If Mahmoud el-Kati was my inspiration at Macalester College, Dr. George Makdisi (1920-2002) was definitely my inspiration at the University of Pennsylvania. Like el-Kati, Makdisi was one of those rare professors who embodied what they taught. Though a devout Catholic, Makdisi was so empathetically respectful of Islam and its intellectual legacy to the extent of being thought of by some, as he himself once shared with me, as a 'closet Muslim'. But in Makdisi's wonderful mind, it was precisely his deep Catholic faith that enabled him to appreciate the essence of Islam and to regard it as one of the exclusive members of what he would describe as 'ethical monotheism'.
As I write these words, memories come back to me of walking with Makdisi as I carried his bag and hoped he would share something, anything that I could take back with me and reflect upon until the next time I had class with him.
May you be blessed, Dr. Makdisi, wherever you may be now.