The Department of Islamic Thought and Civilization (DITC) organized an International Conference under the banner of UMT Idea Exchange 2011. The Conference was titled International Conference on Islamic Civilization – Potentials and Challenges. It consisted of 8 sessions including one session of Arabic papers. The first session of the Conference consisted of speeches by keynote speakers after the inaugural session of UMT Idea Exchange.
Dr S M Ghazanfar, Professor Emeritus, University of Idaho, USA, delivered his keynote address on “Civilization Links: Early Islam and Western Renaissance.” He said that many discourses clearly indicate that Muslim civilization played an important role in the rise and culmination of the movement of Renaissance in the West. He proved his point by citing Western authors and intellectuals admitting the role of texts of Arabs and Muslims during the Renaissance.
Dr Adnan Aslan, Professor of Philosophy at Istanbul 29 May University, Turkey, addressed “Religious pluralism in Islam.” He said that Islam has encouraged pluralism and history of the Muslim world is full of examples where we see Muslims, Christians, and Jews living together in an environment of harmony and peace. Even the spirit of Islam allows the atmosphere of plural societies.
Dr Abdul Hameed, Dean, School of Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH), concluded the discussion. He also gave the vote of thanks to both the keynote speakers. Dr Hasan Sohaib Murad, Rector UMT, presented the souvenirs to the session chair and both keynote speakers. This session was moderated by Shagufta Jabeen, Assistant Professor, Department of English Language and Literature, UMT.
The second session of the day was chaired by Dr Absar Ahmad, Former Head of the Department of Philosophy, University of the Punjab, Lahore. It was titled “Dynamics of Islamic Resurgence”. Dr Laszlo Csicsmann, Vice Dean, International Affairs, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute for International Studies, Corvinus University of Budapest, Hungary , presented his paper on “Islamist Movements at the Crossroads: The Choice between Ideology and Context Driven Approach to Politics: Case Study on the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordon”. His paper was based on his recent research and stay at Jordon.
The second paper was presented by Gillian Kennedy, a doctoral candidate in Middle Eastern Studies, Kings College London, UK. The topic of her presentation was based on “The Transformation of Egyptian Islamists: Genuine value pluralism or Democratic Window Dressing”. She also discussed the dynamics of the recent revolution in Egypt. The third presentation was by Dr Branislav Radeljic, Associate Lecturer at University of London. Dr Radeljic talked on “Islam in European Union: Key Issues & Debates”.
In his concluding remarks, Dr Absar appreciated the three presentations. He said that this was an excellent effort by non-Muslims to express their understanding of Islam. He encouraged dialogue to discern one’s self from others and create an atmosphere of harmony. The session ended with the distribution of souvenirs to paper presenters and the session chair.
There were two paper presentations in the third and final session of the day thst touched upon Muslim Intellectual Contribution. Zora Hesova, a Czech Republic National, presented her paper on “Scheler and Ghazali: Explorations of the Finality of Knowledge between East and West”. Her presentation was based on the exploration of the ways in which Islamic tradition in general and Islamic Philosophy in particular, contribute a constructive rethinking of modernity in a dialogue between Western and Islamic thought.
Dr Fraz Anjum, Assistant Professor at University of Punjab, Lahore, presented his paper on the topic of “Crisis of Muslim Civilization in Modern Times: Some Insights from Ibn-e-Khaldun’s Thought & Ideals”. His research was an attempt to understand and explain the crisis of Islamic Civilization with the help of the social analysis and critical ideas of Ibn-e-Khuldun. In his concluding remarks, Dr Noman-ul-Haq, appreciated both the presentations.
The first session on the final day of the Conference explored Muslim Cultural Heritage. There were 2 presentations, one in Arabic language and one in English, based on the theme of Islamic Architecture. Dr Spahic Omar, a Bosnian National and Assistant Professor at International Islamic University, spoke on Islamic Architecture and the Prospect of its Revival. The paper concluded that Islamic architecture embodies the message of Islam through its multidimensionality. It both facilitates the Muslim’s realization of Islamic purpose and its divine principles on earth, and promotes a lifestyle generated by such a philosophy and principles. Kamil Khan Mumtaz, famous architect of Pakistan and former Head of the Department of Architecture at National College of Arts, Lahore, delivered his concluding remarks on the paper. The second paper was in Arabic language and covered the distinctive features of Islamic Civilization. Dr Mazhar Moeen, Principal Oriental College, University of Punjab, and Dr Khaliq Dad, Head, Department of Arabic, University of Punjab, jointly concluded the session.
The second session of the day was based on the theme of Inter Civilizational Dialogue. Dr Naveed Yazdani, Director, School of Professional Advancement, presented his paper on “From Modernity to Postmodernity: A Historical Discourse on Western Civilization. He covered the historical paradigm of Modernity and Postmodernity. He also analyzed the behavior of Western Civilization in this context. Memoona Sajjad, (pen name of Maryam Sakeena) addressed on “Fraternity of Civilization: Prospects for Dialogue and Search for Common Thread”. She refuted the idea of the Clash of Civilizations and said that Islamic history is rich in narratives of pluralism, tolerance and peaceful co-existence with diverse communities. Muhammad Suheyl Umar, Director, Iqbal Academy, Lahore, concluded the session and said that role of Islamic tradition is most important in this postmodern age.
The third session of the day was titled Islamic Civilization: Emerging Issues and New Horizons. First presentation was a comparative study on religious pluralism based on the research of Dr Farooq Hassan, Assistant Professor at NED University of Engineering & Technology, Karachi. The topic of the research paper was “Pluralism in Islam: A Comparative Study with Western Pluralism”. Second presentation was a joint presentation by Dr Muhammad Iqbal Majooka and Habib Elahi Sahibzada from University of Hazara, Mansehra. Their research was on the “Resources of Muslim World: A Reflection on the Muslim World’s Resources, Their Development and Utilization”. The third presentation was delivered by a UMT faculty member in Department of Social Sciences, Nighat Noureen on the topic of “Islamic Globalization: An Urgent Need of the World”. Session Chair, Dr Syed Sultan Shah, Head, Department of Islamic Studies, GC University, Lahore, concluded the session.
The final and last session of the Conference was based on “Islam and Postmodernity”. Sabina Shah, Lecturer at Department of English Language and Literature at University of Hazara, presented her paper on "Cultural Invasion through Media War: Islamic Civilization and the Challenge of Post modernity". Her paper encompassed the notion of post-modern life in Islamic world. She emphasized that importance of mass media in the post-modern world is beyond any doubt. She was of the view that through mass media, the Occident is trying continuously to impose its sensibilities on the Oriental mind. Dr Muhammad Zaid Malik, Assistant Professor at International Islamic University; Islamabad expressed his views on the topic of Post-Modernity and Crisis of Muslim Identity. Dr Zafar Iqbal, Head Department of English Language and Literature, UMT, chaired and concluded the session.
At the end, Dr Muhammad Amin Saqid vote of thanks and announced the closing of the Conference. All the working sessions were followed by question and answer sessions and souvenir presentation.
The Conference was attended by research scholars, intellectuals, educators, enlightened members of the general public. The research papers read out during the conferecne focused on a wide range of issues confronting Muslim societies and deliberated upon ways to combat the social, political and economics challenges faced by them.