by JULIE POUCHER HARBIN, EDITOR, ISLAMiCOMMENTARY and TIRN with MBAYE LO on MAY 10, 2016:

Duke University Asian & Middle Eastern studies professor Mbayo Lo and University of Botswana theologian Muhammed Haron (a South African native) are the editors of a new book “Muslim Institutions of Higher Education in Postcolonial Africa” — published by Palgrave, Fall 2015.

The book’s authors include: Adnan A. Adikata (Islamic University in Uganda, Kampala, Uganda); Abdulmageed Ahmed (International University of Africa, Sudan); Chanfi Ahmed (Zentrum Moderner Orient, Germany); Ismail S. Gyagenda (Mercer University, Georgia); Moshood Mahmood Jimba (Kwara State University, Nigeria); Mamadou-Youry Sall  (Université Gaston Berger, Senegal); Hamza Mustafa Njozi, (Muslim University of Morogoro, Tanzania); Wardah M. Rajab-Gyagenda (Islamic University in Uganda); Ahmad K. Sengendo (Islamic University in Uganda); Adam Adebayo (Kogi State University, Nigeria); Alexander Thurston (Georgetown University); Adam Yousef Mousa (Republic of Chad); Roman Loimeier (University of Göttingen, Germany); Ousman Kobo (The Ohio State University).

The anthology, which grew out of *a workshop hosted by the Duke Islamic Studies Center in Fall 2013 on “Islamic Institutions of Higher Learning in Africa: Their History, Mission and Role in Regional Development,” examines, through case studies, the colonial discriminatory practices against Muslim education, and discusses the Islamic reform movement of the post-colonial experience.  (In the case of this book, Muslim institutions of higher learning refers to Islamic education at the university level.)

Haron wrote, in an essay published about the Duke workshop that brought together scholars and administrators: “Many Muslim institutions of higher learning have emerged on the African continent over the past few decades. These institutions have in one way or another made their contributions towards the societies and environments where they are situated. Despite the noble objectives of some that were set up, the objectives often have been unrealized as a result of a lack of financial and other resources. There have, however, been other institutions that have flourished and made invaluable inputs to their respective communities.”

In this written Q & A with ISLAMiCommentary, Professor Lo talks about the findings and conclusions of their book. Continue reading

ImamsOfTheWest

via MOHAMMED HASHAS on SEPTEMBER 19, 2014: 

LUISS Guido Carli University & John Cabot American University present the conference “Imams in Western Europe – Authority, Training, and Institutional Challenges” on November 5-7, 2014 in Rome, Italy. (Attendance is open and free but registration is required for space management (please write to Mohammed Hashas, hashasmohammed@gmail.com, or Niels Valdemar Vinding, lbm993@hum.ku.dk. A small amount of grants are available for doctoral students and postdoctoral researchers to help with accommodation. To apply for a grant, contact the conveners above.)

Conceptual Framework

The social facts of globalization, transnational migration and the various interpretations of secularism have challenged the visibility of religion in the public sphere in “Western” societies. This has most importantly and urgently required religious authorities to revisit their organization, governance and internal hierarchy, which link believers and their community to God. Islamic religious authority is no exception. All over the Islamic world and Europe, Islamic religious authority is still struggling to negotiate its place among the institutions of the modern state. The imamate is one of the institutions that is experiencing a shift in roles and functions in society amidst these institutions.

The religious affairs of the early Muslim community in Europe after WWII were hardly institutional, and consequently lacked state recognition and its support, as well as professional and trained Imams. Without formal prayer spaces, they were also poorly organized and officially “Imam-less.” Muslims themselves had either to choose a respected believer to become their leader of prayers or, afterwards, sought to import an Imam from their own village or city in the country of origin. Because the situation of religious education in the wider Islamic world was still in the making in the postcolonial era, these imported imams had either a conservative education and were not open to modern state institutions or to liberal multicultural society, or they were not trained as Imams at all, but were lay men who had learnt the Quran, or part of it, by heart at the madrassas (al massid or al kuttab), and not at modern schools or universities.

On arrival in Europe, these Imams faced considerable problems. They often lacked the mastery of the language of the host country, and mostly lacked the understanding of the place of religion in the public space, and the role of religious authority within the community of believers. Also, the economic difficulties of these early “guest-workers” contributed to making institutionalized religious training and schooling unthinkable. The international rise of political Islam, the flow of funds of the Muslim communities from the countries of origin (through embassies and international religious movements), and the internal increasing “fear of Islamism” and the “feel of Islamophobia” made the idea of home-grown Imams beyond the scope of policy-making and state institutions at first. However, terrorist attacks (9/11, 7/7, etc.), increasing state surveillance of Islamic religious affairs, as well as the Muslim community need for recognized religious authority in European societies have made the idea again thinkable.

The last decade witnessed a remarkable increase in debates over the necessity to ground European Islam on the European soil, and through state institutions. Islamic representatives and schools are building partnerships with prestigious universities in the UK, France, Germany, and the Netherlands, for co-designed religious curricula and for the training of home-grown imams and the establishment of a domestic religious authority.

Continue reading

by MUHAMMED HARON (UNIVERSITY OF BOTSWANA) for TIRN on FEBRUARY 11, 2014:

Muhammed Haron (left) and Gil Merkx
Muhammed Haron (left) and Gil Merkx

Many Muslim institutions of higher learning have emerged on the African continent over the past few decades. These institutions have in one way or another made their contributions towards the societies and environments where they are situated. Despite the noble objectives of some that were set up, the objectives often have been unrealized as a result of a lack of financial and other resources. There have, however, been other institutions that have flourished and made invaluable inputs to their respective communities.

It is hard to find a text that adequately covers these institutions, even in places where one might expect it, including in Paul Scrijver’s authoritative Bibliography of Islam in Sub-Saharan Africa (Leiden: E.J. Brill 2009),

So when Duke University’s Duke Islamic Studies Center (DISC) announced a workshop to discuss and engage scholars on “Islamic Institutions of Higher Learning in Africa: Their History, Mission and Role in Regional Development,” there were eager responses to participate in what may be regarded as an oft-neglected area of Islamic studies research. The Duke Islamic Studies Center and its Carnegie Corporation of New York-supported Transcultural Islam Project (to be explained in-depth later in this paper) offered an interesting platform for this exploratory workshop.

AfricaIslamGraphicThe workshop organizers, under the co-directorship of Duke professors Mbaye Lo and Bruce Hall, hosted a group of scholars who came from different parts of the continent (and elsewhere from the US and Europe) — scholars who have been evaluating these types of institutions’ status in the transnational Muslim arena.

The organizers were interested to know, inter alia, to what extent these institutions were involved in pursuing research, perpetuating traditional Muslim scholarship, and creatively contributing towards the society’s economic development.

With these noble aims and objectives in mind, let us offer an overview in this report of our two-day workshop at Duke University. (Other sponsors included the International Institute of Islamic Thought  (headquartered in Virginia); The Africa Initiative (Duke); Asian & Middle Eastern Studies (Duke); African & Afro-American Studies (Duke); Duke History Department; Duke Religion Department; Center for Muslim Life (Duke); Franklin Humanities Institute (Duke), Duke Center for International Development; The Kenan Institute for Ethics; Duke Divinity School; and Duke University Center for International Studies.)

Continue reading

Via SOCIOLOGY OF ISLAM LISTSERV on NOVEMBER 20, 2013:

The Berlin-based Forum Transregionale Studien invites scholars to apply for up to ten postdoctoral fellowships for the research program “Europe in the Middle East - the Middle East in Europe (EUME).”

Location: Berlin / Closing Date: 15 January 2014 Continue reading

via OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2013: 

Oxford Handbook of Islam and PoliticsOverview:

The Oxford Handbook of Islam and Politics (Oxford University Press, 2013)

  • Provides a comprehensive analysis of what we know and where we are in the study of political Islam
  • Includes over 40 essays from leading scholars in the field

Description:

Over the past three decades, scholars, government analysts and terrorism experts have examined the relationship between Islam and politics. But specialists have tended to limit their analysis to a specific country or focus. Few works have provided a geographically comprehensive, in-depth analysis. Since 9/11, another wave of literature on political Islam and global terrorism has appeared, much of it superficial and sensationalist. This situation underscores the need for a comprehensive, analytical, and in-depth examination of Islam and politics in the post-9/11 era and in an increasingly globalizing world. The Oxford Handbook of Islam and Politics, with contributions from prominent scholars and specialists, provides a comprehensive analysis of what we know and where we are in the study of political Islam. It enables scholars, students, and policymakers to understand the interaction of Islam and politics and the multiple and diverse roles of Islamic movements, as well as issues of authoritarianism and democratization, religious extremism and terrorism regionally and globally. Continue reading