On December 17, 2014, Professor Abdulaziz Sachedina, IIIT Chair in Islamic Studies at George Mason University (Fairfax, VA) presented “The Need for Intra-Muslim Dialogue” at the IIIT headquarters. He prefaced his remarks by stating that this undertaking represents a “critical challenge” that must be based on certain presumptions: all participants should are entitled to equal respect and should not be judged, for only God knows a person’s inner life. Moreover, since no one alive today was an eye-witness to the events discussed in this centuries-long “historical debate,” all participants are obliged to approach it with “utter humility.”
On Thursday, December 4, 2014, the International Institute for Islamic Thought (IIIT) partnered with the Africa and Middle Eastern Division of the Library of Congress, Howard University and The Africa Society of the National Summit on Africa for a special commemoration entitled, “Ali A. Mazrui, The Man and His Works: A Tribute to the Legend.” The program, sponsored by IIIT, showcased the scholarship of Dr. Mazrui in addition to presenting an overview of his many achievements. It was held in the Library of Congress’ Mumford Room and began at 1:30 p.m., concluded at 5:15 p.m. and was followed by a reception.
Over 60 people filled Casadesus Hall in the Fine Arts Building on Saturday afternoon to celebrate Mazrui with professors from BU, Cornell University and Rutgers University. Mazrui’s five sons and others all spoke about the professor’s life and legacy.
While memorials are usually somber events, the memorial for Binghamton University professor and renowned scholar, Ali Mazrui, had the atmosphere of a family gathering, as guests shared stories of the man who left an indelible mark on the academic world.
On November 23, 2014, IIIT hosted a reception at the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) annual meeting in Washington, DC. Dr. Ermin Sinanović, Director of Research and Academic Programs – IIIT, presented a brief history of the IIIT to those attending, and discussed the many opportunities and activities offered by the Institute, including research grants, residential fellowships, the Summer Student Program held in Virginia along with similar programs in Turkey and Bosnia, the Summer Institute for Scholars, as well as the opportunity for publication of monographs through the IIIT Press and articles via one of its two peer-reviewed journals in Arabic and English.
On November 22, 2014, IIIT held the inaugural IIIT Special Lecture at the American Academy of Religion (AAR) annual meeting in San Diego, California. The lecture, entitled "Negotiating the Ethical in Islamic Law: Practices, Politics and Tradition," was delivered by Professor Ebrahim Moosa, Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Notre Dame.
On December 3, 2014, Dr. Mustafa Gökçek of Niagara University and IIIT Resident Fellow spoke on “Late Ottoman Discourses on Nationalism and Islam” at the IIIT headquarters in Herndon, VA. Opening with the line that “difficult times produce an excellent environment for providing new ideas,” he explained how the Young Turks sought to “legitimize nationalism within an Islamic discourse” to counteract Europe’s and Russia’s encouragement of ethnic- and religion-based nationalism.
On November 18, 2014, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, founder and board member, IIIT; leader of the Malaysian opposition; and former deputy prime minister of Malaysia, shared his “Reflections on the Aftermath of the Arab Spring” with the general public at the IIIT headquarters in Herndon, VA. Citing “O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Apostle and those in authority from among you” (Q. 4:59), Anwar attributed the Arab Spring uprising to the ruling elite’s view that the masses cannot protest whatever policies they decide to follow because they are, at least in their own minds, legitimate rulers.
The Fairfax Institute, a School of the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), held a course "From Ataturk to Erdogan: The Transformation of Turkey" taught by Dr. Mustafa Gökçek. Dr. Gökçek is a IIIT Resident Fellow and Associate Professor of History at Niagara University. Dr. Gökçek received his Ph.D in History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His dissertation focused on Muslim intellectuals from Russia who migrated to Istanbul in early twentieth century and actively engaged in the intellectual discussions on Islam and Turkish nationalism.
Prof. Jonathan Brown delivered a talk about his latest book, “Misquoting Muhammad: The Challenge and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet’s Legacy,” and engaged the audience in a very lively discussion about various issues covered in the book. The talk was held on Monday, November 3, 2014, and attended by close to fifty people.
On October 28, 2014, Dr. Jerusha Tanner Lamptey (assistant professor of Islam and ministry, Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York) presented the main question behind her latest book Never Wholly Other: A Muslima Theology of Religious Pluralism (Oxford University Press: 2014): “How does Islam depict the religious ‘other’?”
On October 16, 2014, Dr. Mucahit Bilici (assistant professor of sociology, John Jay College, City University of New York) reflected upon his latest book: Finding Mecca in America: How Islam Is Becoming an American Religion (University of Chicago Press: 2012). He began by recounting his fieldwork in Dearborn, which contains more than fifty mosques as well as the country’s largest Arab-American community.
It is with great sadness that IIIT mourns the passing away of our beloved brother, Professor Ali Mazrui on Sunday October 12, 2014 at his home in Binghamton, New York. After a long struggle with illness, he died peacefully surrounded by family and friends.
May Allah (SWT) shower him with mercy and forgiveness, reward him amply for his good deeds and enter him Paradise. Our deep condolences go to his beloved wife Pauline, to his children and grandchildren and to his colleagues and students all over the world.
The First IIIT Istanbul Summer School 2014, jointly organised with the Civilisation Studies Centre at Bahcesehir University, took place on 6‐20 September. The School is designed for Turkish and Central Asian graduate students majoring in Islamic studies, humanities and the social sciences with speakers including Turkish academics as well as scholars from across the world.
The first session of the IIIT Intellectual Panels at this year’s 51st annual ISNA convention, titled Reform of Education, was led by Dr. Abubaker Al-Shingieti’s introductory remarks on the need for reform in light of the difficult realities facing educational institutions in the Muslim world.
The IIIT Hospitality Suite at the ISNA Annual Convention was held on Saturday and Sunday August 30-31, 2014. There were a total of six sessions, four on Saturday and two on Sunday. The first session was on Reform of Education. Speakers included Prof. Ebrahim Moosa, Imam Zaid Shakir, Dr. Mahan Mirza, Dr. Ingrid Mattson and Dr. Ermin Sinanovic. The second session focused on the post Arab Spring Developments with Prof. Emad Shahin as speaker and Dr. Sinanovic as discussant.
The Fairfax Institute held a half-day seminar, “Campus Life and Muslim College Students,” on August 18, 2014. Featured lecturers included Professor Omid Safi (Duke University), Professor Jonathan Brown (Georgetown University) and Dr. Ermin Sinanovic (IIIT). The student panel included Omar Nassimi (George Mason University - GMU), Omama Altaleb, a student of GMU and founder of Layali Magazine, and Abrar Omeish (Yale University). Twenty-one students from freshman to seniors attended the seminar.
The AMSS UK organized a scholastic module for a group of IIUM High Achievers and SRC Members in London as part of the IIUM Global Leadership Training for students. The event took place 24‐25th august 2014 at Malaysia Hall in London.