Rethinking Islamic Reform

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26 May 2010, Oxford - USA

In the post 9/11 world, it has grown to be an axiomatic truth that Islam needs to reform. Whether it is Western policy-makers seeking to protect themselves from Muslim extremists, humanitarian activists fighting to liberate silenced Muslims, or Muslims themselves responding to new paradigms faced in the 21st century, all are agreed that something within the tradition of Islam needs to change. The question though, is what, and perhaps more pertinently, how?

Guest Speakers:

Shaykh Hamza Yusuf Hanson
Professor Tariq Ramadan

Rethinking Islamic Reform
Sheldonian Theatre
Wednesday 26th May 2010
Doors Open: 5.30 pm
Last Entry: 6pm


In the post 9/11 world, it has grown to be an axiomatic truth that Islam needs to reform. Whether it is Western policy-makers seeking to protect themselves from Muslim extremists, humanitarian activists fighting to liberate silenced Muslims, or Muslims themselves responding to new paradigms faced in the 21st century, all are agreed that something within the tradition of Islam needs to change. The question though, is what, and perhaps more pertinently, how?

The drive to reform has spurred many projects with diverging aims and often contradictory trajectories, yet the notion of reform itself, despite being one of the most oft-repeated, remains ill-defined. Indeed, some reform projects have been judged to be wholly inattentive, if not injurious, to the Muslim communities they claim to be serving. Most recently, a House of Commons' Committee highlighted the sensitivity of the issue, reporting that much of the effort towards reform has resulted in 'stigmatising' and 'potentially alienating' the Muslim community.

Considering widespread readiness to support Islamic reform, effective management and guidance must be provided to ensure the success of this pursuit. Thus, at this decisive historical juncture, it is crucial that voices which command the intellectual respect and trust of the Muslim public are engaged. Our two esteemed guest speakers, Hamza Yusuf and Tariq Ramadan, provide precisely that: the leading figures in this field, both are active and sensitive contributors to Western political discourse whilst being able to authoritatively communicate mainstream Islamic opinions to Western audiences.

Invitations for this event will extend to ministers, policy advisors, think tanks, journalists, theologians, scholars and other public figures with an interest in the field of Islamic Reform.

Drawing on the expertise of the speakers and that of the prospective audience, this instructive conference will therefore seek to clarify and answer: What is reform? What is legitimate reform? What are its spheres and remits? Why have reform movements been met with distrust and trepidation by the Muslim grass-roots? What roles, if any, should governments play in Islamic reform? What are the challenges they face?

Ultimately, this conference aims to address: What type of reform is needed, and how should this reform come into effect?

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