Istanbul: A three-day international conference commenced at Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim University (IZU) on Sunday with over 20 reputed speakers from around the globe participating.
Hosted and organized by the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) – a pioneering research center at IZU – the three-day international conference focuses on the “fault lines and perils facing Muslim societies”.
In his welcome address, Prof. Dr. Sami Al-Arian said that leading participating scholars will “engage in thoughtful discussions to appropriate answers to challenges the Muslim world is faced with.”
“There is a scholarly debate about the steep decline of power and wealth of Muslims countries,” Dr. Al-Arian said, noting the collapse of the Ottoman empire in the early twentieth century.
“Muslims have had to contend with great challenges with the rise of nation-states,” he said. He added that at the end of the conference “all scholars will come together and give their policy recommendations to solve the raging challenges of sectarianism, colonialism, nationalism, and secularism facing Muslim societies.”
In his welcome address, IZU rector, Prof. Dr. Mehmet Bulut, said that the establishment of CIGA was a “great” achievement for IZU, especially for its “unique engagement with scholars across the globe in the study of Islam.”
Dr Bulut observed that the problems faced by Muslims “are not easy to discuss and are harder to solve.” He referred to the shifting of the United States embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, saying it was breach of international law, and terming it as a brazen move.
Dr Bulut, who is a professor of Economics, said that Turkey is also facing “a fair share of problems,” identifying the recent decline of the Turkish Lira and “disruption of its economy.”
“These great challenges demand clear and immediate solutions,” he asserted.
In his address, Prof. Louay Safi of the College of Islamic Studies at Hamad Bin Khalifa University, Qatar, said that the Muslim world is going through tough times, but “there is hope and optimism.”
“This conference will try to clarify the bigger picture and address the issues for a better future of Muslims and humanity in general,” he concluded.
In the plenary sessions, Prof. Halil Berktay from Ibn Haldun University, Prof. Joseph Massad from Columbia University, and Prof. Farid Esack from the University of Johannesburg discussed “the legacy of colonialism, liberalism, and modernity.”