13 and 14 October 2022 – International Conference ‘Faces of Islam: Of Tolerance and Coercion’

13 - 14 October 2022

On October 13 and 14 we will have a two-day international conference with many inspiring speakers.

Islam is shaped by a solid intellectual tradition in which various debates and discussions have been conducted about doctrinal concepts, the nature of the Sharīʿa, and its applicability to society, the concepts of belief (īmān) and unbelief (kufr), thorny questions about the doctrine of Resurrection and the existence of heaven and hell, and whether one’s piety should be based on the fear of God or on the passionate love of God.

Islamic mysticism, usually called Sufism, is an indispensable part of Islam which has enabled Muslims to reflect critically on the holiest laws and tenets of Islam, questioning the piety and sincerity of religious divines (ʿulamāʾ), jurists, theologians and preachers, offering an alternative religious system in which an individual can commune with God. The mystical dimensions of Islam existed already during the time of the Prophet Muḥammad and mystics link their genealogy to the Prophet. In the early Islamic period ascetic movements emerged, reacting to the luxurious lives of Muslims, questioning what true Islam and a true Muslim are. Asceticism was a demonstrative rejection of what the ascetics considered to be a corrupt society, and a way to protect their own piety from the dangers of hypocrisy by attracting “blame” (malāma). Convinced that blame had a positive and purifying effect on one’s piety, they concealed their religiosity. From the 12th century onwards these ideas were disseminated by the qalandars, who spread over a vast area from the Indian subcontinent to the Balkans.

Next to ascetics, several other movements such as Khurramiyya (or Khurramdīnīya, “Joyful Religion”) and Shuʿūbiyya emerged from the 9th/10th century. Some movements such as the Karrāmiyya and Malāmatiyya were non-conformists, reacting to doctrinal issues on Islam, opening a new intellectual dimension to the nature of religion, faith and God. This conference aims to discuss various subjects linked to Islamic antinomianism, examining how non-conformist mystics internalised almost all aspects of Islamic life, interpreting them in different ways. For these mystics, the Quran and ḥadīth possess a secret spiritual meaning (bāṭin), giving readers an alternative to the literal prescriptions.

It would be great to welcome you at our conference! Admission is free. Please register (seats are limited) by sending an email to d.farhosh-vanloon@uu.nl. To see the full programme click here.

Amir Khusrau Dihlavi, “A Muslim Pilgrim Learns a Lesson in Piety from a Brahman”, Folio from a Khamsa (Quintet) of Amir Khusrau Dihlavi, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (metmuseum.org)