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Ronald Messier is professor emeritus at Middle Tennessee State University and former adjunct professor and senior lecturer at Vanderbilt University, where he taught Islamic history and historical archaeology. He received three National Geographic research grants to direct the excavation of the ancient city of Sijilmasa in Morocco, famous for its gold trade and its contacts with Timbuktu. He currently directs an archaeology project at Aghmat, near Marrakech, Morocco, and is president of both the Southeast Regional Middle East and Islamic Studies Seminar and the advisory board for the Society of Universal Dialogue.
Ron has won prestigious awards—including the CASE Tennessee Professor of the Year Award—for both teaching and research. He published two books in 2010: The Almoravids and the Meanings of Jihad traces the history of the Almoravid dynasty as it emerged from the Sahara desert to conquer Morocco, the western part of Algeria, and the southern part of Spain (there waging war against, among others, the famous Spanish hero El Cid). Jesus, One Man Two Faiths: A Dialogue between Christians and Muslims looks at Christian and Muslim images of Jesus in parallel tracks showing similarities, many of which are quite surprising, as well as differences that are more often complementary than contradictory. Ron has also published more than two dozen articles and co-edited a book entitled The Jihad and Its Times.