Reza Aslan
Professor of Islamic Studies, UC Riverside
01:11

What inspires you?

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Reza Aslan is inspired by a calling.

Reza Aslan

Dr. Reza Aslan, an internationally acclaimed writer and scholar of religions, is a columnist at the Daily Beast. Reza Aslan has degrees in Religions from Santa Clara University, Harvard University, and the University of California, Santa Barbara, as well as a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Iowa, where he was named the Truman Capote Fellow in Fiction. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities, and the Pacific Council on International Policy. He serves on the board of directors for both the Ploughshares Fund, which gives grants for peace and security issues, Abraham's Vision, an interfaith peace organization, and PEN USA.

Aslan's first book is the New York Times Bestseller, No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam, which has been translated into thirteen languages, short-listed for the Guardian First Book Award in the UK, and nominated for a PEN USA award for research Non-Fiction. His most recent book is How to Win a Cosmic War: God, Globalization, and the End of the War on Terror, followed by an edited anthology, Words Without Borders: Writings from the Middle East, which we will be published by Norton in 2010. Aslan is Cofounder and Chief Creative Officer of BoomGen Studios, a hub for creative content from and about the Middle East, as well as Editorial Executive of Mecca.com. Born in Iran, he now lives in Los Angeles where he is Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at the University of California, Riverside.

Transcript

Question: What inspires you?

Reza Aslan:    I’d like to sit here and pretend that, you know, I had sort of a flash of light come down upon me and a heavenly voice that said, “You must now go forth and explain me to the world.”  But I didn’t.  And in a way I sort of feel like this position, you know, as a public explainer of religions, just sort of came to me.  And it was a responsibility that I really felt I could not get away from.  I mean it does feel like a calling to me in some ways, and so I treat it as a calling; but that said, I couldn’t image doing anything else.  I mean I love my life.  I love being able to think out loud and being able to affect the way other people think.  I think, you know, you could only hope for a better job than that.

 

July 23, 2007


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