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Controversial Islam

Session Chair: SherAli Tareen | Thursday, August 27, 1 :30-3 p.m. | Venue

Volodymyr Kochergin

Attitude Towards Islam in Contemporary Russian Orthodox Church

Analyzing the attitude of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) towards Islam and Muslims three types of sources can be identified. The first one comprises official documents, speeches and letters of the ROC officials – patriarchs, metropolitans, archbishops and others. The second type of sources consists of theological and popular prescriptive works about the attitude of the Orthodox Christians towards Islam. The third type of sources are the results of the interviews with the ROC believers about their attitude to Muslims and Islam. The paper comments on the examples of the first and second types of sources and explains methodological and practical problems connected with the third type.

Milena Uhlmann

Choosing Islam in contemporary Western Europe: Conversion to ,reflexive Islam‘ and alternation to Salafi Islam

My paper examines two different modes of change of a person‘s religious affiliation: conversion and alternation, as conceptualized by Richard V. Travisano. In his understanding, conversion entails a change of the convert‘s self-identity, whereas alternation signifies a change of roles. Changing one‘s self-identity requires reasoning and reflection. When going through a process of alternation, the individual will streamline his behavior to the demands of the collective identity of the new reference group. I will compare my concept of converts to ‘reflexive Islam’, who internalize the faith as a new system of belief in a process which leads to a broadening of their perspective and the strengthening of their self-identity as well as their self-esteem and agency with Salafi interpretations of Islam, where role-taking is of particular importance. This will include an analysis of their motifs and the social implications of their choice.

Chentu Dauda Nguvugher

"Istanbul" and "Jerusalems" in Jos: A Perspective of the Ethno-Religious Conflicts in Jos, Nigeria

The agitation for territorial expansion is a basic tenet of most missionary religions in the world. Christianity and Islam, the two most dominant and prominent religions in Nigeria, display this tendency as they try to dislodge each other in the city. While many scholars of the Jos conflicts have largely referred to historical, political and socio-economic factors, the expantionist motif has received little or no attention. The renaming of previously Christian section of Jos but now taken over and dominated by Muslims to “Istanbul” and other such labels as “Iran”, “Afghanistan” etc in other sections and so many so-called “Jerusalems” painted by Christians in previously popular Muslim areas demonstrate this expantionist tendency. Both groups are likely influenced by their histories and their desire for territorial expansion. Through relevant literature, interviews and discussions with Muslims and Christians in Jos and environs, this paper examines the motivation and implications for the renaming.

SherAli Tareen

When Does Innovation Becomes Heresy? Modern Muslim Contestations on the Boundaries of Heretical Innovation (bid‘a)

The late nineteenth century was a time of intense polemical activity for South Asian Islam. Under British colonialism, the anxiety of Muslim religious scholars (‘ulama’) over preserving the normative model (sunna) of the Prophet assumed an unprecedented urgency. These ideological rivalries were animated by a fundamental ethical question that has captured the imagination of Muslim thinkers for several centuries: what are the limits of innovation (bid‘a) to the normative model of the Prophet? Bid‘a refers to novel unsanctioned practices that oppose the prophetic norm. But what are those practices and how should that be decided is a question that generates tremendous controversy. In this paper, I examine intra-Muslim polemics over this critical ethical question in 19th century North India. More specifically, I focus on the polemics between the pioneers of two major Sunni reform movements/ideological orientations in South Asia; the Deobandis and the Barelvis


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