From The Seattle Times:
The premise of Abdullah Polovina’s story sounds like the start of a bar joke:
A Muslim imam walks into a Catholic university …
Except it’s true. Polovina, who leads a congregation of Bosnian Muslims in Portland, did just that. And in June, he’ll walk out to “Pomp and Circumstance.”
The 41-year-old recently completed a master’s degree at Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry, where he was the first Muslim ever to enroll.
“I was looking for a place to be accepted as myself and to be the true face of Islam, though I am not the best follower,” Polovina said.
Polovina lived and worked in Seattle as an imam, or Muslim religious leader, for more than a decade before moving to Portland in 2013 to lead the Bosniaks Educational and Cultural Organization.
He first connected with leaders at Seattle University through interfaith-dialogue events hosted by the Jesuit Catholic college. He values education, he said, and wanted to pursue a graduate degree that would improve his leadership. He’d befriended faculty at the college. The transformation leadership program appealed.
The Oregonian adds:
An immigrant from the former Yugoslavia, Polovina knows a thing or two about the harm that can rain from division between ethnic and religious groups. In his eyes, Islam and Christianity can flourish in the same space – whether it’s a classroom or a country. After all, devout believers have even more in common than moral laws and allegiance to Abraham: they share a craving for the divine.
“Belief is like food,” he said. “When we get hungry, we eat.”
Photo by Melissa Binder/The Oregonian