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Rooting Islam in America (April 2002 conference) web site

Muslim Students' Association - Yale College

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On-site registration is $5.00 with Yale ID for day/night program, free with Yale ID for night only program, courtesy of the Graduate and Professional Student Senate.

New location added: Harkness Auditorium, 333 Cedar St., Yale School of Medicine.

Papers to be presented available for download below.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

In conjunction with MSA National, the Muslim Students of Southern CT State University, and Yale Religious Ministries, the Muslim Students' Association at Yale College, and Masjid al-Islam of New Haven, CT invite you to participate in

Muhammad the Prophet (pbuh) in the Academy

a roundtable forum

Saturday, April 5th

The conference is designed to provide a broad framework to continually pursue a sophisticated understanding and discourse of issues pertinent to Muslims in America in light of prevailing realities. While focusing discussion around Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) this year, we aim to examine this and related issues against a backdrop of broader, more fundamental questions confronting Islam and other religions. Those considerations include the following:

1. What is the relationship between religious conviction and academic inquiry? What is an effective and legitimate articulation of the compatibility of faith and academia?
2. What is the nature of the Islamic intellectual and scientific tradition - its scope, intellectual rigor, and comparison with contemporary Western academic methods?
3. What is the relationship between "intellectual Islam" and the "rank and file" Muslim majority? Assuming there is access, how can access to academic/intellectual Islam empower or fail to serve this majority?

Background: It is important that Muslims gain a holistic picture and understanding of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) not just from disjointed ahadith and as someone who Muslims should kind of respect for what we think he must have done, but we must know him in an intimate and holistic way: from spirit to intellect. Muslims should be able to objectively discuss him and the tradition that he brought, through understanding his worldview and his actions, including the "difficult" or popularly criticized ones. Through this process of discovery and articulation, we can benefit by how to apply prophetic lessons to contemporary American life. This understanding in turn lends itself to a sophisticated discourse prime for intellectual and popular arenas like schools, universities and the media. Of utmost importance is that we pursue this endeavor proactively, by positively framing the discussion, setting the agenda, and determining the terms of debate to which we invite others to join.


  Speakers commenting on the following papers will include Dr. Sherman Jackson, Dr. Marcia Hermansen and Imam Zaid Shakir.

I. Historical Context of Hadith
Asma Afsaruddin (Download paper [WORD format])
Using the works of Jalal al-Din Suyuti and Ibn Hamza al-Husayni, Asfaruddin
discusses ways in which the historical context of certain ahadith affects their use as proof-texts in the theological and legal realms. The conclusions will have important implications for modernist reassessment of hadith literature in the contemporary period.

II. The Origin of Islam as a Social Movement
Ahmed Afzaal (Download paper [WORD format])
Afzaal argues that one authentic way of representing Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in modern academia is through an analysis and interpretation of his career as a social movement. While using the tools of modern social science, his representation remains loyal to the Islamic tradition. His concluding principles will be of practical consequence for social activists in general and Muslim (?) revivalists in particular.

III. A Beautiful Example? The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as a Model for Muslim Husbands
Kecia Ali (Download paper [WORD format])
Ali encourages a faithful and relevant approach to the Prophetic sunna by addressing the question: when is the Prophet's behavior exceptional, and when is it a 'beautiful example' for emulation?" Specifically, she explores the attempts of formative period jurists to determine the normative weight of the Prophet's (pbuh) marital practice.

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