On Friday, January 29th, 2010; IIIT organized the first lecture of its monthly lecture series for 2010. The guest speaker was Dr. Tony Sullivan, Senior Fellow for Mediterranean and Near East Programs at The Fund for American Studies, Washington, DC. Dr. Sullivan called for the revival of the Halaqa or the Circle of Tradition and Progress, a group of leading American and Muslim scholars/activists established in the mid 1990s for the purpose of erecting a new basis for intercultural dialogue.
Dr. Sullivan provided a background on the history of the Halaqa, the circumstances which surrounded its establishment, the intellectual challenges its originators sought to address and the objectives they sought to achieve. He spoke about the concepts of tradition, ideology, culture and religion in western thought and the centrality of religion to civilization. He pointed to the common grounds between the (true?) conservative tradition in the West and the Islamic paradigm and called for a genuine dialogue on the basis of these common grounds.
Dr. Sullivan contended that some of the obstacles to the Halaqa were logistical in nature, and mainly the lack of institutional support; but the major hurdle was the events of September 11th, 2001. The implications of these events, and particularly the political climate that ensued, made the continuation of any dialogue effort extremely difficult. He believes the current climate, particularly after the election of Barak Obama to the Presidency of the United States, is ripe for the revival of the Halaqa and the pursuit of its original agenda of establishing a basis for genuine intercultural dialogue, particularly between faith communities that constitute the Abrahamic family.
In the discussion that ensued, there was consensus on the need for restarting the Halaqa. Some of the scholars present who expressed support for the idea were: Professor Charles Butterworth, Dr. Bob Crane, Professor Sulayman Nyang, Dr. Imad ad Dean Ahmed, Dr. Mohammad Nimer, Dr. Imtiaz Yusuf, Dr. Hisham al Talib and Dr. Jamal Barzinji.If you have suggestions or comments, please write to Dr. Tony Sullivan (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Abubaker al Shingieti (email@example.com).
The Circle of Tradition and Purpose: A Statement Purpose