The CCI hosts regular seminars to provide a forum for researchers to share ideas and provoke interest in the study of Islam and public life in general, and in Africa in particular. We meet regularly, sometimes presenting work in progress, sometimes taking a more in-depth look at Islamic disciplines and theoretical approaches to Islam in society.
During the second half of 2009, we focused on competing approaches to Muslim publics. We examined the writings of Eickelman, Salvatore, Hirschkind, Mahmoud, Casanova and others.
Our seminars in the first half of 2010 focused on the idea of the public space in pre-modern Muslim societies. Looking at the texts of Islamic legal scholars such as al-Mawardi and Ibn Taymiyya, we asked what was meant by publics in those societies? What was the reach of religious values that was in principle expected of everyone? Was there a notion of the private assumed and acknowledged? How was this defined and in which specific social areas of life?
In the second half of 2010, we have been looking closely at the Phenomenology of Religion and its value for the study of Muslim publics. Without ignoring the political and social impact of Muslim publics, we have asked what religious significance there was in Muslim publics. Thus, examining some of Robinson's surveys of Islamic education, we attempt to identify some persistent features like orality, person-to-person transmission of a body of knowledge, and the nature of knowledge. How can we follow these features in modern schools, in Radio lessions and on the Internet?
In two separate one-day workshops, we examined the organization and application of Shariah in modern African contexts. Together with St. Paul's University in Limuru (Kenya), we organized a workshop on March 20, 2010, on Kadhi's courts in Kenya that have become contentious during the last ten years. See the news report on the meeting .
The CCI has also focused on the question of Muslim marriages in South Africa. The South African Constitution (1996) has enabled the recognition of cultural and religious marriages. To date, no such legislation has been passed. We asked speakers to address questions related to this situation. For a preliminary report on the very successful meeting, go to TayoBlog.
More recently, the CCI has attempted to explore the Boko Haram crisis in Northern Nigeria and the greater Lake Chad region. In 2012, the CCI revived its publication of The Annual Review of Islam in Africa, which has to date released a number of articles on this crisis. In addition to an attempt to make sense of Boko Haram, ARIA explores a number of aspects of Islam in a particularly African context.
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