Please find a conference orientation document HERE.


Sessions will take place in the following rooms:

All plenary sessions: Forum Alumni Auditorium Lecture Theatre

All 'A' panel sessions: Forum Seminar Room 1

All 'B' panel sessions: Forum Seminar Room 2

All 'C' panel sessions: Forum Seminar Room 3

All 'D' panel sessions: Forum Seminar Room 4

All 'E' panel sessions: Forum Seminar Room 5

All 'F' panel sessions: Forum Seminar Room 6


Monday 9th April


14:45-15:15            Arrival and Welcome (with Devon Cream Tea)


15:15 -15:30           Words of Welcome from BRAIS Chair (Ayman Shihadeh) and Hosts (Robert Gleave)


15:30-17:30            Panels Session 1


A-  Islamic Law I: the Ḥanafī School in the Formative and Classical Periods


Chair: Omar Anchassi (University of Exeter)


Kamaluddin Ahmed (University of Oxford) Hierarchies of Authority in the Early Ḥanafī Madhhab

Abū Jaʿfar al-Ṭaḥāwī (d. 321/933) compiled the first legal compendium (Mukhtaṣar) in the Ḥanafī madhhab (school of law) almost a century after similar compendia were compiled in the Mālikī and Shāfiʿī madhhabs. An analysis of the content of Ṭaḥāwī’s Mukhtaṣar demonstrates that he disagreed with Abū Ḥanīfah (d. 150/767), the eponymous founder of the Ḥanafī madhhab, numerous times.  In such cases, Ṭaḥāwī preferred the opinions of other foundational authorities of the Ḥanafī madhhab who were Abū Ḥanīfah’s students, namely Abū Yūsuf (d. 182/798), Muḥammad b. Ḥasan al-Shaybānī (d.189/805), and Zufar b. Hudhayl (d. 158/775).  In his commentary on Ṭaḥāwī’s Mukhtaṣar, Abū Bakr al-Jaṣṣāṣ al-Rāẓī (d. 370/981) systematically attempts to counter Ṭaḥāwī’s elevation (tarjīḥ) of the opinions of these other authorities. In this article, I examine the cases where Ṭaḥāwī prefers the opinions of Zufar and the methods Jaṣṣāṣ employs to refute or dismiss Ṭaḥāwī’s elevation of Zufar’s positions. I argue that Jaṣṣāṣ was trying to restrict legal positions in the Ḥanafī madhhab to the opinions of Abū Ḥanīfah to align and identify the school more closely with its putative founder.  Jaṣṣāṣ’s emphasis on authority laid the groundwork for later Ḥanafī scholars to establish principles of rule-determinacy that outlined a hierarchy of authority in the madhhab and strictly required jurists to conform to Abū Ḥanīfah’s position when agreed to by either one of his Two Fellows, Abū Yūsuf or Muḥammad.  Ṭaḥāwī may thus be viewed as the last Ḥanafī jurist to evaluate legal opinions within the school on the basis of textual evidences and legal rationale and not on the basis of hierarchies of authority.


Salman Younas (University of Oxford) Beyond the “Personal” School: The Structure of Authority in the Early Ḥanafī School & Its Emergence as a Distinct Legal Community (189/805-300/913)

Scholars analyzing the evolution of the legal school (madhhab) have tended to view it as having evolved into a personal juristic entity during the 3rd/9th century, which was defined as a group of students who adopted the legal doctrine of a particular leading jurist. In this paper, I examine the Ḥanafī madhhab during the stated period to argue that it is difficult to characterize it as ever having been “personal” in nature except in a very limited sense. Rather, it is more accurate to describe the Ḥanafī madhhab from the beginning of the 3rd/9th century as having evolved into a distinct legal community possessing a collective axis of authority that united what apparently seem to be independent legal study circles. Three aspects will be presented to evidence this: (i) Ḥanafī legal texts from the first half of the 3rd/9th century displaying the notion of a collective authority that jurists recognized, converged around, and increasingly relied upon in an exclusive manner; (ii) the recognition of this community and its axis of authority in external-school sources; (iii) the legal training, instruction, and networks of jurists, being increasingly situated within the boundaries of this community, which indicated a growing degree of school cohesion.


Sohail Hanif (University of Oxford) The Salafī Epistemology of Early Classical Ḥanafism: From Uṣūl al-Fiqh to Furū‘ al-Fiqh

In the formative period of Islamic law, the sunnah was understood as the normative practice of the Muslim community. It is generally held that, after al-Shāfi‘ī’s successful challenge of these regional traditions, Islamic legal doctrine was grounded in a more specific understanding of sunnah, that of Prophetic reports whose strength was ascertained by their chains of transmission. This paper argues that the early classical Ḥanafī school gave little importance to this understanding of sunnah, and continued grounding its approach to inherited tradition in the earlier understanding of the term, whereby it is the reception of the early community of jurists that determines whether a Prophetic report is strong or weak. This approach to Prophetic tradition is termed in this paper the ‘salafism’ of Ḥanafī legal theory, as it is the jurists of the salaf (the early Muslim community) who are constantly invoked as arbiters of sound inherited tradition. The paper argues that this salaf-based theory helps explain the particular authority awarded to the legal cases produced in the circle of Abū Ḥanīfah, who is held as the means through which early juristic tradition is accessed, and thus represent pristine sunnah. This broader understanding of sunnah is studied through prominent works in uṣūl al-fiqh (legal theory) and furū‘ al-fiqh (substantive law) from the fifth and sixth Islamic centuries. The paper emphasises the need for studies on the earlier phase of the classical schools in which unique epistemologies of the legal project were expressed and theorised.


Deniz Birnur (Istanbul University) The Story of Bay` al-`īnah in Ḥanafī Textbooks until the Ottomans

To evaluate the congruity of a practice with the sharî‘ah, comparing it only with the Qur’an and the Sunnah, and neglecting its perception in a particular madhhab is a very common mistake in studies regarding Islamic law. However, to reach a hukm (provision), it is crucial to consider the subsequent treatment of the issue by ‘ulama of a madhhab. A very common example of this static approach to Islamic law is to argue that the Ottoman usage of al-mu‘amalah al-shar‘iyya is inappropriate in terms of sharî‘ah. However, when we investigate bay’ al-‘inah –which is the early version of al-mu‘amalah al-shar‘iyya– by considering discussions among the early Hanafi ‘ulama, a quite different picture comes into view. I will try to cast light on that picture, and trace the transaction of ‘inah, which is defined as cash buy-back sale in exchange for a lower price than the one in the first credit sale. Also, I will attempt to demonstrate how the prominent Hanafi jurists tackled the issue from the first years of the hegira to the Ottoman period. By doing so, I will try to shed light on the process of the legitimacy of al-mu‘amalah al-shar‘iyya before the Ottomans used it as bay’ al-‘inah.


B-  Muslim Minorities I: Islam in the Public Space


Chair: Abdul-Azim Ahmed (Cardiff University)


Laura Jones (Cardiff University) Fostering Ambassadors for Islam: A Case Study of an Open Iftar Initiative at a British Mosque

This paper presents an ethnographic case study of a series of open iftar events at a British mosque during Ramadan 2017. The research was conducted for an MA in Islam in Contemporary Britain. I explore how the ‘Iftar Together’ events, which invited non-Muslims into the mosque to listen to presentations, ask questions about Islam and break the fast with congregants, acted as ‘subaltern counterpublics’, a term coined by feminist scholar Fraser (1992). During the events, dominant perceptions about Islam were challenged by congregants, and some non-Muslim guests adopted a similar anti-Islamophobic discourse. These guests often became socialised into the mosque environment and acted as ‘ambassadors for Islam’, showing a desire to challenge discrimination more widely and later participating in further acts of solidarity with Muslims. The findings are significant in showing how a seemingly ‘segregated’ space of a mosque acts as a space of integration with wider, non-Muslim society. It also demonstrates how a subaltern counterpublic of Muslims challenging Islamophobia reaches out to include wider society (non-subalterns) in its discourse. Additionally, it is one of the few studies of non-Muslim engagement with mosques that explores a largely positive aspect of this interaction, rather than focusing on non-Muslim opposition towards mosques.


Abida Malik (University of Nottingham) The experiences of British Muslim civic actors: stigma, performance and active citizenship in Britain

The research explored how British Muslim civic actors perceive belonging, citizenship and negotiate socio-political tensions. Fifty interviews with civic actors, from fifteen national Muslim civic organisations were undertaken across Britain. The theoretical debates which shaped the study, are based on Goffman’s notion of stigma, dramaturgy and frame analysis. The findings suggest that although facing alienation and exclusion, Muslim civic actors increased their participation and exercised forms of active citizenship. This was based on their frames, religious values and principles in difference to liberal and national normative conceptions. They performed an authentic Muslim self to present a diligence to participation, civic duty and responsibility. The actors circumvented the ‘them and us’ approach by actively participating in the front stage, British civil society. The marginalisation, framing, as ‘bad Muslim’, stigma and islamophobia they experienced did not prevent them from identifying with British citizenship identities. Britishness, multiculturalism, cosmopolitanism and cohesion were seen as other forms of belonging. These did not present a sense of ‘divided loyalties’ to the civic actors. In the present neoliberal political context, the findings suggest a need to increase dialogue between the states and Muslim civic organisations to counter divides ad dissolve the perceive boundaries of ‘us versus them’.


Muhammed Reza Tajri (Al-Mahdi Institute) Without Forgetting the Marja‘…

The nature of academic works analysing the Twelver Shī‘i ‘practice’ of religious authority, range from theological to ethnographic – probing aspects of the hierarchical formalised structure of religious authority within Shī‘i societies. Whilst benefitting from theories on authority in religion, the paper does not concentrate on the human actors holding authority within Shī‘ism, but on a very particular segment of UK’s Twelver Shī‘a Muslims – defined by their academic and social positions. Using sociological research methods, this paper examines the function of those who would be included in the ambit of Shī‘ism’s clerical authorities; how they maneuver their conduct considering the disparities in their geographical and social contexts. The subjects of this study are young Shī‘a Muslim student organisations, called Ahlul-Bayt Societies (ABSocs), on England’s university campuses, as well as the individuals constituting their membership. In translating the collected data, this paper looks at the ABSocs as a ‘diasporic’ instance of Mandaville’s ‘translocal space’, which plays host to transnational ideas on religious authority. Among the study’s findings was that these young students have managed to, individually and organisationally, negotiate puritanical teachings from the Middle-East. On one hand, they tailor those teachings to their social contexts; whilst concurrently maintaining the ‘Shī‘i’ identity, in a minority context, by avoiding any criticisms and overt contraventions of the established Shī‘i authority structures.


Sufyan Abid Dogra (Bradford Institute for Health Resarch) Using Islamic Settings for Prevention of Obesity among South Asian Children in the UK

25% of South Asian children living in the UK are obese; this is almost 10% more than white British children. This research explores the possibilities of using or involving Islamic Settings like mosque/madrassa or women circles for various health promotion activities, particularly, preventing childhood obesity. Ethnographic fieldwork has been conducted with South Asian Muslim community members including Imams, community leaders and volunteers in Bradford. The data indicates that hegemonic narratives of socio-political control over the body politic and life choices of South Asian Muslims in the UK shape their health and migration related lived experience. These narratives are disseminated internally by the so-called apanas (members from within the community) and externally from the state and media. Majority of South Asian Muslim children attend mosque/madrassa after school which makes the reach and capacity of mosque/madrassa and other Islamic Settings very significant for health promotion activities. The higher rates of obesity among South Asian Muslim children in the UK may be due to the embodiment of factors like health, migration, ethnicity, and religious practices. Thinking beyond traditional ways of tackling childhood obesity, Islamic Settings offer an opportunity to address this health challenge in culturally sensitive ways.


C-  Qur’ānic Studies I: Qur’ānic Contexts, Concepts and Terms


Chair: Ian Netton (University of Exeter)


Jaakko Hameen-Anttila (University of Edinburgh) The Qur’an and Early Arabic Poetry

The immediate Arabic literary context of the Qur'an is binary, consisting of a number of concise inscriptions and a vast corpus of poetry. The latter is problematic because it was usually committed to writing no earlier than some 100-150 years after the Qur'an, and the period of oral transmission makes conscious or unconscious changes in the text of the poems probable.

The problem of authenticity may be tackled in two different ways. On the one hand, one can compare the Qur'anic text with poetic conventions that are attested in a wide number of poems, making the possible corruption of individual pieces irrelevant. On the other hand, a meticulous philological analysis of a single text in all its variants may reveal a lot about the transmission history of the poem, thus bringing us several steps closer to the original form of the poem, which can then be compared with the Qur'anic text.

In an earlier paper (Hämeen-Anttila 2017) I have studied nature descriptions in pre-Islamic poetry and the Qur'an as a case study of the former approach. The present paper takes an example of the latter approach, analysing the famous mutaqārib poem by al-Khansā' in -ālahā and its possible Qur'anic echoes.


Taira Amin (Lancaster University) Verily it is of your guile; verily your guile is great! (Q12:28): A Critical Discourse Analysis of all references to kayd (guile) in the Quran and Classical Tafsir

With a fifth of the world’s population looking to the Quran for guidance, there is a pressing need to examine its narratives in relation to their influence in shaping ideas, roles and practices about women and their identities, in the Muslim consciousness. One of the most widely discussed, and yet under-researched Quranic concept is the notion of kayd. Although, the concept has been used in the Quran multiple times, all too often, it is understood to be largely attributed to women, and understood in relation to woman’s perceived innate nature, when, actually, this is not really the case. This can have serious ramifications for the ways in which female believers are perceived by their male (and female) counterparts.

In this regard, by using Critical Discourse Analysis, I endeavour to compare and contrast the Quran’s usage of this term with the elaborations of it in three Classical works of Tafseer by Ibn Kathir; Razi and Qurtubi. This is so as to determine the extent to which the meaning of kayd took on different shades of meaning, as a result of the Mufassirs’ engagement with this notion.  

The questions I seek to answer for this paper, are as follows: 1) what is the frequency of the word Kayd (in all its linguistic forms) in the Holy Quran? 2) What are the linguistic contexts if its use and to whom is the notion of kayd attributed to? 3) How are these Quranic references explored and elaborated in the Classical tafasir? 4) What are the potential ramifications of their discussions in terms of shaping Muslim ideas, roles and practices?   

The main thrust of this paper is that when the notion of kayd is explored from a linguistically oriented, discourse analytic approach, its complexities, various forms and its various shades of meanings come to light, thus problematising the notion that kayd, as a character trait is a defining trait of all women; an idea that is entrenched within the Muslim consciousness. By exploring the different shades of meaning that this concept takes on, in the Divine text, I endeavour to unravel the inherently egalitarian epistemology of the Quran. 


Abdullah Galadari (Khalifa University) The Concept of Nafs in the Qur’an

There have been many debates on the concept of the “soul” in the Ancient Near East, on whether or not a disembodied soul as in ancient Greek dualism was comprehended by these communities. For a long time, it has been argued that ancient Semitic people did not comprehend a dualistic nature between body and soul until recent scholarship in Richard Steiner’s Disembodied Souls that has shown that the ancient Israelites did have a concept of a disembodied soul by investigating the term “nephesh” in the Hebrew Bible. In a similar manner, the Qur’anic usage of “nafs” is investigated to see if the term is to be understood as a holistic self (body & soul), as it typically is understood or if it can carry the meaning of a disembodied soul. The paper argues that like the Hebrew Bible, the concept of “nafs” in the Qur’an may at times be understood as a disembodied soul and not only a holistic self, which brings forth the question on how to interpret some of the passages that particularly discuss the death of the “nafs” on whether it is soul-death or physical death.


Simon Loynes (University of Edinburgh) The meaning and function of the term waḥy in the Qur'an

The root w-ḥ-y occurs some 78 times in the Koran and has long been recognised as one of the most important Koranic terms which elucidates the Koranic conception of revelation. It is also well attested in pre-Islamic poetry. Although Arthur Jeffery (1950), Toshihiko Izutsu (1962) and more recently Angelika Neuwirth (2016) have devoted some attention to the term, there remains no comprehensive philological study of the root w-ḥ-y which evaluates both its meaning in pre-Islamic poetry and its meaning in the Koran. This paper will briefly present the root w-ḥ-y in pre-Islamic poetry where it seems to represent a type of communication that can only be understood by the one receiving it. Through a more extensive analysis of the Koranic material I will argue that this meaning is carried over into the Koran, albeit now realigned to represent a special form of communication: the divine communication of revelation. Finally, it will show that this form of divine communication is intricately linked to the experiences of both Muhammad and earlier prophets in the Koran and that the term waḥy is used rhetorically to link Muhammad with these prophetic precursors.


Rachel Dryden (University of Cambridge) Angels in the Qur’an: from Heaven to Earth and from Mecca to Medina

This paper will outline the qur’ānic portrayal of angels, and the noticeable differences in the roles they play/the terminology used to describe them, between what are regarded by many as two distinct bodies of material from “Meccan” and “Medinan” periods of the Qur’ān’s development. It will argue that these differences are so marked, it is difficult to explain them without reference to two distinct periods of development and to an evolving angelology, which points to active engagement and debate with the Jewish-Christian milieu from which it is thought to have emerged.

The Qur’ān stipulates that belief in angels is a characteristic of ‘believers’ (Q2:177.285; 4:136). That angels were well-established figures in the qur’ānic world is clear from the fact that no attempt is made to explain what they are/the meaning of the term malak (كلم). Qur’ānic concepts of angels undoubtedly drew on the biblical tradition; the Qur’ān accepts many Jewish-Christian “norms” about angels, while rejecting and/or reinterpreting others. Any attempt to understand the qur’ānic view of angels must therefore take this background into account and has the potential to show how common religious ideas and motifs were disseminated and reinterpreted within Late Antique, Near Middle Eastern, monotheistic circles, more fully.


D-  `Ulamā’-ology


Chair: Sajjad Rizvi (University of Exeter)


Mustafa Baig (University of Exeter) The leverage of the ‘ulama’ of Haramayn: Scholarly networks between British India and the Hijaz in the late 19th and early 20th century

This paper will examine the scholarly interactions between scholars in British India (1858-1947) and those present in the two most sacred sites of Islam. The focus is largely on the Indian scholar Ahmad Rida Khan (1856-1921) and the proponents he engaged with. One of the most significant personalities of the time, he added unique contributions to theological and legal debates occurring in the now colonised but formerly Muslim governed India and made systematic responses to the Ahl-i- Hadith and Deobandi movements burgeoning in this period. He articulates this through a series of forceful fatwas and while the political fatwas speak to the wider questions concerning Muslims living under colonial rule, his fatwas on pressing theological controversies sought direct attestation and endorsement from scholars in the Haramayn. Some issues went as far as declaring his adversaries as apostates, with each side then seeking support of the ‘ulama of Haramayn to gain support for their verdict or to express confidence that they were not guilty of the blame levelled against them. The interactions were not limited to theological issues but there was also consultative outreach on the jurisprudential level. These interactions led to Hadith licences given by the ‘ulama of the two holy sanctuaries and in the case of Ahmad Rida, he in turn granted licences to other scholars of the Haramayn and received endorsements and eulogies from around seventeen scholars from Makkah and nine in Madinah.

The paper will trace how these connections are established from the Hajj pilgrimage and subsequently nurtured and crystallised. It will observe how these networks were an important feature for exercising leverage against opponents and a source of influence more broadly; the support of these ‘Ulama of the Haramayn still being cited today as a marker of authority and rank of a particular scholar.


Ceren Lord (University of Oxford) Re-thinking the role and rise of Turkey’s ulama

This paper examines the rise and expansion of the role of the Turkish ulama, housed within the Presidency of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), which is both a key site of Islam and a state institution within the Turkish Republic, tasked with overseeing religious life. In particular, it analyses both the Diyanet’s recent emergence as a leading actor in social policy domestically, and its external efforts to position itself as a major (and alternative) centre of Islamic authority within the Muslim world. Despite the Diyanet’s growing significance however, scholarship on Turkey and more widely on the Muslim world have seen the institution as a marginal and passive actor, while often regarding it as a tool of the secular state or an ideological apparatus of the governing AKP. In contrast, this paper situates the Diyanet within a context of continuity with Ottoman Islamic institutions, tracing the ways in which the Diyanet ulama struggled to protect and transmit Islamic knowledge through the generations. Analysing its recent expansion and politics against this background, the paper also argues that the Diyanet’s politics is comparable to its peers in other Muslim contexts, even though the secularized legal framework means it operates on a more narrow legal terrain.


Ataul Khabir (Goldsmiths, University of London) The Academic Sheikh: A Hybridised Islamic Authority

This paper identifies the construction of a new form of Islamic religious authority, represented by individuals familiar with the traditional Islamic sciences whilst also possessing an equally solid grounding of Western academia. It seeks to explain how such individuals became vested with religious authority, and how their influence on defining the Islamic identity of second/third generation British Muslims continues to grow.

The methodology of the study was ethnographic field research conducted by identifying modern religious spaces that facilitate forums between these ‘hybrid scholars’ and educated Muslims. This was interlaced with literature research to construct a collective story of how such individuals came to be recognised as legitimate religious authorities.

The paper is a diachronic analysis of the evolution of Islamic authority from first generation migrants to contemporary Muslims. It demonstrates how the notion of authority is intrinsically linked with the education and epistemic nexus of the populous. It concludes that this hybrid authority mirrors a rapidly growing constituency of educated London Muslims, who negotiate their identities through the prism of two referential points, Western modernity and Islam.  To this end, the influence of these ‘academic sheikhs’ in determining which notions are necessary and which are contingent from the two traditions will help define the future London Muslim identity.


Haroon Sidat (Cardiff University) How many ‘ulama does it take to change a lightbulb?

Drawing upon extensive fieldwork as an insider in a British Deobandi darul uloom, this paper explores questions around power, authority and identity in such institutionalized religious settings. Taking as the departure point the actual observation of a broken light bulb, the paper explores the cultivation of adab and embodiment and its relation with Foucault’s concept of biopower, Bourdieu’s religious habitus, and Anderson’s imagined communities. Debates around who should replace the bulb relates to how the authority of the ‘ulama is presupposed by the belief in the sharia to offer guidance independent of time, and the paper looks at how modernity poses challenges to this belief. The time taken to replace a bulb provides a fascinating lens to look at the inter-generational shifts and contestations taking place in the seminary. How to change a bulb allows contrasts between modern pedagogy with traditional forms, and the “recitational complex” (Messick, 1992) with the concept of suhba (discipleship) in Islam. Finally, the paper will provide for the first time an analysis of the social and religious processes that lead a young person to a darul uloom and what the ‘ulama themselves see as their roles, and what they view as the challenges facing British Muslims.


E-   Islamic Art, Architecture and Literary Representation


Chair: Eva Kepplinger (Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg)


Shiva Mihan (University of Cambridge) A Dismembered Treasure from Prince Bāysunghur’s atelier

Manuscripts produced in the 15th century under Timurid patrons are among the most exquisite examples of Persian arts of the book. Codices containing sumptuous illuminations and lavish illustrations attracted the mutilating attention of Ottoman album-makers and avaricious art dealers in the early 20th century. I will provide evidence of their practices in a unique treasure from Prince Bāysunghur’s library, the Rasāyil, a manuscript produced in his atelier in Herat in 830/1427. This paper investigates the bulk of the original codex as well as some dispersed pieces, which have not been recognised as having been removed.

In my presentation, I will share the result of an in-depth codicological analysis of the manuscript and the textual study of its rare and unique treatises, along with research into other collections and archives, and finally bring together digitally some of the missing pieces and provide a virtual tour of the original manuscript.


Fuchsia Hart (Victoria & Albert Museum) Shaykh Lutfallah and Safavid Shi’ism

This paper will examine the inscriptions of The Mosque of Shaykh Lutfallah, analysing their content and establishing their significance for the crystallisation of Twelver Shi’ism in Safavid Isfahan. The building is one of Iran’s most iconic and frequently seen historical buildings. However, it is also a building which academia has neglected in many ways. I will call on an holistic, multi-disciplinary approach, addressing the building’s architecture, alongside original translations and analysis the texts on the building’s walls. All in Arabic, these range from Hadith and Qur’anic verses to spiritual poetry, executed in a range of spectacular scripts. The texts will be supplemented by an original translation and discussion of Shaykh

Lutfullah’s Risālat al-Iʿtikāfiyya. This exploration will demonstrate that the mosque was built to promulgate Twelver Shi’ism and support the position of Shaykh Lutfallah, while encouraging performance of the Friday Prayer. The building was a novel one, both in its form and its function, just as the period in which it was built was an innovative one in terms of religion and rule. The study offers an insight not only into the building itself but also into the development of orthodox Twelver Shi’ism.


Azfar Anwar (University of Oxford) Sexual Identities in Medieval Islamic Biographical Dictionaries: Ibn al-Ḥanbalī’s Durr al-Ḥabab fi Tārīkh A’yān Ḥalab and Linguistic Nuances in referencing ‘homosexualities'

Biographical dictionary is a wholly indigenous product of Islamic culture. It is a reflection of a culture which preoccupies itself over long periods of time on questions of identity, identification, individuality and representations of the self. Beyond basic identificatory data (i.e. names, dates, and places), Islamic biographical dictionaries record the beliefs, theological inclinations, social class, known virtues, vices, dreams and even the sexuality and sexual behaviours of the subject. This paper approaches Ibn al-Ḥanbalī’s (d.1563) biographical entries in his Durr al-Ḥabab fi Tārīkh A’yān Ḥalab (Beads of Pearls in the History of the Aleppine Nobles) which makes references to ‘homosexual’ behaviours, tendencies, proclamations of desires etc, and analyse how he overlaps and intersects these identificatory data of the biographee with other varying identities and subjectivities, to form one complex identity of each biographee—a common practice among biographers who have been catalysed by the growing cosmopolitanism and ‘autobiographical anxiety’ of the late medieval period of the Islamicate world. The linguistic devices used by Ibn al-Hanbali to reference different ‘homosexual’ behaviours then highlights the nuanced understanding of different homosexual behaviours of medieval Islamic society, thus distinguishing one biographee’s ‘sexual identity’ from another.


F-   Education I: Islamic Education in Minority Contexts


Chair: Riyaz Timol (Cardiff University)


Nader Al-Refai (Yarmouk University) British Muslim Supplementary Education Institutions and the Problematics of Religious Instruction in Multi-faith Society

The study aims at exploring the reality of British Muslim supplementary education institutions (family, mosque and weekend-school) teaching Islamic Education to young Muslims in a multi-faith society; and examining the challenges merging from this reality and their impact on the system's outcomes. This is a qualitative study using the analytical descriptive methodology to study the phenomena in its real social context through collecting and analysing most of what has been written about the phenomena under question. The study will also benefit from ethnographic research strategy since the researcher has spent over ten years as an insider researcher in British Muslim education institutions.

The study revealed a number of significant problematic challenges facing the Muslim supplementary education institutions related to living in a multi-faith society and have their impact and implications.

The findings cover issues related to four main domains, these are: teachers and their competence to teach young Muslim minds in a multi-faith society; Islamic Education curricula and its relevance to British society; meeting second and third generation students' abilities and needs; and community and their efforts towards achieving integration and building a collective identity.


Matthew Vince (Cardiff University) Embodying Islam and the secular at work: the case of Muslim Religious Education teachers in state schools

Whilst there has been a proliferation of research surrounding Muslims in education, many of these debates have centered on the relationship between Islam and the secular (e.g. Wilkinson, 2014), and PREVENT. Yet the voice of teachers is sorely missing from this discussion as interlocutors between pupils and their institutions (Niyozov & Pluim, 2009).

“Muslim RE teachers” embody a fascinating intersection between Islam and the secular in their daily working practice. As Muslims working in British state schools they are ‘ontologically complicit’ in the secular values of state education, given the professional standards they must inhabit (Puwar, 2004). These processes are reified in the RE classroom, where personal beliefs become part of the working environment. Thus, their personal and professional identities are entwined in their performance.

This paper explores the tensions and negotiations that Muslims face “being” RE teachers in state schools. Through 21 semi-structured interviews and 3 para-ethnographic shadows with teachers all over England, aspects of visibility, neutrality, and eschatology are central themes that need to be constantly (re)negotiated in their daily working lives. Consequently, these Muslim RE teachers have developed a number of significant “success strategies” to ‘render Islam compatible within public sector policy frameworks’ (Gilliat-Ray et. Al. 2013).


Youcef Sai (Trinity College Dublin) Sunni and Shi’a interaction in Irish Muslim Schools: Tensions, Challenges and Negotiations

Islam is the fastest growing faith in Ireland, with the latest figures reported at 63,000. Yet, given this number, there are only two primary state-funded Muslim schools that cater for the Muslim community in Dublin which promote an Islamic Sunni ethos, in conjunction to teaching the Irish state curriculum. The majority of pupils attending the schools are Sunni, while a small percentage are Shia.

Based on an ethnographic study, consisting of both interviews with teachers and parents as well as observations of Islamic studies lessons, this paper sheds some empirical insight into how Muslim teachers deal with intra-religious differences in the classroom. It also examines the interactions between teachers and pupils and reveals the internal struggles for space that exist in the classroom between the various expressions of Islam.

While most Muslim teachers in this study found it challenging to engage with intra-religious differences, this paper concludes that, with appropriate teacher teaching, some of them did possess the potential to promote respect in the classroom and to have a positive impact in the future delivery of Islam in Ireland.


17:30-17:45                        Break


17:45-19:00            Plenary 1: Robert Hoyland: ‘Ancient Iran in Muslim Histories and the Sources of the Shahnameh’ (Chair: Robert Gleave), followed by an Oxford/Liverpool University Press Reception in the IAIS building


20:00             Evening Meal



Tuesday 10th April


09:00-11:00            Panels Session 2


A-  Islamic Law II: Uses of the Past, A Panel on the HERA-Funded Project Understanding Sharī`a: Past Perfect Imperfect Present (USPPIP)


Chair: Robert Gleave (University of Exeter)


Omar Anchassi (University of Exeter) Al-Khaḍkhaḍa fī Jald `Umayra: Or, Towards a History of Onanism in Islamic Thought

This paper takes its title from a lost work attributed to the Cairene oculist and playwright Ibn Dāniyāl (d. 1310 CE), which translates literally as ‘the Churning on the Flogging of Little `Umar’, both widely used metaphors for onanism in Islamic legal discourse.  This contribution explores onanism and its portrayal in Islamic legal texts (including fiqh, ḥadīth, tafsīr and poetry where relevant) from the formative (c. 600-1000 CE) to the modern periods, with particular attention to diachronic change and the construction of notions of ‘appropriate’ expressions of sexuality; it will be demonstrated that legal discourse gradually came to exclude options seen as viable or licit in early sources.  Drawing on the work of Joseph Massad, this paper will further illustrate how Muslim actors came to internalise and to reproduce Euro-American forms of sexual propriety in the long nineteenth and twentieth centuries.


Mahmood Kooria (Leiden University) Using the Past and Bridging the Gap: Premodern Islamic Legal Texts in New Media

This paper analyses the internal dynamics of online Islamic legal discourses embedded in their offline and multimedia contexts that both make use of a rich repository of legal texts composed over a period of about a thousand years. Through their vigorous and spirited engagements, the Islamic jurists simultaneously create new digital platforms in mass and social media to disseminate their ideas and advance the long textual legal tradition through hypertext commentaries and super-commentaries. The premodern texts are thus reborn through new forms of ḥāshiyas such as audio commentaries, video commentaries, audio-video commentaries and hypertext commentaries. These new developments from the age of new media contribute to the textual longue-durée of Islamic law. Taking the trajectories of three Islamic legal texts in the mass media and cyber world, I argue that the dissemination of premodern Islamic legal texts via cyber space has resulted in the “democratization” of a knowledge-system that was previously dominated by trained fuqahā and affiliated institutional structures.


Nijmi Edres (University of Göttingen) Uses of the Past: Gender and Shari`a in contemporary Muslim practice in Israel and Palestine

In the last decades we have assisted at the development of a growing debate, in Muslim communities, around gender issues and the modernization of Muslim law. The paper aims at presenting the research project developed at Göttingen University as part of the HERA project “Understanding Shari’a: Past Perfect, Imperfect Present”. More in details, it focuses on the Muslim Palestinian minority in Israel as a case study. The Israeli case is particularly interesting because of the existing overlapping and competing civil and religious legal systems. Indeed, the particular situation of legal pluralism in Israel and the complex political and social context, pose important challenges to the development of Muslim jurisprudence in contemporary times. In that context, Muslim judges are often claiming to refer to the classical sources of Islamic law to modernize shari’a law, as applied in Shari’a courts, from inside. Drawing from that framework, the paper aims at presenting the methodology of the research and some of the first outcomes, considering how the “past”, in the meaning of classical sources of Muslim jurisprudence, is used by contemporary Muslim judges in Israel when dealing with gender issues such as custody, marriage and divorce.


B-   Muslim Minorities II: The Sociology of the Sacred and the Secular in Muslim Minority Contexts


Chair: Sophie Gilliat-Ray (Cardiff University)


Ege Lepa (University of Tartu) “Lazy” old vs “eager” new Muslims in Estonia: the Baltic case of dealing with changes in Islamic community

Paper abstract (200 words): Based on 50 in-depth interviews and some years of close activity observation the paper focuses on internal relations of Estonian Islamic community, where long domination of Tatar way of “moderate”, secular type of practice is challenged by several waves of newcomers. During last two decades complex developments have occurred; changes in political and economical system in Estonia in addition to EU membership since 2004 have altered the balance and relations between now many Islamic nationalities, have a noteworthy impact to religious practices and ways to organize administrative and religious activities, which has raised some essential questions about authority inside Estonian Islamic community. Some observations will be made about influence of historical (Soviet) background to current developments, the main focus is on the ways time and again changing community deals with newcomers and how those adapt to local network of Islamic organizations and system of sacral, financial and administrative power system.


Agah Hazir (Van Yuzuncu Yil University) Secularism in the transnational field: Turkish diaspora in the UK

Although up to sixty percent of the Muslim diaspora in Europe can be described as nominally Muslims (Mandaville 2001, 172) or secular (Spellman 2004), most of the research focus on migrants’ religious affiliation and consider Islam as the major source of diasporic identity. Although there are exceptions (Gholami 2015) the literature so far seems to fail to fully explore the potential impact of secularisation on the Muslim diaspora living in Europe. This paper aims to fill this gap by taking Turkish diaspora in the UK as a case, and by synthesizing existing empirical and theoretical research on sociology of religion, Islam in the UK, and international relations. It will examine the secular modes of living and the discourses operating on Turkish diasporic field to demonstrate the ways in which secular forms of diasporic identity are/can be formed. Furthermore, this paper will also explore and recognise how the Islamization of political sphere in Turkey paved the way to a new wave of migration which is dominated by the secular fractions of the home-state.


Amine El-Yousfi (University of Cambridge) Genealogy and discursivity of the ‘Muslim Question’ in France

When studying Muslim presence in Europe, sociologists and anthropologists have problematized Europe's “Muslim Question” in order to demystify the “Muslim problem” in the midst of other problems, partly because Europe has “persisted in distinguishing between these different problems, producing hierarchies, and geographies, of alterity among and between distinct groups and collectives or populations (Anidjar 2013:40). Others have interrogated the “Muslim Question” not only as a doxa and set of evidences (Bourdieu 1972), or as an abstract category used in the European political arena, but as series of historico-critical junctures that are still influencing Muslims’ presence in Europe today.

In this paper, I will focus upon the French case as an example where the "Muslim Question" developed from its colonial to its post-colonial condition. In other terms, the “Muslim Question” is an assemblage of Europe's questions it has asked and through which it has “finally appear(ed) as an increasingly fragile subject of (self-)knowledge” (Anidjar 2013:44): the colonial question, the presence question, the immigration question, the religious space question, the visibility question, the surveillance question. Building on in-depth interviews and observation of several local Muslim leaders in Paris , I will show how every historical moment of the "Muslim Question" is a moment of discursivity at the Muslim grassroots level that end up in some cases by practice and embodiment (Asad 1986). In other words, Muslim actors are not only debating or adopting the discourse but they are shaped as “French subjects” constructively at the local level through relationships of power with different actors.


Riyaz Timol (Cardiff University) Social transformation through self-reformation: sacralising the secular ‘in the Path of Allah’

Though frequently cited as the world’s largest transnational Islamic revivalist movement of modern times, the Tablighi Jama’at (TJ) has paradoxically received only limited academic attention.  Key reasons for this are usually identified in the movement’s long-standing aversion to publicity and its avowedly apolitical stance. Based on unprecedented ethnographic fieldwork recently undertaken with the British branch of the movement, this paper interrogates the movement’s reformist ethos which, rather than engaging with structures of secular governance, seeks instead to cultivate a pious selfhood bringing about social transformation through an unceasing commitment to self-reformation.  Deriving insights from fieldwork conducted in France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria on an extended TJ outing [khuruj], the paper argues that the movement’s normative praxis functions to unshackle Islamic conceptualisations of the sacred from their traditional anchors, both spatial (e.g. the mosque) and temporal (e.g. Ramadan), through the activities of itinerant groups out ‘in the Path of Allah.’  Most significantly though, it is the traveller’s journey of self-transformation that constitutes the movement’s implacable core dynamic.  In conclusion, international findings are triangulated with interviews conducted in a single Lancashire mosque to explore reasons for TJ’s success in the highly individualised societies of late modernity. 


C-  Shī`ism I: Ethics, Legal Theory, Sectarianism


Chair: Ali-reza Bhojani (University of Nottingham and Al-Mahdi Institute)


Mohammad Sadegh Amin din (International Institute for Islamic Studies, Islamic Seminary of Qom) Moral Approach towards the Sinful in Shīʿī Ḥadīth

The status of the sinful in Muslim society has long been attracted the interest of Muslim scholars, and it was particularly significant issue in the Imāmī Shīʿa Ḥadīth. There has been much debate both within the Shīʿī tradition and outside of it over the life, destiny, social status, and moreover the duty of Muslims towards sinners.  Most of the scholarly works have been done to scrutinize the theological, legal, and jurisprudential approach towards sinners. These works mainly dealt with punishments, penalties, enjoining good, and prohibiting from evil. At the same time there are some Imāmī traditions which portray the moral approach towards sinners and explain the duty of a Muslim encountering a sinner. This moral approach was rarely discussed as a separate subject and usually has been studied under general moral discussions. In this article we try to shed some light on the moral approach towards sinners based on Shīʿī Ḥadīth. An analysis of these narrations forms the bulk of this paper. In the final section, an attempt has been made to explain how certain moral values should be observed with respect to sinners and how these moral values are reconciled with the legal punishments in Islamic laws.


Sayyed Mohammad-Payam (University of Exeter) To Refer or Not to Refer to Ḥadīth Literature: a 5th Century AH/ 11th Century CE Question in Twelver Shīʿī Legal Theory

Following the Occultation of the twelfth Imam (260/874), Twelver Shi’i legal theory entered a period of intense theoretical discussion on the nature and practice of theological and legal reasoning, in which the line separating the scholar from the layman was more sharply defined. The scholarly literature on this period has tended to identify two opposing trends, termed by some as rationalist/traditionist and by others as precursors to the later Uṣūlī/Akhbārī dichotomy. In order to develop the debate about these two opposing trends, this paper will take a close look at an epistle written by a chief player of the period, al-Sharīf al-Murtaḍā (d. 436/1044), in which he argues that it is not permissible for laymen or even scholars to refer to eminent books such as al-Kāfī to obtain legal precepts. His epistle gives evidence of two opposing sides in a debate on the suitability of earlier ḥadīth literature as a source of religious knowledge in the post-Occultation era. By examining his reasoning, this paper will shed light on some of the difficulties in legal epistemology faced in that crucial period.


Alexander Weissenburger (Austrian Academy of Sciences) Framing the Huthi Movement as Twelver Shi’ites: Aspects of anti-Huthi Propaganda on the Internet

Sa’da, the northwestern province of Yemen, from where the Huthi movement hails, is the heartland of the Fiver Shi’ite, Zaydi denomination of Islam. Despite considerable differences between Fiver and Twelver Shi’ism, the Huthi movement, which has its historic roots in Zaydi revivalism, stands frequently accused of being secretly adhering to Twelver Shi’ism. Critics of the movement portray Badr al-Din al-Huthi, the father of the movement’s founder Husayn al-Huthi, as having converted while residing in Iran and imbuing his views on his sons.

Previous research on the topic of the Huthi conflict in Yemen has largely by-passed the topic of anti-Huthi propaganda and focused mainly on societal and political factors to explain the conflict. Taking a discourse analytical approach, this paper will approach this particular narrative in contrast with the movement’s ideological output, in which the Iranian revolution and Ayatollah Khomeini indeed feature heavily. The paper will try to establish the truth of the claim and contextualize it within the wider narrative of the “Shi’a-Sunni conflict”. It will thus be shown how propaganda is employed in the current war in Yemen, in order to legitimize the actions taken against the Huthi movement in the eyes of the wider “Sunni-world”.


D-  Post-Classical Islamic Thought I: Capturing the Audience: Authors, Texts and Contexts in Late Medieval and Early Modern Islamicate Intellectual History I


Chair: Mohammad Gharaibeh (University of Bonn)


Mohammad Gharaibeh (University of Bonn) Why the Muqaddima of Ibn al-Ṣalāḥ (d. 643/1245) Matters: Towards a Social Explanation of the Success of the Muqaddima Through an Analysis of Scholarly Networks and Commentaries

It is implicitly assumed that commentaries result, at least to a large extent, from the importance of the original work. By this, the fact is overlooked that a commentary tradition is part of the reception history that makes a work important in the first place. Breaking through this circular argument and seeing commentaries as the reason, not the result, this paper will propose a social explanation for why an author chose to comment on one work rather than another. An analysis of the correlation of social networks and the production and transmission of knowledge shows that it is not the content of the work alone that decides about the success of a work. The Muqaddima of Ibn al-Ṣalāḥ (d. 643/1245) is a good example for this. The amount of 25 commentaries on this work implies high degree of its importance. However, a closer look at Ibn al-Ṣalāḥ’s immediate commentators and at the social networks through which the Muqaddima was transmitted shows that the success of the Muqaddima owes as much to Ibn al-Ṣalāḥ’s being at the right time in the right place, as to the functioning and active network of students and the political and institutional support.


Josephine Gehlhar (University of Bonn) The Question of Bodily Resurrection in the Ottoman Tahāfut works of Khōjazāde (d. 893/1488) and `Alā’ al-Dīn al-Ṭūsī (d. 887/1482)

As a challenge to the supremacy of more than a thousand years of Byzantine intellectual history, the Ottoman Sultan Meḥmed II (r. 1444-46 and 1451-1481) took eager measures to establish his new capital as a centre of Islamic learning. Therefore, he ordered a scientific contest on the relation of theology and philosophy and invited the two disputants, Muslīḥ al-Dīn Muṣṭafā, known as Khōjazāde (d. 893/1488), and ʿAlāʾ al-Dīn al-Ṭūsī (d. 887/1482), to arbitrate between the statements of the infamous eleventh century scholar Abū Ḥāmid al-Ghazālī, as presented in his work Tahāfut al-falāsifa, and the philosophers’ views. Eventually, Khōjazāde’s work was preferred above al-Ṭūsī’s, who, as an anecdote in Khājjī Khalīfa wants us to believe, returned to his homeland out of humiliation. In the aftermath, Khōjazāde’s text became the starting point for a remarkable number of commentaries, super-commentaries or summaries, which account for a continuous interest in the book. This paper will shed some light on the Ottoman Tahāfut works which were widely ignored by academia until just recently. With the special focus on the last chapter of the books concerning the question of bodily resurrection, this paper contrasts these two works. It will be shown to what extent the Ottoman scholars depart from the Ghazālian text and introduce their own sophisticated discussions while remaining aware and responsive to the earlier theological-philosophical discourses. Thus, the paper tries to contribute to the study of Ottoman intellectual thought at the time of one peak of the Ottoman expansion and imperial endeavors.


Sami Arslan (University of Bonn) Pouring Ink on Blood: The Copyists of Molla Luṭfī’s (d. 900/1495) Works Between Censorship and Self-Censorship

It is possible to state that the various manuscript versions of the same work are the fruit of multiple writing layers. While the author establishes the core of a given work, the readers and copyists (müstensih s) of the text also contribute to shaping it. Contrary to common assumptions, the copying records (istinsāh kayıtları) which are entered by the copyists are not only a static place but also a dynamic space reflecting a network of relations that is expressed in a language replete with metaphors, allusions, and expressions of double-entente. In this presentation we will demonstrate how the copyists of the works of the fifteenth century Ottoman scholar Molla Luṭfī (executed in 900/1495) instrumentalized these records and how they re-established a ‘court of conscience’ through istinsāh records.


E-   Classical Theology and Philosophy I: God’s Knowledge, God’s Action and Causality


Chair: Sumeyye Parildar (Istanbul University)


Mariam Shehata (SOAS) Abū l-Barakāt al-Baghdādī on Divine Omniscience and Human Freedom

This paper explores the position of Abū l-Barakāt, a twelfth-century philosopher and critic, on the question of divine omniscience and human freedom. Through criticizing the preceding Muslim philosophical and theological views on the God-human relationship, Abū l-Barakāt introduced an original view of the divine omniscience and its relationship to human freedom, where he excluded human voluntary activity from God’s knowledge. One may argue that such exclusion undermines the divine perfection. However, Abū l-Barakāt’s view of God is that He is prefect and omniscient, even though He does not know what humans are going to do in the future.

The paper is divided into three sections. Section I provides a brief historical background of the question of predestination. Muslim scholars’ debates on predestination are of importance in understanding Abū l-Barakāt’s position, since he argued that some of their views entail divine imperfection while others are rationally inconceivable. Section II illustrates Abū l-Barakāt’s position on divine attributes, with special emphasis on the attribute of knowledge. The final section elaborates Abū l-Barakāt s view on the God-world relationship. It details Abū l-Barakāt’s understanding of the extent and restriction of God’s knowledge in His relationship with creatures, including human beings and their choices and actions.


Hannah Erlwein (LMU Munich) How to square occasionalism and secondary causality? – Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī’s position on causality

It is a well-known fact that the Islamic theological tradition (kalām) was unable to disregard the immense influence of Ibn Sīnā’s (d. 427/1037) philosophical thought (falsafa), which led to the emergence of what has been called a ‘philosophical theology’. This is reflected not only in the way these philosophical theologians discussed certain topics, but also in the terminology and concepts they employed. This so-called ‘Avicennan turn’ can also frequently be observed in the writings of one of the most significant Ashʿarī theologians, Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī (d. 606/1210). In view of this, al-Rāzī’s conceptualisation of causality in the cosmos is noteworthy: it reveals that he attempted to reconcile two mutually contradictory position, i.e. the philosophical position that affirms independent secondary causes and the classical Ashʿarī position of occasionalism. This paper will discuss al-Rāzī’s position vis-à-vis the question of causality in his Qur’anic commentary, al-Tafsīr al-kabīr.         


Ramon Harvey (Ebrahim College) Lost Property? God’s Speech as Divine Action in al-Māturīdī’s Kitāb al-tawḥīd

Although Muslim theologians share the premise that God speaks, the formative period of kalām saw considerable debate over the correct theological articulation of the divine attribute of speech. The Muʿtazila upheld the controversial position that God’s speech is created by Him, which led to responses within the emerging ‘Sunnī’ theologies of the third/ninth and fourth/tenth centuries. An important figure in this debate is the Transoxianan Ḥanafī theologian Abū Manṣūr al-Māturīdī (d. 333/944) who affirms the eternality of the attribute of divine speech, yet distinguishes it from what can be perceived with the created senses.

Recent treatments of al-Māturīdī’s theological system have tended to either miss out the attribute of speech (Rudolph; Kutlu et al.); omit some of his major kalām arguments (Cerić; Broderson); or harmonise his position with the consensus of later Ashʿarī-Māturīdī Sunnism (Cerić). This paper will reconstruct al-Māturīdī’s argument from his Kitāb al-tawḥīd, showing how he defends his position that divine speech is an eternal divine action and answers the objections of his major Muʿtazilī rival al-Kaʿbī (d. 319/931). My close reading casts light on aspects of the non-standard kalām ontology that underpins al-Māturīdī’s philosophical account of properties and highlights the distinctiveness of his approach to divine attributes.


Daniel Lav (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem) Ashʿarī Kasb in Apologia for Supplication of the Prophet

This paper examines the use of Ashʿarī kasb doctrine in defense of supplication of the Prophet Muḥammad and other deceased prophets and awliyāʾ. The argument was first formulated by Taqī al-Dīn al-Subkī (d. 1355 C.E.) in a polemical work against Ibn Taymiyya, and was repeated in subsequent works by al-Qasṭallānī (d. 1517) and al-Haytamī (d. 1566), as well in numerous important anti-Wahhābī polemics. Given its ubiquity, al-Subkī's argument might be considered the principal theological defense of these disputed practices, just as Ibn Taymiyya's tawḥīd al-ulūhiyya doctrine provided the principal grounds for opposition to them.

Al-Subkī's argument differentiates between, on the one hand, Allāh's role as Creator of the requested aid and the true agent (fāʿil) in the act of granting it, and on the other hand, the Prophet's role as a sababʿādī for the granting of the aid through his 'acquisition' of the act. The ultimate grounds for this defense lie in an Ashʿarī emphasis on Allāh's monopoly on efficient causation, in contrast with the Taymiyyan emphasis on Allāh as the proper final cause of human action. The argument thus connects the concrete dispute over popular ritual praxis to a wider typological divide between the rival schools' theologies.


F-   Media and the Dynamics of Representation


Chair: Joshua Roose (Australian Catholic University)


Laura Mora (Keele University) The Mipsterz debate: Muslim women’s online self-representation

My PhD project analyses Muslim women’s self-representation in hijab fashion and explores discourses of empowerment in contexts characterised by postfeminism, neoliberalism and Islamophobia. The tidal surge of Islamophobia and associated political debates have arguably added pressure on (predominantly young) Muslim women to represent themselves online in ways that counter existing stereotypes (Bracke, 2011; Suleiman, 2017). A pertinent example is the Mipsterz video (December 2013), which sparked heated debates on social media between people who either cheered how the ‘hipness’ and ‘normalcy’ of the women in the video counters Islamophobic stereotypes, or critiqued its assumption that ‘hipness’ is the new equivalent for ‘emancipated’ or ‘moderate Muslim’ (Saeed, 2013). 

These debates demonstrate that, for some, Muslim women’s fashionable self-representations could be perceived as an empowering form of feminist activism (Golnaraghi and Daghar, 2017), while others critique the idea of women’s online content production as an a priori form of empowerment and argue for a more critical exploration (Banet-Weiser, 2012; Dobson, 2015). One could argue, for example, that the new visual codes (Hall, 1997) prevalent in selfies are based on consumerism, self-branding, microcelebrity, a make-over paradigm and a hierarchised value system in which certain femininities are preferred (Marwick, 2013; Duffy and Hund, 2015).


Oana-Alexandra Chirila (University of Bucharest) Advertising the Hog: Pork in the Nation of Islam’s Ideology

This paper focuses on the role the restriction on pork plays in the Nation of Islam’s ideology with an emphasis on how food and restaurant advertisements found in Muhammad Speaks, the group’s newspaper, follow Roland Barthes’s model of advertising. In Toward a Psychosociology of Contemporary Food Consumption, Barthes identifies the three main themes found in food advertising: the commemorative function, the anthropological situation in which a group refrains from eating certain foods due to their association with an inferior social status and finally, the concept of health. This paper shows how, based on Elijah Muhammad’s teachings on pork, the absence of the hog in food advertisements is what gives them all of the three functions identified by Barthes: the commemorative function by tying the restriction on pork to verses of the Torah and the Quran, the anthropological one by linking the consumption of pork with the slavery era and the health issue through the constant reminders of the risks of trichinosis. Some of the primary sources used in this attempt are issues of Muhammad Speaks (from 1962 to 1973) and Elijah Muhammad’s prolific, although highly repetitive, How to Eat to Live (two volumes).


Thijl Sunier (VU University Amsterdam) Online/offline dynamics: Local politics in a mediatized religious landscape

Digital media have transformed Islam into a global public factor. It has led to the dramatic increase of the public voices of Islam. There is a growing body of literature that analyzes the transformative power of modern digital media and how it co-shapes contemporary Islam. This process has generally been referred to as mediatization. Much of the work in this field focuses on what occurs ‘online’. Much less attention is being paid to processes that occur ‘below the radar’ or ‘offline’. Offline does not simply mean ‘not (yet) online’, as if it concerns a state of failed accomplishments. In a media-saturated world working without the gaze of mass media is often a deliberate strategy of public actors to pursue certain goals that would otherwise be impossible. It is a strategic sophistication that necessitates a thorough understanding of how mediatization works. 

I will elaborate this argument by presenting an analysis of two cases that illustrate the dialectics between online and offline in local level urban politics in the Netherlands. One concerns the activities of a Salafi mosque and the other concerns the anti-radicalization policies of the Amsterdam municipality.


11:00-11:30            Coffee/Tea


11:30-12:30            BRAIS AGM and BRAIS-De Gruyter Prize Ceremony


12:30-13:30            Lunch


13:30-15:30            Panels Session 3


A-  Islamic Law III: Ottoman Law


Chair: Sohail Hanif (University of Oxford)


Seyma Ozdemir (Marmara University) Exploring 16th Century Ottoman Monetary Issues in a Legal Source: Risalah fi’n-Nuqud

In 16th century, the Ottoman monetary system was influenced by an excess of foreign silver currencies, increase in population, rise in prices and long lasting wars. After all, the akçe’s silver content was reduced to a large extent by the debasement in 1585. Thus, some coins were taken out of circulation or withdrawn from the market while others’ values were changed. For the contracts based on these coins, disagreements on the payments arose in the area of law. A prominent Hanafi jurist Shamsaddin al-Timurtashi classifies these problems. For one of them, he uses a modern economic law that is known as Gresham’s law. More importantly, he refers to the methodology of the jurists as a significant factor. Some of the jurists argue that payment must be made according to the value of the coinage at the time of the contract, while the others accept the changed value. Timurtashi offers the Hanafi methodology of the judge as the solution. Based on this treatise, I will suggest the methodology of the jurists was one of the causes of this period’s problems, which cannot be concluded directly from judicial records or has been ascertained by historians. I will use a legal treatise as a source of history and also reveal a perfect classification from the eyes of a jurist.


Merve Özdemir Özaykal (Sakarya University) Medicine in Ottoman Fatwa (Religious Verdict) Collections

Ottoman fatwa (religious verdict) collections are historical documents which present significant information regarding medical life, health standards and medical fund of knowledge of Ottoman period. Aforementioned collections contain numerous of fatwas that reflect religious aspects of daily medical challenges of Ottoman society and solutions by religious scholars toward these medical issues, in disorganized ways and under several titles. These collections also take in religious verdicts about professional ethics and arrangements such as profession of medicine, medical fees, compensation of malpractice, patient rights and responsibilities as well as questions and answers related to illnesses, treatment with forbidden materials, malpractice, surgical operations, alternative medicine, vaccine, cauterization, abortion, mummification, corpse, tattoo etc. This work aims to research some outstanding Ottoman fatwa collections belong to between 16th and 19th centuries (including Fatawa-yi Shaykh al-Islam Abussuud, Fatawa-yi Abd al-Rahim, Fatawa-yi Fayziyyah, Netijah al-Fatawa, Behjeh al-Fatawa etc.) and to reveal the interplay of Ottoman medical practice and fatwas. Therefore, this study not only presents the fatwas under the titles of health care, human body, diseases and treatments in a descriptive way, but it also interprets and analyzes them in terms of Ottoman medical history and classical Hanafi fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence).


Sumeyye Simsek (Istanbul 29 Mayis University) The Effects of Modernization in a Fatwa Book: Ilaveli Mecmua-i Cedide

Even though the obligation of obedience to the ruler was one of the presuppositions of Islamic political thought, the limits of this obedience was not exempt from discussion. There is a rich juristic debate on whether the obedience is unconditional, or its necessity is determined by the justness of the ruler. Among the four schools of law, I believe this question plays a particularly intriguing role within Hanafi school. On the one hand, early Hanafi scholars are known to be in good relations with the authority, and this might have resulted in a quietist approach as widely assumed by contemporary scholars. On the other hand, Hanafis have an undeniable interaction and a shared history with Mutezila, a school of thought that places great emphasis on the principle of enjoining the good and forbidding the evil (al-amr bi’l-ma‘ruf wal-nahy ‘anil-munkar). This principle may require not only the rejection of obedience to an unjust ruler, but also an active opposition to them. In my paper, I will trace the tension between the two contradictory obligations of obedience to the ruler and standing up against injustice in Hanafi texts. I will examine the variety of positions and possible shifts in different settings within this school.


B-   Muslim Minorities III: The Muslim Communities of the Constituent Nations of the UK and the Republic of Ireland


Chair: Jorgen Nielsen (University of Birmingham)


James Carr (University of Limerick) Islam in Ireland: the same yet different

Sixty years ago it would have been impossible to speak of Muslim communities in Ireland or Irish Islam in any meaningful sense. The then Dublin Islamic Society numbered in the low hundreds; this first ember of institutionalized Islam in Ireland was in its infancy, made up predominantly by international, often transient, university students (Scharbrodt et al 2015). The intervening decades have witnessed profound change. According to data derived the most recent Census, Islam remains one of the fastest growing religions in the Republic of Ireland (Central Statistics Office 2017). As previous studies demonstrate (ibid), Islam in Ireland has, on the one hand, developed idiosyncratically; on the other hand, it is also easy to see the impact of international trends and discourses on the lives of Muslims in Ireland. Taking this national-international nexus as its premise, this paper, starting with the national, will first look to recent public pronouncements and activities of Muslim ‘leaders’ in Ireland in order to unpack the politics within/between Irish Muslim communities today. From here, this paper will engage with anti-Muslim racism in Ireland to demonstrate the manner in which Irish Muslim communities are subject to experiences of hostility and exclusion that resonate with those abroad.  


Sophie Gilliat-Ray (Cardiff University) Bilad al-Welsh- The Land of the Welsh

This paper provides a brief overview of the history and settlement of Muslims in Wales, beginning in the late 19th century.  I consider the development of community organisations such as mosques and lobbying groups, alongside an analysis of the socio-economic situation of Muslims in Wales today derived from Census data.  My paper will also offer a brief review of the existing research available on Muslims in Wales.  A distinctive feature of Muslim experience in Wales appears to be its successful engagement with civil society and local authorities.  The ‘Muslim Council of Wales’ made history by gathering the four Archbishops of Wales, England, Scotland and Ireland together for the first time in history, in 2015, at its annual inter-faith dinner.  The success of this initiative (among others) appears to reflect the mobilization of particular forms of social and religious capital.  My paper problematizes the concentration of activism and infrastructures in South Wales (Cardiff, Newport, Swansea) relative to the apparent isolation of Muslims living in the North and West of the Principality. 


Hugh Goddard (University of Edinburgh) Scotland’s Muslim Communities: Distinctive or Parallel?

In the context of the UK as a whole, it is well-known that Scotland produced both the first Muslim JP and local councillor (Bashir Maan), and then the first MP at Westminster (Muhammad Sarwar).  On this basis it has sometimes been argued that the situation of Muslims in Scotland is unique, relative to the rest of the UK.  This paper will argue that while there are indeed distinctive features attached to Muslim communities in Scotland, particularly the numerical dominance of communities with ancestral connections to Pakistan, and within that the strong links with the Punjab in particular, there are also significant parallels with the situations in other nations within the UK, as well as with the Republic of Ireland.  Use will be made of the census data from 2011, as well as the studies by Maan, Elshayyal, Bonino, and Hopkins, to draw out some of the salient features of Scotland’s Muslim communities, including their geographical distribution, socio-economic status, and contribution to the life of the country, including the political system.  Reference will also be made to some of the data about religious affiliation which is uniquely available for Scotland in order to comment about conversion to Islam in particular. 


Sean McLoughlin (University of Leeds) Muslim England and its Cities: From Methodological Nationalism to a (Trans)Local Frame

This paper argues that a more devolved analysis which highlights Muslim diversity within the individual nations of the UK must also problematize ‘methodological nationalism’ in such research more generally. So, while I will enquire whether Islam has been institutionalized, and Muslims recognized and regulated in distinctive ways given the particular history, context and positioning of England vis-à-vis Muslims, my main argument is that the national scale must always be related to local and trans-local scales (cf. McLoughlin 2005). Indeed, the study of Islam in the UK was pioneered thus in (English) towns and cities from the 1960s. So, while the 2011 Census reports that 95% of UK Muslims live in England, around 55% (1,455,771) actually live in the wards and neighbourhoods of just four cities: London, Birmingham, Bradford and Manchester. Giving AHRC-funded research on “Writing British Asian Cities” (McLoughlin et al 2014; 2017) an Islamic Studies twist, I will selectively sketch something of the distinctive configuration and dynamics of these four cities of Muslim England, reflecting too on their representation in different genres of academic and non-academic writing since over the last 50 years. This, it is argued, represents a more truly devolved, multi-centred and regionally accented analysis.


C-   Shī`ism II: Law, Authority and Learning in Early Shī’ī Law


Chair: Rob Gleave (University of Exeter)


Rob Gleave (University of Exeter) Early Shī`ī Law in Wider Perspective

The emergence of legal thinking amongst the Shīʿa has traditionally been associated with the juristic dicta of the Imams Muḥammad al-Bāqir and Jaʿfar al-Ṣādiq, and this continues in contemporary scholarship, including the work of Modarresi and Kohberg.  The majority of Shīʿī legal ḥadīth, upon which the later fiqh of the Twelver Shīʿī jurists were attributed to one or other (and often both) of these Imams, and there has been no investigation into the accuracyof these attributions.  This first feature of contemporary scholarship represents both a limitation and a possibility.

The tendency to see Shīʿī law as a late development has been amplified by the emphasis in Shiʿism scholarship to date being for some a purely theological school, and for others a purely political movement.  I argue that the legal emphasis in Shiʿism was early and was contemporaneous with the development of law in Medina, Kufa and other centres of legal doctrine.  I argue, then, that the scholarly neglect of early Shī’ī law within the general accounts of early Islamic law needs to be rectified, and this can be done by situating Shīʿī legal doctrine within a wider Islamic framework, rather than treating it as an entirely separate, unrelated or derivative tradition.

Through these investigations, I aim to show how a discriminating and careful analysis of the early ShīʿI legal material can illuminate both the early developments of Shiʿism and the emergence of Islamic law.


Paul Gledhill (University of Exeter) Some legal opinions attributed to early Shīʿī authorities in the Ishrāf ʿalá madhāhib al-ʿulamāʾ of Ibn al-Mundhir (d. 318/930)

In this paper I aim to explore historical intersection of the Sunni and Shīʿite legal traditions. It represents a response to a particular postulate concerning the origins of Shīʿite law, a postulate that locates a legal koine for the respective traditions in mid-8th-century Kufa. Positing that it was in this context that the Shīʿah, theretofore distinguished from their Sunni co-religionists along mainly political and theological lines, most likely began to develop a distinct identity also at the level of law, my research examines the relation of Twelver positive law, as expressed in the dicta ascribed to the Imams in Twelver collections of the late 9th and 10th centuries, to the strains of 8th-century legal thought that might have nourished or given rise to it. Drawing for the latter on evidence external to the Twelver tradition – juristic and prosopographical works from the 8th and early 9th centuries that are typically conceived as attesting proto-Sunnism and remain largely unexplored as sources for the history of early Imāmism – I adopt a comparative approach that seeks to circumvent a certain evidentiary problem in the study of early Twelver law, namely, the chronological gap between the floruits of its main putative sources, the Imams Muḥammad al-Bāqir (d. ca. 733) and Jaʿfar al-Ṣādiq (d. 765), and the compilation from the late 9th century onwards of traditionally authoritative works that purport to record their dicta.


Wissam Halawi (University of Exeter) Khums in Early Shīʿī Jurisprudence

In this paper I explore the social ramifications of Shīʿī legal literature, mainly the books of fiqh, written in Baghdad in the 10th and 11th Centuries. Much valuable study has already been undertaken on these texts by historians of Islamic thought. However, a new approach could enhance our understanding of legal theories that Shīʿī scholars elaborated during that period, to deal with the absence of the Imam, and that of his representatives (sufarāʾ). Considering the doctrinal adjustments of the “Four Precepts (al-aḥkām al-arbaʿa)” – namely the legal taxes (ḫums), legal punishment (ḥudūd), collective prayer (ṣalāt al-ǧumʿa), and holy war (ǧihād) – as a case study, I intend to examine the extent to which this change was merely a theoretical development, or whether it had practical repercussions for the operation of Shīʿī communities. 


Kumail Rajani (University of Exeter) Shi`ite Schools of Law in Comparative Perspective: Zaydi, Isma`ili and Imami Legal Doctrine

In this paper, I will compare the emergence of the Zaydi, Ismaili and Imami school of law, looking at the sources associated with the formation of the schools.  The jurist al-Qadi Nu’man (d.974AH) is the initial point of departure for my study, as he represents the first jurist proper of the traditions for whom we have extensive fiqh writings.  Imami legal writings up to that point are primarily preserved in statements of the Imams in hadith form; whilst Zaydi law, in its earliest phase, requires much more detailed exploration the current available, through the work attributed to Zayd b. Ali (d.740).  In this paper a comparison of the three schools in their earliest phases will reveal the dynamics of early Shii legal scholarship.


D-   Post-Classical Islamic Thought II: Receiving Avicenna, Contesting Mullā Ṣadrā: Metaphysical Debates in later Islamic Philosophies


Chair: Sajjad Rizvi (University of Exeter)


Wahid Amin (Al-Mahdi Institute) ‘The Simple Reality is All Things’ (basīṭ al-ḥaqīqa kullu l-ashyā’): Mullā Ṣadrā (d. ca. 1635) and Shaykh Aḥmad al-Aḥsā’ī (d. 1826) on Ontological Monism

While Mullā Ṣadrā (d. ca. 1635) continues to be an important focus of many scholars research in modern studies of Islamic and particularly later Persianate-Safavid intellectual history, the reception of his ideas from the time his writings were published down to the modern period remains at best sparsely discussed and at worst almost entirely non-existent, especially as far as technical engagement with his philosophy is concerned. Our knowledge of Ṣadra’s successors and interpreters in both his native Iran and neighbouring Persianate cultures (such as the Deccan) is only now beginning to attract serious scholarly interest. In this paper I discuss one of Ṣadrā’s most innovative but equally far-reaching ideas which he encapsulated in the propositional assertion that “the simple reality is all things” (basīṭ al-ḥaqīqa kullu l-ashyāʾ)—an idea which Ṣadrā claims, wrongly some might argue, had not been formulated in these precise terms by any previous thinker. The statement is a succinct assertion of the doctrine of monistic Sufism (waḥdat al-wujūd) and claims that God and God alone is the only true being (al-wujūd al-ḥaqq). Whatever else that exists exists because of—or we should rather say “through”—God’s existence. But since God is essentially one this also implies that God is all things, and hence all mutiplicity is returned to the unity of existence (waḥdat al-wujūd). To appreciate how Ṣadrā arrives at this conclusion and whether or not it should be deemed a correct ontological doctrine as far the divine Law (al-shariʿa) is concerned, I examine the writings of one of Ṣadrā’s harshest critics, Shaykh Aḥmad al-Aḥsāʾī (d. 1826), the eponymous founder of the Shaykhī School within Shiism. An important figure within Qajar Iran, Shaykh Aḥmad was a high-ranking legal scholar who wrote extensively on philosophical topics and in the process denounced Ṣadrā’s ontological monism as kufr and antithetical to the pure teachings of the Imams.


Sumeyye Parildar (University of Istanbul) A Non-essentialist and anti-materialist theory of self: Mullā Ṣadrā on what makes the human-self

What makes a thing itself’ is its quiddity and it is primarily a universal explanation of the genus of things that share the same thing-ness. What makes each individual thing that very individual being is, however, a matter of another investigation. Among mainstream Peripatetics, individuation (i) is accounted for either through matter or through properties or accidents in relation to matter. Differentiation (ii) is caused through matter or the material.

In this presentation I want to connect the discussions on individuation with those of the human self.

The substance to be called as the “I” is (iii), according to Avicenna, a purely non-corporeal substance. Yet he accounted for individuation of the same self through the material component of hylomorphic unity. He also accepted that the human possesses unity (iv) despite having vegetative, animal and human parts. Thus, (in a very simplified way) we have a unity that is the self, which is somehow purely immaterial in itself, and yet gains its very individuality through matter. 

Mullā Ṣadrā denied previous explanations of the nature human through matter and hylemorphism, and redefined its individuality with his central concept of existence. He also constituted a dynamic self that constantly changed in substance. This non-essentialist self still claimed to be a unity. Thus, another dimension of the discussion (besides i-v) is that of identity in the sense that Mullā Ṣadrā assigns continuity to the self despite the constant essentialist change. My discussion of this dynamic, multi-dimensional yet unified self will be composed through his writings on mizāj (temperament), tashakhkhuṣ (individuation), and the nature of the soul.


Sajjad Rizvi (University of Exeter) Reading Avicennism in Qajar Iran: Mīrzā Jilveh and the Rejection of a Sadrian Reading of Metaphysics

The course of philosophy in the Qajar period is known for the establishment of the work of Mullā Ṣadrā Shīrāzī (d. 1636) and his reading and subversion of Avicenna through his later disciples such as Mullā ʿAlī Nūrī (d. 1831). Our emergent view of the intellectual history of philosophy in Iran since the Safavid period demonstrates the long process whereby Sadrian readings of Avicenna overtook the contribution of the earlier Shīrāzī thinkers and especially of Jalāl al-Dīn Davānī (d. 1504) and Mīr Dāmād (d. 1631). But contestations remained in order. Even in the Qajar period, Mullā Ṣadrā’s metaphysics was rejected from their directions: from the new Shaykhī school influenced by the somewhat idiosyncratic reading of philosophy by Shaykh Aḥmad al-Aḥsāʾī (d. 1826), from the adherents of the unqualified monism of the school of Ibn ʿArabī (d. 1240) primarily among Sufi thinkers, and from the remnants of the Avicennian school who defended earlier readings of Avicenna’s metaphysics.

In this paper I should examine the contribution of one such figure, Mīrzā Abū-l-Ḥasan Jilveh (d. 1896), who was one of the four leading teachers of philosophy in late Qajar Tehran, an aristocrat with connections at court and with the newly emerging merchant elites. Jilveh was a systematic glossator and wrote on most of the major works of Mullā Ṣadrā. I shall demonstrate the ways in which he defends Avicennian metaphysical pluralism and the strict definition of substance by analyzing his critiques of Mullā Ṣadrā’s notion of the modulation of existence (tashkīk al-wujūd) and motion in the category of substance (ḥaraka jawharīya) that lies at the heart of his dynamic conception of metaphysics.


E-   Qur’ānic Studies II: the Qur’ān in Contemporary Contexts


Chair: Jaakko Hameen-Anttila (University of Edinburgh)


Adam Shehata (Kirchliche Pädagogische Hochschule Vienna) Abdul-Ḥamīd al-Farāhī’s outstanding view on asbāb an-nuzūl - An Indian scholar’s potential influence on future quranic interpretation

The paper aims to examine Abdul-Ḥamīd al-Farāhī’s approach in dealing with the traditions (ahādīṯ) of asbāb an-nuzūl. Abdul-Ḥamīd (sometimes: Ḥamīduddīn) al-Farāhī (1863-1930) was an Indian Islamic scholar, whose main field of work was the Quran and the concept of coherence in the Quran. In the introduction to his tafsīr and other works he presented an understanding of asbāb an-nuzūl, that varies clearly from the position of the majority of Muslim scholars. He claims, that many of these traditions should not be considered as asbāb an-nuzūl. Furthermore, his strong verbal criticism of earlier scholars leads him to the assumption, that the derived meanings of qur’anic verses have been falsified due to the rigid clinging to the meaning indicated by the traditions.

This article looks into Al-Farahī’s opinion on the causes of the “insufficient” way of dealing with these traditions, the way he suggests it should be dealt with and noticeable impacts in his own tafsīr, that come along with the application of his theory. By this, it presents a contemporary approach of interpreting the Quran, that could promote additional ways of reading the qur’anic text.


Mu’ammar Zayn Qadafy (Albert Ludwigs University Freiburg) What Lay People Contribute to Exegesis Genre: Some Characteristics of Tafsir Works Addressed to Non-Academic Indonesian Readers

The "Lay Exegesis" in “Tafsir Studies” is still marginalized. By investigating Indonesia as the largest Muslim’s country, this research reveals the extent to which those almost-forgotten people are involved in the discourse. As a foothold, a philosophical study on exegete’s criteria is firstly maintained before then synchronized with the field-research findings. It is concluded that "Lay Exegesis" is methodologically plausible. It covers all kinds of interpretations produced by non-experts who do not have a solid background on Islamic studies. Sorted according two different parameters: author and reader, it includes what so-called “the living Qur'an”, comments on Social Media, books on religious practices and scientific miracles of the Qur’an, as well as the oral exegesis by religious figures. Despite of its preference to use narratives and religious stories rather than a complicated explanation on Grammar, philosophy and scholastic theology, the main characteristic of "lay exegesis" is its goal that is not purely to reveal the meaning of the Quranic verses. This situation proves that the exegesis in Islamic world is always related to things outside the text itself, and thus the way to read each work of exegesis could not be equated.


Fadhli Lukman (Albert Ludwigs University Freiburg) The Official Translation and The Imagined Authority: a case study on Al-Qur`an dan Terjemahnya in the 2017 Jakarta Gubernatorial Election

Amidst the 2017 Gubernatorial Election of Jakarta, Indonesian politics was rocked by an accusation of blasphemy, coming from a reference of a Christian candidate in a speech to the Qur`anic verse 5:51 (“You who believe, do not take the Jews and Christians as allies: they are allies only to each other. Anyone who takes them as an ally becomes one of them– God does not guide such wrongdoers”). Not only is he charged two-year jail for religious blasphemy, he also lost in the election. Despite the observers have concluded the sluggishness of political Islam in Indonesia, this latest event proves the otherwise, as the involvement of the Qur`an and a fatwa, unlike the precedences, determines the shape of Indonesian politics. This paper addresses the issue of the presence of the Qur`an and its official translation of the state in that latest political event. It elaborates the role of the Qur`an and the translation in the triumph of the Islamism in the 2017 Jakarta Gubernatorial election. It argues that the success of Islamism is the result of capitalizing the sensitive discourse of blasphemy and an imagined authority in the official translation of the state. 


Amit Sampat (Independent researcher) The Message of Islam by Gandhi's Spiritual Disciple: An Examination of Vinoba Bhave's Thought from Islam ka Paigaam

While Mahatma Gandhi’s (1869 – 1948) views on Islam and Muslims has been studied (Sheila McDonough, 1994), none of his spiritual disciples and with the exception of Thanwardas Lilaram Vaswani (better known as Sadhu Vaswani, 1879 – 1966)  (Sampat, A. (forthcoming publication), no other associates with a Hindu background have been seriously studied when it comes to their perceptions on Islam and Muslims. This paper will deal with the Hindu scholar and freedom fighter Vinoba Bhave (1895 – 1982) and his perceptions on Islam and Muslims. While Bhave during his lifetime composed the work The Essence of the Quran (first published in 1962), the book does not give any insight in Bhave’s thought on Islam and Muslims. The Essence of the Quran is more or less a catalogue of the Quran, where Quranic passages have been arranged thematically and summarized for example on the attributes of God and personal devotion. In contrast to The Essence of the Quran, Islam ka Paigaam (the Message of Islam, in Hindi) is a book which contains lots of information about Bhave’s views on Islam and Muslims. Whether Islam ka Paigaam was originally written by Bhave himself or later published by others as a book with notes, quotes and commentaries from Bhave, is not clear. Yet, the book gives the reader a fascinating insight in Bhave’s thought on Islam and Muslims. The purpose of this paper is to introduce Bhave’s thought on Islam and Muslims (with a focus on his views on the Muslim prophet Muhammad, the Quran and the possibility to compare Hindu and Islamic thought), by analyzing the work Islam ka Paigaam. 

The paper concludes that Bhave, like Gandhi and Vaswani, shared and preached the idea of an 'inclusive Hinduism'. For example, he was inspired by and held a great respect for the Muslim prophet Muhammad. Also, Bhave argued that if Hindus and Muslims would study each other’s religious scriptures, this would lead to a better understanding and a “unification of the heart” between the two religious communities.


15:30-16:00                        Coffee/Tea


16:00-17:30            Panels Session 4


A-   Islamic Law IV: Marriage and Gender Relations


Chair: Usaama al-Azami (Markfield Institute of Higher Education)


Hakime Reyyan Yasar (Heythrop College) Categorization and Conceptualization in Classical Islamic Contract Law: Nikāḥ al-‘aqd as a Symbolic Exchange Contract

[abstract noy avaiable]


Sumeyra Yakar (University of Exeter) The typical inference of custom in the Jurisprudence of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

The main aim of the paper is to understand Wahhabi approaches to custom (mainly referred to as ‘urf and ‘ada) and compare them to the decisions of contemporary Saudi judges. Whether the decisions in the contemporary legal system completely depend on the classical Hanbali religious sources or draw indirectly on customary norms is central to this research. In order to investigate the gap between theory and practice in the Saudi contemporary legal system, one divorce decision of court given by a Saudi judge in the Civil Court of the Great Shari’a Court of Riyadh will be analysed. Customary elements in the discretion of judge and the function of custom in the application of the court judgement will be addressed by using an exemplary case on the issue of child visitation right of the father, its day, length, and place. The harmonic interaction between legal principles, political elements, and customary factors will be represented in order to recognise the connection between textual sources and contemporary practice. The inference of custom in some regulations appears to reveal that custom is authoritative in the absence of explicit provision in the Saudi legal procedure concerning with specific disputes in civil affairs.


Faizul Karim (SOAS) Gender Interaction in the Qur’ān: Synergy between the Ayāt al-aḥkām and the Qiṣaṣ

This paper examines how the Qur’ān envisions interaction between the two genders of male and female in a non-maḥram (unmarriageable in relation to Islamic law) context. It specifically analyses the relationship between two genres of the Qur’ān: the ayāt al -aḥkām (legal verses) and the qiṣaṣ (stories) in relation to this theme. This paper will argue that there is an inherent synergy between the legal verses and the stories in the Qur’ān and that they both portray the same inherent didactic or moral stance with regards to the objectives of gender interaction – that being to ward off any kind of illegitimate sexual contact. The primary source for the legal verses are found in surah al-Aḥzāb and surah an-Nūr and their prescriptions related to the theme of moral behaviour and dress. Numerous works of tafsīr (exegesis) as well as legal works have previously been devoted towards explicating its meanings and implications. The role of the stories have been more marginal, although such material have been utilised, falling under the rubric of sharʿ man qablanā. This research follows an inter-Qur’ānic method by directly underscoring the parallels between the two genres. The two stories that are used in this specific study to highlight this point are: the story of Moses and the two women of Midian, and the story of Mary and her interaction with the angel Gabriel.


B-   Aspects of Sufism


Chair: Saeko Yazaki (University of Glasgow)


Fuga Kimura (University of Tokyo) Al-Ghazālī’s Salafi conversion in his later works: Rethinking relationships between Salafism and Sufism in his discussion on faith

In this paper, I will show that Abū Hāmid al-Ghazālī (d. 1111) converted in the last stage of his life to Madhhab Salaf(the way of Salaf), or Salafism, through a textual analysis of his last work, Iljām al-‘Awāmm ‘an ‘Ilm al-Kalām, which has not received enough attention by the Orientalists, according to Fiazuddin Shayb.  It seems significant to re-examine al-Ghazālī’s last position on Sufism and Salafism, because the chasm between Sufi and Salafi is a subject of fervent discussions among Sunni Muslims. Further, al-Ghazālī himself pursues the way of Salaf uniquely. It is well known that al-Ghazālī converted to Sufism. He explained his reason for conversion in his autobiography, al-Munqidh min al-Ḍalāl, and later wrote his magnum opus, Iḥyā’ ‘Ulūm al-Dīn, from this newly adopted position of Sufism. But in Iljām, he never cited the word of the Sufis as proof for his arguments, contrary to his Iḥyā’, but almost entirely restricted himself to citing the prophetic hadiths. Ibn Taymīyah has already pointed out that al-Ghazālī converted to Salafism and devoted his last days to studying Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī. Here, referring to Ibn Taymīyah’s indication, I will show the original relationships between Salafism and Sufism in al-Ghazālī’s discussion on faith. (199 words)


Pascal Held (The American University in Cairo) Aḥmad Ghazālī’s interpretation of the ‘light verse’ (24:35)

This paper will examine Aḥmad Ghazālī’s (d. 1126) elucidation of the well-known ‘light verse’ (24:35) in the Qur’an in his work al-Tajrīd fī-kalima al-tawīd. An analysis of his interpretation of this verse serves not only as a window, through which to view and understand the overall theme of the work, but likewise provides an occasion to highlight the importance of light as a means of illustration in Aḥmad Ghazālī’s thought more broadly, as shown in other works of his such as Savāne and Risāle-ye ʿayniyye. Beyond this, the fact that he is the younger brother of the more celebrated Abū Ḥamid al-Ghazālī (d. 1111), who himself composed a much regarded and studied work on the ‘light verse’, titled Mishkāt al-anwār, makes for an intriguing comparison between the interpretations of the two brothers in this matter. The discussion about the ‘light verse’ and the importance of light as a means of illustration in mystical thought during the late 5th/11th and early 6th/12th century will also be extended to the notions of Aḥmad Ghazālī’s famous student ʿAyn al-Quḍāt al-Hamadānī (d. 1131).


Naoki Yamamoto (Kyoto University) Placement of Sufism in the Literature on the Classification of Knowledge in the Ottoman Period: The case of İbrâhîm Ḥaḳḳı Erzurumî

Scholars have reported on various studies developed throughout the history of the Islamic world and have categorized them into appropriate genres. Some of these studies are by Fārābī (d. 339/950), Ibn Sīnā (d. 428/1037), and Abū Ḥāmid al-Ghazālī (d. 505/1111), whose works also inspired many Islamic scholars during the Ottoman period. These Ottoman scholars’ works discussed various sciences according to their own understanding of the classification of knowledge (tasnif al-‘ulum). Some of the best known of these discussions are Miftāḥ al-Sa‘āda wa Miṣbāḥ al-Siyāda fi Mawḍū‘āt al-‘Ulūm (A Key to Happiness and Lamp of Supremacy on Places of Knowledge) by Aḥmed Taşköprîdzâde (d. 969/1561), Kashf al-Ẓunūn ‘an Asāmī al-Kutub wa al-Funūn (Disclosure of Views on the Names of Books and Arts) by Kâtip Çelebî (d. 1067/1657), and Ma‘rifetnâme (Book of Gnosis) by İbrâhîm Ḥaḳḳı Erzurumî (d. 1194/1780).

This paper focuses mainly on İbrâhîm Ḥaḳḳı Erzurumî, one of the most prominent Sufi intellectuals during the Ottoman period, and his Ma‘rifetnâme, to study how an Ottoman Sufī scholar classified the sciences and knowledge and placed Sufism within it. Furthermore, this paper examines how his concept of perfect man (insān kāmil) influenced the structure of Ma‘rifetnâme.


C-   Shī`ism III: Imagined Pasts


Chair: Alexander Weissenburger (Austrian Academy of Sciences)


Samer El-Karanshawy (Tufts University) The Conquests of Kisirwan: Ibn Taymia and a Claimed-as-Twelver-Shi`i Past

Around the start of the 15th century A.D. Ibn Taymia, the known Sunni faqih, associated today with Salfism, instigated a devastating Mamluk campaign against heterodox communities in today’s-Lebanon. Those attacked, were accused, among other things, of collaboration with the Mongols. The episode, best known as the “conquests of Kisirwan”, named after the area “conquered” became a cornerstone of a contemporary proto-nationalist project, namely that of the Shi’i Jabal Amil, as imagined by the Lebanese historian (and Shi’i Sharia courts judge) Ja’far al-Muhajir (b. 1944). My paper will examine contemporary and near contemporary sources on the subject (e.g. Ibn Khaldun and al-Maqrizi). It will also explore the account Ibn Taymia himself gave of the events and of the community “conquered” (particularly in a letter he penned to the Mamluk Sultan in Cairo). Then it will critically assess al-Muhajir’s reconstitution of the events, one that appears to overlook some basic elements in the available sources, and that claims the “conquered” as Twelver -Shi’a subjected to the brutality of the Salafi faqhi, a questionable claim at best (Ibn Taymia’s anti-Shi‛i position notwithstanding).


Mohammad Monib (University of Qom) Awake Dreamers: Sectarian Dreams and Politics in Medieval Islam: the Case of Assassination of Muqallid b. Musayyib (d. 391 A.H/ 1001 A.D)

Miraculous dreams of divine punishment form a good number of a greater constellation of anecdotes recurrent throughout the body of literature focusing the significance of dreams in Muslim's moral life. A very dramatic narrative of this genre portrays the dreamer being commanded to fulfill the divine order of punishment on the deviated one who belongs to the rival madhhab in the dream and quite interestingly, when the dreamer wakes up, realizes that the execution happened in reality, exactly in the same way he had dreamt. We have good number of dream narratives that falls under this particular rubric.

The case of the governor of Musil, Muqallid b. Musayyib’s assassination is well suited for the study of this genre since the variety of different narratives of his assassination has evolved from a political narrative to sectarian anecdotes. He was allegedly killed by one of his servants hearing him vilified the first and the second caliph. This article is an attempt to shed some light on the peculiar features of this genre of dream narrative and trace the reports pertaining to Muqallid’s death.


Miklós Sárközy (Bratislava University) History in Eschatology: the case of the Dīwān-i Qā’imiyyāt

Classical Persian historical sources on Mongol-Nizārī Ismaili contacts generally preserved a rather negative image where the Nizārīs and Mongol forces are represented as antagonistic adversaries of eachother. However, in the light of the Dīwān-i Qā’imiyyāt, a newly discovered source,  Nizārī-Mongol contacts definitely need to be re-assessed. Besides odes in praise of the Qiyāma and different Nizārī Imams the Dīwān-i Qā’imiyyāt preserved remarkable historical material relating to the Mongol-Nizārī contacts before 1240. Some qasīdas speak about the Mongol victory over the Khwārizmians  while other poems go further by praising Jinghiz Khān for his kind attitude towards the Nizārī communities of the Persian lands. The reference to a certain ’Čaghatāy’ and its possible connection with the murder of Chaghatay Qorchi, a high-ranking Mongol military leader in the Southern Caucasus at about 1250 is of primary importance in our analysis. Due to the fact that in the Dīwān-i Qā’imiyyāt there is no hint to the ultimate fall of the Nizārīs at the hands of the Ilkhanid Mongols it is almost probable that the bulk of this poetical work had been composed decades before 1256.


D-   Post-Classical Islamic Thought III: Capturing the Audience: Authors, Texts and Contexts in Late Medieval and Early Modern Islamicate Intellectual History II


Chair: Mohammad Gharaibeh (University of Bonn)


Sevket Kücükhüseyin (University of Bonn) Jalāl al-Dīn al-Rūmī’s (d. 672/1273) Letter to His Daughter-in-Law: A Mirror of Family Affairs or a Political Document?

The Manāqib al-ʿĀrifīn (comp. between 719/1320 and 754/1353) of the Mawlawī dervish Aḥmad Aflākī (d. 761/1360) is one of the most prominent narrative Muslim sources of pre-Ottoman Anatolia. It provides numerous insights into various spheres of everyday life of the emerging Mawlawī community. Among others, it contains a letter of the eternalized master Mawlānā (Rūmī) to his daughter-in-law Fāṭima Khātūn on the occasion of a domestic conflict with her husband Sulṭān Walad. This letter is also part of the comprehensive collection of Rūmīʼs correspondence with various figures of his times including sultans, amirs and scholars. Its inclusion in this collection together with its incorporation into the hagiography suggests, however, that this particular letter was less significant as a mirror of the master’s attitude towards simple domesticities but rather for political reasons which affected the community in the times of Aflākī. The paper will present this letter and discuss potential political reasons for its significance.


Maxime Durocher (University of Bonn) Between History and Myth: The Building of a Zāwiya in Medieval Anatolia and its Foundation Tale in an Early Ottoman Hagiography

The zāwiya of Shaykh Nuṣrat was founded in the region of Tokat during the first decades of the fourteenth century. What is now a remote shrine of secondary importance used to be one of the major Sufi institution in the Inner Pontos up to the nineteenth century, as its large endowment deed and local chronicles reflect it. In addition to architectural and archival evidence, an Ottoman hagiography of the founder-saint (menāḳıbnāme), probably written during the sixteenth century, has been preserved. This paper will focus on the foundation myth of the zāwiya told at the end of the menāḳıbnāme and analyse it in light of fourteenth century archival and material evidence. Not only does the dialogue between late medieval historical documents and an early Ottoman literary source provide information about the afterlife of the shrine but, most importantly, it sheds light on the integration of local Sufi communities in a new religious and intellectual milieu and reveals their quest for legitimacy through narrative production.


Giovanni Maria Martini (University of Bonn) A Recently Identified Fourteenth Century Cosmogony in Persian: the al-Nuzha al-Sāsāniyya of Muḥammad Shīrīn Maghribī (d. 810/1407), or ‘On the Knowledge of the Beginning of the Formation of the World up to the Human Form'

Muḥammad Shīrīn Maghribī (d. 810/1407) is known as an important Sufi poet from Tabriz deeply influenced by Ibn ʿArabī’s thought. In addition to poetry, however, Maghribī also authored a few prose works that have never been the object of analysis. The study of these texts confirms what was known, and affords further depth to the intellectual portrait of their author, shedding light on his broader interests and revealing how Maghribī, parallel to his poetical activity, was also an influential theoretician and a dynamic Sufi master actively engaged in the training of disciples. Being an offshoot of a larger project envisaging the critical edition of all of the author’s prose works, the present paper aims to present for the first time a treatise by Maghribī which for a long time was believed to be lost and which a renewed scrutiny of catalogues and manuscript collections has eventually unearthed. This is entitled al-Nuzha al-sāsāniyya fī maʿrifat ījād nashʾat al-ʿālam ilà al-ṣūra al- insāniyya, that is, The Sasan’s Delight in the Knowledge of the Beginning of the Formation of the World up to the Human Form. Interestingly ‒as the title indicates‒ the topic of this treatise is not strictly speaking mystical, but rather focuses on cosmogony, being a description of the genesis of the various elements of the world culminating in the creation of the human being.

E-   The Dynamics of Textual Transmission in Early Islam


Chair: Azaher Miah (University of Oxford)


Ursula Bsees (Cambridge University) Looking over the early muḥaddith’s shoulder: A study of ḥadīth production and transmission based on original documentary sources

Past studies of the ḥadīth all have one important fact in common: They were almost all based exclusively on literary sources. Famous works by Goldziher, Schacht, Juynboll, Motzki, Sezgin, Schoeler and many others have not taken any original documents into account. Only Abbott has used a couple of papyri for her Studies in Arabic Literary Papyri, but still with a very small sample of texts.

This paper presents a project that aims at producing the first comprehensive study of the early ḥadīth based on a sufficient material corpus. Between 150 and 200 papyrus texts from the first Islamic centuries will be examined with regard to the following aspects:

. Treatment of material: Leaf or scroll vs. codex, use of recto and verso, disposal of worn-out texts (“sacred trash”)

. Treatment of the text body: Mise-en-page, headings, textual markers, corrections, marginal notes

. Scholars and transmission: Treatment of the isnād, cited authorities, independent ḥadīth schools (?), oral/written transmission

. Content: Recurrent topics, political orientation (?), alterations/forgeries, to which degree and how does the early ḥadīth mirror the political/social circumstances of its time


Mehmetcan Akpinar (University of Tübingen) The Prophet and the Beast: Diverging Accounts on Burāq in the Light of the Regional Disputes of the 2nd/8th Century

The Prophet Muḥammad’s miraculous night journey to Jerusalem (isrāʾ) and his ascension to heaven (miʿrāj) are among the most important episodes of his prophetic career. A rich corpus of sources presents detailed information about both events. Both classical Muslim scholarship as well as modern academic research on early Islamic narrative traditions, however, have pointed out the complexity of the material and indicated the inherent contradictions of the accounts, which led to doubts about their reliability. Even today’s celebrations of these miraculous events in the month of Rajab is a topic of inter-Muslim polemics, since many modern Muslim revivalist movements consider the Prophet’s ascension to heaven as embellished legends put into circulation after the death of the Prophet. In this paper, my analysis will shift the perspective away from the question of the accounts’ reliability. Rather, it will concentrate on the earliest narratives on the isrāʾ and pose new questions about the oral circulation of information, the spatial distribution of certain traditions, as well as the intellectual, religious, social and political contexts in which they circulated. Taking the descriptions of the Prophet’s beast Burāq as a case study, I will show how the information that circulated in the 2nd/8th century in three different centers of learning, namely Basra, Kufa and Medina, radically differed from each other. By analyzing five different groups of traditions through a combination of transmission and narrative analysis, the paper will show how the accounts on Prophet’s ride on the beast are embedded into important theological and legal disputes of the time. Finally, it will demonstrate how the differing regional positions and interests determine the way the story about Burāq came into circulation.


Mostafa Movahedifar (University of Birmingham) Early Shīʿī canonical collections: how did jurists investigate the validity of jurisprudential ahādith?

Alongside Quran, the Imāmī jurist (faqīh) utilizes akhbār (both Prophet's and Imams' ahadith) to infer Islamic laws. In the fourth and fifth century AH (tenth and eleventh century CE) some early Shīʿī scholars (e.g. Shaykh al-Kulaynī and Shaykh al-Ṣadūq) commenced to collect jurisprudential (fiqhī) ahadith in their compendia (respectively al-Kāfī and Kitāb man lā yahḍuruhu al-faqīh) which, in subsequent Imāmī tradition, were given a stronger probative force (ḥuǧǧīya). According to the importance of those compendia in Shīʿī legal tradition, scholars must examine the validity of those ahadith. To investigate their authenticity, at first step, one should know how they selected and validated ahadith. In this essay, I intend to examine the methods which early Shīʿī jurists (fuqahā) used to select the valid canonical ahadith (according to their own perspective). But for a better understanding, I am restricting myself to one of the important early canonical collections that is Kitāb man lā yahḍuruhu al-faqīh. Using historical analysis of this compendium, I will show that these methods were the results of a developing written tradition among Imams’ companions which are different from emphasizing on merely investigating isnād (chains of transmitters).


F-   Education II: Education, Institutions, Structures of Power


Chair: Haroon Sidat (Cardiff University)


Sairah Narmah-Alqasim (Nottingham Law School, UK/Dar Al-Hekma University, KSA) ‘Islamic Law’ and Legal Practice- A Legal Education Dilemma

This paper explores the extent to which there is a need for knowledge of ‘Islamic Law’ as part of legal education for legal professionals in England and Wales by exploring the literature in this area. ‘Islamic Law’ is the oldest continuing legal tradition that is applied, fully or partially in over fifty countries. It has affected the legal, political and economic world whether it be through legal education and the designing curriculums involving ‘Islamic Law’, law firms opening up offices in the Middle East or, the courts of England and Wales, having to address increasingly foreign elements of ‘Islamic Law’. In legal practice, there have been an increasing number of high value Islamic Finance transactions taking place in a market estimated to be worth $400 billion globally and, an increase in ‘Islamic Law’ in general commercial law. There has also been the recognition of Islamic Arbitration for matrimonial affairs, the acknowledgement by The Law Society of England and Wales  of Islamic Wills and, speeches by the Archbishop of Canterbury advocating the benefits of ‘Islamic Law’ and, most recently  this year an independent review into ‘Shari’ah Law’ by the Home Office, all creating much furore.  This paper examines the literature to ascertain if  there a need for knowledge of ‘Islamic Law’ by legal professionals in England and Wales for the purposes of legal practice, what is the meaning of ‘Islamic Law’ in the context of legal practice, how is ‘Islamic Law’ currently integrated into legal education in England and Wales and how  ‘Islamic Law’ be provided as part of legal education to enable legal professionals to competently engage in legal practice of it.


Hussam Eldin Ahmed (KU Leuven) A Nahdawi Institution: The Private Egyptian University and the Struggle for the Humanities (1908-1925)

Drawing upon primary sources from the Egyptian National Archives, my paper will tell the story of the first institution dedicated to the study of the humanities in modern Egypt, focusing on how it developed and the problems it faced. I will argue that the university founders had internalized one of the central tenets of the nineteenth-century Arab Nahda, prescribing reform based on reviving the classical Arab-Islamic thought while forging strong ties with modern Europe. I will show how the private university was organized along those lines to train scholars in modern critical research and teaching methods. I will also explore the strong reactions to this “new” kind of scholarship.

Moreover, while most historical accounts have argued that the university was acquired by the state due to the financial crisis caused by WWI, I will show that the humanities posed in itself a formidable challenge. Proposing such a new and unusual program at the time forced the university founders and their supporters to articulate, in meetings and in public, their reasons for creating such a program, explain the role of the humanities and find ways to reassure sceptics that a degree in the humanities could further the careers of ambitious young Egyptians.


Şeyma Nur Temel (Istanbul Şehir University) Sufis and Sultans in the Eyes of Müneccimbaşı Ahmed Dede

The compelling challenges facing the Ottomans in the seventeenth century overshadowed scholarship for a long time, causing neglect in all the aspects of their history. When scholars managed to set their biases aside, they noticed that this phase had a lot to offer to help understand the functioning of the Ottoman Empire. This presentation will be devoted to the intellectual realm of this century through the eyes of Müneccimbaşı Ahmed Dede (d.1702), a versatile scholar, a chief-astrologer, and an enthusiastic Sufi disciple. The main focus will be to explore his perception of the position of the Sufis, particularly in the view of the sultans, based on a portion from his universal history Camiu’d-duvel. In this regard, Rumî’s mysterious appearance in Müneccimbaşı’s version of Ottoman history is critical to illuminating his perspective, since he is the only one who asserts such a dialogue among historians. In addition to the inclusion of Rumî, some Sufi characters were overemphasized, while others were excluded. I will discuss Müneccimbaşı’s possible intentions in drawing an indispensable image for Sufis, contextualizing him in his contemporary intellectual atmosphere heated by the conflicts between Kadızadelis and Sufis. Thereby, I hope to open another gate toward understanding that controversial period.  


17:30-17:45                        Break


17:45-19:00 Plenary 2: Jon Hoover: 'The Religious Utilitarianism of Ibn Taymiyya’ (Chair: Ayman Shihadeh), followed by a Centre for the Study of Islam Reception in the IAIS building


20:00             Evening meal



Wednesday 11th April


09:00-11:00            Panels Session 5


A-   Islamic Law V: Community, Identity and the Codification of Islamic Law


Chair: Omar Anchassi (University of Exeter)


Maroussia Bednarkiewicz (University of Oxford) The Controversy of the Nāqūs: Muslim Legal Opinions on the Christian Call to Services

Before the introduction of the bell by the Crusaders, Eastern Christians convoked believers to religious services by striking a semantron, a long piece of wood, with a hammer-like stick. In Arabic, the instrument was called the ‘nāqūs’ until the bell replaced it and took its name. The nāqūs was at first a source of inspiration for the early Muslim community who did not have a ritual to call the believers to prayer. Beginning with the Islamic conquests, the situation changed and the nāqūs was increasingly perceived as an object of contention and, worse, an invitation to falsehood. Muslim jurists offered various solutions to address the provocation caused by this foreign sound, from advocating religious tolerance as the appropriate Qurʾānic injunction to arguing for the strictest prohibition of the nāqūs and threatening violators with punishment. The present paper introduces different opinions about the nāqūs by scholars in the second/eighth and third/ninth centuries. It demonstrates how this diversity of views gives us information that is crucial to achieve a better understanding of the general historical context and the modifications that some scholars made in aḥādīth concerning the nāqūs in order to appropriately frame their legal opinions.


Azaher Miah (University of Oxford) Determining the Role of Ibrāhīm al-Nakha`ī in early Kufan Hadith Transmission

Second century Kufa witnessed the emergence of two important, yet distinct, legal schools. The first was more raʾy-oriented, championed by Abū Ḥanīfa and his students, while the second was represented by Sufyān al-Thawrī, a significant hadith transmitter and jurisprudent. The reliance on Kufan transmission lines leads most of the isnāds back to one key figure they both have in common, the Follower Ibrāhīm al-Nakhaʿī. Joseph Schacht investigated one of these schools by looking at the writings of Abū Ḥanīfa’s students Abū Yūsuf and al-Shaybānī. The proliferation of contradictory reports by Ibrāhīm in the texts, all by way of Abū Ḥanīfa < Ḥammād < Ibrāhīm, led Schacht to consider the spurious attribution to Ibrāhīm was likely the work of his student Ḥammād. More prominent students of Ibrāhīm, however, show up when analysing the reports of Sufyān through the work his student ʿAbd al-Razzāq. His Muṣannaf, unstudied by Schacht, reveals that Manṣūr ibn al-Muʿtamir and al-Aʿmash, both shaykhs of Sufyān, transmitted more frequently from Ibrāhīm than Ḥammād, giving us wider access to Ibrāhīm’s reports. This paper will therefore crossexamine a number of reports purportedly transmitted by Ibrāhīm in the Muṣannaf in order to determine if Schacht’s conclusion about the spurious transmissions from Ibrāhīm can still be upheld.


Antonia Bosanquet (University of Hamburg) ‘She may keep him as her husband; he may not keep her as his wife’: Differing views of single-spouse conversion in Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya’s Aḥkām ahl al-dhimma

The topic of single-spouse conversion to Islam is widely discussed in classical legal sources. Whether a husband or a wife who has converted to Islam may maintain his or her marriage with the Christian or Jewish partner, and on what basis, was of practical relevance given the widespread nature of conversion in the classical period. But the discussion was also a handy theoretical framework within which to consider wider questions about the relationship between the religions, the hierarchical ordering of man and woman and the fundamental orientation of human nature (fiṭra).

This presentation will examine the teaching about single-spouse conversion in Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya’s (d. 751/1350) Aḥkām ahl al-dhimma. His position is a minority one, both in the 8th/14th century Damascus of his lifetime and in contemporary debates about the subject. In examining how he arrives at his conclusion, this paper will explore the various factors that play a role in Ibn al-Qayyim’s argumentation. These include the power hierarchies between the religions and within the domestic household, the emotional and material complexities involved in marriage and rearing a family and not least, the importance of endearing Islam to potential converts.


Raashid Goyal (Cornell University) Conversion and Subjecthood before the Jizya: New light from a Qur’ānic-era tradition

The present study examines the composition of an Islamic tradition attributed to the Prophet Muḥammad that sheds light on early legal developments concerning conquest and subjugation by the Muslim state. The tradition was widely circulated, with fourteen versions emanating from multiple Companions. It contains instructions for the negotiation of terms of capitulation with a target community prior to military engagement. I shall argue that the wording preserved by Saʿīd b. Manṣūr, remarkable in that it offers no provision for non-convert subjecthood by payment of the jizya poll-tax, is demonstrably the most primitive. Ibn Manṣūr’s version is likely to date to before Q 9:29, in which the requirement of jizya first appears, and is plausibly a genuine utterance of the Prophet. The compositional process of the tradition evinces the developing classification of subjugated peoples into convert-emigrants, convert non-emigrants and non-converts, and notable changes in their treatment by the state. The text furthermore calls into question our understanding of two legal precepts, the bayʿa aʿrābiyya, an oath of allegiance taken from non-emigrant converts, and the dhimma of God and His Messenger, a covenant of protection granted to certain subjects.


B-   Muslim Minorities IV: Muslim Identity in Minority Contexts


Chair: Mustafa Baig (University of Exeter)


Ayesha Khan (Cardiff University) Contemporary Sufism amongst the British Muslim youth

When Sufi traditions transfer across different contexts and localities, there is a struggle amongst many Muslims to pass down a tradition for subsequent generations to inherit. Research on contemporary Sufism has shown how traditional modes of tariqa are now changing to adapt to a modern global context, with distinctive styles of Sufism emerging since the twenty-first century. This has given rise to multi-tariqa Sufi conferences, post-tariqa Sufi movements and different individual articulations of Sufi practice and identity. In the earlier periods, Sufism in Britain was mostly practiced within specific communities and propagated by migrants from the Muslim world. These migrants maintained the Sufi traditions of their places of origin, including their association with Sufi tariqas. However, today young British Muslims are exploring Sufism in new and innovative ways. This paper examines how the interaction between transnational Sufism and the sociological environment in Britain have led to new Sufi expression.

In this paper, I argue the existing research is yet to explore several themes, which are key to understanding some of the contemporary Sufi manifestations in the UK. I discuss my ongoing ethnographic research on new Sufi expression amongst young British Muslims. The first study looks at my analysis of naat recitation on social media. As ‘Islamic music’ can be considered a form of paraliturgical worship, naat recitation is an oral and aural form of religious and spiritual practice. The second explores non-affiliated Sufism, based on participant observation at Rumi’s Cave. Non-affiliated Sufism is when religious people today either consume the internet or move between different Sufi-affiliated organisations, as a source of religious guidance and spiritual teaching, without necessarily observing the traditions of a particular group or sect.


Raihan Rosman (University of Aberdeen) Faith versus Identity in Leila Aboulela’s Minaret (2005)

The question of faith and identity generates huge interest in Muslims and non-Muslims in the UK. This paper aims to scrutinise the quest for identity and its relation to Islamic faith in Leila Aboulela’s novel Minaret (2005). This paper will explore the self-identification of the main character, Najwa. In particular it will consider the geographical setting – Sudan and London; the time setting between twentieth and 21st century; the relationship of hijab and faith; the symbol of the Mosque; and also the portrayal of Regent’s Park Mosque. Najwa’s identity will be observed as a transition from a secular Muslim in Sudan, to an ‘identity-less’ individual, to dual identities, then to a practicing Muslim in London. Rita Felski’s method of self-identification in the public sphere and inward knowledge will be used in analysing conceptual background. Another key image that will be investigated is the foregrounding image of the ‘mirror’ which occurs twice during peak periods of Najwa’s identity. In short, this paper will offer an exploration of faith and identity in the context of Minaret.


Emine Enise Yakar (University of Exeter) Identity Crisis: Muslim American Identity and the Solution of the Fiqh Council of North America

Immigration to the non-Muslim lands has brought many new issues in the realm of Islamic law. The increasing immigration to the United States after the 1980s resulted in a new identity that mainly composes of two main ingredients: Muslim and American identities. Especially, the following generation of the first immigrants has unexpectedly confronted the issue of identity crisis ensuing from the simultaneous belonging to American and Muslim identities. With the permanent settlement and acquirement of American citizenship, Muslim Americans have shouldered dual responsibilities and duties, as it is expected. These two types of responsibilities may be categorized under two titles: 1) American citizenship responsibilities come out of certain legal, moral, and social duties of American Muslims towards their homeland and 2) Muslim identity responsibilities arise out of the sense of belonging to the global Muslim community (umma).

Occasionally, the dual identity of Muslim Americans has resulted in clashes between the two categories of responsibilities, such as being loyal to the US (their homeland), serving in the American army in a war against a Muslim country, and participating in American political system. As a voluntarily established fatwā institution, the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA), that mainly consists of Muslim American integrationist scholars, tries to find Islamic legal solutions to that of American Muslims’ paradoxical predicaments. In light of three fatwās issued by the FCNA, this paper will analyze how the identity crises of Muslim Americans are resolved; which Islamic legal methodologies are predominantly deployed to obliterate the mundanely and religiously paradoxes of those Muslim Americans; and whether the preponderancy is given to the American identity or the Muslim identity by the FCNA.


C-   Borders and Influences in Islamic Theology and Sufism


Chair: Ayman Shihadeh (SOAS)


Kayhan Özaykal (Istanbul University) Al-Maturidi as Via Media in Theological-Ethics

The question of the relation between God and morality is an ongoing one in Western philosophy and Islamic thought. Divine command theory stands in opposition to the view that morality has an independent and objective existence. In the history of Islamic thought, the Mu‛tazilah claim revelation is merely the confirmation of morality as something originally determined by reason, while the Ashʿariyyah take revelation to constitute morality itself. Al-Maturidi presents a middle position via his idea of divine wisdom. This is defined by al-Maturidi both as ‘the hitting point’ (isabah) and as ‘setting each thing in its proper place’ (wad’u kulli shayin maudi‘anhu). The first indicates God is the Determiner of all things as the Creator of each thing in a certain time and place. The second indicates that this time and place, rather than any other, is exactly the one proper for those things. I want to show that this bipartite analysis explains how al-Maturidi brings together the two central terms of the Ash‛ari and Mu‛tazili theses. Al-Maturidi accepts the Mu‛tazili thesis that reason identifies right and wrong, good and bad, but also agrees with the Ash‛ari view that creation and reason is determined by God, protecting divine sovereignty.


Gregory Vandamme (Université Catholique de Louvain) Ādam and Muḥammad in the Correlative Prophetology of Ibn ʿArabī (d. 638/1240)

The figures of Ādam and Muḥammad share a number of common traits in Ibn ʿArabī's thought, starting by the preexistence of their respective natures, before the coming into being of humanity. Moreover, the two figures appear clearly intertwingled in his K. al-Isfār: "Each of them is respectively father and son one another". Nevertheless, we find also precious indications on their differentiation throughout the Futūḥāt Makkiyya and the Fuṣūṣ al-ḥikam, especially the qualification of Ādam's nature as fundamentally "dual", while Muḥammad's nature is described as "triple".

To understand Ibn ʿArabī's peculiar prophetology, we must start from the « correlative ontology » from which he draws his original epistemological principle, that considers the real as composed of always-moving relations in constant redefinition, rather than defined and stable beings. The prophets are indeed included in that ontological definition: from Ādam to Muḥammad, every prophet is defined in relation to its predecessors and successors, and above all to the "ḥaqīqa muḥammadiyya".

This paper aims at analyzing the different correlations that define the figures of Ādam and Muḥammad as they appear in Ibn ʿArabī's works. By approaching these two figures in a dynamic and interrelational manner, we intend to provide a more precise definition of these two prophetic figures in his thought, as well as a new perspective on his prophetology.


Elisheva Machlis (Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv University) Reevaluating Sectarianism in Light of Sufi Islam: The Case-Studies of the Naqshbandiyya and Qadiriyya in Syria and Iraq

In the course of Muslim history, Sufism with its emphasis on inner spirituality, succeeded in mitigating sectarian boundaries. Yet, in the transition to the modern era, Sufi orders became a prime target for the newly-emerged Salafi movement. Nevertheless, not only did this century witness the renewal of Sufi orders, but mysticism and theosophy actually gained ground in the Sunni center of al-Azhar and in the Shi‘i center of Qom, particularly since the 1980s.

The following study will explore the question of sectarianism through the prism of the Naqshbandiyya and Qadiriyya orders in Syria and Iraq, focusing on post-2003 developments. It will seek to evaluate to what extent did the historical role of Sufism as a bridging agent between Sunnis and Shi‘is succeed in remaining intact with the growing struggle over ethnic and sectarian identities. These two case-studies provide important examples to view this issue, due to the significant presence of both the Naqshbandiyya and Qadiriyya in Iraq and Syria. The current study will demonstrate that the complex interaction between religion, politics and ethnicity in Iraq and Syria, resulted in dynamic and perhaps even contradictory positions within these two orders in regards to their respective views on the question of sectarianism.


Saeko Yazaki (University of Glasgow) Is the universality of Sufism a Western creation?: Jewish Murshid Sam and Zen

In understanding Sufism in the West, several scholars have pointed out the impact of Western influence on its interpretation, especially in its emphasis on universal teaching. For example, Roy Jackson states that the notion of “Sufism as ‘universal’ is more of a Western creation than an inherently Islamic one”. This paper attempts to address this question through an analysis of the universal approach of Murshid Sam, one of the pioneers who promoted a trans-traditional mélange of cultures in the West.

Samuel L. Lewis, or Murshid Sam, was born in San Francisco in 1896 to Jewish parents. His spiritual approach was greatly inspired by Inayat Khan who was instrumental in spreading interest in Sufism to the West through teaching the universalism of Sufism and music. Despite his adoption of a Muslim identity, Sam never restricted himself to Sufism and actively pursued other paths, especially Zen, in his attempt to bridge the gap between the West and the East, as well as to encourage dialogue between Jews and Muslims.

The simultaneous existence of Eastern traditions in the West has facilitated a trans-traditional approach, although this has also led to an attempt to differentiate individual traditions, as many Sufi movements in the West now try to emphasise their Islamic roots. The followers of Sam do not take this general pattern and remain universalist in their conception. Using archival materials and fieldwork, this paper tries to analyse a universal approach of Sam, as well as to situate his teaching and legacy in the wider context of Sufism in the West.


 D-   Modern Muslim Thought I: Reformist Imperatives


Chair: Joshua Roose (Australian Catholic University)


Mehrdad Alipour (University of Exeter) Siraj al-Haqq Kugle and Exclusion of Bisexuality from Islamic Theology of Same-Sex Desires and Acts: A Critical Reflection

Although revisionist Muslim scholars and activists have developed a tolerant approach to homosexuality over the last two decades, they have avoided including the issue of bisexuality in their debates. Among them, Kugle explicitly addresses this issue in his book entitled “Homosexuality in Islam: Critical Reflection on Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Muslims.” He believes that the methodology and the types of political arguments he applies to argue for Islāmic acceptance of sexual diversity, in particular homosexuality, cannot be applied to the case of bisexuality. Moreover, establishing a Qur’ān-based argument, Kugle claims that, based on his understanding of the Qur’ān, Allāh not only does not condemn homosexuals but “observes them as part of a diverse creation,” whereas the Qur’ān does not have “any such positive acknowledgment of bisexual people.” This paper, however, shows that Kugle’s arguments cannot justifiably prove that Islām, in particular the Qur’ān, does not have positive outlook towards bisexuality. Unlike Kugle, this paper argues that if one accepts all the premises Kugle assumes for his Qur’ān-based argument, one can apply the same argument to support the acceptance of bisexuality. In addition, based on Islāmic teachings, the paper finally, as conclusion and further discussion, suggests that Allāh does love and accept all Muslims, regardless of their race, gender, colour and sexual orientation, and bisexual people are not exception.


Angus Slater (University of Wales Trinity St David) Horizonverschmeltzung: Gadamerian Discourse in the work of Khaled Abou El Fadl

While the work of Khlaed Abou El Fadl has attracted attention for his engagement with contemporary social issues and their relationship to classical forms of jurisprudence, the method by which he has developed this process has remained understudied.

An example of this is the contested relationship within his work to the canon of western postmodernist thought, particularly, as addressed in this paper, his understanding and use of the Gadamerian notion of the horizonverschmeltzung, in the delivery of social change through his broader, Islamically grounded, project.

While Abou El Fadl’s awareness and understanding of the insights of post-modern social theory is clear, his use of specific paradigms remains an aspect of his work that, for political and social reasons, has remained difficult to trace.

This paper aims to develop our appreciation and understanding of one particular deployment of post-modern social theory within the work of Khaled Abou El Fadl, tracing the way in which the horizonverschmeltzung occurs and operates within his work. This incorporates aspects of his recent work and his more theoretical works on the nature of gender.


Amal Ghazal (Simon Fraser University) Taqlidis, Islahis and Wahhabis: Islamic Theology and Regionalism

The historians’ focus on the different strands of liberal thought during the Nahda in the Eastern Mediterranean has been to the detriment of a conservative Taqlidi thought. The Taqlidis were Sufis battling both Islahis (Muslim modernist reformers) and Wahhabis. This paper first explains the epistemology of this Taqlidi thought and its sources as it positioned itself as the guardian of the Islamic tradition against both islahis and Wahhabis. Its main target was the Islahis whom Taqlidis described as both European-influenced and agents of Wahhabism bent on undermining Islam and destroying the Ottoman state. This paper argues that the debate was not only theological but also regional. The Taqlidis, while having wide support among Muslims across the Muslim world, were shaped by Ottoman politics. With Egypt autonomous, and Najd outside of Ottoman rule, the Taqlidis in Syria regarded themselves as the true and only defendants of the Ottoman state among Arabs, and whose survival depended on maintaining a traditionalist Islam upheld by Sufis. The Najdis, on the other hand, considered both conservatives and Islahis to be Muslims corrupted by modernization, exposure to Christianity, and cultural exchange while Najdis represented religious purity and an authentic Islam.


E-   Nonviolent Activism, Jihadism and Sectarianism


Chair: Daniel Lav (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)


Ferdinand Haberl (Institute of Oriental Studies) The Ideological Foundations and Present Implications of Jihadi Intelligence

Understanding the nature of jihadi movements has gained increasing importance after the Arab Spring and due to the emergence of the so-called Islamic State. Although jihadi military strategies are commonly debated, intelligence can be identified as an architectural cornerstone of significant relevance to a group’s structural integrity. Indeed, Jihadi groups commonly establish their own intelligence agencies and train their members in associated activities, ranging from espionage to counterintelligence. Although one can compare the modus operandi of groups like Al-Qaeda or ISIS with governmental intelligence agencies, ideological and religious aspects of this phenomenon must be considered. Al-Qaeda’s recruitment of informants or ISIS’ establishment of a surveillance state does not only have practical, military, strategic or tactical reasons - it also has a religious and ideological layer. Intelligence gathering, analysis, counterintelligence, espionage deterrence, recruitment or disinformation are influenced and justified by the actions and military management of the Prophet Muhammad and other historic Islamic role models. This legitimisation constitutes the fundamentals and starting point of a “jihadi intelligence culture“ and is of utmost importance in order to holistically study and comprehend this subculture, its intelligence methodologies, biases, concepts and the resulting implications. This research will thus enable an in-depth understanding of the meaning and present implications of Jihadi intelligence and the ideological and cultural origins of associated strategies.


Ayaka Kuroda (Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto) Reconsidering the debates over the application of sharia in contemporary Egypt: The community-based approach in Ṭāriq al-Bishrī’s politico-legal philosophy

The application of sharia became one of the most heated political issues in Egypt in the latter decades of the 20th century. Although it ceased to be discussed in the Egyptian political arena in the late 1980s, what the application of sharia means in the modern era remains unclear since Islamic law does not have a long history of codification. However, the intellectual aspects around the application of sharia have often been ignored in scholarship.

A retired judge, Ṭāriq al-Bishrī, is considered one of the most renowned moderate thinkers with Islamist tendencies in Egypt. This presentation attempts to locate his politico-legal thoughts in intellectual debates and the political process around the application of sharia in contemporary Egypt. Based on his professional knowledge of Egyptian legal history, he elaborates on how the community should avoid conflict over the application of sharia and produce a permanent interpretation. Looking at the ethical and social aspects of sharia rather than particular legislation, he affirms the consistent and vital role of sharia in society and implicitly opposes both the negation of sharia and the promotion of more monolithic legal Islamization, which makes him a distinctive scholar in modern Egypt.


Syed Ahmad Ali Shah (Institute of Western Frontier Region of China) Multi-level Shia Sunni Conflict and the Changing Dynamics of Sectarian Terrorism in Pakistan

This paper presents the findings of ethnographic fieldwork conducted in January and February 2017, in the Jhang district, which serves as the headquarters of the anti-Shia movement in Pakistan. I have found that there are multi-level factors involved in the Shia-Sunni conflict, i.e. local (clan disputes), national (sectarian political parties) and international (Saudi and Iranian support for the respective Sunni-Shia groups and Shia religious literature published by Iran), as well as religious. 5711 persons died and 11211 injured to date when the sectarian conflict turned violent by the formation of militant organizations from both sides. Sunni sectarian militants are now in alliance with al-Qaeda and ISIS. This paper argues that the implementation of National Action Plan (initiated in 2015) by just banning the names of sectarian outfits and declaring militant wings as terrorists and conducting a military operation in selected areas of the country is not working. Political wings of sectarian political parties start working with new names and militants move from operation targeted areas to the other parts of the country. Other social and political factors are enough to facilitate and create more space for them in society. The government should abandon selective approach towards sectarianism and curtail this conflict on every level.

F-   Islam and Science I: Muslims and Evolutionary Thought


Chair: Josef Linnhoff (University of Edinburgh)


Safaruk Chowdhury (The King Fahd Academy) Evil in the Biosphere: Towards an Islamic Evolutionary Theodicy

A number of seminal works have examined the subject matter of Islamic theodicy - how Muslim thinkers explain the existence of evil in the world. Very few, however, have analyzed these theodicies in relation to animals. Even fewer have attempted to explore theodicies within an evolutionary framework. Predation, pestilence and extinction are some of the means by which countless animals have suffered and thus constitute fresh challenges to the traditional concept of God’s justice. Given these challenges, I will in this paper tentatively propose an Islamic evolutionary theodicy (IET). This will involve firstly defining in general what theistic evolution is followed by what I take to be an Islamic theistic evolution (ITE). Secondly, it will involve outlining what an evolutionary theodicy is from the historical and current scientific, theological and philosophical literature and how that informs the core doctrines that constitutes my proposed Islamic evolutionary theodicy concluding with some possible objections.


Glen Moran (Newman University) Apes, Sheikhs and Darwin: the evolving construction of evolution amongst British Muslims

It is often assumed that Muslim perceptions of and attitudes to evolutionary science are informed predominantly by Islamic sources. In particular, there is often the view that mosques and Islamic centres form a key role in informing Muslim views. Yet little research has been conducted to support such assumptions. This paper explores the sources of influence in shaping their views of evolutionary science. It argues that for the majority of participants, evolutionary science was not mentioned within Muslim circles, be they mosques, Islamic centres, social or family groups.  Furthermore, the paper suggests that within British Muslim religious contexts, evolution and its repudiation, is not a significant aspect of group identity or knowledge production. Instead, the paper argues that wider societal influences, including mainstream media narratives play a bigger role in shaping Muslim views. Participants are often unable to recall how they were exposed to information about evolution. They often repeat the same claims about evolution, yet are unable to report where they heard them from. The paper will also explore the lack of importance given to evolution as a marker of ‘Islam’, as also found in Guhin’s comparative study of Muslim and Evangelical school children in the U.S.A.


Alper Bilgili (Acibadem University) A Turkish Dawkins? Celal Şengör on Science and Religion

This paper discusses the views on science and religion of the influential Turkish geologist and science populariser Celal Şengör. A foreign member of both the American National Academy of Sciences and the Russian Academy of Sciences, Şengör is a globally renowned geologist who has published 17 books and 243 articles on science −specifically on tectonics. He is also a well-known public figure and an ardent defender of scientism within Turkey. Like Richard Dawkins, Şengör believes that social sciences are of little value, and thus that societies ought look to natural sciences for guidance. Furthermore, Şengör blames religion −specifically Islam− for many social evils, having even asserted that Ottoman engineers were incapable of calculating the sum of the interior angles of a triangle due to their formative religious education. Despite similarities, Şengör differs from Dawkins and other ‘new atheists’ in some respects. Unlike Dawkins, who has said that he would prefer a non-Darwinian society to a Darwinian one, Şengör seems to take normative guidance from nature, having defended atrocities and human rights abuses by appeal to analogous behaviour in non-human animals. In one interview Şengör even argued that forcing people to eat faeces −as had happened in the early 1980s in some Turkish prisons− should not be considered torture due to such behaviour being exhibited by other primates. Given such uncompromising appeals to nature in his normative pronouncements, this paper focuses not only on the similarities between Şengör, Dawkins and other 'new atheists'; but also aims to underline how Şengör’s views differ from them. More importantly, it aims to contextualize Şengör’s views within socio-political discussion in Turkey.


11:00-11:30 Coffee/Tea


11:30-12:45            Plenary 3: Masooda Bano (University of Oxford): 'Islamic Knowledge and Societal Conditions: What Rational Choice Can Contribute to the Study of Islamic Education' (Chair: Sophie GIlliat-Ray)


12:45-13:45            Lunch


13:45-15:45 Panels Session 6


A-   Islamic Law VI: Aspects of Islamic Law and Legal Theory in the Classical and Post-Classical Periods


Chair: Mustafa Baig (University of Exeter)


Dale Correa (University of Texas at Austin) The Samarqandī Theological Turn in Legal Theory

[abstract not available]


Eva Kepplinger (Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg) The Impact of the maqāṣid-Thinking of Abū Isḥāq ash-Shāṭibī on the Maliki School of Law from 1400-1850 CE

The paper deals with the maqāṣid-thinking of Abū Isḥāq ash-Shāṭibī (d. 1388/790) and the reception of his contributions by later Maliki scholars. In his major work al-Muwāfaqāt, the Andalusian jurist defined the objectives of the sharī ͨa, which he considered ceaseless for any jurist to know for the correct formulation of the law. The modern conception assumes that no evidence can be found suggesting that ash-Shāṭibī‘s innovative concept was not received by later scholars, but rather that his contribution only experienced a renaissance due to the discovery of his work by Muslim reformers in the 19th/13th and 20th/14th centuries. The examination of the literature of Maliki scholars is expected to find out whether this current assumption is correct or not. The analysed work is the multi-volume fatwā-collection of cAlī b. cĪsā b. cAlī al-Ḥasanī al-cAlamī. Its investigation is supposed to reveal whether the legal opinions of ash-Shāṭibī were recorded by later scholars. Furthermore, it also holds interest whether ash-Shāṭibī´s maqāṣid-thinking was adoped by individual jurists. An analyses of the fatāwā proves that his views and thinking were indeed received. Therefore, based upon the current research finding the modern assumption is to be refused and corrected.


Mohammed Al Dhfar (University of Nottingham) Between the Sultan and the madhhabs: al-Subkī on the issue of insulting the Prophet

[abstract not available]


Aysegul Simsek (Marmara University) Limits of Obedience to the Ruler in Islamic Law (Hanafi Perspective)

Even though the obligation of obedience to the ruler was one of the presuppositions of Islamic political thought, the limits of this obedience was not exempt from discussion. There is a rich juristic debate on whether the obedience is unconditional, or its necessity is determined by the justness of the ruler. Among the four schools of law, I believe this question plays a particularly intriguing role within Hanafi school. On the one hand, early Hanafi scholars are known to be in good relations with the authority, and this might have resulted in a quietist approach as widely assumed by contemporary scholars. On the other hand, Hanafis have an undeniable interaction and a shared history with Mutezila, a school of thought that places great emphasis on the principle of enjoining the good and forbidding the evil (al-amr bi’l-ma‘ruf wal-nahy ‘anil-munkar). This principle may require not only the rejection of obedience to an unjust ruler, but also an active opposition to them. In my paper, I will trace the tension between the two contradictory obligations of obedience to the ruler and standing up against injustice in Hanafi texts. I will examine the variety of positions and possible shifts in different settings within this school.


B-   Modern Muslim Thought II: Controversies in Contemporary Islamist Thought


Chair: Salman Younas (University of Oxford)


Rezart Beka (Georgetown University) Fiqh al-Wāqiʿ and Its Discontents: Salafī Debates on the Role of Reality (al-Wāqiʿ) in Shariʾa

The rapid pace of modernization process that engulfed Saudi Arabia in the 1970s changed significantly the institutional arrangement, the moral compass and the social configuration of the Saudi society. Pervasive modernizing state policies led to the creation of entire new social spaces, classes and institutions that, in turn, enabled the formation of new subjectivities, private sensibilities and modes of inhabiting the social sphere. The modernization process was accompanied by tensions, contradictions, social disruptions and moral uncertainties that are still present within the Saudi society. A consequence of the impact of modernity in Saudi Arabia was the emergence in the 1980s of a new religious reformist group known as the Saudi Ṣaḥwa (Islamic awakening). On one hand, its advocates, the ṣaḥwīs, endorsed a rejectionist attitude towards Western modernity but, on the other hand, their articulation of the new religious discourse of change and reform was realized within the constraints of the new conditions and social spaces enabled by the Saudi western-style modernization process. Paradoxically, the ṣaḥwīs can be considered simultaneously as part of modernity and a reaction against it. Their distinctive feature was the call for an integrative view of tawḥīd through the re-enchantment of the socio-political life under the notion of tawḥīd al-ḥākimiyya (unity of sovereignty) and the establishment of a credible and socially relevant religious discourse based on the integration of the jurisprudence of reality (fiqh al-wāqiʿ) in the religious thinking.

In my paper, I intend to provide an analysis of the notion of fiqh al-wāqiʿ as it is presented in the writings of the saḥwī scholars Nāṣir al-ʿUmar (b.1952) and trace the subsequent intra-salafī debates on the validity of the notion. The assessment of the intra-salafī debates on fiqh al-wāqiʿ serves as a window for understanding the complexity and the inner dynamics of the Saudi religious field. The analysis intends to investigate the stakes in the debates on fiqh al-wāqiʿ and to highlight the modern conditions and the new subjectivities that rendered the debate intelligible. Tracing the salafi debates on reality (al-wāqiʿ) allows to comprehend the role that different understandings of the salafi manhaj, endorsed by contending actors in the debate, play in the criticism levelled against fiqh al-wāqiʿ by various salafī groups. In the paper, I argue that during the debate salafī scholars of various groups have found themselves compelled to clarify their position vis-à-vis this new religious conceptualization and in the process to accommodate and internalized it, to a certain degree, within their own particular religious approach. The opposing salafī groups tried to accommodate fiqh al-wāqi’ within their own methodology (manhaj) by problematizing the often simplistic and uncritical conceptualization of reality (al-wāqiʿ) of the saḥwīs and by taming the revolutionary elements of the saḥwī fiqh al-wāqiʿ by bringing it in line with the predominant salafī religious methodologies. Unlike the common understanding, salafī criticism of fiqh al-wāqi’ has not been limited only on scriptural grounds but it has included rational, social and ethical dimensions.


Khalid Aljifry (University of Birmingham) The Jurisprudence of Reality in Bin Bayyah's Thought

One of the major remits of Islamic jurisprudence is the legislation of mundane activities. This process requires an intricate awareness of social cultures, including how those cultures adjust and modify in differing contexts over time and place. Thus, traditional Islamic jurisprudence pragmatically has developed the concept of Taḥqīq al-Manāṭ that concerns with the practical application, and by which the uṣūlīs, as the those who frame law, and accordingly the lawmakers (the jurists), explore alternative forms of legislation to avoid potential contradictions, whether social, financial, or political, that may arise due to the application of theoretical legal rulings (aḥkām) without paying attention to the contextual reality. Bin Bayyah, a renowned contemporary traditionalist jurist, emphasizes this aspect of Islamic law and calls it “the jurisprudence of reality” that consistently formulates legal rulings and resolve contemporary problems, instead of, what he considers, creating difficulties by inappropriate legal perspectives that ignore the contextual reality. This paper investigates Bin Bayyah’s argument via four areas: the importance “the jurisprudence of reality”, the authenticity of “the jurisprudence of reality” in reference to the canonical legal texts and the companions’ legal proposition, the concept of Taḥqīq al-Manāṭ, and the practical mechanisms of Taḥqīq al-Manāṭ in the Uṣūlī methodology.


Usaama al-Azami (Markfield Institute of Higher Education) Wasatiyya in the Thought of Yusuf al-Qaradawi: Decontesting an Essentially Contested Concept

In this paper, I argue that the popular modern Islamic term “wasatiyya” is an example of what W. B. Gallie refers to as an “essentially contested concept”. As such, I concur with commentators in both the West and the Middle East that the concept is meaningless without detailed theorization and decontestation. I suggest that this is what Qaradawi does in his most substantive work on the subject of wasatiyya to date, Fiqh al-wasatiyya al-Islamiyya wa-l-tajdid: ma‘alim wa-manarat. Published in 2009, this work fleshes out what wasatiyya means for Qaradawi in his most comprehensive published treatment of the idea. This paper undertakes a study of his commentary on the “thirty principles of wasatiyya” that deepen our understanding of Qaradawi’s conception of Islam in modernity. The paper builds on Bettina Gräf’s 2007 essay on Qaradawi and wasatiyya. In contrast to Gräf, I argue that Qaradawi is successful in putting forward a relatively coherent conception of wasatiyya, thereby playing a dominant role in the modern contestations around the concept in Islamic discourse. However, this relative theoretical success appears to be undercut by the very practical challenges he and his supporters and sympathisers have faced in recent years in the post-Arab revolutionary context.


Josef Linnhoff (University of Edinburgh) The enduring legacy of ibn ‘Arabi (d. 1240): twentieth century Salafi debates over Sayyid Qutb’s (d. 1966) concept of ‘universal shari’a’ (shari‘a kawniyya)

Both ibn ‘Arabi (d. 1240) and Sayyid Qutb (d. 1966) are controversial and influential figures in Islamic studies. They are not often studied together. One is the major medieval Sufi mystic, the other a key ideologue of twentieth century Islamic revivalism.

This paper suggests an important, deeper connection between the two. We see this in Qutb’s notion of ‘universal sharia’ (al-shari‘yya al-kawniyya), as expressed throughout his Qur’anic commentary and in one chapter from his prison-manifesto, Milestones. That this bears deep imprints of ibn ‘Arabi’s controversial notion of ‘unity of being’ (wahdat al-wujūd) is noted in Arab scholarship on Qutb - the salafi hadith scholar al-Albāni (d. 1999), for example, dismisses Qutb on precisely these grounds. This is rebutted, not entirely convincingly, by Aḥmad ʻAbd al-Maqṣūd Al-ʻĀṣī. Crucially, Western scholarship overlooks this particular aspect of Qutb’s thought, also its reception in Arab scholarship.

This paper explores the contents of Qutb’s ‘universal sharia’, analyses the debate in Arab scholarship, and suggests we look deeper into Sayyid Qutb’s writings to appreciate the mystical underpinnings to his revivalist thought. Also, that we should look for traces of ibn ‘Arabi’s enduring (and enduringly controversial) legacy in some of the more unlikely areas of Islamic thought.


C-   Islam and Science II: Health and Ethics


Chair: Saeko Yazaki (University of Glasgow)


Sheikh Mohamad Farouq Abdul Fareez (Hamad Bin Khalifa University) Human Dignity in the Islamic Bioethical Discourse on HIV/AIDS

Debates on HIV/AIDS were not foreign to the Muslim world due to the fact that Muslim physicians and social workers were part of the global response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. The debates surrounding this disease revolve around its main cause and mode of transmission, which touches very sensitive social and ethical dimensions.

Available literature on Islam and HIV/AIDS shows that two main approaches dominate the contemporary discourse on this topic, namely the so-called moralist approach and the social justice-based approach. Proponents of the first approach argue that HIV/AIDS is a result of deviant sexual behavior and the pandemic is a sign of divine retribution. On the other hand, advocates of the second approach question the efficacy of addressing this pandemic exclusively as an issue of moral failure.  Solutions, they argue, should focus on more critical issues such as poverty, violence and stigma, which have severely affected the lives of the HIV/AIDS carriers.  In light of these discussions, the paper aims to give a critical analysis of the underpinnings and methods of reasoning used in the contemporary Islamic bioethical discourse on HIV/AIDS.  The key questions in this thesis read as following: How is the concept of “Human Dignity” approached in contemporary Islamic bioethical discourse? How is this concept approached within the context of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV)? Who are the main contributors to these deliberations and how do they come to their conclusion? What are the implications of these deliberations to the rights of PLHIV?


Joshua Roose (Australian Catholic University) Islam, Disability and Human Rights

In late 2016, the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities celebrated a decade since the adoption of its text by the United Nations General Assembly. Muslim majority states were amongst the first to sign the convention, which adopts a broad categorization of disability and aims to ‘promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity’. Yet despite the commitment of Muslim majority nations to the Convention, the relationship between Islam, disability and human rights, both in theory and practice, continues to remain poorly understood.

This paper, drawing on preliminary work for a project on Islam, Disability and Human Rights being developed by Roose (ACU), Amin (Cambridge), Stein (Harvard) and Hussein (Melbourne) will outline and explore a number of significant questions including how disability is understood in Muslim countries across the Middle East, Africa and Asia, how the CRPD universal discourse is localised/Islamised, how the discourse of disability and human rights interacts with the ideas of modernity and development in Muslim nations and challenges of implementing progressive disability rights schemes in Muslim majority nations.


Hadil Lababidi (University of Erlangen-Nuremberg) Muslim dementia patients as subjects of Islamic legal-ethical decision-making

With reaching older ages, the likelihood of developing senile dementia increases. While statements on the rights and religious duties of the Muslim elderly can be determined in the authoritative sources in Islam and in the Islamic tradition, numerous new questions arise in the light of the recent development of medical innovations. Notably, when physicians and family members must decide whether to perform certain medical interventions on dementia patients such as artificial nutrition despite the risk of inflammation ‒ a life-saving or life-threatening measure?

My aim is to enquire about how bioethics in Islam, in accordance with Islamic law and ethics, is understood and practiced on Muslim dementia patients. How do Islamic legal scholars, bioethicists and physicians evaluate ethical dilemmas? Which roles do bioethical principles in Islam such as maslaha mursala (public interest) play in their argumentation? Does pragmatic thinking prevail in their assessment or do they have an idealistic attitude? The sources of this project include contemporary fatwas (from the 1990s until today) in the Islamic world e.g. Egypt and Jordan.


D-   Qur’ānic Studies III: Transmission, Terms and Theorisation


Chair: Ian Netton (University of Exeter)


Bill Gent (University of Warwick) The significance of Qur’anic memorization and recitation in the context of New Literacy Studies

The central role of Qur’anic memorisation and literacy within educational thinking and practice is well attested throughout Islamic history. Within Muslim society, these practices carry enormous social capital as suggested by the honoured titles of hafiz and qari. And yet, though the skills of memorisation and recitation have been prized at different stages in western non-Muslim society – and was a strong feature of British and American state schooling until relatively recently – the current fashion is to down-play the role of memorisation and to refer to its practice in derogatory terms such as ‘rote-learning’ or learning ‘parrot-fashion’. `The underlying assumption is that memorisation is anachronistic, unsophisticated, outmoded and no longer necessary. It is not easy to explain the nature and purpose of Qur’anic memorisation and recitation to people who have bought into this (often unchallenged) mindset. Yet, in attempting to do so, help might be sought from the work of a number of scholars - such as Brian V Street and Andrey Rosowsky - within the field of New Literacy Studies with their perception that there are, in fact, many forms of literacy including ‘faith’ or ‘liturgical’ literacy. This paper will sketch out how this might be done.


Jona Fras (University of Edinburgh) Tuning In to God: Scripture and Authority in the Language of Islamic Advice Programmes on Jordanian Radio

Islamic advice programmes are a popular genre of talk radio programming in contemporary Jordan in which listeners call in to a radio station with questions regarding proper (Sunni) Muslim religious norms and behaviour on topics such as prayer, inheritance, and marriage and personal relationships. Through a close interpretive analysis of recordings and transcripts from fieldwork in Jordan in 2014-15, I demonstrate that the hosts of two such programmes, Fatāwa on Hayat FM and Irmi hammak on Radio Hala, use linguistic strategies to reinforce their authority as learned Islamic scholars. Quotation, prosody, and linguistic register all set apart scriptural discourse – primarily the Qur’an and ḥadīth literature – to construct an authoritative scholarly persona, further upheld dialogically by listeners’ questions and responses. Despite being ostensibly participatory and interactive, Jordanian Islamic advice programmes thus promote a classic conception of Islamic religious authority dispensed from learned individuals to lay believers, as well as limiting their audiences and participants to those who participate in and support such discourse in linguistic interaction. This demonstrates that details of language use deserve close attention in studying contemporary Muslim religious media, as they play a central role in the construction of religious publics and the authoritative discourse of religion.


15:45             Coffee/Tea and Departure