February 9, 2016
It is with great sadness that I share the news that our beloved colleague, teacher and friend Ibrahim Farajajé died last night at Alta Bates Medical Center in Oakland. He was surrounded by a small group of family and friends who have been keeping watch over him since Ibrahim’s massive heart attack on January 15. Though there were very early signs that he might be able to recover, and though he struggled valiantly over the past few weeks, his physical healing was not to be. Our deepest sympathies go out to his wife, Katherin, his son, Issa, his mother, Delores, his siblings and other family members.
Ibrahim had announced last fall that he was retiring from his work at the school after 21 years. They were years filled with intense work, spirit-filled teaching and mentoring, innovative thinking, and a deep love for Starr King. We had hoped for more time together, had started planning new immersion programs with him, but his death ends those plans. Our hearts are broken right now, and will be for a long time. Yet there exists in every room and every hallway of our school the evidence of his intellectual rigor, his spiritual intensity and his abundant joy in life itself. There will never again be anyone like him; we have lost a great treasure.
Details of a formal memorial service are not yet known. Here at the school, we will be gathering in chapel at 1 pm today (Tuesday, Feb. 9) to honor and to remember Ibrahim Baba. Whether you can attend or not, consider these things: keep your heart open and joyful; let your eyes scan the horizon for the next amazing, life-giving opportunity–and take it; use your hands to be of service to someone; let your mind stretch to include new ideas and new possibilities. As you do these things, you are honoring this irreplaceable man and his irrepressible spirit. May the God of many names and one abundant Love welcome Baba home, and may that great Love hold us in our deep grief.
Please watch this video of highlights from the chapel service at the Starr King School for the Ministry on February 9, 2016, in honor of our beloved Provost and Professor of Islamic and Cultural Studies, Dr. Ibrahim Farajaje. We offer this as a small tribute to celebrate Ibrahim Baba and the ways in which he touched so many of our lives.
I Am Starr King: A Tribute to Dr. Ibrahim Farajaje
February 11, 2016
On February 9, 2016, Starr King School for the Ministry’s Provost and Professor of Islamic and Cultural Studies, Dr. Ibrahim Abdurrahman Farajaje, passed away. He was a beloved teacher, colleague, friend, loved one and intersectional “scholartavist”. In addition to his intellectual prowess, activism, and revolutionary vision, Dr. Farajaje was loved far and wide for his calming presence, playful demeanor, booming laugh, and ability to bring out the best in others. In his honor, we offer another look at the man who profoundly touched so many of our lives. Life will not be the same without Ibrahim Baba, but we hope that by lifting up his prophetic vision and the work still left to do we can bring strength and courage to those of us who feel this great loss. [source]
Video Interview with Ibrahim Baba
Below is an interview with Dr. Ibrahim Abdurrahman Farajaje about his experience at Starr King School for the Ministry.
Tell me about your experience at Starr King.
I was just thinking that about this time twenty years ago, I was preparing to move from Washington, DC, to the Bay Area to assume my position here on the faculty.
Starr King, for me, has been a very exciting adventure in what I call, not even progressive theological education, but revolutionary theological education. This great revolution of hearts and minds connected. Something I had written was that some people refer to us as ‘that weird school out in California’ or ‘that school that is not really a school for scholarship’ and what have you. And one of the exciting things for me about Starr King is that it is always inviting us to be out loud and proud about who we are. And we recognize that we do have different ways of conceptualizing things, which does not mean that we are not an intellectually challenging environment. But we are not committed to what I would call academic oppression, in the sense of using a model of teaching that does not also draw on the resources the student might have.
In the time that I have been here, in my position as Provost, I have been responsible for developing what is no longer called the new educational model or emerging educational model. Maybe it is emergent—the emergent educational model. And it will always be emergent, because we will always continue to grow in creativity and also in responding to the challenges in the world. Whether it be living in white supremacist culture, climate change, moving beyond gender binaries, or organic multireligiosity. As these things swirl and change in the world, our work in the world, our presence in the world changes— in the types of courses that we teach and the things that we examine here that are connected to our deep values of being a counter oppressive community of learning. As the world calls for responses from us, we make bold to offer those responses in word and action and ritual and the ways in which we gather as a community.
Why did you decide to teach at Starr King?
I decided to teach at Starr King— and it was not an easy decision for me because I had been a professor at Howard School of Divinity for 10 years. And I loved Howard. And I was very involved in activism in Washington, DC, and in art communities there. So it was a difficult choice, but I felt that Starr King was moving in a direction, or wanted to move in a direction, that was the same direction I was moving in my work as a scholartivist—a scholar, artist, activist and spiritual leader. And I thought this was an opportunity to arrive in a moment of rebirth in a community of learning, and to help this process of birth and growth. And I didn’t really know what to expect. But I had confidence in this community that had called me to be part of it.
And I think the Starr King that we inhabit now is very different from the Starr King to which I arrived. So the reasons I came to Starr King are probably connected to, but also different from, the reasons for which I stay. The primary reason for which I am here is the really, for me, radically important work of training and of witnessing the preparation and formation of religious leaders in a world that desperately needs, I believe, radically progressive, inclusive, complexly-thinking spiritual leaders.
What has been your most memorable or meaningful experience at Starr King?
There have been a lot of meaningful experiences, but I think for me, it is the experience of the annual or bi-annual Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi Immersion that I lead. The experience of being with Starr King, of being Starr King in Turkey, whether it is in Istanbul or Central Anatolia in Konya, where Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi is buried and is the focal point of our Immersion. But to be in community there, to witness our community living and being together 24 hours a day seven days a week during two weeks. Watching people interact with people from different parts of the world. Eating together, singing together and visiting holy sites together. And the people that meet Starr King, who are like, ‘Oh who are you? Where are you from? We are so glad you are here.’ To just experience the day-to-day of what it is to be a counter oppressive community, day-to-day what it means to be an organically multireligious community in a context that brings together people from all over the world. I think seeing the impact that this has on members of our community, the hospitality that they experience, and the warmth in day-to-day life that they experience and how that shapes them when they come back here.
One year there was a group of students who were really, really touched by the food hospitality. And in a context of food justice, to experience that kind of hospitality was radically transformative for them. So when they came back, they made a practice of every Tuesday, before we gather for our collective ritual time of chapel, providing homemade bread, apples, oranges, cheese and olives. They did this every Tuesday until they graduated. And that built such community here. It were as though the gift of what they experienced in Turkey came here and transformed Starr King at 2441 also.
So I think that is connected to—and maybe I am saying two things and connecting them together—the experience of Starr King students being in different parts of the world, Starr King faculty being in different parts of the world. One of the things that I think is a marvelous, marvelous gift of our educational model is the ability to combine staying in your community and studying and also doing part of the work here in this community— this certain fluidity of modalities of learning, of contexts of learning. I always they say that it is one thing for students to be in a lecture and to hear about the Council of Chalcedon for example, and quite another to be in Istanbul and be able to say, “You see right over there (pointing)? That is what was called Chalcedon. That was where that ecumenical council was held.”
And this way of doing education represents a very important value for me, and that is accessibility for people living with disabilities. When I first started teaching online—I was the first core faculty person to teach online—I was recovering from a very serious illness. I would not have been able to teach in the classroom. And the fact that I started teaching online also elicited responses from some of the students, who were living with disabilities but never really talked about it, and how this facilitated learning for them. So there is inclusivity in this way of being. We are not locked into this building. We talk a lot about impermeable walls here. So experiencing Starr King in multiple modalities and multiple locations is part of the richness of my favorite experiences here.[source]
Today the world lost one of the great spiritual luminaries of our age when my beloved heart-friend, sheikh, and revolutionary of LOVE, Ibrahim Baba (Khalvat Dar Anjuman), returned to our Beloved. In sufi tradition, we honor this day as his Shebi-Arus (“wedding”) with the Infinite Spirit. Baba was truly a Mahātmā, a “Great Soul,” who selflessly transformed the lives of so many in this world and beyond. He was a radical spiritual warrior who tirelessly overthrew systems of oppression so all might live in freedom and happiness. Please pray for him on this night as he is enfolded in the Unending Splendor, and pray for his beloved partner Katherin and son Isa, and all those who loved him. When I was reading through some of our old messages earlier today, the words were given: “I’ve gone to rest, red falcon… Allah! Allah! Allah!” I am reminded of the words of St. John Chrysostom: “He whom we love and lose is no longer where he was before. He is now wherever we are.” May he now teach to us all in the Cave of the Heart.
Starr King School Symposium 2012 – Ibrahim Farajaje Opening Sermon (excerpt)
Published on Feb 11, 2013. Provost Ibrahim Farajaje’s opening sermon at Starr King’s inaugural Symposium “Living in the Differences” captured the vision for our three-day “urban retreat” kicking off the 2012-2013 academic year.
Faculty Summit 2010
Starr King School for the Ministry’s provost, Ibrahim Farajaje, delivers the 2010 Faculty Summit Lecture.
27 October 2015
Dear Ibrahim Baba’s friends,
Baba’s plan had been to wait until later to attend to regenerative work, but sooner rather than later seems to be the flow of the season! As one of Baba’s beloved friends, I invite you to join me in providing the much needed healthcare that Ibrahim Baba needs by donating generously for a beautiful person who has given us all so very much.
It is good for us to understand as Ibrahim baba’s friends that he has several serious health issues that he is struggling with presently so that we can offer our Love and Support. Your prayers are most welcome and your monetary gifts as well for his healthcare treatment.
Ibrahim baba is in need of treatment for his lungs. He is having a lot of trouble with his breathing. He has been asthmatic for most of his life. Ayurveda and Chinese traditional medicine have been his mainstays and he would like to pursue a residential course of treatment at this time, which of course is not covered by any insurance.
He hopes to attend as soon as possibly Bastyr University’s Centre for Natural Health. This seems like a very good fit because it has both Chinese and Indian medicine which is the best combination for Baba. Baba is also in need of treatment for post-surgical nerve damage to his achilles’ tendon and his blood pressure. It is good for us to understand as Ibrahim baba’s friends that he is facing several serious health issues and he needs our help. By our contributing as generously as we can here at GoFundMe.com/ibrahimbaba we can help Baba in a much needed and profoundly nurturing way on his healing journey. Please give from your heart. Thank you so very much!
Here’s how you can help.
About Ibrahim Baba
Ibrahim Baba has a Masters of Divinity degree from St. Vladimir’s Eastern Orthodox Seminary in New York and a Doctorate in Theology from the University of Bern in Switzerland. He worked for the World Council of Churches and after receiving his doctorate he immediately began teaching at Howard Divinity School in January 1986. The recipient of numerous awards and honors, Ibrahim has pioneered work that helps faith communities of color shape compassionate responses to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. His approach to the study of Islam is grounded in postcolonial/Diaspora studies, cultural studies, critical theory and digital media. [More…]
On Faith & Belief
Although exposed to Christianity and Judaism, Ibrahim encountered Islam in boarding school and organized a religion club that would visit numerous religious communities. He was taught at an early age that all paths lead to God and has maintained an openness to religion that is expressed in his current work on multi-religious theological education. [More…]
Ibrahim served as the initial faculty advisor for the Oxala, Howard University’s LGBT student group. Ibrahim was very active in ACT UP D.C., the chair of the Political Action Committee for the DC Black Queer Coalition, a founding member of the Alliance of Multi-Cultural Bisexuals (AMBi), and founder of the first bi group for men of color in D.C named Moving Violations that was focused on direct action around the AIDS crisis from a pro-feminist, mujerista, and womanist perspective. [More…]
Enjoy the teaching below by Ibrahim baba on a variety of topics.
Feel free to contact us if you have questions, or if you’d like to share why Ibrahim Baba is special to you.
Words of Inspiration from Friends of Ibrahim Baba
Unless otherwise indicated, comments below are from the GoFundMe page for Ibrahim Baba.
“There is no single person who loved me into being more than Ibrahim Baba. Through all our transitions, his faith in me remained unwavering and his love for me (and for my family) kept me on the path of my calling. More than once, he kept me breathing. Now is the time to return that Love. In a couple of weeks, I will turn fifty. If you were considering getting me a gift, I humbly ask you support this fund instead. There is nothing that would make me happier.” Sean Dennison, via Facebook (28 Oct 2015)
“Blessings for healing.” ~ Laura Duhan Kaplan
“Much love and healing.” ~ Jen Roitman
“Love upon love!” ~ Debra Kolodny
“Blessings for healing and wholeness dear grand transparent.” ~ Sunshine Wolfe
“I love you so much and want the very best for you always.” ~ Rachel Zellars
“Full and speedy recovery, baba” ~ Lainey Feingold
“Many blessings on your healing.” ~ Ben Rosenthal
“Thank you for all that you give. May you receive deep breathing and healing.” ~ Cynthia McPherson
“Sending love, blessings, and prayers for deep healing your way, dear baba. xo julie & johns” ~ Julie Batz
“Love you Babajaan! Muqammal Shifa inshallah! Hulu!” ~ Dhruv Sangari
“Love You” ~ Elyse Seidner-Joseph
“Sending love and healing energy.” ~ Hasnaa At-Tauhidi
“I send you Baba my old abuelita’s cure-all incantation… ‘Sana, sana culito de rana, si no se sana hoy, se sanara mañana.’ With laughter, smiles and healing love. Amen.” ~ Yarehk Hernandez
“Loving you! Praying for your deep and ongoing healing, always. And NOW!” ~ Shulamit Wise Fairman
“We bless the love that you are darling Baba Ibrahim.” ~ Ahbi and Gary Vernon-Lapow
“Blessings!” ~ AriLev Morgan
“Love You!” ~ Katrina Hopkins-Messenger
“Refuah Sheleima sending love and blessings for healing.” ~ Estelle Frankel
“Blessings and peace for you.” ~ Bruce Reingold
“Love you, Baba! – Nancy and Jon” ~ Nancy Shaw
“Be well, soon. Your friend, Anne” ~ Anne Ireland
“May the divine flow through your lungs as she does through your heart and mind — freely, peacefully, powerfully.” ~ Sheila Meltzer
“Sending love and prayers to you, Dear One.” ~ Laura Goldman
“Blessings for you health!” ~ Daniel Langenthal
“Blessings to one who gives so much.” ~ Betsy Blakeslee
“Sending healing thoughts and positive energy.” ~ Melinda Brown
“Namaste.” ~ Loraine Hutchins
“With blessings for long life and good health.” ~ Chava Bahle
“Love and healing prayers to you, baba.” ~ Christine Fry
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