Dr. Farid Punjwani is an Associate Professor and the Director of the Centre for Research and Evaluation in Muslim Education (CREME) at the University College London.
It is commonplace to hear (or read) people say that 'Islam tells us that...' or 'According to Christianity...'. In this talk, Dr. Panjwani will consider assumptions about the nature of religion and its relationship with believers that underpin the manner of speaking (or writing). We will ask why do we have diversity within religions? Why do people of the same religion believe very different ideas, sometimes even contradictory ones? The search for answers will take us into exploring how text, tradition and believers interact with one another to enable religious traditions to continue and diversify over time. We will then focus on the nature of interpretation which will mean taking seriously the agency and context of the believers. It will be proposed that it is better to understand a religious tradition as a flowing river rather than frozen glacier. We will discuss implications of the proposed approach for education, politics, interaction among people and everyday religious life, including creating tolerant and peaceful co-existence.