Mehnaz Afridi

Professor, Religious Studies

Director/HGI, Holocaust, Genocide & Interfaith Education Center

I teach Islam and the Holocaust.  In my classes on Islam, we look at contemporary issues of religious identity like gender, race, and class. We also pay close attention to diverse interpretations of the Qu'ran in various Muslim communities.  Many of my classes are focused on issues of religion, theology, and politics. I have also developed a class on "Muslims and the Holocaust," "Religion and the Holocaust," and "Genocide and the Holocaust."

I am deeply invested in interfaith work both in my scholarship and work at the center as the Holocaust, Genocide, and Interfaith Education Center director.  I am a Muslim who believes that we should focus on trying to understand other faiths and beliefs.  My scholarship puts into question the problems of religious bias, competition, and identity.  I love to teach and work with students on various projects.  My focus on keeping the memory alive of Holocaust survivors has involved the work of students, the community, and local survivors.

Please see the work we do on and off campus at the Holocaust, Genocide and Interfaith Education Center:

Please see the HGI website:



P. H.D.   University of South Africa, Religious Studies-2009

Naguib Mahfouz and Modern Islamic Identity examine the shift since the advent of Islam from Islamic models of social life toward post-colonial and modern conceptions of the Islamic Identity.

M.A.  Syracuse University, New York.   Religious Studies -1992

Post-Holocaust Studies & Islam

 B.A.  Syracuse University, New York.   English & Religion -1990

Courses Taught


RELS 110-Nature and Experience of Religion -Arches 

 This is a service-learning course based on the introductory course in Religious Studies, this class bridges the outreach efforts of the HGI Center and the requirements for Religious Studies.  The Center has become a place for long-term learning and service projects for my arches students. Students are expected to give 9-15 hours of service time and they attend cultural activities in the city. This is a new course for me and requires innovation and off-campus projects.

 RELS 300-Special Topics: Islam:  Literature, Memory and Identity 

 This class explores the literary dimensions of Islam through novels. Students are introduced to the history of Islam through literature.  I choose novels that are set in two to three major Muslim cities and the students are asked to concentrate on one for their research. This is a new course for me and the College. This class inspired me to create a winter intersession class in the study abroad program (Jan ‘15) in Istanbul, Turkey.

 RELS 300-Special Topics: Muslims in America 

 This class examines the history of Muslims in America. Students study the various immigrant waves of Muslims settling in America beginning from slavery to the present. We look at the differences among Muslims in America both in terms of cultural and religious beliefs.  Students learn about Islam and Muslim life in America. In addition, the students are asked to participate in on-campus and off-campus activities that include a project with the Muslim American community.

 RELS 310-Special Topics: Religion and Holocaust 

 We study the basic beliefs and history of Judaism and Christianity. I also introduce the students to the new and growing field of Muslims and the Holocaust. I give particular attention to post-holocaust theology and literature. In addition, students study the rise of the Nazis and the historical dimensions of such movements in relationship to religion.  The Center has a Holocaust survivor’s speaking bureau which the students benefit from. 

 RELS 300-Special Topics: Religion and Genocide (spring ’14)

 We study Genocides in the modern period that relate to issues of ethnicity, races and religion.  Students analyze how religion can play a role to motivate or protect the rise of genocide.  Students are introduced to modern examples of genocide such as; Armenia, Bosnia and Darfur.  They are asked to create awareness on campus in memory of the victims of genocide through research and panels on campus. 

REL 349 Women and Islam

REL 310 Muslims and the Holocaust


RELS 400-Independent Study -The Cross and the Crescent: Coptic Christian-Muslim Relations in Egypt

You can create your own senior thesis. This year-long independent study resulted in a senior thesis for a Religious Studies major. The student analyzed Coptic-Muslim relations in Egypt. The methodology was based upon the conceptual frameworks of thinkers such as: Emile Durkheim, Clifford Geertz, Marshall Hodgson and Akbar Ahmed.

RELS 400-Independent Study-Women, Rape and the Holocaust

RELS 470-Women and Islam

  • Research
    My research primarily focuses on Islam and contemporary literature.  I also am interested and work on the intersections of Judaism and Islam.  My recent work has been on the Holocaist and the role of Muslims, antisemitism and Islamophbia.  
    • Islam
    • Holocaust
    • Pakistan
    • Israel
    • Interreligious Identity
    • Diaspora and Transnational Studies
    • Post-genocide Identity
    • Feminist post-colonial theory
  • Publications and Scholarly Activities


    Some Publications:

    2017. Shoah through Muslim Eyes.  Boston: Academic Studies Press.

    2016. Acknowledging the Other in Suffering and Jewish-Muslim Relations. InRemembering for the Future: Armenia, Auschwitz and Beyond”, Paragon Press.

     2015. Nostalgia and Memory in Jewish-Muslim Encounters. In Cross Currents
    Volume 65, Issue 3, pages 346–356.
    2015.  Mehnaz Afridi 125-130. In the “Die Sonnenblume,”Ed. Nicola Jungsberger, Europaverlagberlin, Germany.
    2016. Collaboration Through Acknowledging the Shoah, in “Judaism, Christianity and Islam: Collaboration and Conflict in the Age of Diaspora,” Ed. Sander L. Gilman, Hong Kong: University of Hong Kong Press.
    2014. The Role of Muslims and the Holocaust. In Oxford Handbooks Online. New York: Oxford University Press.
    September 2013. The Guruwarda Sikh Killings: Domestic or Global Taxonomy of Terrorism? In Taylor & Francis Online. New York: Taylor & Francis.
     May 2012. Orhan Pamuk:  Existential and Political Theme, co-editor. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.



  • Professional Experience and Memberships
    Professional Experience
    Visiting Professor at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles
    Visiting Professor, Antioch University, Los Angeles
    Director, Public Relations, International Education and Welfare Society
    Education and literacy first!
    Levantine Cultural Center, Los Angeles
    Board of Advisors,
    Arava Institute, North America & Israel
    Board of Directors,
    WISE: Woman’s Initiative, Spirituality and Equity, N.Y.
    Committee member
    Union Theological Seminary, N.Y., Advisory Council for Interfaith Women’s Residency Program
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, D.C.
    Consultant -
    Ethics, Religion and the Holocaust
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, D. C.
    Committee Member 2015-present
    Interreligious Advisory Board of Queens Community Leaders, N.Y.
    Advisory board
    Advisory Council , Islam, Social Justice, & Interreligious Engagement (ISJIE) Program
    Union Theological Seminary
  • Honors, Awards, and Grants
    Honors & Awards
    PhD scholarship, University of South Africa, 2007-8
    Summer Literature Faculty, The Lawrenceville School,
    New Jersey, summer June-July 2005 & June-July 2006
    IMAAN Token of Appreciation Award, October 9th, 2005, Los Angeles
    Iranian American Muslim Association of North America
    Summer Religion Faculty, Loyola of Chicago
    Rome, Italy, June-July 2004
    El Segundo High School Leadership Award, May 31, 2003
    Outstanding Teaching Award, Syracuse University, 1994
    Marine Corps Certification Award, Long-Distance course on Islam for Gulf Students, 1992
    Graduate Teaching Award (Scholarship), Syracuse University, 1990-95
    National Endowment of Humanities, Institute Grant
    “Venice, the Jews, and Italian Culture: Historical Eras and Cultural Representations”
    Summer June-July 2006
    Coolidge Fellow Grant, Union Theological, Cross Currents, NYC Summer 2003
    Hebrew University, Summer Grant, 1995
    2014. Summer Grant Award (Summer 2015), Manhattan College Research.
    2012. Award. Muslim Journeys Bookshelf Collection. National Endowment of Humanities. 
    2013. Award. Manhattan College Students -Service Award.  Jewish Relations Committee and the Riverdale Y.   The Center and received citations from the New York City Council, the New York Assemblyman and the New York Senate.




  • Other
    2013. “The Spirit of Poverty: Ramadan” Center of Catholic-Jewish Studies Online. Florida: Tampa (June). 
    2012. “The Life of a Heart: Muslims and Jews Saving Lives Together” Common Ground News Service (February).
    2012. “What can we learn from Byzantium?” Common Ground News Service (May).
    2012. “Reality or Fiction? Orhan PamukBerlin: Palm Art Press (May).
    2014.  Oxford Handbook Video on “Muslims and the Holocaust.”
    2013. Co-Sponsored Branko A short film about a Holocaust survivor, Directed by Topaz Adizes.
    2013. Appearance in TV France International Documentary. Jews and Muslims: So close …So Far.
    2012. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Podcast in Voices of Anti-Semitism.
    2012. WAMC Academic Minute, Muslims and the Holocaust.