Offering a tribute to the late Dr. Ismail Al-Faruqi, IIIT co-founder and co-founder of the Islam section in the AAR, Dr. Abubaker Al-Shingieti, IIIT Executive Director, and Dr. Ermin Sinanovic, Director of Research, expressed great pride in re-kindling a stronger IIIT presence at the AAR, reviving the historical link Dr. Al-Faruqi had established. Fittingly delivering the keynote speech, “Reflections on Political Islam: Concepts and Contexts,” was Dr. Al-Faruqi’s first PhD advisee, Georgetown University's Professor John Esposito.
An intellectual giant of his own, Professor Esposito shared anecdotes from his scholarly journey and personal experiences witnessing the evolution of political Islam movements. He emphasized the critical need to avoid ahistoric analysis of such movements and resist symptomatic treatments that have become a popular approach by Western governments, blind to their own roles and support that can give rise to undesired behaviors and violence. His speech spanned over 50 years of political history and American involvement in Muslim majority nations, beginning with the Iranian revolution. Referencing meetings he attended with government officials, panels he sat on at academic conferences and talks he delivered, Professor Esposito expressed a strong concern with the Deep State and concluded that while authoritarian regimes are strong, Western regimes are stronger.
Following his talk, Professor Esposito engaged several audience members in an energetic question and answer session and signed copies of his new book, Islam and Democracy after the Arab Spring, co-authored with Tamara Sonn and John Voll. Well attended with over 50 participants, many networked and mingled over refreshments both before and after the lecture. At the reception, Dr Al-Shingieti announced that following the suggestion of Professor Esposito, beginning next year, IIIT will confer an annual Best Dissertation in Islamic Studies award.