Using Theater to Bridge the Muslim Divide

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While the concept of jihad has become part of the world's lexicon in the years following the September 11th attacks, its true meaning is hotly debated within Muslim communities, and by scholars across the world. 

That debate, and the major divisions in Muslim communities today take center stage in "Noor," a play by Akbar Ahmed, Pakistan’s former ambassador to the United Kingdom and and chair of Islamic Studies at American University. 

Ambassador Ahmed explains the play "is one form of my create better understanding between peoples, between cultures and to close this huge gap that opened after 9/11, particularly between Muslims and non-Muslims."

The newest iteration of "Noor," recently performed at American University, was directed by Manjula Kumar, a project director at the Smithsonian Institution. Kumar says that she decided to take up the project in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing. 

The day of the bombing, Kumar explains, "I just sat there, frozen, in front of the television...and I decided that I have to do this. I have to do this, not only for my own catharsis, but I have to understand, share, with the public."

With a Pakistani playwright, an Indian director and a cast from Afghanistan, Ambassador Ahmed hopes to start a conversation with Muslims across the world.