Asia east of Afghanistan, home of half the world’s Muslims, has experienced a huge variety of types of authority. Areas of Muslim majority have been ruled over by Muslims, both Sunni and Shia, by Hindus, Christians, Buddhists and communist atheists. Among the most interesting experiments in how to manage pluralism have been those of monarchs who were themselves Muslims and patrons of Islam. Sultan Akbar in India, and Sultan Agung in Java, sought their own creative syntheses to transcend the diversity of their subjects, among whom Indic mystical ideas and local spirit cults were deeply rooted. Only in Islamic Asia were female rulers explicitly preferred, at periods in the history of Aceh, Patani, the Maldives and Bhopal.
In the 50 years since independence came to post-colonial entities defined as nation-states, nationalism, Marxism, Islamism and liberal internationalism have contended for the support of Muslims, each with their own justifications in the Islamic tradition or logic. This conference will explore the ways in which Muslim thinkers and statesmen have justified, and do justify, the exercise of power in this complex and plural area. The aim will be a book based on some of these chapters.
How have plural populations been managed by Muslim rulers, and how has pluralism been justified?
How have Muslims justified or rejected non-Islamic rule?
What is the intellectual basis of Islamic communism, and of Islamic nationalism?
What explains the contemporary rise of Islamist ideas in the madrassahs?
What have been the arguments for and against democracy, and the rule of the most popular? And for and against the rights of minorities, whether Muslim or non-Muslim?
What is the difference, if any, between Islamic pluralism, or Civil Islam, and universal models of pluralism and civil society?
What are the pressures of globalisation on pluralist as against normative models of political development?
Those interested in presenting papers at this conference are urged to send an abstract of 250 words limit using the abstract form to Ms Shalini Chauhan at (e-mail address provided below) by November 30th. Funding will be available for selected graduate students, for Asia-based scholars, and to some extent to others presenting publishable papers.
Those participating will include:
Michael Gilsenan (NYU/ARI)
Anthony Reid (ARI)
Bassam Tibi (St Gallen/ARI) “Democracy and Pluralism in Islam”,
Bryan Turner (Cambridge/ARI), TBA
Greg Barton (Deakin/ARI), TBA
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