"What is Islam?: Conventional Views and Contemporary Perspectives" Conference

Wednesday, April 11, 2018 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Research Hall, Room 163

wiicoverIn the two years since its publication, the late Shahab Ahmed’s inquiry into What is Islam? has generated much needed debate across multiple fields related to the study of Islam. His erudite proposal has not only argued for consideration of Islam beyond dominant modes of study, but also beyond its presumed geographic confines to recognize, as he put it, the “Balkans to Bengal." The work's many merits and timely assertions have provoked multiple conferences and symposia.

The Ali Vural Ak Center for Global Islamic Studies would like to add to such efforts by convening a symposium on "What is Islam?" which furthers the inquiry to areas and issues Ahmed had not specifically addressed. Featuring scholars at work on Islam in Africa, the Indian Ocean, and Southeast Asia, this conference seeks to engage the work of those who work on Islams Ahmed does not explicitly consider, and thus help deepen and widen the question of "What is Islam?"



10:00am-1:00pm - Panel I – Chair: Maria Dakake (George Mason)                 

Asma Afsaruddin (Indiana University, Bloomington)

“Reconceptualizing the Military Jihad on the Basis of Non-Legal Literature”

 Robert Hefner (Boston University)

“The Plurality of Being Islamic: Indonesian Perspectives on the Balkans-to-Bengal Legacy” 

Ahmed Azfar Moin (University of Texas at Austin)

“Mahmud’s Sacrifice: How a Muslim Iconoclast Made Peace with Hindus” 

Shankar Nair (University of Virginia)

“What is Islam? Between ‘Complexity’ and ‘Contradiction’: The View from an Interreligious Edge”

Patricia Sloane-White (University of Delaware)

“Corporate Islam in Malaysia: The Corporation as a ‘Small Islamic State’”


2:00pm-5:00pm - Panel II – Chair: Sumaiya Hamdani (George Mason) 

Ahmad Atif Ahmad (University of California, Santa Barbara)

“What Kind of Project is ‘What is Islam?’” 

Iqbal Akhtar (Florida International University)

“Khoja Studies” 

Anna Bigelow (North Carolina State University)

“Materializing Islam: The Material Turn in Islamic Studies”                 

Justine Howe (Case Western Reserve University)

“Islam and Relationships: Reflections from Fieldwork in U.S. Muslim Communities” 

Scott Reese (Northern Arizona University)

“Graves, Demons, and the Alam al-Ghayb: Muslim Community and Unseen Agency in the Indian Ocean”