Bahai News - U. Maryland, Spiritual Discussion
From the Diamondback, Tuesday, October 15, 1996.
An Independent Student Newspaper-University of Maryland, College Park.
By Rabiah Khalil Special to the Diamondback
Suheil Badi Bushrui's first name is Arabic for the dawn star that
Bedouins used to guide their caravans through vast deserts before the
compass was invented.
Now Bushrui, who occupies the campus's Baha'i Chair for World Peace,
is guiding students to solutions for the world's most vital problems.
'It's only out of logical discussion and questions that we can arrive
at the truth,' Bushrui said.
The non-sectarian, academic chair, established in the Center for
International Development and Conflict Management in 1993, promotes the
study of the religious relevance to world conflicts and feasible methods
of cultural reconciliation.
The campus recently finished raising the $1.5 million endowment for
the chair, with most of the money coming from members of the Baha'i
The interest earned on the endowment will be used to support the
salary of the chair and activities related to the position, including
publications, conferences, student activities and research, said Stewart
Edelstein, associate dean in the College of Behavioral and Social
Bushrui, a 66-year-old Lebanese professor, previously taught at
Oxford University, knows five languages and traveled the world lecturing
and writing. But Bushrui maintains that his true interest lies in
'I am serving peace by having the Baha'i Chair,' Bushrui said. 'The
issues, which I address in my classes, face all humanity. I try to
broaden and expand my students' minds.'
Bushrui designed the curricula for his classes and wrote Transition
to a Global Society and The Spiritual Heritage of the Human Race, the
two books his students will use.
Dressed in a dark-gray suit, white shirt and black tie with yellow,
green and purple stripes, Bushrui started one three-hour honors seminar
by saying, 'I know it's gloomy outside, but you are all young and full
In an environment of mutual respect, Christians, Jews, atheists,
Muslims and those who seemed undecided argued whether God is divine or
humane. They questioned the differences between revelations and visions
and drew conclusions under Bushrui's leadership.
'He gives his students a sense of what wisdom is,' said Mark Perry, a
faculty research assistant in BSOS. 'He is able to convey spiritual
values in an academic context and in a way that embraces all religions
Beth Sokol, a sophomore pre-pharmacy major and one of Bushrui's
students, attended a Catholic school for 13 years. She had always heard
one philosophy and was taught to ascribe to structured, uniform ideals,
She considers the diversity of cultures and views in Bushrui's class
a nice change.
'I want to learn about different customs now,' Sokol said. 'Our class
is so diverse, and Professor Bushrui has an optimism that is both rare
and quite refreshing.
©Copyright 1996, The Diamondback
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