Virginia Gray Henry Blakemore


Work Experience

Publisher and Editor                  Currently directs the interfaith publishing houses Fons Vitae and Quinta Essentia, both are academic, nonprofit and educational charities concerned with world religions, art, spirituality, and symbolism with an emphasis on Islam.


                                                The Book Foundation. Gray is under contract to this organization based in London to help write and produce curriculum for Muslim children whose emphasis is on the religious dimension of math, literature, world civilization, and nature.


                                                Co-Founder and trustee of The Islamic Texts Society, Cambridge England. The ITS was the recipient of the 1991 and 1993 Best Produced and Designed Book in Great Britain Awards.



Educator and Lecturer           Taught art history, world religions and film-making in New York City (Dalton and Fordham University, 65-68) and the same courses at the Cairo American College, 72-78. Taught world religions at Cambridge University, 1984-90 and at Center College in Danville, Kentucky 1992.


                                                Regularly lectures on world religions to groups from institutions such as Spalding University, the Abbey of Gethsemani (taught a course to the junior monks in 2001),

various church and other gatherings, and internationally at congresses such as the 1995 Conference on World Spiritual Art held in Tehran.


Community Efforts                 A Founding Member of the Thomas Merton Center Foundation, a permanent participant on the Programs Committee and emeritus board member.


                                                Has initiated and created events that are helpful for our community in the realm of Inter-Faith.


1993 worked in Bosnian refugee camps and later raised funds and published textbooks for their educational system.


                                                Coordinated the 1999 Merton and Islam Conference held at Bellarmine College and continued with the Merton and Hesychasm Conference in 2001. Preparation is underway for the Merton and Buddhism Conference in 2004.


                                                April 15, 2006 Arranged for a meeting between the Dalai Lama and Muslim scholars and dignitaries from the entire Muslim world, including ISNA’s Seyyid Mohammad Syed, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, et al. The subject was compassion and the problems of extremism.


Recent Involvement

                                                March 2008 Traveled with Hamza Yusef to Mauritania to meet his Great Arabic Master who lives in the desert.

                                                Served on a Panel of scholars, including Sheikh Habib Ali, interested in Global Initiative in the capital city Nouakchott for the Global Center for Renewal and Guidance.


                                                May 2008, Was invited to give two lectures at the annual ISNA meeting in Baltimore – one on Mercy and the other on the importance of Interfaith Work.


                                                June 2008, Have been working to help set up and select scholars for an Interfaith gathering in Meknes for this autumn to celebrate the 1200th anniversary of Fez.


                                                August 2008, Have been invited to participate at a consultation on interreligious organizing by Rev. Dr. Shanta Premawardhana, Director of the World Council of Churches in Geneva to be held at the ISNA convention in Columbus Ohio.

                                                I have been asked also to lecture at this convention.







Sarah Lawrence College           BA, Art History, World Religions


American University, Cairo       1969 – 79 Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies


University of Michigan              1980 MA in Education— specializing in curriculum development and video production.


Cambridge University               Research fellow 1983 – 90

Clare Hall


Canterbury, Kent                      Doctoral work compenced in 1987 for a thesis under completion


Some Works Published:


1.      Understanding Islam and the Muslims (which has been translated into many languages and is a recognized classic).

2.      The Life of the Prophet Mohammad (which is in several languages and used at Azhar University in Cairo).

3.      Beads of Faith (both a book and a DVD showing the universality and meaning of the use of prayer beads).

4.      Islam a Pictorial Essay a Four part DVD which has also become a classic.

5.      Death and Transformation With Huston Smith DVD

6.      Islam in Tibet Ornaments of Lhasa DVD

7.      Volume editor and contributor to the recent Praeger Series, Voices of Islam.