by Pearl Stewart
To some it might seem counterintuitive that the terrorist attacks of 9/11 inspired Dr. Brad Tyndall to begin a series of presentations titled “The Loving Side of Islam.” But the former Peace Corps volunteer and Fulbright Scholar says faculty and administrators at Colorado’s Front Range Community College, where he was teaching at that time, saw a need for a swift response.
When an administrator called an emergency meeting to discuss the situation, in light of the campus’ diverse population, which included Middle Eastern and Muslim students, Tyndall offered his services. His Peace Corps work and positions in Sudan, northern Yemen, Kenya and Tanzania with the U.S. Information Service and U.S. Agency for International Development gave him insights into Islam that he wanted to share with the campus community.
“A couple of days afterward, I did a presentation, and people wanted more and more of it in philosophy class, comparative religion class, sociology class and in the student center—and [the presentations] evolved in such a way that it got deeper and deeper spiritually,” he says.
Tyndall says that he wanted to address both Muslim and non-Muslim students in the aftermath of the attacks, so he chose to describe some of his positive experiences as a development worker in Muslim countries.
Thirteen years later, those campus presentations became the basis of Touching God: A Journey, a Guide to Mysticism in Christianity and Islam, published by AuthorHouse.
In his opening chapter, Tyndall recalls that on 9/11 “we were facing the reality that some American students ignorantly figured that we were attacked by Muslims and thus all Muslims were the enemy.
… As for our Middle Eastern students, or anyone who looked remotely Middle Eastern, we rightly figured that they’d feel targeted.
In fact most, if not all, refrained from going to class.”
Tyndall, who speaks Arabic and has a doctorate in economics from Colorado State University, is currently senior vice president of academic affairs at Colorado Mountain College, where he also teaches sustainable economics.