Dr. Sinanović explained that the theme was selected due to its relevancy in our contemporary times and to answer questions such as, “Is there such a thing as Islamic constitution?” and “How do we account for, accept, and institutionalize pluralism?” He also mentioned two distinguishing features of the IIIT Scholars’ Institute: the opportunity for in-depth deliberation and the social interaction which allows for the building of a community of scholars.
Dr. Abdulaziz Sachedina, Professor and IIIT Chair in Islamic Studies, George Mason University, delivered the Introductory Lecture in which he gave an overview of the expansive theme. In doing so, he touched on a variety of connected topics, such as the question of how to relate our Islamic beliefs and values to the new reality of nation-state, the sanctified right of the people to rise against unjust rulers, universalism in the Charter of Madinah, the role of ‘ulema in governance, and the constitution’s function in restraining the Sultan’s authority.
In the second half of the day, Dr. Asma Afsaruddin, Professor of Islamic Studies and Chairperson of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at Indiana University, Bloomington, and Dr. Muqtedar Khan, Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Delaware, shared a Special Panel titled, “Early Islam on Constitutions and Pluralism.”
The Scholars’ Institute will continue till the end of the week, with special lectures and panels along with paper presentations on related subject matter, including case studies of various countries. Each session includes two commentaries as well as ample time for discussion between scholars as well as students of the Summer Students Program who are part of the audience.