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Jihad Turk is the founding President of Bayan Claremont Islamic Graduate School, the nation’s first Muslim graduate school to offer accredited Master’s degrees in the fields of Islamic Studies, Education, Chaplaincy and Leadership. Jihad previously served as the Imam/Director of Religious Affairs at the Islamic Center of Southern California, LA’s oldest and largest mosque. He is a sought after national speaker on issues related to Islam, Muslims in America, Muslim Reform Movements, Ethical Leadership, and Spiritual and Identity Formation of Youth. Additionally, Jihad has committed himself to build bridges across faith communities to collaboratively address issues of homelessness and poverty.
Having been born to a Muslim-Palestinian father and a Christian-American mother in Phoenix Arizona, Jihad spent his college years travelling the Muslim world and exploring his roots and the Islamic tradition. He spent time in both the Islamic University of Medina where he studied Arabic and Islamic Studies and in Iran where he studied Farsi at the University of Tehran and in Qum. He completed his undergraduate study at the University of California, Berkeley where he received his B.A. degree in History and Arabic. Jihad completed his Master’s degree at the University of Texas, Austin in Arabic and Islamic law and jurisprudence. In 1999, Jihad came to the University of California, Los Angeles to pursue his PhD in Islamic studies where he also taught as adjunct faculty for many years.
For the past 15 years, Jihad has dedicated himself to improving relations between the Muslim and Christian communities of Southern California. Jihad has cofounded the Muslim-Christian Consultative Group comprised of major SoCal Muslim leaders and the judicatory representatives of mainline protestant denominations as well as the Catholic archdiocese. This group pairs up mosques and churches nationally.
He also co-founded the Greater Los Angeles Muslim Jewish Forum which brings together major leaders of both faiths to improve relations and to address issues of common concern. Jihad is a founding board member of a Muslim-Jewish peace organization, ReGeneration, which is developing a model for education that nurtures understanding and peaceful coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians.
Jihad has been consulted by the White House and has travelled around the world (Indonesia, Morocco, Qatar, and France) for the US State Department to speak to Muslim communities abroad and represent the American Muslim Community. Jihad is a member of the USINDO, an NGO that aims to strengthen ties between the US and Indonesia. Jihad has been profiled on the front page of the Los Angeles Times, regularly appears on NPR and other news outlets, has appeared numerous times on the History Channel and was featured in a documentary produced by the Annenberg Foundation’s www.explore.org about the Abrahamic faiths, entitled “Traveling with Jihad.” Jihad has received awards for his religious leadership by Congresswoman Jane Harmon, the Valley Interfaith Council, and the South Coast Interfaith Council has been acknowledged as a Local Hero in 2008 by the World Festival of Sacred Music and was most recently recognized as one of the 500 Most Influential People in Los Angeles by the LA Business Journal.