A January short course will be offered that focuses on the Islamic world, people and the culture. It will be taught by Dan McVey, who is known internationally throughout the Muslim community.
McVey and his wife were missionaries in Ghana for over 21 years before he taught as a professor of missions and mission studies in the College of Biblical Studies until 2008. The January short course McVey will teach is “Islamic World: Peoples and Cultures.”
“This is a course designed to introduce the many faces of the Islamic world,” McVey said. “”‹It will be an exposure to the cultural and social milieu of Islamic peoples “‹to gain insight into the historical and religious paradigms often found among Islamic people groups.”
McVey said he hopes to”‹ equip students with a framework through which students could continue to learn about and from Muslims and their cultural perspectives.
McVey and his wife joined with a few students last summer and traveled through three countries, teaching a BCOR class in Ghana.
Julie Johnson, junior English major from Fort Worth, was one of those students.
“Because of his connections in Ghana, he really put us in the presence of a lot of different people,” Johnson said. “He also put us into contact with a Muslim professor at Cape Coast University who taught us about economic inequality in the Muslim community and inequality in the education setting for kids who are going to a Christian school but are Muslim and don’t necessarily want to go to a chapel-like setting; they want to do something with their faith.”
Johnson said learning from McVey about the Muslim community was an honor, and she learned how to approach people of other religions differently because of this experience.
“[McVey] is really knowledgeable about the intricate details of the Muslim and Christian faiths,” Johnson said. “I learned a new perspective of Islam. It has affected my own faith, and affirming the faith of another religion is a big step for me personally. Now my approach to anyone is more of an approach of ‘Can I be your friend and learn from you and just be in relationship with you’ and see what comes of that relationship. I want to learn from them rather than try and teach them or give them my input on what I believe.”
Dr. Ronald Morgan, professor of history and chair of the Department of History and Global Studies, was also on the trip and said over the years, McVey has formed relationships with Muslims in many countries around the world.
“I think one reason why he has those kinds of friendships and respect is how much he has learned about Islam and how Muslims think,” Morgan said. “He’s hasn’t stood on the outside of it and tried to learn enough to be strategic. He knows the Quran well. He can say verses from the Quran in English then say it back in Arabic. He’s able to relate to Muslims as brothers and friends rather than distrusting factions.”
Study Abroad and Honors College are planning to offer the same type of program that Johnson went on in summer 2016 and opening it up to students outside the Honors college. McVey and Morgan hope students will be open to learning about different cultures and take advantage of the different opportunities offered.
“Something I would like students to know about my friendships within Muslim communities is by befriending and focusing on the good, the virtuous and the commonalities that lie within the Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, we can become more self-aware and more discerning of the ways we look at the ‘other,'” McVey said. “Also, spiritually, historically and socially, we are inextricably linked to Muslim people, so the responsibility lies with people of faith to determine what a Christ-like response might be to current and future issues that involve, at present, 55 percent of the world’s population, the total Jewish, Christian and Muslim population.”