Home Muslim culture Elon University / Today in Elon / Imam Shane Atkinson receives “Islam on the Edges” Fellowship

Elon University / Today in Elon / Imam Shane Atkinson receives “Islam on the Edges” Fellowship


Associate Chaplain for Muslim Life, Atkinson received the grant for his research work on diminishing forms of vocal and spiritual worship.

Associate Chaplain for Muslim Life, Imam Shane Atkinson, received an Islam on the Edges Fellowship from the Center For Islam In The Contemporary World at Shenandoah University. The grant is intended to help fund research on various facets of Islam and the Muslim community, including geography, doctrine, culture, language, history, and civilizations.

Imam Atkinson performing at the Princeton Mawlid at Princeton University Chapel

Atkinson’s project “Where the Mountains Meet: The Devotional Arts of Sacred Harp and Sufi Dhikr” will focus on the overlap between the “sacred harp”, a style of gospel music from Appalachia, and the Sufi chants of the Sufi order. Caucasian Qadiri. In the project, Atkinson will explore the unique characteristics and common traits of these forms of vocal and spiritual worship while promoting their preservation and modern reconfiguration through a self-composed piece using elements from both styles.

“I’m passionate about exploring what Islamic devotional music sounds like, from people who live and grew up in the Deep South,” Atkinson said. “My whole exploration of religion has been navigating being from a cultural background rooted in the South and being a Muslim.”

Atkinson said he feels this project is a natural expression of what it means to be a Muslim in the Deep South, and is honored and thrilled to be chosen for the grant.

“It’s very encouraging that society at large has a more nuanced understanding of who Muslims are,” Atkinson said. “We are not a monolith.

In addition to his research and work at Elon, Atkinson has been featured in the Harvard University Pluralism Project and starred in the documentary “Redneck Muslim” directed by Jennifer Taylor. The film tells the story of Atkinson as a convert to Islam while staying true to his southern identity and fighting white supremacy.

To view one of Atkinson’s original works, visit the link here.