Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary 2002
Professor and Chair in the Philosophy and Religious Studies Department, Beloit College, Beloit, Wisconsin
Dr. Debra Mubashshir Majeed teaches about the practice and history of faith communities around the world. Her current area of interest is the agency and rights of Muslim women as they seek civil and religious solutions through marriage; in fact, she recently finished a book, Polygyny: What It Means When African-American Women Share Their Husbands, which explores the practice of multi-wife marriage in the Islamic tradition.
When she came to Garrett-Evangelical, Dr. Majeed already had two master’s degrees from Fuller Theological Seminary, and she chose the joint Garrett-Evangelical/Northwestern program to complete a Ph.D. in religion and theological studies. While studying the early formulations of Islam among African-Americans in the early 1900s, she became interested in the Muslim tradition and, eventually, she says, “As I began to do more research and spend more time in Muslim communities, what began as an intellectual journey was becoming a spiritual odyssey as well.” Since that time, she has been a practicing Muslim, and much of her work revolves around the experience of women in the Islamic tradition.
Dr. Majeed characterizes her work in terms of gender justice: “being aware of and able to access the rights and responsibilities afforded to you from God.” But she also carries a Womanist framework from being trained by several first- and second-generation Womanist scholars who, although their focus was on the African-American religious experience, helped her emerge as a Muslim Womanist scholar, centering her work on the study of Islam and its relationship to female authority. She seeks to “apply the directives of the Qur’an to ensure that gender justice and equity occur.”
Faithfulness to Dr. Majeed involves authenticity, submission, and surrender to God; she points out that “the word Islam means submission and surrender to the one true God.” Being faithful means “trying to have an authentic understanding of what God has called you to be and to do—this is true in work and in life more broadly.”
Dr. Majeed hopes that CBE can continue to focus not only on the Black experience and the Black community, but also more broadly to include other religious expressions:
“In reality, the Black religious experience is much more pluralistic, diverse, and complex. To the extent that CBE can maintain the centrality of the Black church while looking at the interconnectedness of other religious traditions in the Black community, the more relevant it will be to Black America.”
By focusing on a broader base of Black Americans, CBE can explore critical questions such as: What does it mean to be human? How do you interact with your Creator? and How do you worship your Creator?