Tariq Ramadan to Speak at Muslim Social Scientists Conference

Posted: September 24, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Christopher Anzalone

With increased interest in Islam and its role in world and current events, the Center for Global Studies (CGS) and the Islamic Studies interdisciplinary minor program are cosponsoring the 33rd annual conference of the Association of Muslim Social Scientists (AMSS) on the Arlington Campus, today through Sunday.

The conference, chaired by Peter Mandaville, director of CGS, will focus on the theme “Revisioning Modernity: Challenges and Possibilities for Islam.” During the conference, 42 academic papers from graduate and doctoral students and Islamic Studies scholars will be presented. Nine different panels will focus on such topics as Qur’anic studies, Islamic feminism, Islam in the West, and the current situation in Iraq.

The keynote speaker on the second day of the conference is Tariq Ramadan, a widely renowned philosophy and Islamic studies scholar who has written extensively in several languages on his vision for a “Western” Islam, most recently in his acclaimed book, Western Muslims and the Future of Islam. Ramadan, a Swiss citizen and philosophy academic, spoke at George Mason last fall and was to take a position at the University of Notre Dame. However, on Aug. 24, the U.S. Department of State revoked Ramadan’s work visa, acting on a request by the Department of Homeland Security. He will still speak either by videoconference or a prerecorded video address, and Ramadan will participate in a live telephone conference afterwards.

With interest in Islamic and Middle East studies and the associated source languages such as Arabic and Farsi rising since Sept. 11, 2001, and with Islam’s increasing role in shaping major world events, the subject of the AMSS conference is all the more critical, says Mandaville. “Islam is an incredibly important world socio-religious force. It has been in the past and will continue to be in the future. Knowledge of Islam, its history, precepts, trends, and diversity is very low among the general non-Muslim audience,” he says. “I think conferences like this one, that focus on the future of Islam and on the diversity of perspectives within Islam, are incredibly important in terms of helping people have a more nuanced understanding of the religion itself.”

For more information on the AMSS conference, see the conference web site or contact Peter Mandaville at pmandavi@gmu.edu.

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