CANDIDATE: Leila Al-Imad, Ph.D. • Christian, Female, United States
Member of Northeast Tennessee Chapter URI CC
Nominated by Northeast Tennessee Chapter URI CC
Associate Professor, Department of History
Specialty: Middle East Studies
East Tennessee State University
Johnson City, TN 37614-0002
(423) 439-6803 or (423) 439-4288
In this world of the 21st century I feel very much connected with the rest of the globe, as I have always felt that I am a citizen of the world. I have lived and visited many places and never felt I was a stranger. I am fluent in many languages, which I believe made it easier for me to feel a sense of belonging wherever I have been. I have a double major Ph.D. in History/ Middle Eastern Languages and Literature. I am a professor at East Tennessee State University, in Johnson City, Tennessee.
I am a lay Eucharistic minister at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Kingsport, Tennessee. I worked with the Quakers as co-director of their Middle East Program, and am also trained as a Non-Violent Conflict Resolution person.
I served on the on the Peace and Justice Committee of the Council of Churches in New York State. I am a pacifist who believes in solving the problems of the world at the peace table, and who feels that our mission on this earth is to be able to coexist by respecting all the cultures, traditions and religions of the world. If the Creator of this world could have given us a universe as complex as the one we live in, he could easily have made us all duplicates of one another. My contention is he made us as many peoples and nations to bring us harmoniously together at the end. Our ultimate lesson is to get along with each other and live in harmony with one other on this small earth of ours.
I teach Islam as compassionately as I do my own religion. I studied Biblical Hebrew and have participated in Jewish Sabbath services. I studied the Asian religions and enjoyed looking for how some of their ideas are so common to all religions of the world.
I was born to a Chilean mother and a Lebanese father. I learned early that to bridge the two continents is no small feat. My ability to speak Arabic, Persian, Turkish and Hebrew is an asset at this turbulent time in the Middle East. I also speak French, Spanish, Italian and German. I have always been very interested in bridging the gap between all the religions of the world by focusing on the common threads that bind us all rather than what separates us from each other.
A common code of ethics and morality is very consistent among all our religions. If one puts an emphasis on the communality of world culture and the universality of our civilization in the 21st century one would come to the conclusion that our diversity is our asset in that we all bring something new to our world which can be shared and cherished by all.
I have practiced transcendental meditation for over thirty years, and have coordinated several women’s retreats based on the principle of strong spirituality where I taught spiritual meditation.
Living in the United States and coming from such a diverse background, I will be able to bring several talents to the Global Council of URI: the ability to live and worship with different religious traditions, to partake of all cultural experiences and appreciate them all, and to be able to negotiate a comfortable middle ground where everyone could feel their worth and be able to fully participate on equal footing in the spirituality of any worship, meeting, or cultural and moral encounter.
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