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Date: Nov 09, 2011
Dr. Eboo Patel, founder of Interfaith Youth Core, Awarded Hofstra’s Guru Nanak Interfaith Prize for 2012
Patel, inaugural member of Advisory Council for White House Office on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, honored for building worldwide youth interfaith network
Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY – Dr. Eboo Patel, the president and founder of a global grassroots, interfaith network of college students that has reached more than 200 campuses and worked on five continents, has been awarded Hofstra’s 2012 Guru Nanak Interfaith Prize, President Stuart Rabinowitz announced today.
Patel, a Rhodes Scholar who was named one of “America’s Best Leaders” by U.S. News and World Report, received four separate nominations for the Guru Nanak Prize out of the multiple nominations made for the 2012 award. The selection committee’s decision was unanimous, said Bernard Firestone, dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.
“Dr. Patel is a dynamic young leader who is fiercely committed to the principles the Guru Nanak award was created to honor – cooperation, understanding, service and peaceful dialogue,” Firestone said. “That he has focused his efforts on engaging young people, and promoted these values on college and university campuses, only serves to highlight the role such institutions can and should play in fostering a better understanding among people of different faiths and beliefs.”
“This is the third time we are awarding the prize,” Firestone said, “and the nominations have gotten stronger and stronger with each successive cycle.”
The $50,000 prize is bestowed every two years to recognize significant work to increase interfaith understanding. A formal award presentation is planned for Spring 2012. The first Guru Nanak Interfaith Prize was awarded in 2008 to His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso. In 2010, co-recipients of the prize were the organization Religions for Peace and Rabbi Arthur Schneier.
“What an overwhelming honor to be named the recipient of the Guru Nanak Interfaith Prize,” Patel said. “I am proud to be part of an organization, the Interfaith Youth Core, and a broader interfaith movement dedicated to the idea that faith is a bridge of cooperation, not a barrier of division.”
“I want to thank the founders of this prize, the Sikh community, and the organizers at Hofstra University for their dedication to this highest of all ideals,” he said. “May God give us the strength to continue on this journey of building pluralism, and may we continue to take joy in traveling the path together.”
A Muslim born in India and raised in Chicago, Dr. Patel’s interest in peaceful advocacy for tolerance and change was sparked by his childhood experiences with prejudice, and later cemented by his study of leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Ghandi and Nelson Mandela.
He founded the Interfaith Youth Core in 1998 after attending an interfaith conference at Stanford University where he was inspired to see young people take interfaith action. The organization, which was incorporated in 2002, trains students through interfaith leadership institutes across the country to build interfaith cooperation on their campuses and organize service projects that have an impact on their campus and community. IFYC also provides customized training and consulting services to faculty and staff on various colleges and universities to help make interfaith cooperation a priority issue in higher education.
Dr. Patel is the author of “Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation”, editor of “Building the Interfaith Youth Movement” and contributor to many other books and has written a blog on religion for the Washington Post. He often appears in media outlets like USA Today and CNN.
In 2009, he was appointed to the inaugural advisory council for the White House Office on Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. In 2010, he was the recipient of the Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Religion, awarded by the University of Louisville and the Louisville Presbyterian Seminary, to individuals whose work significantly contributes to religious and spiritual understanding.
The Guru Nanak Interfaith Prize was established in 2006 by Ishar Bindra and family and named for the founder of the Sikh religion. It is meant to encourage understanding of various religions and encourage cooperation between faith communities. Guru Nanak believed that all humans are equal, regardless of color, ethnicity, nationality or gender.
In September 2000, the Bindra family endowed the Sardarni Kuljit Kaur Bindra Chair in Sikh Studies at Hofstra University in honor of the family's matriarch
Tejinder Bindra, who is also a member of the University’s Board of Trustees, noted that Guru Nanak espoused a message of universal brotherhood at a time of increasing religious intolerance during 15th and 16th century India. “It is in this spirit that the Guru Nanak Prize was initiated,” Bindra said. “If one can experience that universality then there is absolutely no room left for differences in race, color, caste, creed, religion or gender, and then as the Sikh scripture tells us ‘I see no stranger’.”
“The awardees may or may not be Sikh and may represent any of the multitudes of faiths or, for that matter, even no particular faith at all,” he said. It is their dedication that brings humankind to their shared destiny, common purpose and roots that they honor.”
Hofstra University is a dynamic private institution of higher education where more than 12,000 full and part-time students choose from undergraduate and graduate offerings in liberal arts and sciences, business, engineering, communication, education, health and human services, honors studies, a School of Law and the Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine.