Graduate Symposium

CIMS convention 2021 item 6: Graduate symposium

2nd-3rd October

The final session of the convention consisted of a ‘Graduate Symposium’, wherein young graduates from Al-Mahdi Institute (AMI) and The Markfield Institute for Higher Education (MIHE) presented a series of enlightening papers and benefitted from the subsequent discussions.

Summaries of the papers presented have been given below

Shaykh Ali Khaki

Shaykh Ali looked at the diversity within Shia islam from a twelver Shii lens. Whilst the presentation looks at Shia with a broad sense of the term, it should be noted that some of the subsects outlined wouldn’t be considered Shia in the traditional usage of the term. Of the sub-sects some would even be considered from the Ghulat (an sect which exaggerates the status of the Imams). Another phenomena also found within the development of Shiism is the doctrinal development over time which one could argue is held by current day mainstream twelver Shias. The presenter also looked at the diversity within twelver Shiism outlining the philosophical and political trends in brief.

Shaykh Zakaria Zaini (The Markfield Institute for Higher Education)

The Allowability to Emigrate to non-Muslim Countries

The presentation aimed to cover the question of whether Muslims are allowed to reside in non-Muslim majority countries under the condition of religious freedom. It encompassed an analysis of the major textual evidence on this topic, regardless of whether they argue for permissibility or prohibition. The focus is to engage with the seemingly contradictory arguments considering their authenticity, historical context and meaning, in the hope of coming close to, or advancing, the understanding of the religious opinion on the matter. Shaykh Zaini argued that emigration was mandatory under certain historical circumstances experienced by early companions, then it became advisory following the conquest of Mecca and the establishment of the religion.

Dr. Munzela Raza

Islamic Case-based Learning (iCBL) as a transformative and viable tool for Islamic education in the community setting

This paper will discuss the impact of the case method on three separate cohorts, all in the context of Islamic education. Although a very widely used tool in higher education, the use of the case method is rare in Islamic education, normally being superseded by a traditional didactic or instructive style of teaching, a feature that often extends across most age groups and even into specialised seminary learning. Retrospective observational analysis was conducted on three separate cohorts in the community who were exposed to the case methodology over a period of five years. Three separate areas of growth were seen in the cohorts in varying degrees.

  1. Personal growth and mentoring of the individual through the acquisition of key life skills such as critical analysis, public speaking, presentation skills and ability to collaborate with others.
  2. Increasing knowledge base of the individual in a wide variety of Islamic and non-Islamic disciplines.
  3. Triggers for community action following identification of critical societal issues.

Significant areas requiring greater engagement by community leaders were also frequently flagged up such as suppressed atheism, apostasy, child abuse, mental health and ethical practices of Muslims. Above all, the nature of the case method ensured cross-generational as well as cross-gender conversations on major neglected issues affecting Muslims in the UK, ultimately allowing participants to critically evaluate their faith in a safe space without judgement, develop key life skills and study Islam in context of the modern world and tackle major societal issues relevant not only to Muslims, but society as a whole.

Sayyid Wajee ul-Hasan Shah (Al-Mahdi Institute)

Averroes’ Defence of “Islamic” Philosophy

Averroes adopted a legal-centric epistemological framework in order to prove Philosophy as Islamic. The main focus was to demonstrate to what extent philosophy was Islamic using Averroes’ systematised framework from his legal treatise, Kitāb faṣl al-maqāl as a rebuttal to Muslim jurists who considered philosophy as anti-Islamic. Using Averroes’ legal treatise, Sayyid Wajee showed how Averroes employs the legal methodology and the principles adopted by Muslim jurists against them, highlighting the compatibility between philosophy and Islam. Moreover, Averroes’ grounds his assertions of philosophy as an Islamic endeavour by combining the technical jargon of the jurists with Qurʾānic passages as a way of conclusively affirming the concept of ‘Islamic philosophy’.

The presentation highlighted the negative attitude towards philosophy in the 12th century and this attitude persisting in the 21st century in certain Islamic institutions. Sayyid Wajee emphasised on Averroes premise that the study of law which is widely accepted by Muslim thinkers as an Islamic enterprise according to the jurists themselves, the same sentiment should be afforded to Muslim philosophers

Shaykh Yeamin Arafat (The Markfield Institute for Higher Education)

The generally perceived notion/purpose of ijtihād is to provide a solution where there is no direct text on a particular issue. Given that within the theories of Islamic law, it is a well-accepted fact that an ijtihād would not necessarily negate another ijtihād on the same issue, one may arrive at the question of sanctity in relation to the fatwas issued as a result of different ijtihāds being carried out. This study therefore looks at whether the body of fatwas issued are any less in their sacredness as a result of differences and variations in ijtihādi conclusions. The study will follow a textual analysis and its scope falls within the broad sphere of theology.

Shaykh Adam Ramadhan (Al-Mahdi Institute)

Disputes between classical Muslim theologians are often spoken of in very abstract terms. What is often forgotten, however, is the human relationship that would have existed between such theologians. Through the example of the Shīʿī Hishām b. al-Ḥakam and the Ibāḍī ʿAbdallāh b. Yazīd al-Fazārī, I demonstrate how two theologians with striking doctrinal differences nevertheless maintained a very strong friendship, as evidenced by the mention of this friendship in various genres of literature. Such a friendship serves as a prompt to rethink our assumptions about how classical Muslim theologians interacted with each other and as a precedent on which to base intra-Muslim interactions today.


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