|Birth Day:||May 3, 1972|
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After graduating from Santa Clara University, he attended Harvard Divinity School and subsequently earned an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Iowa's famous Writers' Workshop. Later, he received a doctorate in sociology and religious history from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Aslan's family came to the United States from Tehran in 1979, fleeing the Iranian Revolution. He grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. Aslan says that he "spent the 1980s pretending to be Mexican" due to the amount of discrimination faced by Iranian Americans. He attended Del Mar High School in San Jose, and graduated class of 1990. In the early 1990s, Aslan taught courses at De La Salle High School in Concord, California.
In August 2000, while serving as the Truman Capote Fellow at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, Aslan was a visiting faculty member in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Iowa.
Aslan was born into a Twelver Shia Muslim family. He converted to evangelical Christianity at the age of 15, and converted back to Islam the summer before attending Harvard. In 2005 The Guardian called him "a Shia by persuasion". In a 2013 interview with WNYC host Brian Lehrer, Aslan said: "I'm definitely a Muslim and Sufism is the tradition within Islam that I most closely adhere to." In a 2013 article in The Washington Post, Aslan states: "It's not [that] I think Islam is correct and Christianity is incorrect. It's that all religions are nothing more than a language made up of symbols and metaphors to help an individual explain faith." In 2014, in an interview with Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks, Aslan described Islam as:
No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam is a non-fiction book published in 2005. The book describes the history of Islam and argues for a liberal interpretation of the Islamic religion. It blames Western imperialism and self-serving misinterpretations of Islamic law by past scholars for the current controversies within Islam, challenging the "Clash of Civilizations" thesis.
In 2006, Aslan partnered with Iranian American cinematographer and producer Mahyad Tousi to create BoomGen Studios, a studio and production company focused to bring stories from and about the Middle East to American audiences. Projects that they consulted on include National Geographic's Amreeka; Disney's Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and the Broadway adaptation of Aladdin; the Weinstein Company's Miral; Relativity Media's Desert Dancer; Fork Films' The Trials of Spring; Jon Stewart's directorial debut Rosewater; and 2014 Oscar-nominated documentary The Square.
Aslan and his ex-fiancée, journalist Amanda Fortini, ended their engagement in 2008. He married entrepreneur and author, Jessica Jackley, a Christian, in 2011 together forming an interfaith family. They have three sons. His aunt is the Iranian-American pop singer, Leila Forouhar.
In 2009, Aslan published his second book, How to Win a Cosmic War: God, Globalization, and the End of Terror. The following year, it was rereleased in paperback as Beyond Fundamentalism: Confronting Religious Extremism in the Age of Globalization. The book is both a study of the ideology fueling Al Qaeda, the Taliban and like-minded militants throughout the Muslim world, and an exploration of religious violence in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The author argues that the United States, by infusing the War on Terror with its own religiously polarizing rhetoric, is fighting a similar war—a war that he asserts cannot be won.
Tablet and Pen: Literary Landscapes from the Modern Middle East, an anthology edited and published by him, appeared in 2011. In collaboration with Words Without Borders, Aslan worked with a team of three regional editors and seventy-seven translators, amassing a collection of nearly 200 pieces originally written in Arabic, Persian, Urdu and Turkish, many presented in English for the first time.
On 26 July 2013, Aslan was interviewed on Spirited Debate, a Fox News webcast by Chief Religion Correspondent Lauren Green about his book Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. Green was "unsatisfied with Aslan's credentials," and she pressed Aslan, questioning why a Muslim would write about Jesus. Aslan answered, "Because it's my job as an academic. I am a professor of religion, including the New Testament. That's what I do for a living, actually." The interview lasted about ten minutes and focused "on Aslan's background more than the actual contents of the book." The video clip of the interview went viral within days and the book, which was up to that point selling "steadily", appeared at the 4th place on The New York Times print hardcover best-seller list. By late July 2013, it was topping the U.S. best-seller list on Amazon.
In a 2014 interview, Aslan criticized the "armchair atheism" of atheists like Sam Harris and Bill Maher for not having a formal background in the study of religion, and who in Aslan's opinion are therefore unable to effectively comment on how it shapes human behavior. Aslan has also referred to Richard Dawkins as a "buffoon, embarrassing himself every day." He contrasted New Atheists to the "philosophical atheism" of earlier thinkers who "were experts in religion, and so they were able to offer critiques of it that came from a place of knowledge, from a sophistication of education, of research."
On 29 September 2014, Antonia Blumberg in The Huffington Post stated that Reza Aslan, on CNN, "criticized comedian Bill Maher for characterizing female genital mutilation as an 'Islamic problem,' in addition to making several other sweeping generalizations about the faith." Aslan was reported as saying that "To say 'Muslim countries', as though Pakistan and Turkey are the same ... it's frankly, and I use this word seriously, stupid!" His criticism was not just of Maher, but of the overall way Muslims are portrayed in mainstream media. Prachi Gupta, in Salon, wrote that Reza Aslan believed that the United States was partnering with Saudi Arabia while simultaneously condemning ISIS.
On 8 October 2014, The New York Times published an article by Aslan entitled, "Bill Maher Isn't the Only One Who Misunderstands Religion" writing that, "Bill Maher is right to condemn religious practices that violate fundamental human rights. Religious communities must do more to counter extremist interpretations of their faith. But failing to recognize that religion is embedded in culture—and making a blanket judgment about the world's second largest religion—is simply bigotry."
In January 2015, BoomGen announced that ABC picked up its biblical epic, Of Kings and Prophets, a dramatic retelling of the central story in the Hebrew Bible: the story of King David from shepherd to king. The series followed an ensemble of characters including Saul and David, the successive Kings of Israel, their families, and their political rivals. Of Kings and Prophets was set in the Kingdom of Israel, but filmed in Cape Town, South Africa. Aslan, Tousi and Jason Reed served as executive producers on the show.
In 2015, Aslan joined popular HBO series The Leftovers as a consulting producer for both its second and third seasons. In addition to helping to craft the foundation of the show, Aslan was integral in protagonist Kevin Garvey's season two character arc.
In 2015, Aslan began productionon the "spiritual travel series" Believer, a documentary series that follows Aslan as he immerses himself and experiences various religious traditions internationally, focusing on sects considered fringe and disreputable by larger religions. The program, which Aslan compared to Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown was part of CNN's original programming lineup and premiered in March 2017.
Aslan is a sitting member of the advisory board for the National Iranian American Council. In 2015 as a member of the group, he joined with 73 other "prominent International Relations and Middle East scholars" in signing a statement of support for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, an international agreement regarding the Iranian nuclear program.
In March 2016, cable network Ovation premiered Rough Draft with Reza Aslan, a fast-paced and timely talk show featuring Aslan in conversation with critically acclaimed authors and writers in film, TV and journalism.
In this book, published by Random House in 2017, Aslan explains in accessible scholarly style the history of religion and a theory for why and how humans started thinking about supernatural beings and eventually God.
US Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard compared the show to "touring a zoo". The show has also been criticized for saying that Varanasi was called "the city of the dead", calling the immersion of ashes "dumping", presenting the Aghors as an exception in their struggle against the caste system, and claims he misunderstood the distinction between Varna and Jāti, and the notion of God in Hinduism. The organizations American Hindus Against Defamation (AHAD) and the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) have also both questioned why Aslan's show does not cover Islam, his own religion. Aslan said that he had planned to cover the Ashura festival in Pakistan, but abandoned the plan because of insurance costs. He pledged to cover Islam if Believer had a second series. On June 9, 2017, CNN announced that it has "decided to not move forward with production" on Aslan's Believer series after his profane anti-Trump tweets were widely criticized earlier in the week.
After the 2017 London Bridge attack Aslan took to Twitter to call President Donald Trump "a piece of shit" and a "man baby" for his response to the attack. On June 9, 2017, in response to his remarks, CNN decided to cut ties with Aslan and announced they would not move forward with season two of the Believer series. Aslan said of the cancellation, "I am not a journalist. I am a social commentator and scholar. And so I agree with CNN that it is best that we part ways."
When he was seven years old, he moved with his family from his native Iran to Concord, California. Reza's marriage to American entrepreneur Jessica Jackley resulted in two children.
Currently, Reza Aslan is 50 years, 1 months and 23 days old. Reza Aslan will celebrate 51st birthday on a Wednesday 3rd of May 2023. Below we countdown to Reza Aslan upcoming birthday.