The first session featured Dr. Abdullah Saeed, Professor of Islamic studies at the University of Melbourne, Australia, who addressed the issue of Apostasy laws in Muslim majority countries and the challenges they pose to religious freedom. Dr. Saeed analyzed apostasy laws that impose the death penalty on the apostate both from the perspective of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and on the basis of Islam’s primary sources; the Qur’an and the Sunna of the prophet. He concluded that there are no grounds, neither in the Qur’an itself or in the practice of the Prophet, for the killing of the apostate and called for the repeal of these laws in Muslim majority countries.
In the second session, Dr. Mahmoud Ayoub, Professor of Religion and Christian Muslim Relations at the
Hartford Seminary, provided a historical background for Iftaa and Fatwa in the Roman, Jewish, Christian and Muslim traditions.
The Summer Institute sessions will continue for ten days, concluding on July 20th. They include lectures by prominent scholars such as Professor Abdulaziz Sachedina, University of Virginia, who will speak on Islamic perspectives on bioethics; Professor Ebrahim Moosa, Duke University, who will speak on Iftaa and fatwa in an age of diversity, religious pluralism and democracy and Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf who will give a keynote speech on Friday 15th on Iftaa for Muslims living in western societies.
Some of the topics that will be addressed during the conference include:
Beside the lectures and paper presentations, two panels will be organized: one focusing on the “Future of Islamic Studies in American Universities”, sponsored by IIIT Council of Scholars, and featuring prominent scholars such as Professor Mumtaz Ahmad, President of the International Islamic University, Islamabad; and the other on the Fiqh Council of North America, with prominent members of the Council participating such as Dr. Muhammad Adam El Sheikh and Dr. Zainab Alwani.
A summary of proceedings of the Institute will be produced and distributed and an edited volume of selected papers will be published by IIIIT.