This has been a difficult semester for our many GISC University and local community members and their families who are affected by ongoing violence in Gaza and its related effects in the United States. The safety and rights of our Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim students, faculty, staff, friends, and families are constantly in our thoughts and advocacy. We were disconsolate to learn of the attacks in Vermont on three Palestinian university students attending school at Brown University, Haverford College, and Trinity College. All students, regardless of identity, deserve to be safe off and on university campuses, including our own campus here at the University of Michigan. 

To foster dialogue and learning on free speech, the law, and students’ rights on campus and beyond, in mid-November GISC hosted the virtual panel “Palestine and Free Speech: Activism, Advocacy, and the Law,” featuring Washtenaw County Prosecutor Eli Savit, U-M alum and Palestinian American attorney Fadel M. Nabilsi, and Council on American-Islamic Relations-Michigan (CAIR-MI) Staff Attorney Amy V. Doukoure, and moderated by GISC Associate Director Dr. Murad Idris. The panel was successful in drawing one of GISC’s largest audiences yet, with 250 RSVPs.

We hosted many exciting in-person events this fall. Your favorite #Halaloween Muslim horror film festival returned for a fifth year in October 2023! This year, we featured in-person screenings of films from Egypt and Malaysia, with pre-recorded Q&As with the filmmakers that played to sold-out audiences at the State Theatre. We also virtually streamed Muslim horror movies from Indonesia and Türkiye. 

We also screened the new 9/11 documentary American Jedi: The Salman Hamdani Story (2023) at the U-M Museum of Art, followed by a talkback with the filmmakers. We continued our “Qahwah & Authors” Muslim, Islamic, and Middle East Studies community book series with the launch of Feeding Iran: Shi`i Families and the Making of the Islamic Republic (2021) by Dr. Rose Wellman (U-M Dearborn) at Kitab Café and Bookstore in Hamtramck. 

Looking Forward to 2024!

In January 2024, we will feature a virtual talk on Indonesian Muslim women scholars who issue religious decisions as part of our region-focused “Rabbi Elliott T. Spar Culture and Politics in the Muslim World” series. Our Black Islam series will also continue with a series of short films by and about Black Muslims.

The “Qahwah & Authors” book series continues in Winter 2024 with a roundtable at the Detroit bookstore 27th Letter Books on Young Adult (YA) Muslim authors and books—a growing literary genre! 

Our late spring GISC community event at CupsnChai in Canton will feature research flash talks by University of Michigan professors to local community members that answer the questions: What’s new in Muslim, Islamic, and Arab Studies now? What do we work on and how is it related to Michigan residents and communities? Chai and refreshments will be provided!

We will also continue to fund innovative undergraduate, graduate, and faculty research and scholarship in Islamic Studies, including language study in the Muslim world. Undergraduates: check out our Islamic Studies Minor! Graduate students: we welcome new applicants to our Masters in International and Regional Studies (MIRS) Islamic Studies specialization!

Follow us on X at @umichGISC for Islamic Studies updates and follow our GISC YouTube channel for recorded events! You can also subscribe to our newsletter for upcoming events. 

As we continue our mission of community engagement and furthering scholarly knowledge of Global Islam and Muslim cultures worldwide, we invite you to support our Islamic Studies programming and fellowships. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me and the center for information on co-sponsoring any of our upcoming events and initiatives.

With best wishes for a restful and peaceful holiday,


Dr. Aliyah Khan
Global Islamic Studies Center