The Thirty-fourth AMSS Annual Conference

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Jay Willoughby



This conference, held from Sept. 30 – Oct. 2, 2005 and co-sponsored by
Temple University (Philadelphia), represented a homecoming for the
Association of Muslim Social Scientists (AMSS), for its source of inspiration,
Dr. Isma`il al-Faruqi, taught religion there from 1968-1986. Eleven
panels addressed the theme, “Muslims and Islam in the Chaotic Modern
World: Relations of Muslims among Themselves and with Others,” by covering
a wide range of topics, from Muslim minority groups, mutual understanding,
and women, to modernity, family law, legal theory, education, and
just war. Due to space constraints, only a few of them will be covered here.
After the welcoming and introductory remarks by Program Chair
Khalid Blankinship (Temple University) and Rafik Beekun (University of
Nevada), Abdul Mutualo (American University in Cairo) began the proceedings
by discussing the history of Islam as an “imported” religion in his native
Mozambique. Heol Choul Kim (Temple University) spoke on Korean
Muslims’ problems due to cultural traditions (e.g., ancestor worship) and the
lack of an indigenous Muslim community. Robert Riggs (University of
Pennsylvania) discussed how the White Fathers gave Algeria’s Kabyle
Berers a sense of national self-consciousness and how many of them, living
in small Christian communities, left Algeria after independence.
The banquet’s keynote speaker, Abdullah Schleifer (American University
in Cairo), reflected on his many years as a news reporter and producer
in the Middle East. His talk received such an enthusiastic response that we
have included it in our “Forum” section. The winners of the AMSS Best
Graduate Paper Awards were also announced: Zareena Grewal (first place),
Maleeha Aslam (second place), and Kamran Hashimi (third place).
Panel 4A featured, among others, Helena J. Kaler (George Washington
University), who revealed, probably to the surprise of many, commonalities
between Ayman al-Zawahiri’s and Farid Esack’s responses to modernity.
She said that while al-Zawahiri bases his worldview on grievances, Esack ...

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