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Illumination In Isolation: How Omid Safi Forms Spiritual Community During COVID-19

Omid Safi

Omid Safi, professor of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at Duke, knew that the months of April and May would be difficult for the Muslim community this year. Like Easter and Passover, the holy month of Ramadan will be celebrated much differently due to COVID-19’s ongoing social distancing restrictions. 

Responding to a need for an unconventional way to gather, reflect, and inspire, Safi developed a series of online lectures calledIlluminated Courses, centered on the poetry of 13th-century mystic poet Rumi and other Muslim sages. The work has drawn students from several religious backgrounds. Host Frank Stasio talks to Omid Safi about spiritually weathering the pandemic and how Illuminated Courses can help Muslims form a sense of togetherness during Ramadan, despite social distancing.

Stacia L. Brown is a writer and audio storyteller who has worked in public media since 2016, when she partnered with the Association of Independents in Radio and Baltimore's WEAA 88.9 to create The Rise of Charm City, a narrative podcast that centered community oral histories. She has worked for WAMU’s daily news radio program, 1A, as well as WUNC’s The State of Things. Stacia was a producer for WUNC's award-winning series, Great Grief with Nnenna Freelon and a co-creator of the station's first children's literacy podcast, The Story Stables. She served as a senior producer for two Ten Percent Happier podcasts, Childproof and More Than a Feeling. In early 2023, she was interim executive producer for WNYC’s The Takeaway.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.
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