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Pioneering female Islamic leader to discuss Muslims’ life in America

April 10, 2012

DALLAS (SMU) — Renowned Islam scholar Ingrid Mattson — the first female president of the Islamic Society of North America (2006-2010) and first convert to hold the post (she was raised Roman Catholic) — will be the guest speaker at SMU’s Scott-Hawkins Lecture, “The Evolving Role of the Mosque in American Society,” on Wednesday, April 11.

Ingrid MattsonThe event, free and open to the public, will be at 7 p.m. in McCord Auditorium, on the third floor of Dallas Hall. The lecture is sponsored by SMU’s Department of Religious Studies in the Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences and the Perkins School of Theology.

Mattson’s expertise focuses on U.S. perceptions of Muslims and the Qur’an; American Muslims’ complex demographics and cultural and ideological differences; the integration or lack of integration of mosques into the American landscape; the experiences of Muslim youth in American schools; and the role of the imam and how Muslims’ community priorities have to be organized in unique ways in the U.S.

Mattson was born in Canada, where she studied philosophy and fine arts at the University of Waterloo, Ontario (B.A. ’87). From 1987-88 she lived in Pakistan, where she developed and implemented a midwife-training program for Afghan refugee women.

“Our history is not a history of the marginalization and exclusion of women,” Mattson has said of Islam. “Our history is a history of the empowerment of women. We’re not trying to invent something new. We’re trying to pick up where we left off.”

An advisor to both the Bush and Obama administrations, Mattson is founder of the Islamic Chaplaincy Program (the first of its kind in the U.S.) and current director of the Duncan Black Macdonald Center for Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut. She also is the author of The Story of the Qur'an: Its History and Place in Muslim Life (Wiley-Blackwell, 2007).

 “Dr. Mattson has devoted her career to fostering better understanding of Islam and fruitful dialogue with other religious traditions,” says Mark Chancey, SMU Religious Studies professor and chair. “We are extremely lucky to have the opportunity to hear her lecture on contemporary Islam, and our hope is that this event draws a diverse audience from across the Metroplex.”

For more information about the event, contact Kenitra Brown: or 214-768-2095.

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