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.
Although Wenger said he was pleased that Walcott was linking up with the national team in the hope of him getting more competitive minutes, the Arsenal boss believes the former Southampton youngster is still some way from being back to his peak. “It takes two months,” he said when asked how long it will take Walcott to get back to his best. “Once you’re back in full training, you count two months. Of course, people think you’re back and you play but it’s not like that. Ten months is a long time in top-level football. “(You lose) the sharpness, the speed. At the top level, it’s a fraction of a second that makes the decisions. And to find the confidence to get away from people. “You’re nearly there but you’re not there and for a while you think, ‘will that ever come back?’ And suddenly yes, it’s there again. But it takes time to get that fraction of pace. “You need to go back into contact. He will go with England and get what he needs to. He will get competitive training every day and get back into games. “At the moment we go from recovery to recovery. He works hard, but maybe he can play against Scotland and gain a lot from that.” But Wenger is not worrying about whether Walcott will suffer another injury setback whilst away with the England squad. ”Roy Hodgson is free to do what he wants. (Walcott) has been chosen by England and he needs competition,” he added. ”He has been out for 10 months – I don’t know if you realise how long that is. People think it’s like mechanics. They’re not machines, they are human beings and to get back into the rhythm of the top, top competition will take time.” Having nursed Jack Wilshere back from a number of potentially serious injuries, Wenger has the perfect example of a young player who needs to be managed back into action carefully. “The top-level today is simple,” he said. “You have to be consistently in. If you are in and out, you are not there. You even see with top players like (Lionel) Messi, who have scored when they wanted – they have just an injury for six weeks, they are not the same player any more. “It takes time to come back. Top, top level is that. Consistently there. If you are injured and out, in and out, you are not at the top. You cannot be there. It’s impossible.” With Walcott on the mend, Wenger’s injury concerns can now turn to defender Laurent Koscielny, who remains sidelined with an Achilles problem. The France international has been missing since the 2-0 defeat at Chelsea on October 5 and Wenger is unsure when he will be back in contention. “No, I don’t think so for (Manchester) United,” he said when asked if Koscielny was close to a return. “He has not started running outside so you cannot think he will be available in two weeks’ time. He will not be available for three or four weeks. “At the start of an Achilles problem and inflammation you can never predict. He is not there yet anyway. He cannot run.” The 3-0 win over Burnley has been the only clean sheet the Gunners have managed in Koscielny’s absence and they shipped three goals as Anderlecht came from behind to take a Champions League draw away from the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday night. And Wenger conceded his defence would have been stronger had he been able to keep building on the promising partnership Koscielny was beginning to enjoy with Per Mertesacker. “You miss him every time you concede a stupid goal,” Wenger added. “You think, ‘Oh, if he was there’, but we have conceded some with him as well. Look, ideally we want him here. Could we have stopped the goals without Koscielny? I say yes. “So I think it would be a little bit escaping the real responsibility. When you are a defender and you make a mistake you have to stand up for it. Everyone makes them.” The 25-year-old is in line to make his first start since suffering a cruciate knee ligament injury on January 4 when the Gunners travel to Swansea on Sunday afternoon. Walcott made his comeback from the bench in last weekend’s win over Burnley and has been included in Roy Hodgson’s England squad for the European Championship qualifier against Slovenia and the friendly in Scotland. Arsene Wenger has warned Arsenal and England fans that they will have to wait until the new year to see the best of Theo Walcott. Press Association
Press Association Red Star Belgrade have announced they have accepted a £5.1million bid from Liverpool for their teenage midfielder Marko Grujic. The Serbian club claimed to have received three offers for the 19-year-old, from Belgian club Anderlecht, German side Stuttgart and the Barclays Premier League Reds. In a statement posted on their official website they revealed they had “unanimously accepted the offer of the English giants”, and had agreed a package that would see Grujic remain with them on loan until the summer. Red Star said: “The board considered the offer and unanimously accepted the offer of the English giants. Liverpool will pay the money immediately, and the player would stay in Red Star until 01/07/2016.” Grujic came through the academy system at Red Star and has represented Serbia at various youth levels, although he is yet to earn his first senior cap. He could become Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp’s first signing at Anfield after the German took the reins in October, and Red Star insist the financial issues at the club meant they had to accept the Reds’ offer for Grujic. The Serbian club, for whom the likes of Nemanja Vidic, Dejan Stankovic and Nikola Zigic have all played for, nearly went out of business 18 months ago and expect the sale of Grujic to ease their financial concerns. Their statement added: “Red Star Belgrade in the last 10 days received three formal offer for the transfer of our player Marko Grujic, from Anderlecht – two million, of Stuttgart – five million, of Liverpool we received an offer worth seven million euros and 10 percent of the next transfer. “All in Red Star sincerely want to see Marko Grujic playing in our uniform for the next 10 years, but the financial situation of our club dictates the adoption of a different decision.” As well as negotiating a 10 per cent sell-on fee, Red Star also revealed they met Grujic’s father’s wish to see him stay in Belgrade on a loan deal until the summer. “Marko Grujic should go to a player that continues to develop in one of the biggest clubs in the world; the club is probably the dream of every player on the planet,” Red Star’s statement said. “We are convinced, just like the people from Liverpool, Marko Grujic has the quality for a great club and that in England he can make a great career.”