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ASU doctoral candidate seeks to contribute to Islamic discourse with online journal

James Edmonds is the co-editor in chief of Ta'seel Commons, an online journal seeking to add to Islamic discourse


James Edmonds, religious studies PhD candidate at ASU and co-editor-in-chief of Ta’seel Commons, poses for a photograph on Monday, Nov. 13, 2017 in Tempe, Arizona.

Religious intellectuals strive to connect with and educate their audiences through different mediums — and in today's world, that medium is often the internet. 

James Edmonds, a doctoral candidate in religious studies at ASU, is the co-editor in chief of Ta'seel Commons, an online journal aiming to reinvigorate Islamic thought in a modern world. The journal seeks to influence discourses on Islam. 

"Ta'seel Commons is a forum for discussing Islam in the public eye," Edmonds said. "This isn't a news site. It is a forum of clear, concise language and a place for members of Western society and the Muslim community to discuss Islam."

Ta'seel Commons contains stories regarding politics, theory and practice, philosophy, arts and culture, sexuality and book reviews all through an Islamic lens. 

"I started working on this journal this past summer," Edmonds said when asked about growing his audience. "I want to bring it to a whole new level."

Joseph Kaminski is an assistant professor at the International University of Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He is also the managing section editor of Ta'seel Commons. 

"Ta'seel Commons is not about engaging in detached debates about great thinkers from the past or offering purely socio-political commentaries on current events," Kaminski said. "Ta'seel Commons aims to engage with an audience that is interested in exploring and evaluating the intersection between Islamic thought and today's world," he said.

Edmonds said it's especially important to discuss Islam in today's social and political climate. 

"I grew up in South Carolina," he said. "I was raised very Christian and very conservative. Nobody knew who or what Muslims were, but they hated them. With Ta'seel Commons, I want readers to understand the complexities of the Islamic world."

Kaminski said a productive conversation about Islam is especially important today because of the current U.S. presidency and the extremism and terrorism seen in today's society.

"Too many shouting matches can be found between Sufis, Salafis, Shi'a and traditionalists all over the internet," he said. "A venue is needed that can engage with sensitive topics in a scholarly and rigorous manner, yet at the same time remain accessible to a non-specialist audience."

He and Edmonds both believe Ta'seel Commons can be that venue.

"We get about five thousand hits a week. We mainly use Facebook to promote our stories," Edmonds said. "We need to get more people involved, including academic and community partners. We need to get creative to expand our audience."

Hassan Chaudhri is an accountancy freshman at ASU and comes from a Muslim background.

"This website is definitely something that can help get the conversation going about Islam," Chaudhri said. "It's so important to change the public perception of Muslims."

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