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CSIASC Report Summary

Project ID: 337108
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: United Kingdom

Mid-Term Report Summary - CSIASC (Changing Structures of Islamic Authority and Consequences for Social Change: A Transnational Review)

Changing Structures of Islamic Authority and Consequences for Social Change: A Transnational Review (CSIASC) has a two fold focus: one, to map how responsive are the most influential Islamic scholarly platforms, who define for the devout Muslims how to live their Islam, to demands of the changing societal context; two, given the pluralistic Islamic debates, how do followers choose one Islamic authority over another.

The project had identified four major centers of learning in the Muslim majority countries, which have global reach: al-Azhar mosque and university network in Egypt, Saudi Salafism, Deoband movement from South Asia, and Diyant (Turkish Presidency of Religious Affairs). In the West, the project had identified another six new Islamic scholarly platforms that are arguing for reform within the Islamic thought and are proving very effective in attracting young educated Muslims. The focus was on understanding the conceptual and methodological tools scholars within these competing institutions are evolving to make Islamic legal and moral framework responsive to contemporary social realities. Equally, important part of the project is to examine how young Muslims especially in the West choose to follow one Islamic authority over an other given that it has direct bearing on the real life decisions they make.

In the first two and a half year, the team has produced two volumes addressing the first analytical focus of the project.

Volume 1, Islamic Law and Social Change: Evolving Debates in the Muslim Majority Countries, analyses the conceptual and methodological debates on going within four most influential Islamic scholarly platforms in the Muslim majority countries which have following among Sunni Muslims around the globe. While mapping the actual Islamic fiqh (law) debates to analyze how the scholars adjust the Islamic moral and legal dictates to demands of modern time, the volumes also map the historical and the contemporary socio-political context that shapes each institution's approach to reform.

Volume 2, Islamic Law and Social Change: Evolving Debates in the West, maps six important new Islamic scholarly platforms emerging in the West, that are gaining followers especially among young educated Muslims. These initiatives are led by dynamic scholars, who are raised in the West. The Volume maps the conceptual and methodological tools these scholars are adopting to reconcile Islamic moral and legal dictates with modern Western reality, so that the young Muslims can be proud of their Islamic identity yet also be proud citizens of their countries.

In addition, the PI has also completed a single authored monograph which has been accepted by Cambridge University Press: Female Islamic Education Movements: The Re-Democratization of Islamic Knowledge. This monograph specially looks at the female Islamic education movements that have emerged across the Muslim world since 1970s and their relationship with the new Islamic intellectual reforms movements covered in Volume 2. The volume is under production and is expected to be available towards the end of 2017 or early 2018.

In addition, the project has been hosting workshops, seminars and conferences to share the research findings and get feedback on the on going research. The Project PI has also briefed at some important policy platforms in the UK and overseas. The project findings are also very conducive to helping western governments and Islamic organizations design more socially relevant Islamic education programmes to train the imams in the mosques. In the next phase of the project, the emphasis will be on understanding how young Muslims, especially in the West, choose to follow one Islamic authority over another. The project will also plan more extensive impact activities in the next phase.

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United Kingdom
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