Islamabad: 09 March: Iqbal International Institute for Research & Dialogue (IRD) of the International Islamic University, Islamabad (IIUI) organized a two-day international conference on “Pakistan, South Asia and Muslim Societies” in collaboration with the American Council for the Study of Islamic Societies (ACSIS) and the South Asian Muslim Studies Association (SAMSA).
In inaugural ceremony of the conference on Tuesday here at Faisal Mosque Campus of the university, renowned scholars from abroad and all over the country read their research papers in three sessions. IIUI Rector Professor Fateh Muhammad Malik presided over the opening ceremony in which IIUI students from over 20 countries demonstrated their culture and traditional dresses on stage.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Mumtaz Ahmad, the IIUI President, said that to speak of the South Asian region alone would essentially be to speak of everything and nothing at the same time. The region is a treasure trove for a scholar – be it history, culture, religion, politics, the arts or the economy. This vast geographical expanse lends itself to a multitude of interpretations and analyses. He said as we seek to unravel the problems of Pakistan, we learn that its past, present and future are intrinsically linked with that of its wider regions, both South Asia and West Asia.
He said Prof. Malik has just published a wonderful short piece highlighting this unique configuration that constitutes Pakistan’s political and cultural identity. Even an exclusive focus on Pakistan is not sustainable through one particular prism, since all lenses shatter in the sheer diversity that these regions inhabit. He said Islam in this region can be looked at from many different perspectives, and this conference will strive to open up new avenues of thought and perspectives. As Prof. Fateh Muhammad Malik has clearly shown in his writings over the years, to draw arbitrary distinctions between literature, culture, politics, art and spiritual trends is to rob the rich tradition that expresses itself in South Asian Islam. Thus, the objective of the conference is to broaden the ways in which we view events and developments in Pakistan.
The impact of the September 11 attacks and the subsequent War on Terror also cannot be ignored in any discussion on Islam and Pakistan today. While the so-called War on Terror can be clearly seen on the political and military the press. Here is what I wrote to her: “Don’t give credence to ex-ambassador; they may not have succeeded in making the countries they served as dangerous as they wanted them to be. Come and I will buy you a rug from Peshawar.” She probably decided to buy the rug from a more peaceful country such as Afghanistan.
He said that this conference is about Pakistan & Islam in the context of South Asia and its neighbouring countries. Nevertheless, this conference is neither an exercise in regional studies nor is it a strictly religious gathering. As I look around me I see a gathering which is both truly comparative and interdisciplinary.
He further said that globalization is another major theme of this conference. The muslim world has come into direct contact with globalization and its pervasive effects. This interaction is not a one-sided one; while the Muslim world feels the transformative effects of globalizing pulls, the “global” is equally affected by the dynamism of the Muslim world. It would be, therefore, a grave error on our part of ignore the trends, nuances and dynamic forces of the Muslim world, especially unleashed by the “Arab Spring,” emergence of Turkey as a major Middle Eastern & Central Asian actor, and re-democratization of Pakistan. All theses development have important transformative effects on the global stage.
Globalization is a trend towards a world with more common ground, and while this might seem a distant utopia given the current problems we are faced with, the seeds of a world with more cooperation and understanding have been sown. The process is irreversible. It is initiatives such as this conference that seek to bridge the largely artificial gap between the Muslim world and the West in order to foster mutually beneficial relations and to participate in a common struggle for a more just World Order.
Dr. Grace Clark, of FC College University, Lahore, spoke on ‘Sliding Towards Religious Cleaning’.
Danish Faruqi spoke on ‘Spiritual Reformist Thought of the Amir Abd al-Qadir al-Jaza’iri’.
Theodore Wright, Prof. Emeritus of Political Science, in the State University of New York at Albany, spoke on ‘Indian Muslims and the Riot-Free Peace since 2002; How to Explain and What to Predict?’
Husnul Amin, PhD, spoke on ‘Preaching Non-Violence in a Conflict Situation: The Case of a Post-Islamist Public Intellectual – Dr. Farooq Khan’.
Dr. Safeer Awan, Student advisor (male), IIUI spoke on ‘Islamotopia versus Islamophobia: A comparative Study of Abu Bakr Naji’s The Management of Saaery, Anders breivik;s A European Declaration of Independence, and Abu Mus’ab al-Suri’s The Global Islamic Resistance Call’.
Nasir Jamal Khattak spoke on ‘Perceptin and “Perceptions: Shapping and Re-Shapping of Pashtun Identity’.
Nukhba Luna spoke on ‘Post-colonialism, Pakistan and the Muslim World’.
Charles Kennedy spoke on ‘Islaization of the Federal Shariat and RE-Discovery of Judicial Activism’.
Razia Sultana from Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad spoke on ‘Mainstreaming of women in the Pakhtun Society: Challenges and prospects’ and
Ejaz Akram spoke on ‘(Re) Imagining he (Trans) Nation of Pakistan: Normative Notions and Dreams of Pakistaniat’.
IIUI President said political Islam has of late become an issue of controversy. The reason being that much as it tries to raise the banner of a modern Islamic State, it has been unable to escape the inevitable collateral of the modern age, violence and aggression in the civil society. Since political llam or Islamism does not and cannot contain the diversity and plurality of thought within its limited scope, there are a number of alternative perspectives on how to bring reform.
This session, whose theme is Contested Perspectives on Political Islam: Violence and Reform, will address this issue. The chair for this session is Senator prof. Khurshid Ahmad. There will be a discussion session of around 45 minutes, towards the end and the participants are encouraged to raise questions and give their opinions.
Senator Mushahid Hussain said Muslim rulers have failed to maintain virtues of Islam, and Muslims should now work harder to face the truth. He praised Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy for winning the first Oscar Award in Pakistan.