Northwestern Events Calendar


Irfan Ahmad: Beyond the “Secular/Enlightenment” Frame: Critique as an Everyday Practice among Muslims

When: Monday, November 12, 2018
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM CT

Where: Scott Hall, 201, 601 University Place, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Gina Giliberti  

Group: Global Politics and Religion Research Group

Co-Sponsor: Middle East and North African Studies
Institute for the Study of Islamic Thought in Africa (ISITA)

Category: Academic


Challenging common views of Islam as hostile to critical thinking, Ahmad delineates thriving traditions of critique in Islamic culture, focusing in large part on South Asian traditions. Ahmad interrogates Greek and Enlightenment notions of reason and critique, and he notes how they are invoked in relation to “others,” including Muslims. Drafting an alternative genealogy of critique in Islam, Ahmad reads religious teachings and texts, drawing on sources in Hindi, Urdu, Farsi, and English, and demonstrates how they serve as expressions of critique. Throughout, he depicts Islam as an agent, not an object, of critique.

Irfan Ahmad, an anthropologist and senior research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Studies, Gottingen, Germany, is the author, most recently, of Religion as Critique: Islamic Critical Thinking from Mecca to the Marketplace (University of North Carolina Press, 2017 and Oxford University Press, New Delhi), and co-editor of (Il)liberal Europe: Islamophobia, Modernity and Radicalization (Routledge, 2017). Previously a senior Lecturer in Politics at Monash University and Associate Professor of Political Anthropology at ACU, Melbourne, Australia, he is the founding co-editor of Journal of Religious and Political Practice.

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