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AMU calls for seminar papers on crises in Muslim communities

ALIGARH: As extremist forces like Islamic State, Boko Haram and Al Qaeda grab headlines internationally for barbaric attacks and terrorism, the Muslim community is faced with crises and chaos. Aligarh Muslim University's Centre for the Promotion of Educational and Cultural Advancement of Muslims in India (CPECAMI) has now announced the need for a discourse on this issue - an international conference, 'Intellectual Crises of the Muslim Ummah: Rethinking Traditional Solutions' will occur in April. Among the speakers expected to attend are intellectuals and scholars who have been grappling with issues that concern the Muslim community across the world. University authorities say a large number of non-Muslims have also expressed interest in attending the proceedings.

About 150 academics, theologians, public intellectuals and peace activists are expected to gather in Aligarh for this conference. Among the issues to be discussed are: "What is Islam? Who speaks for it today?" "Is United Islam Possible?" "Does Islam need reform, or are we just in need of new interpreters?"

Muslims worldwide have condemned the violence inflicted in the name of Islam. According to international NGO Human Rights Watch, Nigerian group Boko Haram alone was responsible for more than 100 attacks that claimed over 2,000 lives in just the first half of 2014. The group was also responsible for the kidnap of 276 schoolgirls. ISIS, which aims at the establishment of a "caliphate", a state ruled by a single political and religious leader according to Islamic law, has justified barbaric killings by citing verses from Quran.

Rashid Shaz, director of the Bridge Course programme at AMU that was set up to aid students from madrassas make a smooth transition to a modern university, who is also the convener of the international conference, said, "Islam is a buzzword today. Yet, it is hard to tell who can speak for it. There is a general feeling among followers of Islam that the religion has been hijacked by those who have only a faulty understanding of Quranic texts. The situation is pressing. Islam is being associated with sectarian wars and internecine conflicts, and even suicide bombing."

Ahmad Fauzzan, one of the organising secretaries of the conference, said, "The meeting would go some way in starting a discourse and sparking thinking on some of these issues."

That the crises of the Muslim ummah are not limited to a religious group became evident, when a large number of non-Muslims too responded for calls for papers. The papers that will be presented at the conference will be shortlisted next month.

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