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BYU Studies issue gives military chaplains insights into Islam

A recent issue of BYU Studies is helping military chaplains with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gain new insights into the links between Mormonism and the Middle East.

Last year, BYU Studies, a scholarly journal in residence at Brigham Young University, published a special issue on Mormonism and Islam. Guest-edited by James A. Toronto of the BYU Department of Asian and Near Eastern Languages, the publication contains 15 major articles in which Latter-day Saint scholars examine Islamic thought.

One hundred copies of this special issue were delivered last week to LDS chaplains in the United States military and to their commanders.

Richard Whaley and Frank Clawson in the Military Affairs Office of the Church of Jesus Christ received the copies and handled delivery through official channels.

Both viewed the donation as very timely in helping American servicemen understand the religious, cultural and historic traditions of Islamic peoples. "Having this material is wonderful," said Whaley.

"This issue has been enthusiastically and widely received among subscribers as well as by participants at international conferences on interfaith dialogue," said John W. Welch, editor in chief of BYU Studies.

"Eric Eliason, book review editor of BYU Studies, currently serves as a chaplain in the United States military," said Welch. "He was instrumental in developing this donation."

Work on this special issue of BYU Studies commenced more than three years ago.

"We were actually meeting as an editorial board the very morning of Sept. 11, 2001, discussing the Islamic issue as the news of the terrorist attacks broke," said Welch.

As Welch and BYU President Merrill J. Bateman stated in the foreword to this issue, "Now more than ever, the people of the world need to understand and love one another. No lasting peace will be found in this world until there is peace among religions, that is, a peace built on religious grounds."

Published early in 2002, the issue featured articles by BYU professors James Toronto (Arabic and Islamic studies), Daniel Peterson (Institute for the Study and Preservation of Ancient Religious Texts), Cynthia Finlayson (art history), Arnold Green and William Hamblin (history), Donna Lee Bowen (political science), Chad Emmett (geography), Brian Hauglid (ancient scripture) and several others.

For more information, contact the BYU Studies Office, (801) 422-6691, or visit the Web site (

Writer: John W. Welch

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