The Great Debates: Islamic Debate- Speaker Bios


Speaker Profiles


Ebrahim Moosa is Professor of Religion & Islamic Studies at Duke University’s Department of Religion. He is the recipient of the 2005 Carnegie fellowship for research on the madrasas of South Asia and Senior Fellow at the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University.

Prof Moosa is the author of the prize-winning book Ghazali and the Poetics of Imagination (University of North Carolina Press, 2005), offering a reading of the ideas of the twelfth century polymath al-Ghazali, a work that was awarded the 2006 American Academy of Religion prize for the Best First Book in the History of Religions. He coedited Muslim Family Law in Sub-Saharan Africa: Colonial Legacies and Post-Colonial Challenges and edited the last manuscript of the late Professor Fazlur Rahman, Revival and Reform in Islam: A Study of Islamic Fundamentalism (Oxford: Oneworld, 2000).

Prof Moosa has published extensively on modern Muslim ethics, Islamic law and issues involving tradition and modernity in Islam. Currently he is completing a book on the madrasas of India and Pakistan, titled: What is a Madrasa?” This is a reflection on the state of religious education in a post 9/11 world with reminiscences of his own six years spent as a madrasa student in India. Another book, Between Right and Wrong: Debating Muslim Ethics is under preparation. In 2007 Prof Moosa delivered the prestigious Hassaniyyah lecture to his Majesty King Mohammed VI of Morocco. He frequently contributes to electronic and print media outlets as well as op-ed pieces for the New York Times, The Atlanta Journal Constitution, The Straits Times (Malaysia) and The Star (Johannesburg), The Boston Review, as well as providing commentary to electronic media sources such National Public Radio and writes on his blog site Dihliz (


Imam Khalid Latifis a University Chaplain for New York University, Executive Director of the Islamic Center at NYU, and a Chaplain for the NYPD.

He was appointed the first Muslim chaplain at NYU in 2005 where he began to initiate his vision for a pluralistic future on and off campus for American Muslims. He was also appointed the first Muslim chaplain at Princeton University in 2006. Spending a year commuting between these two excellent institutions, he finally decided to commit full-time to New York University’s Islamic Center where his position was officially institutionalized in the spring of 2007. Under his leadership, the Islamic Center at NYU became the first ever established Muslim student center at an institution of higher education in the United States. Imam Latif’s exceptional dedication and ability to cross interfaith and cultural lines on a daily basis brought him recognition throughout the city, so much so that in 2007 Mayor Michael Bloomberg nominated Imam Latif to become the youngest chaplain in history of the New York City Police Department at the age of 24.

Imam Latif has not only managed to solidify the basis of a strong Muslim community at NYU that seeks to emphasize inclusiveness and understanding of others without compromise, but has also worked tirelessly to foster dialogue with people of other faiths in order to clarify misconceptions and encourage mutual education. Through his work Imam Latif has demonstrated not only an exceptional dedication to gaining and disseminating religious knowledge and values, but has begun to carve out a much-needed space for young American Muslims to celebrate their unique identity and have their voices heard in the larger public sphere. He is a sought after speaker, having lectured throughout the United States and in various parts of the world and has been quoted, featured and appeared in numerous media outlets including the Huffington Post, BBC, NPR, CNN, the NY Times, Katie Couric, New York Magazine, The Colbert Report, Newsweek,Time Magazine, BET and GEO TV. Amongst many awards and distinctions for leadership and community service over the last few years, Imam Latif has been named a Global Interfaith Visionary by the United Nations Temple of Understanding (2010), one of 100 NYC Luminaries by the New York Public Library (2011), one of the 500 most influential Muslims in the world by Georgetown University's Prince Alwaleed Bin Talaal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding and The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre (2009 & 2010), and most recently a Millennial Leader for Social Justice by Auburn Seminary (2011).


Imam Shamsi Aliis the Director of Jamaica Muslim Center in Queens and Chairman of Masjid Al-Hikmahin Astoria. Up until recently Imam Ali was the Imam of the Islamic Cultural Center of New York, which is the city’s largest mosque located in 96th street and 3rd AV Manhattan.

Imam Ali serves as an Advisory Board member to numerous interfaith organizations, including the Tanenbaum Center and Federation for Middle East Peace. He is also Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Asean Muslim Federation of North America. Imam Ali also is a Board member for the Partnership of Faith in NY, and co-founder of the UNCC (Universal Clergy Coalition-International). Furthermore, he is also Assistant Director and a Board member of the Muslim Foundation of America, Inc., and Chairman of the annual Muslim Day Parade in NYC. He also serves as the Vice President of the Asian-American Coalition USA (AAC-USA) and its UN Representative.

Within the Indonesian Muslim community in North America, Imam Ali is a well known figure. He serves as an Advisory Board to major national Muslim organizations such as IMSA (Indonesian Muslim Society in America) and ICMI (Indonesian Muslim Intellectual Society in America).

Well known in the interfaith community, Imam Ali is a visible face of Islam. He has lectured in churches, synagogues and other institutions both nationally and worldwide. He was among a few religious leaders who had been invited to accompany the then President George W. Bush to visit Ground Zero days after September 11th, and represented his community during the Yankee Stadium Prayer for America event along side religious and government high ranking officials, including Former President Bill Clinton and then Senator Hillary Clinton.

Imam Ali had an opportunity to meet with variety of leaders, such as Former President G.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Pataki, Michel Bloomberg, as well President Bambang Yudhoyono of RI and former Presidents Prof. B.J Habibie and K.H. Abdurrahman.

Imam Ali participated in the International Conference of Imams and Rabbis for Peace in Seville Spain 2006 and the first National Summit of Imams and Rabbis of North America 2007. He represented the Muslim community at an interfaith discussion on Religions and Sustainable Development at the White House in 2007, and participated in the 2008 Transatlantic Interfaith Dialogue in Frankfurt, Germany.

Imam Ali was appointed "Ambassador for Peace" by the International Religious Federation in 2002, and a recipient of the 2008 ICLI Interfaith Award. In 2006, he was named one of seven most influential religious leaders in New York City by New York Magazine.

Last year, Imam Ali was awarded one of 100 recipients of the 2009 Ellis Island Medal of Honor Award. This prestigious non military gold medal is the highest recognition given to immigrants with tremendous contributions to the American society and the world and for him, it was due to his endless dedication in building bridges between religious communities. Furthermore, in 2009, Imam Ali was chosen as one of the 500 most influential Muslims in the world by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center in Jordan and Georgetown University.

A revered Qur'an scholar, who speaks fluent, beside his native Indonesian language, English Arabic and Urdu, Imam Ali obtained his BA in tafseer from the International Islamic University Islamabad-Pakistan in 1991; an MA in comparative Studies of Religions from the same university in 1994. He is a frequent speaker at the United Nations forums and a media guest contributor for ABC, PBS, BBC World, CNN, Fox News, National Geographic, al-Jazeera, the Hallmark Channel.

Imam Shamsi Ali is a native Indonesian, born and raised in Bulukumba, South Sulawesi, an area well known for its traditional wooden schooner called pinisi. He is 43 years old and currently resides in Jamaica, Queens, with wife Mutiah and five children.