“Our Oxford workshop’s most interesting participant was Abdou Filali-Ansary, who offered a portrait of the Arab Spring filled with light and shadow. A Moroccan philosopher who successively directed the King Abdul-Aziz Foundation for Islamic Studies and Human Sciences in Casablanca and the Aga Khan University Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations in London, Filali-Ansary has thought and written as profoundly as anyone about Muslims in the contemporary world.” – Mark Silk
From July 26 - 28, 2011, AKU-ISMC Professor Abdou Filali-Ansary attended and presented at a conference entitled "Tradition and Its Discontents: Ruptures in the Abrahamic Religions". The sixth annual conference of the Lubar Institute for the Study of the Abrahamic Religions, was held at Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford.
Professor Filali-Ansary addressed the conference on the final day. His paper, entitled “The ‘Fall and Rise’ of Traditional Learning in Traditional Muslim Contexts”, argued that Muslims throughout the world have for some time been speaking a new language of modernity and political freedom. This is the result of a change of consciousness which has led to the embracing of concepts such as human rights, rule of law, free civil society and good governance.
However, at the same time, distorted notions of concepts taken from the heritage remain. Not least among these are ideas concerning Shar’ia which is still too often viewed as a set of hardened prescriptions. Such slogans are rather like ‘optical illusions’. Although illusory, they mislead and have consequences. Professor Filali-Ansary argued that one of the main challenges facing the Muslim world in the aftermath of recent tumultuous events is the presence of this bilingual language of politics, with the two languages seemingly unable to communicate with each other in many cases.
Mark Silk, from Trinity College, Connecticut, also spoke at this conference. His discussion of Professor Filali-Ansary’s talk can be read on his blog Spiritual Politics.
Coordinator, Planning & Academic Development
Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations