Historic: Muslim imam earns masters in theology at Catholic Seattle University

Historic: Muslim imam earns masters in theology at Catholic Seattle University May 19, 2015

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.

Read more. 

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

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