Here at Stanford, we believe that an education never has to end. In fact, Stanford has a “Travel/Study” program aimed at Stanford alumni in particular. As its name indicates, Stanford’s Travel/Study program combines the joys of traveling and education in a way not dissimilar to Stanford’s recently-suspended Overseas Seminars. Participants spend a couple of weeks in a foreign land studying under the tutelage of distinguished intellectuals.
The typical Travel/Study participant is about 60-years-old, but there are also programs for entire families. Spanning the scope of the globe, the cost of the trips ranges anywhere from about $7,000 to $21,000 per person. Currently, there are about 60 upcoming trips scheduled, each with between 25 and 100 participants.
One of these trips includes a cruise down the Nile and flights across Egypt from January to February 2010. “Nile College,” as it is known, will begin in Cairo, Egypt and move south to Aswan. Dr. Ebrahim Moosa, an expert on classic and contemporary Islamic thought, will serve as the trip’s faculty leader.
Moosa, currently an associate professor at Duke University, first began teaching at the University of Cape Town in his native South Africa. He then taught at Stanford from 1998 to 2001 as a visiting professor. Though he will be coming back to the Stanford network for only a short time during the cruise, Moosa will be returning with a bit more prestige than when he left it in 2001.
Joining Duke’s faculty only weeks before September 11, Moosa found his academic career and world transformed dramatically after the terrorist attacks on New York’s World Trade Center. In a 2003 article, he recalled, “I thought that in coming to the United States I could engage in quiet scholarship and write, but 9/11 drew me out of the academy in ways I didn’t anticipate.”
Moosa has a long history of opposing extremism. Three days after September 11, Moosa wrote an impassioned article in which he denounced those Muslims around the world who rejoiced in the deaths of 9/11 victims. He censured those elated Muslims for their support of terrorists and their destructive acts, acts which are often turned upon other Muslims.
In the same article, he revealed that he has been a victim of terrorism: “My family and I know firsthand the violence of Islamic extremists. We narrowly escaped death when Muslim militants bombed our house in Cape Town in July 1998. […] My only crime was that I opposed their violence, murder, and intimidation of others, all acts that they perpetrated in the name of Islam.”
Moosa stood in front of terrorists, openly opposed their actions, and thereby opened himself and his family up to the possibility of attack. Knowing the potential consequences, he still stuck to his principles and worked to defend Islam from perversion by extremists.
However, in a rather confusing turn in January 2003, Moosa wrote an article in which he appeared to justify violence done by Muslims “seeking freedom.” “Few people in the West are interested in the freedom struggles of Muslims, dismissing it either as fundamentalism or terrorism. Is this the reason George Bush wants a peace-loving Islam, so he can subdue justice-loving Muslims?” he wrote.
He then continues, “America has had its nose so badly out of joint since September 11, 2001, when 19 hijackers and its few thousand foot soldiers slapped it in the face that it has become a proverbial bull in the global china shop.”
It is clear that Moosa has a range of personal views and academic experiences with both Islam and terrorism. Undoubtedly, he will certainly be a valuable resource for those Stanford alums who choose to join him for his journey through Egypt.
Rabbi Patricia Karlin-Neumann is currently Stanford’s Senior Associate Dean for Religious Life. In 2000, she stated, “Professor Ebrahim Moosa brings to the Office for Religious Life a unique blend of religious commitment, academic rigor, interest in exploring a variety of different religious traditions, the courage of his deeply rooted religious convictions as well as an openness to challenging his tradition when necessary.”
One Duke student wrote on the website RateMyProfessor.com that Dr. Moosa “keeps the lectures from getting too boring and occasionally goes on some pretty funny rants.” From here, we can neither know nor infer the content of those “rants.” And at this time we cannot know how much he intends to rant at Nile College.
However, one would assume that $13,070 for two weeks with the man would guarantee that the he shows up ready to engage and not rant.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated that Professor Ebrahim Moosa is an assistant professor at Duke University. He is an associate professor.
In addition, the article’s interpretation of the following quote has been removed: “America has had its nose so badly out of joint since September 11, 2001, when 19 hijackers and its few thousand foot soldiers slapped it in the face that it has become a proverbial bull in the global china shop.”