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January 14, 2010

Abdolkarim Soroush to Discuss "Persian Rumi Versus American Rumi"

Abdolkarim Soroush, a well-known Iranian thinker and reformer and a Distinguished Visiting Scholar in the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress, will present a lecture on Rumi, the 13th-century Persian poet, jurist, theologian and Sufi mystic.

Soroush will lecture on "Persian Rumi versus American Rumi: A Long Journey from Afghanistan to Iran, Then to Iraq, Mecca, Turkey, Europe and Eventually to the United States," at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 21, in Room 119 on the first floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C.

Sponsored by the Kluge Center in the Library's Office of Scholarly Programs, the lecture is free and open to the public; tickets or reservations are not needed.

Foreign Policy Magazine, in the November 2009 issue, asked its FP 100 -- 100 top global thinkers -- the following question: "The world would be a better place if we listened to what one person's ideas?" Soroush was one of the 33 people listed. "Pitting his theological might against Iran's Islamist regime, Soroush has perhaps done more than any other thinker to reconcile Islam with democracy," the magazine said.

Soroush is the director of the Institute for Epistemological Research and a former senior fellow at the Research Institute for Human Sciences and Cultural Research, both in Tehran. In 2008, he was a visiting scholar at Georgetown University's Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs. He has held regular visiting professorships at Princeton, Yale and Harvard universities and at the University of Amsterdam.

After receiving a doctorate in analytical chemistry from the University of London, Soroush attended Chelsea College and earned a doctorate in the history and philosophy of science. In 1979, Soroush returned to Iran, where he was born in 1945. He became an advocate of Islamic ideology and was part of the Cultural Revolution of the 1980s, a project that imposed Islamic curricula on Iranian universities, although Soroush became highly critical of the political role played by the Iranian clergy. In 2004, he received the Erasmus Prize, which is given to those who have made notable contributions to European culture, society or social science.

Among his many books are "Reason, Freedom and Democracy in Islam" (2000); "The Theoretical Contraction and Expansion of Religion: Theory of Evolution of Religious Knowledge" (1998); and "Wisdom, Intellectualism and Religious Conviction" (1995).

Through a generous endowment from John W. Kluge, the Library of Congress established the Kluge Center in 2000 to bring together the world's best thinkers to stimulate and energize one another to distill wisdom from the Library's rich resources and to interact with policymakers in Washington. For further information on the Kluge Center, visit www.loc.gov/kluge/.

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PR 10-010
01/14/10
ISSN 0731-3527

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