The 'Alif team is comprised of a group of intellectually-engaged Muslims and non-Muslims who find themselves at the nexus between tradition and modernity. This space of encounter has spawned a wide variety of responses – our own response being one focusing on a deep engagement which allows tradition to come into its fullness through a genuine interaction between tradition and modern developments.
In combining our unique passion for traditional scholarship with an authentic desire to communicate in modes that are culturally relevant, we hope to offer an accessible paradigm of engagement for those who are dissatisfied with both sentimental traditionalism and uncritical adherence to the facile cultural forms of modernity.
Jared Morningstar, Founder & Executive Director
Jared has been engaged with questions of tradition and modernity since his first collegiate religion course at Gustavus Adolphus College. Jared completed his BA in religion with emphasis on Islamic studies in 2018 and has since been working diligently to find ways to make the riches of religious traditions more relevant and accessible to those living in the modern West. Through 'Alif Jared hopes to make a positive contribution to an improved understanding of Islam in the West while also promoting cross-cultural excitement for increased interfaith engagement by showing how valuable these points of contact can be.
Jaret Rushing, Senior Contributor
Hailing from rural West Tennessee, Jaret is presently finishing his BA in Philosophy and Religious Studies at Vanderbilt University. His intellectual interests led him to study multiple religious traditions, most notably Islam and Hinduism, and he is grateful to have been able to travel to Egypt and India as part of his education. He is especially fascinated by nondual philosophies and mysticism, and he has a parallel concern with issues pertaining to interreligious dialogue and the relationship between religious thought and modernity. He plans to pursue graduate studies in comparative theology and philosophy, especially the intellectual interactions between Muslims and Hindus in premodern South Asia, in hopes that modern cross-cultural discourse might learn from past instances of interreligious interaction.
Esmé L. K. Partridge, Senior Contributor
Since discovering the philosophical treatises of the 9th century Muslim polymath Al-Kindi, Esmé has been fascinated with the Islamic philosophical tradition. This lead her to pursue a degree at SOAS, University of London, where she currently studies Religion, Culture and Society with Arabic. Alongside this, she is also an independent researcher specialising in Islamic mysticism; the concept of the imagination in Sufi metaphysics; and the paramountcy of rationality in the Muslim faith. Applying her knowledge of these areas, she hopes to rectify the distortions in the West’s image of Islam, reinstating the religion’s emphasis on wisdom and the personal mystical experience.
Yusuf Asghar, Senior Contributor
After completing his BA in Religion, Culture and Society at SOAS University, Yusuf chose to pursue traditional Islamic Studies, whilst complementing his academic experience. This led him to pursue an additional BA in Islamic Studies at the Cambridge Muslim College, which provides training in the traditional Islamic sciences whilst developing strong awareness of the disciplines and ideas that shape the modern world. Alongside his studies, Yusuf's research interests lie in various areas such as the development of Hadith Sciences, key legal developments in the formative period of the Hanafi school of law as well as more contemporary issues such as the sociocultural and political challenges of Muslims in the West. Through his studies, Yusuf hopes to utilise his multi-faceted research to encourage sincere dialogue and mutual respect of both the Islamic and Western Intellectual traditions.
Garrett Maxwell, Senior Contributor
After first encountering the Qur’an while sheltering under a sheet metal roof during a tropical typhoon, the enchantment cast by the Arabic script still grips him. Garrett now studies Comparative Literature and Middle Eastern Studies & Arabic at Brigham Young University, wherein his personal and academic interests coincide. He is primarily interested in the historical and critical reception of scripture in general, and the Qur’an in particular. He feels deeply about the questions of religion and modernity, the nature of sacred texts, scriptural hermeneutics, religious epistemology, and the metaphysics of revelation. Through engaging with these and other related questions, he hopes to both illuminate humankind’s historical encounter with the sacred, and evoke that encounter in the present.
Abdullah Sattar, Senior Contributor
Abdullah is an engineer by profession and also a student of religious studies at the University of Calgary. His interests lie in Islamic philosophy, mysticism, poetry and the intersection of modernity, post-modernity and Islam. Outside of his religious and intellectual interests, Abdullah is a huge fan of cricket and enjoys spending time in the Rocky Mountains.