Patel, Eboo 1975–

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Patel, Eboo 1975–

(Ebrahim Patel)

PERSONAL:

Born 1975. Education: Oxford University, Ph.D. Religion: Muslim.

ADDRESSES:

Office—Interfaith Youth Core, 1111 N. Wells St., Ste. 501, Chicago, IL 60610. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Activist, public speaker, teacher, and artist. Cofounder of Interfaith Youth Core, 1998, and executive director. Guest on radio and television programs. Member of board of Aga Khan Foundation USA, International Interfaith Center, CrossCurrents, and the Islamic Studies Center at Duke University. Member of Council on Foreign Relations' Religious Advisory Committee and EastWest Institute's Task Force on American Muslims.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Listed as one of ‘thirty social visionaries under 30 changing the world,’ by Utne Reader, 2002; elected to Ashoka Fellowship, 2004; Rhodes scholarship.

WRITINGS:

NONFICTION

(Editor, with Patrice Brodeur) Building the Interfaith Youth Movement: Beyond Dialogue to Action, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (Lanham, MD), 2006.

Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation, Beacon Press (Boston, MA), 2007.

Contributor of essays to God Within, Global Uprising, Initiative, Interreligious Insight, and Spiritual Perspectives on America's Role as a Superpower.

SIDELIGHTS:

Eboo Patel is an Indian-American Muslim who, in his social work, strives to create a better, more tolerant world. Patel's philosophies and his life story are contained in his book Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation. One of Patel's foremost goals is to bring together young people from various religious background in the United States to work cooperatively on community service projects. His aim is twofold: he is striving to promote public service and the values it engenders, and he is also attempting to encourage young people to learn about, understand, and respect faith traditions that are different from their own.

One of Patel's most notable accomplishments has been the founding of the Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC). He was inspired to form this group after becoming involved in interfaith work and realizing that most participants are older people. Through the IFYC, thousands of young people from different backgrounds are brought together to work on social projects, ranging from fighting hunger to working with homeless people or trying to improve education. While they are together, they are also encouraged to find commonalities between their faith traditions. On one project organized by the IFYC, students from Chicago traveled to Jordan, where they worked with Christian and Muslim students on a program to help refugees. Patel said in an interview for the Faithfully Liberal Web site: ‘As youth articulate the impulse to service in their own tradition, they discover a corresponding impulse in those they have served with, even as they recognize the uniqueness of each tradition."

Dr. Martin Marty, a noted religious historian, said in an interview on the Public Broadcasting Service's (PBS) Religion & Ethics Newsweekly Web site that Patel has caught ‘the interest of young people. He immediately built a staff. He's got volunteers. He goes to high schools. He goes to colleges and universities. He's tireless in that way, and he proves that you can gain attention and audiences. I think he's worked very hard and influenced older people on changing the imagery of what you go about in interfaith relations.’ Noting that he has frequently been told his vision is a naive one, Patel responded in another portion of the interview for PBS: ‘I say, yes, but it is not only naive, because there are enough times when the human condition has transcended tribalism and chosen compassion and chosen pluralism that I think that if we build on those examples we will have a world that we are proud to show our creator."

In his book Acts of Faith, Patel relates his own life story: growing up as an Indian-American Muslim in Chicago, he learned about racism firsthand, and learned the best ways to deal with it. He began to question his own identity as a Muslim American. Matthew Weiner, reviewing Acts of Faith for the Common Ground News Service Web site, stated: ‘Besides being a story of victory for tolerance and embrace, Patel's story is one of journey and the narrative line here is again both clear and moving…. This is a book that everyone should read, not just glean from a review.’ Patel's ‘honesty’ in recounting his youth was praised in Publishers Weekly, and the reviewer felt that the author's autobiography ‘captures how an angry youth can be transformed … into a profound leader for the cause of peace.’ Another reviewer, William P. Collins of Library Journal, recommended Acts of Faith as one of the best narratives discussing ‘youth activism, interfaith cooperation, and how to be both authentically American and Muslim.’ Patel's work was also recommended in Kirkus Reviews as ‘an entertaining’ book that, while sometimes bogged down with detail, is nevertheless ‘compelling and overwhelmingly affirmative."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Patel, Eboo, Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation, Beacon Press (Boston, MA), 2007.

PERIODICALS

Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2007, review of Acts of Faith.

Library Journal, May 15, 2007, William P. Collins, review of Acts of Faith, p. 96.

Publishers Weekly, April 23, 2007, review of Acts of Faith, p. 48.

Reference & Research Book News, August, 2006, review of Building the Interfaith Youth Movement: Beyond Dialogue to Action.

ONLINE

Ashoka Web site,http://www.ashoka.org/ (October 22, 2007), biographical information about Eboo Patel.

Common Ground News Service Web site,http://www.commongroundnews.org (August 16, 2007), Matthew Weiner, review of Acts of Faith.

Faithfully Liberal Web site,http://www.faithfullyliberal.com (May 23, 2007), interview with Eboo Patel.

Interfaith Youth Core Web site,http://ifyc.org/ (October 22, 2007), biographical information about Eboo Patel.

Media and Islam,http://www.mediaandislam.com/ (October 22, 2007), review of Acts of Faith.

Pluralism Project Web site,http://www.pluralism.org/ (October 22, 2007), biographical information about Eboo Patel.

Public Broadcasting Service Web site,http://www.pbs.org/ (April 13, 2007), profile of Eboo Patel.