In an era of increased misunderstanding of the world’s Muslim community, Notre Dame recently launched a Quran Seminar project to encourage constructive new commentary on the Islamic faith’s holiest text. Project co-founder Mehdi Azaiez said the year-long Quran Seminar will draw numerous leading Muslim scholars and intellectuals from around the globe to offer their insight on 50 central Quranic passages. Azaiez said a main goal of the project is to demonstrate how new commentaries on the Quran’s biblical subtext help uncover the richness of its discourse. “The work of the Quran Seminar is to show that there is no separation between the Quran and the Bible, that reading the Quran with its biblical legacy helps us understand better the Quran and its message,” Azaiez said. Azaiez said two prominent Muslim intellectuals will give lectures this week as part of the seminar. Nayla Tabbara, director of cross-cultural studies for a Lebanese non-governmental organization dedicated to Muslim-Christian relations, will speak Thursday night about the Quran and the importance of interfaith dialogue at 7:30 p.m. in the Hesburgh Center for International Studies. Iranian professor Maryam Mussharaf will lecture Friday about mystical commentary on the Quran at 5 p.m. in McKenna Hall. Azaiez said he anticipates the seminar will positively change students’ perceptions of the Quran and of the Islamic community. “It is the possibility to learn from main leaders of Islamic thought today, to maybe be interested and discover more about the Islamic world and its culture,” Azaiez said. “I think it will be an occasion to improve the [students’] knowledge and hopefully break false representations of this world.” Moving forward, Azaiez said he hopes the efforts of the Quran Seminar project will encourage more scholars and students to offer their own respectful interpretations of the text, showcasing the pluralism of contemporary Quranic thought. “We hope this is the beginning of a project that will give ideas for Muslims and non-Muslims to continue in the same way our rich approach to the Quran,” Azaiez said.