Religious historian, author and one of the most provocative, original, and inclusive thinker on the role of religion in the modern world, Karen Armstrong is in Malaysian this week to promote peace and better understanding between Islam and the West.
At 10am on Saturday, June 16, 2007, Armstrong will be at the Mandarin Oriental in Kuala Lumpur to give a public lecture on "The Role of Religion in the 21st Century".
This is an event that is surely not to be missed.
In today's world where the West is virulently hostile towards Islam and where Islam is feared, misunderstood and systematically demonized, Armstrong stands out as a friend.
She has authored many books on religion and the history of religion/s including on Islam.
Her books are well-respected as they are based on scholarly research.
In 1991, after a fatwa was issued against author Salman Rushdie, she wrote "Muhammad: Western Attempt to Understand Islam".
It was her response to the bigotry against Islam following that fatwa.
A former Roman Catholic nun and instructor at London's prestigious Leo Baeck College for the Training of Rabbis, she is one of the English-speaking world's foremost commentators on religion,.
She is also a broadcaster and columnist. Several of her books have been translated into over 40 languages.
She is the author of the international bestseller The History of God and played a key role in Bill Moyer's popular PBS series on religion. She is also the author of Jerusalem, The Gospel According to Woman, Holy War, Muhammad, The Battle for God: Fundamentalism in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: A Short History.
Her book The Spiral Staircase: My Climb Out of Darkness was an immediate bestseller.
Certainly, she has her critics but she should be credited for having sincerely, honestly and effectively offered a "vital corrective" to the narrow world view that Islam is an extreme faith that promotes authoritarian government, female oppression, civil war, and terrorism.
Armstrong, in her writings, argues that Islam, which is the world's fastest-growing faith, is a much richer and more complex phenomenon than its modern fundamentalist strain might suggest.
Since the 9/11 New York tragedy, she has been doing work on Islam, particularly in the United States.
While in the country, Armstrong will be at the Residence Hotel in Kajang from June 17 to 20 to speak at the Inter-Civilizational Youth Engagement Programme (IYEP), a dialogue that will be attended by 50 young people from all over the world.