Salaam, one and all! We welcome you with heart-felt prayers for God's peace and mercy and blessings.

This blog is maintained for the readers of In the Light of a Blessed Tree, as well as for all those interested in the wider work of Dr. Timothy J. Gianotti: including the Islamic Institute for Spiritual Formation (IISF, Toronto), which he serves as the Director and Principal Teacher, the Studies in Islam program at Renison University College (University of Waterloo), where he serves as an Associate Professor, and the American Islamic College (Chicago), where he served as the Director of Islamic Studies (2013-2015).

Please stay tuned for new blog entries and announcements for new programs in Toronto and beyond!


We categorically condemn the vandalism and hateful, antisemitic symbolism that sought to desecrate the Beth Tikvah Synagogue here in Toronto on August 4, 2011, and we are both shocked and appalled that the perpetrators seemed to have associated their hatred and desecration with the religion of Islam.  As Muslims we unequivocally reject such attribution, and we bear clear witness that such behavior has no place within the religion of Islam.  More, we applaud all those, including the Canadian Council of Imams (CCI), who immediately rose to stand with the victims against this criminal expression of ignorance and hate. To see the CCI statement, click here.

We further decry all those who seek to spread dissension, mistrust, fear, and hatred through the malicious misrepresentation of people belonging to any race or religion or gender or orientation, and we call upon all truly religious people to serve as conduits of the Divine light that dispels all darknesses.

May the Jewish community of Beth Tikvah take heart that they are not alone and that we stand with them, and may all maliciously maligned and oppressed people take heart. We are one human family, all, and we are all created in the Divine image.  Let us then raise the call for universal respect, for universal reverence, and let us together stand as we uphold and defend the dignity of every human being.


With great delight, we can finally announce that

In the Light of a Blessed Tree: illuminations of Islamic belief, practice, history
was officially published on August 1, 2011 (1 Ramadan 1432) and can now be be purchased from its publisher, Wipf & Stock Publishers.  A specific link to the book can be found below.

This modest but special book presents an absolutely original, experientially textured introduction to Islamic belief, practice, and history for both the intrigued newcomer as well as for those who already possess some basic literacy in Islam. Slowly crafted over the years following the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, In the Light of a Blessed Tree speaks with scholarly integrity but in an everyday voice, full of real-life narratives that "illuminate" the beliefs, practices, and histories described. More, it brings the reader in touch with the psychological, social, and cultural forces that shape the way we come to the question of Islam in a wounded world, still grappling with the trauma of 9/11 and very much still in a state of war. For these and other reasons, it speaks to contemporary images and realities, even as it walks through the ancient origins of Islam.

 In the Light of A Blessed Tree thus serves thoughtful western readers (in North America and Europe, primarily) who are shopping for an accessible, concise, and reliable trade book covering the basics of Islam, and yet it can easily serve as an introductory text for university, community college, or even upper-level high school courses that include Islam and the religions of the Near East.

As an American-born professor of Islamic Studies, with degrees from both the US and Canada as well as many travel and study periods in the Arabic-speaking world and other parts of the world where Muslims predominate, I have visited and personally interacted with countless academic, religious, and general audiences since Sept. 11, 2001, and so this little book reflects the questions, concerns, and tenor of the many communities and individuals I have encountered.  In my experience, what people need, at least in the very beginning, is not something overly formal and long-winded but rather something simple, well-written and within their reach, something that can prepare them for a higher level of engagement if they have the time and the desire for more. That is truly all this book seeks to be and do.

Check it out, along with endorsements from highly-regarded Muslim, Christian, and Jewish scholars, on the publisher's website by clicking here!