Conference Participants


Bahman Bakhtiari is associate professor of languages & literature at the University of Utah. He received his Ph.D. from the Woodrow Wilson Department of Government and Foreign Affairs at the University of Virginia. He has published extensively in the area of Iranian culture and politics including Parliamentary Politics in Revolutionary Iran: Institutionalization of Factional Politics in 2007. Other publications include “Seeking International Legitimacy: Understanding the Dynamics of Nuclear Nationalism in Iran” (Nuclear Politics in Iran), “Iran: Shari`a Politics and the Transformation of Islamic Law” (Shari’a Politics, Islamic Law, and Society in the Modern World), and “Revolutionary Iran and Egypt: Exporting Inspirations and Anxiety” (Iran and the Surrounding World).

Donna Lee Bowen is a professor of political science and Middle East studies at Brigham Young University. A graduate of the University of Utah in political science, she received her M.A. and Ph.D. in Near Eastern languages and civilizations from the University of Chicago. Professor Bowen has conducted research in Morocco, Tunisia, Iran, and Egypt under the auspices of the Ford Foundation, a Fulbright-Hays Fellowship, Bourguiba Institute of Modern Languages, and NDFL Title VI Language Fellowships. Her research and publications have concentrated on aspects of women and family planning in Middle Eastern countries.

Judy Gilliland is director of Interfaith Relations for the Southern California Public Affairs Council of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is active in a variety of organizations including the Southcoast Interfaith Council and the Women’s Interfaith Committee. She is the past president of the Interreligious Council of Southern California.

Steve Gilliland is director of Muslim Relations for the Southern California Public Affairs Council of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Upon completing his Ed.D. in counseling from Boston University, he established the LDS Institute of Religion in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He has taught at the Brigham Young University Jerusalem Center and is a member of the Christian-Muslim Consulting Group.

Faridul Islam is a member of the Board of Directors of Utah Valley Islamic Council and associate professor of finance and economics at Utah Valley University. He obtained a masters degree in economics from the University of Dhaka, Dhaka, Bangladesh and a M.S. in economics from London School of Economics, London, England. Farid migrated to the United States and obtained his doctoral degree in economics from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. He joined Utah Valley University in 1998 and currently serving as regular participant of international and interfaith activities at the university and in the community. Born in Faridpur Bangladesh, Farid now lives in Orem, Utah with wife Mubina and three children.

Omar M. Kader is the founder, chairman, and owner of Pal-Tech, Inc. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Southern California in International Relations. He served as the executive director of the United Palestinian Appeal and executive director of the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), a civil rights organization. He teaches seminars at several universities and is currently chairman of the board of the Middle East Policy Council. Dr. Kader's studies and lectures focus on democracy promotion and US Foreign Policy in the Middle East. He has served as an official international election monitor in Palestine, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Morocco, Yemen, and Indonesia. After high school Kader attended UVU, which was then called Utah Trade Technical Institute.

Maysa Kergaye is coordinator for the Islamic Speakers Bureau at Salt Lake Community College, an organization founded in 2001. The bureau has served many organizations including high schools and church groups. She holds a B.S. in mathematics with a minor in psychology from the University of Utah and has been a resident of Utah for the past 18 years. She helped co-found Iqra Academy, the only full time Islamic school in Utah and served as its principal for three years. She then shifted her focus on teaching Mathematics at Salt Lake Community College. Maysa is active in the Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable, The University of Utah Women's Club, Girl scouts, Crossroad Urban Center and several other organizations.

Ruhul Kuddus is president of the Board of Directors of Utah Valley Islamic Council. He obtained his undergraduate degrees in biology from the University of Dhaka in Bangladesh. Ruhul migrated to the United States in 1984 and obtained a masters degree in biology from George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia and a doctoral degree in microbiology and molecular biology from the University of Pittsburgh. In 2003, Ruhul joined the Biology Department of Utah Valley University where he is currently an associate professor. He has been active in the interfaith activities in the valley since 2006 and was recently awarded the UVU International Center conferred Outstanding Service. Born in Faridpur, Bangladesh Ruhul lives in Orem Utah with his wife Nahid and his son Noah.

Shabbir Mansuri is the founding director of the Institute on Religion and Civic Values, a non-advocacy research institute dedicated to improving coverage of world history and world religions in the American K-12 education system through analysis of history-social studies curricula and standards, development of supplemental materials, and teacher training. The organization’s mission is to address issues of faith, citizenship, and pluralism, with particular focus on questions of religious liberty, religious pluralism, and religious literacy. He is also founding director of the Council on Islamic education, which conducts research on the media, educational policy, and political discourse related to Islam and American religious pluralism.

Muhammed Shoayb Mehtar is Imam of the Islamic Society of Greater Salt Lake. He was born in South Africa and immigrated to the United States in 1985. He attended university in Southern California and upon completing his secular studies in 2001, he began pursuing religious education and graduated in the sciences of Islamic theology in 2007. With over twenty years of service to secular and religious fields, Imam Muhammed Shoayb joined the Islamic Society of Greater Salt Lake and has been actively involved in interfaith dialogue. As part of his responsibilities, he presents to school and university programs to educate youth regarding Muslim identity in the 21st century.

Charles Randall Paul is founder and president of the Foundation for Interreligious Diplomacy, an organization committed to dialogues surrounding religious conflict. After receiving an MBA from Harvard University and a career in real estate development, he completed a Ph.D. at the University of Chicago from the Committee on Social Thought and is currently authoring two books, Fighting about God: Why We Do It and How to Do It Better and Converting the Saints: An American Religious Conflict.

Daniel Peterson is a professor of Islamic Studies and Arabic at Brigham Young University and currently serves as editor-in-chief of Brigham Young University’s Middle Eastern Texts Initiative. He is a member of the executive council of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship at BYU and is the author of several books including Abraham Divided: An LDS Perspective on the Middle East and the critically acclaimed Muhammad: Prophet of God from Wm B. Eerdman’s Publishing.

Stephen Prothero is professor of religion at Boston University specializing in American religions. He received his B.A. from Yale College in American Studies and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University in the Study of Religion. Dr. Prothero has written six books, including The White Buddhist: The Asian Odyssey of Henry Steel Olcott, which won the Best First Book award of the American Academy of Religion in 1997, and American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2003), which was named one of the top religion books for 2003 by Publishers Weekly. His two most recent projects include the New York Times bestseller Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know–and Doesn’t (HarperOne) and God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World and Why Their Differences Matter (HarperOne, 2010).

J. Bonner Ritchie is professor emeritus of International Organizational Behavior at the Marriott School of Management, Brigham Young University and scholar in residence at Utah Valley University. After completing a Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley, he joined the faculty of the University of Michigan until his move to BYU in 1973. He taught as visiting professor at Stanford University, the University of California, Berkeley, St. Mary’s College, Birzeit University (Palestine), the University of Jordan, the Jordan Institute of Diplomacy and the University of Southern Europe.

Ahmad Mohammed Salah is Imam of BYU Muslim congregational prayer services and a member of the Board of Directors of Utah Valley Islamic Council. He obtained his undergraduate degrees in Civil Engineering from Ain Shams University of Cairo and a Master of Science degree from Holland. In 2002, Ahmad came to the United States to attend the Brigham Young University (BYU), Provo, Utah. While at BYU, Ahmad organized Muslim Students Association and Arab Students Club. Ahmad obtained his doctoral degree in Civil Engineering in 2009 and soon thereafter joined an engineering consultancy firm of Salt Lake City, Utah as a senior engineer. Born in Cairo, Egypt, Ahmad now lives in Lehi, Utah with his wife Shereen and two daughters.

Tala’at Al-Shuqairat is Imam of the Utah Valley Islamic Center mosque and a member of the Board of Directors of Utah Valley Islamic Council. He obtained his M.D. degree from the University of Jordan School of Medicine. Tala’at completed his residency at Norwalk Hospital, an affiliate of Yale University and fellowships in pulmonary and critical care medicine and environmental medicine at University of Missouri. Currently, he is serving as a pulmonologist at the Central Utah Clinic. As the Imam of the mosque, Talaa’t regularly participates in interfaith activities in the valley. In 2009, the Utah Valley University International Center conferred Outstanding Service award to Tala’at. Born in Ma’an, Jordan, Tala’at lives in Provo, Utah with his wife Shurouq and two children.

Najeeba Syeed-Miller is assistant professor of Interreligious Education and Senior Advisor for Muslim Relations at the Claremont School of Theology. She is a graduate of the International Institute for Mediation and Conflict Resolution held at The Hague and received her J.D. from the Maurer School of Law, Indiana University-Bloomington. She received her B.S. in psychology from Guilford College with a concentration in Women’s Studies and studied Arabic at the University of Chicago. She has served as executive director of Western Justice Center Foundation and the Asian Pacific American Dispute Resolution Center. She is a recognized leader in the fields of faith-based diplomacy programs, and complex intervention in inter-ethnic, violent, and multi-faith conflicts.

Muzammil Siddiqi is chairman of the Fiqh Council of North America and the educational and religious director of the Islamic Society of Orange County, California. Born in India, he received his early education at Aligarh Muslim University and Darul-uloom Nadwatul Ulama, Lucknow, India. Dr. Siddiqi graduated from the Islamic University of Medina in Saudi Arabia in 1965 with a higher degree in Arabic and Islamic Studies. He received an M.A. in Theology from Birmingham University in England and a Ph.D. in Comparative Religion from Harvard University in the United States. He has served as president of the Islamic Society of North America and as chairman of the Shura Council of Southern California. He is a founding member of the Council of Mosques in US and Canada and of the Council of 100 of the World Economic Forum.

Christine Talbot is assistant professor of Women's Studies at the University of Northern Colorado. She received her Ph.D. in History and a Certificate of Graduate Studies in Women's Studies from the University of Michigan. Dr. Talbot’s academic interests include feminist, queer, and post-colonial theories, U.S. women's history, the history of sexuality, and Mormon Studies. Her current project examines the national controversy over the practice of plural marriage in nineteenth-century Utah. Her article “Turkey is in Our Midst: Orientalism and Contagion in Nineteenth-Century Anti-Mormonism” appeared in the Journal of Law and Family Studies.

Imam Khawaja Shuaib Uddin is Imam and Khateeb (preacher) of Utah Islamic Center located in Sandy, Utah. He completed a four-year curriculum on Qur’an and Arabic Language at the Institute of Islamic Studies at Dewsbury, England. Subsequently he attended Dar ul Uloom (House of knowledge), a traditional Islamic university at Karachi, Pakistan and studied Qur’an, Hadith (Tradition) and Islamic law for five years. In 1994 he completed his degree in Islamic Theology. Since 1999, Imam Shuaib has been serving as the religious leader (Imam) of the Muslim Community in Salt Lake City area. Imam Shuaib also served as the Muslim Chaplain for the 2002 Winter Olympics held at Salt Lake City. He is a regular participant of the Salt Lake City Interfaith Roundtable and Martin Luther King Human Rights Commission.

Blair G. Van Dyke is on the faculty of the Orem Institute of Religion. Holding an Ed.D. from Brigham Young University, his dissertation "Education in an Autonomous Palestine: Palestinian Perspectives," explored the emergence of an independent Palestinian educational system after centuries of colonialism. Dr. Van Dyke served on the board of directors of the Education Center for Research and Development in Gaza and established the "Literature, Arts, Letters for Global Understanding" campaign, an ongoing community and educational engagement initiative between educators and students in the United States and the West Bank. Regarded as a leading expert on the history of Mormonism in the Arab and Israeli worlds, Dr. Van Dyke is the co-author of Holy Lands: A History of the Latter-day Saints in the Near East and author of “In the Footsteps of Orson Hyde: Subsequent Dedications of the Holy Land.”

For more information, contact Boyd Petersen at or Brian Birch at