CFP: Human Dignity in Islam Symposium, Sydney – July 16-17 2016

CALL FOR PAPERS

What would Prophet Muhammad do?

 

Exploring the Meaning & Application of

Human Dignity in Islam

International Roundtable Symposium, July 16th – 17th 2016

Imam Hasan Centre, Sydney, Australia

Synopsis

A great deal of scholarship in the West has emerged on the concept of human dignity in the fields of law, ethics and philosophy. The commonly cited influences of Immanuel Kant, human rights instruments after World War II and role of religious scripture have contributed to the modern understanding of human dignity – the innate self-worth, humanity and moral and rational agency of a human being. Others such as Macklin deem human dignity to be a “useless concept” meaning nothing more than personal autonomy (Macklin, R., “Dignity as a Useless Concept.” British Medical Journal 327. 2003, p.1419-1420).

Comparatively, modern Muslim scholarship on the meaning and application of human dignity is still sparse and many argue that “religious voices no longer carry much weight” in this discussion (Rae, S. B., and Cox, P. M., Bioethics: A Christian Approach in a Pluralistic Age. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans. 1999, p.2). Most Muslim scholars trace the concept of human dignity to various verses in the Qur’an and Prophetic narrations but is this methodological approach anachronistic? Are current attempts to construct a notion of human dignity from the Islamic tradition a Eurocentric reflection of the philosophical justifications used in Western scholarship? Apart from discussions of autonomy and constraint, is there anything original that the Islamic tradition can offer in formulating an understanding of human dignity? Ultimately, should human dignity be a bedrock principle in Muslim jurisprudential (fiqhi) and ethical (akhlaqi) discourses?

Whilst we cannot find all answers in history, we can certainly tap into some enduring visions and principles left by courageous figures such as Prophet Muhammad who the Qur’an describes as possessing a “great character” (68:4). He tirelessly worked to bring dignity to those who were treated as less than human such as slaves, women and the impoverished. With the negative political and media attention that paints Islam as a terrorist and inhumane religion, the symposium aims to frame the aforementioned questions within the transformative, merciful and daring spirit of Prophet Muhammad.

The symposium does not restrict discourses and models to be exclusively associated with Prophet Muhammad – it welcomes all types of knowledge-bases in a multi-disciplinary setting; rather it aims to set a viable historical context in which experts can discuss the issue of human dignity. The date of the symposium coincides with the month of Shawwal. This is the month in which the marriage between the Prophet and Lady Khadijah took place – a union based on showing deep compassion and humanity to the less fortunate in society.

Abstracts

Contributors are expected not just to provide a theoretical analysis of human dignity from the Islamic tradition but possible frameworks to solve current jurisprudential, ethical and philosophical problems. Combining seminary and university intellectual approaches in one’s presentation are encouraged.

Abstracts should be no more than 300 words coupled with a short biography. Those whose abstracts are accepted will be required to submit a paper of approximately 8,000 words before the symposium for a projected edited compilation. Contributors are free to select from the themes below or suggest their own ideas:

·         Human dignity in scriptural and spiritual discourses – lexicology, usage, Divine and Prophetic intent

·   Human dignity in philosophical and metaphysical discourses – origins, conceptions, the meaning of humanity, empowerment, constraint and existentialism

·         Human dignity in legal and jurisprudential discourses the treatment of religious denominations, non-Muslims, women, slaves and others; its relationship with human rights and contributions of current Muslim scholars

·         Human dignity in ethical discourses – its place in Muslim ethical literature and the need (or lack of) to create a discipline of usul al-akhlaq (principles of ethics)

·         Human dignity in bioethical discourses – application to bioethical issues – consent, autonomy, beginning of life & end-of-life care, genetic engineering, animal-human experimentations

·         Human dignity in historical and socio-political discourses – its role in early and later Muslim battles, modern terrorism and advancement of the state

·         Human dignity in comparative discourses – comparisons and critiques between Islamic, Western/Eastern or interreligious conceptions of dignity and Eurocentrism

Venue, Travel & Accommodation

The symposium will be held at the Imam Hasan Centre, located in Annangrove, Sydney which since its establishment in 2004 has been a place of religious worship, interfaith dialogue, community-building, academic workshops and lectures. More information about the centre can be found here: https://www.imamhasancentre.com.au/ A few places are reserved for early career researchers so graduate researchers in Australia are encouraged to submit abstracts. Monetary assistance for travel and accommodation may be requested and granted if available (particularly for those living in Australia). Information about call for papers can also be found here: https://www.imamhasancentre.com.au/conferences/

Submissions and Queries

·         Abstract submission date: March 20th 2016

·         Paper submission date: July 1st 2016

Abstracts and queries can be sent to Dr. Imranali Panjwani, Lecturer & Researcher at the Imam Hasan Centre, at: ipanjwani@hotmail.com. For further enquiries, please ring the Centre’s main number on: +61 2 9679 0855.