmore from September through early October. While in residence, she will be teaching a course in the college's Department of History, "Islamic History and Institutions." This course will focus on the birth and development of Islam as a religion and a political entity. Her public lecture, " 'The first of the two directions of prayer, the second of mosques, the third of sanctuaries': Jerusalem in Islamic Thought and History," is scheduled for 8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 20, in Davis Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public. The talk will describe and explain Jerusalem's sanctity in Islam from the seventh until the 21st century and the role it is expected to play at the end of times. Throughout her residency she will also visit classes and meet with students and faculty in other formal and informal venues.

Talmon-Heller's research interests include the social and religious history of the Middle East in the middle ages, religious thought and practice in Islam (pre-modern and contemporary), and comparative religion. Her current research topics focus on the Islamization of Palestine from the Arab conquest in the seventh century and until the formation of a solid Muslim majority by the 14th century, and on a comparative study of the recitation of scripture in Judaism and Islam.  With a Ph.D. from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, she spent two years as a postdoc in the Near Eastern Studies Department at Princeton University. Her book Islamic Piety in Medieval Syria, published by Brill, won the Tel Aviv Book Award of 2008.