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Zaman to deliver “The Madrasa and its Internal Critics” lecture

Muhammad Qasim Zaman, the Robert H. Niehaus ’77 Professor of Near Eastern Studies and Religion at Princeton University, will visit Lehigh for a free public lecture entitled “The Madrasa and its Internal Critics” on March 27 at 7:30 p.m.

Zaman’s talk with be held in the Perella Auditorium, Room 184 at Rauch Business Center.

Institutions of traditional Islamic learning, the madrasas, are viewed with great alarm in many policy-oriented and journalistic circles even as they are often vigorously defended by those associated with these and related institutions. In moving beyond this dichotomous approach, Zaman’s lecture will focus on the views of those among the traditionally educated religious scholars, the `ulama, of South Asia and the Middle East who have been highly critical of what they see as the madrasa’s many inadequacies.

These are “internal critics” of the madrasas, and their discourses—as well as the ambiguities of the language in which this internal criticism is articulated—illuminate much about multifaceted contestation within the ranks of Muslim religious intellectuals not just about Islamic education but also, and more broadly, about competing conceptions of religious authority in modern Islam.

Zaman’s research focuses on religious authority in classical, medieval, and modern Islam; history of Islamic law; institutions of religious education; and religious and political thought in modern Islam. Zaman is the author of the recent works Religion and Politics under the Early `Abbasids, The Ulama in Contemporary Islam: Custodians of Change and Ashraf Ali Thanawi: Islam in Modern South Asia. He also co-edited the volume Schooling Islam: The Culture and Politics of Modern Muslim Education and is presently completing a book titled Religious Authority in Modern Islam.

Zaman’s presentation is part of the Ibn Sina Society Arabic Lecture Series, sponsored by the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures. For more information, call (610) 758-3090.

--Tricia Long

Posted on Friday, March 21, 2008

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