2010 Annual Meeting
Islamic Ethics and the “Other”
Friday, Jan. 8, 4:00-5:30pm
Convenor: Sohail Hashmi, Mt. Holyoke College
“What is Islamic Religious Pluralism?: Identifying Soteriological Boundaries and Exploring Ethical Implications”
Mohammad Hassan Khalil, University of Illinois
Recent decades have witnessed intensifying discussions among Muslim thinkers regarding the fate of Others. This has given way to a unique debate, particularly evident in the context of Western scholarship, which pits inclusivists against pluralists. In the present study I identify some of the most influential modes of soteriological pluralism in contemporary Muslim discourse. I shall begin by examining the soteriological views of two seminal scholars whose writings are often employed in contemporary pluralist works, Muhyī al-Dīn Ibn al-‘Arabī (d. 638/1240) and Muhammad Rashīd Ridā (d. 1935). In doing so, I shall highlight critical soteriological differences between these scholars and their pluralist supporters today.
“Islamic Legal Theory and the Legitimacy of Secular Positive Law: Is Modern Religious Freedom Sufficient for the Shari‘a ‘Purpose’ [Maqasid] of ‘Preserving Religion’ [Hifz al-din]?”
Andrew F. March, Yale University
Perhaps the most popular trend in contemporary Islamic legal and political thought is to view shari‘a as embodied not primarily in specific rules nor in terms of a painstaking, thorough extraction of those rules from the revelatory texts according to the methods of classical legal theory (usul al-fiqh), but rather as defined in terms of the overall “purposes” (maqasid) for which God revealed the law. The purpose of this paper is to examine some treatments of the meaning and extension of the Islamic legal purpose of protecting religion (hifz al-din), with an eye towards Islamic legal theorists’ explicit or implicit encounter with modern liberal and secularist understandings of what it means to “protect religion.”
“Al-Ghazali on Humility: Virtue, Reason, and Interreligious Dialogue”
Jamie Schillinger, St. Olaf College
Perhaps due to the growth of interaction between diverse individuals and the conflicts this makes possible, humility is increasingly a virtue of interest to Western secular ethicists; but the virtue has roots in religious traditions, including Islam, that are often ignored by philosophical ethicists. In this paper, three goals are pursued: I offer an interpretation of the virtue of humility (tawadu‘) in the thought of Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, I defend that accounts’ plausibility for contemporary Islamic and philosophical ethics, and I consider how the virtue might be put to work in contemporary interreligious dialogue.
Muslim Ethics: Tradition, Reform, and Resistance
Saturday, Jan. 9, 9:00-10:30 am
Convenor: Jamie Schillinger, St. Olaf College
“Constructing Muslim Subjects with Liberal Illogics: Tehran as ‘The Unlikely Sex Change Capital of the World'”
Elizabeth M. Bucar, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
In this paper I seek to analyze what our surprise and discomfort at the status of sexual reassignment surgery (SRS) in Tehran can tell us about pervasive assumptions related to 1) Muslims as moral subjects, and 2) the meanings of sexual freedom. I focus on journalistic rhetoric to highlight how Iranians, as Muslim subjects, are constructed as always sexually repressed based on certain liberal norms that have become “commonsensical.” Specifically, I argue the media construction of Tehran as the “unlikely sex change capital of the world” depends on the success of human rights discourse (specifically the LGBT rights model) at establishing a form of homonormativity.
“The Ethics of Marital Discipline in Pre-modern Qur’anic Exegesis”
Ayesha S. Chaudhry, Colgate University
In 2007, a German judge denied an expedited divorce to a German-Moroccan woman who was physically abused by her husband on the basis of the judge’s interpretation of Qur’an 4:34. This case underscored the centrality of male authority and domestic violence as the present nexus of the discussions in gender and Islam. This paper takes male authority in marriage and domestic violence in Qur’anic exegesis as the focus of its study. The various approaches adopted within the pre-modern disciplines of Qur’anic exegesis are examined in order to consider whether the scholars in this field of study used the tools at their disposal to expand or restrict male/female power in marriage.
“Neo-Mu’tazilism and the Reform Project”
Nadia Mohamed Nader, University of California, Santa Barbara
In 833, the theological controversy between traditional ulema (usually referred to as Sunni Hanbalis) and rationalist theologians (usually referred to as Mu‘tazilis) over the createdness of the Qur’an was institutionalized by the Abbasid state into an organized procedure known as the Mihna. My paper demonstrates how dogmatic theology impacted the development of Islamic legal institutions and doctrines, and how this development impacted Muslims’ normative system of belief and their understanding of the ethical foundation of Islamic law.
Roundtable Discussion: Teaching Muslim Ethics in American Higher Education
Saturday, Jan. 9, 2:00-3:30pm
Convenor: Irene Oh, George Washington University
Marianne Farina, Graduate Theological Union
Sohail Hashmi, Mt. Holyoke College
Simeon Ilesanmi, Wake Forest University
SSME Business Meeting
Sunday, Jan. 10, 9:00-10:30am