November 26, 2020, 1:30 PM EST (UTC -5).
Dr Florian Zemmin, Leipzig University, will speak on:
The Secular in Middle East and Islamicate History
Hosted on Zoom: https://mcgill.zoom.us/s/83909416415 Passcode 870227
The Keenan Chair of Interfaith Studies and the James McGill Professor of Islamic Philosophy are collaborating in a reflection on religion, Islam, and cosmopolitanism associated with McGill’s academic tradition of Islamic Studies, and epitomized by scholars such as Wilfred Cantwell Smith, Fazlur Rahman, and Toshihiko Izutsu. In preparation for the Keenan Conference on World Religions and Globalization, to be held in Montreal in Spring 2022, we are hosting an online lecture series titled ReOrienting the Global Study of Religion: History, Theory, and Society.
While the study of the Islamosphere has stimulated a critical reconceptualization of the notion of religion, we would like to extend this reflection to how religious concepts have been embedded in broader views of history and society, including the Western colonial construction of the “Middle East” as the cradle not just of Islam but of all Abrahamic religions. Some of the lectures will contribute to such reflections also through the foil of the interdisciplinary legacy of Ibn Khaldun, a champion of non-Western thought and precursor of social theory.
The second speaker in the series will be Florian Zemmin, Leipzig University. The title of the lecture, which will be followed by a Q&A, is The Secular in Middle East and Islamicate History. The lecture is based on a chapter that Dr Zemmin is contributing to The Oxford Handbook of the Sociology of the Middle East in course of publication (both online and in print) with Oxford University Press, edited by Armando Salvatore, Sari Hanafi, and Kieko Obuse. Sari Hanafi will serve as a discussant of the lecture.
Abstract: Islam is all too frequently regarded as the other of secular (Western) modernity. Sometimes this perception extends to Middle Eastern societies, for which Islam allegedly plays a constitutive role. However, secularity, the difference between religion and the secular, has been shaping modern societies in the Middle East too. Moreover, recent scholarship has highlighted patterns of secularity both within modern Islamic thought and in Islamicate history.
The lecture first establishes the factual secularity of modern Middle Eastern societies, focusing on the relation between religion and politics. Moving from structures to ideas, it then shows how modern Islamic thought conceptualized secularity. Examples from Islamicate history will make clear that secularity in the Middle East was not the exclusive product of colonial modernity, but drew also on earlier distinctions between religion and the secular.
Florian Zemmin is Senior Researcher at the Centre for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences “Multiple Secularities - Beyond the West, Beyond Modernities,” Leipzig University. He is the author of Modernity in Islamic Tradition. The Concept of ‘Society’ in the Journal al-Manar (Cairo, 1898–1940) (De Gruyter, 2018) and co-editor of Working with A Secular Age: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Charles Taylor's Master Narrative (De Gruyter, 2016) and Islam in der Moderne, Moderne im Islam. Eine Festschrift für Reinhard Schulze zum 65. Geburtstag (Brill, 2018).
- Birks Annual Lecture Series
- G. Campbell Wadsworth Lectures
- Islamic Encounters Lecture Series
- Miraly Pluralism Lecture Series
- Religion, Politics and Society Lecture Series
- ReOrienting the Global Study of Religion Lecture Series
- Seymour David Steinman Memorial Lecture Series
- South Asian Religions Distinguished Lectureship
Birks Annual Lecture Series
An annual series was established in 1950 through the generosity of the late William M. Birks. The lectures are given by distinguished visitors, usually in late September or early October. The first lecturer was the Right Reverend Leslie Hunter. More recent lecturers have included Huston Smith, Northrop Frye, Wilfred Cantwell Smith, Gregory Baum, Jurgen Moltmann, Robert McFee Brown, Krister Stendahl, James Barr, Charles J. Adams, John H. Hick, Jon Levenson, David Little, Azim Nanji, Paul Griffiths, Bernadette J. Brooten, Harvey G. Cox, John S. Hawley, Gabriel Vahanian, Oliver O'Donovan, Jan Assmann, Donald Lopez, Rémi Brague, David Fergusson, John J. Collins, David Shulman, Talal Asad, Robert L. Wilken, Jens Schroter and Rachel Fell McDermott.
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Faith and Society
G. Campbell Wadsworth Lectures
The G. Campbell Wadsworth memorial Lecture series was established in 1997 by the Estate of Dr. G. Campbell Wadsworth. A series of lectures on the life and works of John Calvin is organized on a bi-annual basis. The first G. Campbell Wadsworth memorial Lecture was presented by Professor Alan J. Torrance; the second, by Professor Colin Gunton; the third by Professor John Webster; the fourth by Professor Joan Lockwood O'Donovan.
Reverend Wadsworth was Minister of the Montreal West United Church for many years, a keen student of the history and doctrine of the Reformation, and an active member of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches.
Wadsworth Memorial Calvin Lecture by Dr. Richard Rex, September 9
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Wadsworth Memorial Calvin Lecture by Dr. Elsie McKee, March 21
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Wadsworth Memorial Calvin Lecture by Professor Bruce Gordon, February 15
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Public Lecture by Dr. Joan Lockwood O'Donovan, October 13
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Islamic Encounters Series
Repoliticizing the Silk Road: China in Islamic Political Thought Geographical Imagination, by Dr. Kaveh Hemmat, Benedictine University.
Women of the Empire from Zoroastrianism to Islam, by Dr. Fatemeh Sadeghi, McGill University.
The Problem of 'Human Natue' in Greek and Islamic Thought, by Dr. Michael Nafi, John Abbott College.
In the Aftermath of the Revolution: Islam, Translation, and the 'Outside', by Dr. Milad Odabaei, McGill University.
Dreaming at the Threshold of the Law: An Islamic Liturgy of of Healing, by Dr. Stefania Pandolfo, University of California, Berkeley.
Magic of Warlords: Imperial Occult Science in the Early Modern Persian Cosmopolis, by Dr. Matthew Melvin-Koushki, University of South Carolina.
Muslim Initiatives in International Interreligious Dialogue, Dr. Patrice Brodeur, Université de Montréal.
Islam, Science and the Gender of Reason, by Dr. Alireza Doostdar, University of Chicago.
Rethinking the Jewish-Muslim Past in the Twentieth Century Maghrib through music, by Dr. Christopher Silver, McGill University.
For Love of the Prophet: The Art of Islamic State-Making in Sudan, by Dr. Noah Salomon, Carleton College.
New perspectives on Christian philosophers in medieval Islamic Baghdad, by Dr. Damien Janos, Université de Montréal and Dr. Robert Wisnovsky, McGill University.
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Miraly Pluralism Lecture Series
Established in 2019 in support of a Lecture Series to explore issues of pluralism and diversity in secular societies. It will provide an opportunity for international scholar to engage in and develop studies and dialogue in Religious Studies and Arts, and may also draw on other disciplines, such as Law, Medicine, as appropriate in the thematic of a given year.
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ReOrienting the Global Study of Religion
November 26, 2020
01:30 PM Eastern Time (UTC-5)
Title: The Secular in Middle East and Islamicate History
Speaker: Florian Zemmin, University of Leipzig
January 7, 2021
01:30 PM Eastern Time (UTC-5)
Speaker: Dyala Hamzah, Université de Montréal
Title: Nineteenth-Century Sufis, Statesmen and Salafis on Ibn Khaldun
October 28, 2020
01:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Speaker: Fitzroy Morrissey, All Souls College, University of Oxford
Title: Ibn Khaldūn on Sufism: Mysticism through the Lens of History, Philosophy, and Law
The nature of Ibn Khaldun’s relationship to Sufism, the mystical dimension of Islam, is a complex and much-debated issue. The great North African historian and philosopher of history has variously been described as a critic of the Sufis, an admirer of Sufism, or even a Sufi himself. Through a close look at Ibn Khaldun’s discussion of Sufism in the Muqaddimah and other relevant sources, this talk aims to shed further light on the issue.
Placing Ibn Khaldun’s treatment of Sufism in the context of his wider intellectual project, we shall consider how his views on Sufism tie into his famous philosophy of history and other essential aspects of his thought. In this way, the talk aims to elucidate not only Ibn Khaldun’s relationship to mysticism, but also his thought more generally.
Fitzroy Morrissey is a Fellow of All Souls College, University of Oxford. A specialist in Sufism and Islamic intellectual history, he is the author of Sufism and the Perfect Human (Routledge, 2020) and Sufism and the Scriptures (I.B. Tauris, forthcoming).
Seymour David Steinman Memorial Lecture
Established in 2019, in memory of Seymour David Stienman, BA 1959, BCL 1964 to establish and annual lecture series. The annual Lectures will focus on comtemporary social and moral/ethical problems that fall within the intersection of the following disciplines and fields: religious studies, ethics, law, politics, and public policy.
The first lectures series took place in the Fall 2019, From Hate to Tolerance: The Prevention of Extremism, Violence, Anti-Semitism & Religious Discrimination.
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The South Asian Religions Distinguished Lectureship was established in 2009 to complement the strong undergraduate and graduate programs on South Asia in the School of Religious Studies at McGill, and to encourage public understanding of South Asian religions. It has been made possible through the generosity of Professor Robert Stevenson, Professor of Comparative Religion at McGill from 1966 to 1991.
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