The occasion of Isra’ and Mi’raj was marked in Toronto last month by an international Seerah conference jointly convened by the Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought (ICIT) and the Islamic Centre of York region...
The occasion of Isra’ and Mi’raj was marked in Toronto last month by an international Seerah conference jointly convened by the Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought (ICIT) and the Islamic Centre of York region, of which ICIT Director Zafar Bangash is a senior member.
...the Islamic movement also needs similar forums to cultivate the intellectual work required for its success.
The conference was the latest of a series of conferences on the Seerah convened by the ICIT as part of its on-going Seerah Project, which aims to encourage the re-examination of the Seerah for lessons relevant to the contemporary Islamic movement and the historical situation we face. It consisted of papers presented by Zafar Bangash, on the need to re-examine elements in the Seerah literature; Professor Abolfadl Ezzati on the concept of prophethood in Islam; Dr Muzaffar Iqbal on two key moments in the Seerah, the Taif Accord and the Battle of Badr; and Imam Mohammed al-Asi on the centrality of Makkah in the Seerah and the lessons we can learn for our attitude to Makkah and its rulers today. The conference was chaired by the editor of Crescent International, which is affiliated with the ICIT, and attended by others working in similar areas and ordinary members of the local community who appreciate the exposure they regularly get to the global Islamic movement through the fact that Zafar Bangash happens to live in their community. As usual with such conferences, the discussions that took place among speakers and guests outside the formal proceedings were as important as the proceedings themselves.
Elsewhere in this issue of Crescent, Dr Muzaffar Iqbal highlights the role of conferences and other intellectual forums in promoting West-friendly versions of Islam in the Muslim world. Such events are, of course, well supported by the West-dominated establishments in Muslim countries, as well as by academic and other institutions in the West; Muslim intellectuals whose commitment is to the Islamic movement are systematically excluded once their loyalties become evident.
However, the Islamic movement also needs similar forums to cultivate the intellectual work required for its success. The ICIT conferences, like those convened by the Muslim Institute under the late Dr Kalim Siddiqui, play an important role; but far more is needed. Other forms of discourse need to be opened, and a far more regular interaction between Islamic movement intellectuals and activists facilitated. The Seerah is only one of many areas that need to be examined; Muslim history, political thought and strategies for change in the Muslim world are just as important, as is development of a better understanding of the West. The ICIT is committed to expanding its work as resources permit, insha’Allah; the emergence of a network through which the work of similar institutions around the world can be publicised, shared and debated is equally important.