Raja Tanas joined Whitworth's faculty in 1983 after completing his Bachelor's and Master's degrees in sociology at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon, and a doctorate in sociology at Michigan State University. Raja has carried out extensive research in the areas of Middle Eastern and Islamic studies. Since 2007, he has served as chair of the Sociology Department. He is listed in the 1998, 2000, and 2010 editions of "Who's Who Among America's Teachers." Raja was recognized by his colleagues with the Burlington Northern Teaching Excellence Award in 1989 and with the Outstanding Faculty Service Award in 1997. Voted Most Influential Professor by the Class of 2010 and received Whitworth's Diversity Award from the Class of 2011.
This presentation introduces the Muslim religion and its people. It covers the emergence of Islam beginning in the seventh century A.D. with a particular focus on the basic beliefs, the pillars of faith (Arkan al-Din), Prophet Muhammad, and the Koran. The presentation also covers a few highlights about Islam that are central to the Muslim faith that include the beautiful ninety-nine names of Allah, Jesus in the Koran, their understanding of salvation, and the place for worship. Dr. Tanas will conclude with a comparative analysis of the similarities and differences between Islam and Christianity using Christian terminology.
The rise of ISIL in Iraq and Syria and the ensuing mass exodos of refugees into Europe and beyond cannot and ought not to be treated in isolation of the events that took place in the Middle East during the passt 100 years. In his presentation, Dr. Tanas considers the rise of the ISIL as the latest in a series of Arab responses to the fragmentation of their once Ottoman-ruled homeland into self-governing states and the contined western intervention in their domestic affairs.
Following the introduction of three overlapping maps that clarify the meaning of an Arab, a Muslim, and a Middle Easterner, this presentation focuses on the factors that shaped the Middle East region since the demise of the Ottoman Empire in 1918 to present. These factors include the end of the Muslim Caliphate, the rise of the state system, the discovery of oil, the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the resurgence of Islam in the late 1970s. The presentation concludes with a discussion on the grievances that the Middle East people have against the West, and the prospects for peace in the future.