Muslim Intellectual Farid Esack to Speak at Mason

Posted: November 22, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Christopher Anzalone

George Mason’s Center for Global Studies (CGS) and the Islamic Studies Program are sponsoring “The Meaning and Future of Progressive Islam,” a presentation and roundtable discussion to be led by internationally renowned Muslim scholar and intellectual Farid Esack. The program will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 29, at 7:30 p.m., in the Johnson Center’s Dewberry Hall on the Fairfax Campus.

Esack and other discussants will offer their views on the often-contentious issue of what “progressive” Islam is and what it means to the world today.

“This is the kind of event that makes Islamic Studies at George Mason unique,” says Sumaiya Hamdani, director of the Islamic Studies Program and an associate professor of history and art history.

“Unlike other programs that host activities that reflect the headlines and current events, we seek to provide opportunities to engage in discussions and dialogue about issues important within the global Muslim community. Progressive Islam has been characterized as a new movement within the Muslim community that seeks to provide an alternative to extremism on the one hand, and to more traditional forms of Islam that have failed to respond to conditions of modernity and postmodernity on the other.”

Esack, who was born in Cape Town, South Africa, received his undergraduate education in Islamic law and theology in Pakistan and PhD in Qur’anic studies from the University of Birmingham, UK. He has developed a reputation of being one of contemporary Islam’s most influential and passionate advocates for religious pluralism and the use of Islam’s strong concept of justice. He is currently a faculty member at the University of Hamburg and has held visiting professorships at the College of William & Mary and Ohio State University.

“Since the publication of his pioneering ‘Qur’an, Liberation and Pluralis’ in 1997, Farid Esack has been at the forefront of an intellectual movement seeking to emphasize the emancipatory dimensions of Islam, almost in the vein of the Catholic liberation theology movement,” says Peter Mandaville, CGS director and an associate professor of public and international affairs.

“His talk at George Mason will be of interest not only to Muslims who want to learn more about or ask questions about the Progressive Islam movement, but also to anyone with an interest in the linkages of faith and social activism.”

For more information on Esack, see his web site.

For more information on the roundtable, contact CGS at 703-993-4625.

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