Dr. Yusuf Ziya Kavakci
Islamic Scholar Visits Mr. Hall's Classes
BA Website

Dr. Yusuf Ziya Kavakci, North Texas' most authoritative Islamic scholar, visited with my World Geography classes on Dec. 4, 1995. Dr. Kavakci stayed all day and for all classes. He brought his own sack lunch and twice kneeled in prayer while facing Mecca. This was done before school and during lunch. I gave him privacy both times - but he neither asked for privacy nor required it. On that day I'm sure I learned much more about Islam than my classes. I can say that now - I'm retired. Anyway, I found the the whole day fascinating. It was a scholarly lecture and I could tell that Dr. Kavakci was truly dedicated to instructing these American students (and their teacher) on the history and culture of the Islamic world. After the lecture came the question and answer portion of the talk. I was amazed at the straighforwardness and candor displayed by Dr. Kavakci. As usual, the teenagers asked shallow,insipid questions such as, "do you like America?" and "what do you think about American teenagers?" He told the boys to be more polite, less selfish and more pious. He told the girls not to wear short skirts and so much makeup. It was amazing. Ah, pre PC days.

Dr. Yusuf Ziya Kavakci was born in 1938 in Hendek, Sakarya, Turkey. His rise to scholarship began early; by the age of 10, he memorized the entire Quran and became a certified Qari, or reciter. He proceeded to pass the rigorous National Exams in Turkey for Waiz, or preacher, by age15, and also for Mufti, a scholar authorized to derive legal rulings in Islamic Jurisprudence, by age 18. While still a student, he also worked as Muezzin and Imam in various Istanbul mosques. Dr. Kavakci obtained a bachelors degree in Islamic Studies from the Institute of Higher Islamic Studies, and a Law degree from the College of Law, Istanbul University. A board certified attorney in Turkey, he has also practiced law in Libya, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. In 1967, he received his PhD in Islamic History and Culture from Istanbul University, Faculty of Letters. Thereafter, he worked as Assistant and Associate Professor at the Institute of Islamic Research, Istanbul University. In 1974, he moved to Erzurum to help establish the first college of Islamic Studies in modern Turkey: the College of Theology, which is now part of Ataturk University, Erzurum. As senior faculty, he chaired several Islamic Sciences Departments, and in 1980 was given full professorship in Islamic Law – one of the first such positions in Turkey since the fall of the Ottoman Empire. Dr. Kavakci has held numerous other positions in Turkey and has served as Guest professor at University of Cambridge, UK (1973-1974), as well as Temple University in Pennsylvania (1978-1979). Dr. Kavakci and his family moved to the United States in April 1988 in order to obtain an education for his three daughters who were denied entry to their university building in Turkey due to their hijab. Residing in Dallas, Texas, he serves as Scholar-in-Residence for the Islamic Association of North Texas (IANT), the largest mosque in north Texas. Dr. Kavakci is also founder and instructor of two unique Islamic Institutions in Dallas. The first, IANT Quranic Academy, or IQA (www.QuranicAcademy.org), is an elementary through high school program intended to produce American Scholars of Islam. There, he instructs students chosen for the Alim Program. He is also Founding Dean and instructor at Suffa Islamic Seminary (www.Suffa.org), which offers college level instruction in Islamic Education. Due to his vast education and experience in both traditional Ottoman Methodology of Islamic Sciences as well as modern academia, Dr. Kavakci is called upon to speak in numerous local, national, and international conferences on Islam, and is heavily involved in interfaith relations. He is a Shura member of ISNA (Islamic Society of North America), a member of the Fiqh Council of North America, and is on the list of speakers called on behalf of the US State Department program.

Dr. Kavakci retired and returned to his native Turkey in 2013.