Date: Saturday, 28th August 2021
Time: 9PM MYT || 9AM EST || 3PM CET
Mustafa Akyol, Writer & Journalist, Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute’s Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity
Osman Softić, Senior Research Fellow, Islamic Renaissance Front
Jointly organised by:
Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) & Islam and Liberty Network (ILN)
The Zoom link will be sent upon registration before 28th August 2021.
You are welcome to join the chat during the webinar. You can also send your questions in advance to [email protected]
The relationship between revelation and reason is without doubt one of the major epistemological issues faced by the Muslim world today. The tension between reason and revelation that is between human consideration of man’s own welfare in this life on one hand, and divine intervention and decree, on the other; has been consistently present ever since the advent of Islam itself.
Allegedly, it has been argued that a thousand years ago, there was an Islamic golden age of reason and science during the time of the Abbasids, when theology was dominated by the rationalist Mu’tazilites, and science was at its zenith. Unfortunately, his age of tolerance and creativity came to an abrupt end with the victory of the antirationalist Ash’arites theology over the Mu’tazilites. Thereafter the Muslim world regressed into a dogmatic slumber until today as evidenced by the miserable state of scientific enquiry in the Muslim world.
Muslim civilization has also experienced aging; and as part of the aging process, the relationship between revelation and reason has become the subject of controversy. The controversy is made worse when one discusses about the concept of freedom. Reason is considered as a dynamic faculty for thinking and seeking the truth, while freedom is the exercising the faculty of reason that is the freedom of thinking.
Freedom emerges as a collective contest with defining rules of its own. Obviously it improves with practice, and those who violate the defining rules of competition, or decide to withdraw from it, deprive themselves of benefitting from it. The whole equation becomes more complex when the most important development in the last century about tolerance, pluralism, and democratization are discussed. This is where the need for the exercise of reason became an imperative. It is a theme that is hotly debated, defined, and discussed by the diversity of voices.
Of course, the Western perception of Islam has been negative viewing it as an incorrigible and intolerant religion. But would it be possible to change the tide and to open up the Muslim minds? Instead of taking refuge in al-Ghazali, would Muslims be now willing to embrace Ibn Rushd (Averroes) who argued that religion should not be allowed to impose limits on the exercise of rational thought? The author will discuss and dissect his thought on these controversial issues on how Islam could fully embrace respect for science, reason, freedom, and tolerance during this webinar.
About the Speaker
Mustafa Akyol is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute’s Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity, where he focuses on the intersection of public policy, Islam, and modernity. Since 2013, he has also been a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times, covering politics and religion in the Muslim world. He is the author of Reopening Muslim Minds: A Return to Reason, Freedom, and Tolerance (2021), The Islamic Jesus: How the King of the Jews Became a Prophet of the Muslims (2017), and Islam without Extremes: A Muslim Case for Liberty (2011). The book Islam Without Extremes and the Malay translation Islam Tanpa Keekstreman were banned by the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Malaysia, only to be unbanned after a court challenge at the Court of Appeal later on. Akyol has a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in Ottoman history from the Boğaziçi University in Istanbul, Turkey. Throughout the past decade he gave regular lectures at the Nato Defense College and Acton University, in addition to many talks on campuses and public venues in the United States and around the world. In 2017, he was also a senior visiting fellow at the Freedom Project at Wellesley College.
900-905PM : Introduction by the Moderator, Osman Softic, Senior Research Fellow, Islamic Renaissance Front
905-945PM : Presentation by Mustafa Akyol
945-1025PM : Discussion
1025-1030PM : Concluding remarks by the Moderator, Osman Softić