Bahai News - U. Maryland, Spiritual Discussion

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 faith.

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 Sciences.

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 conflict resolution.

'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 of spirit.'

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 and cultures.'

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 said.

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
Original Story

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