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University Student Course: Comparative Thought – Liberalism and Islam

20/11/2020 @ 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM


A free comparative ideas course for university students critically analysing aspects of liberal thought and Islam’s response.

Organised by The Thinking Muslim together with the Islamic Societies at Edinburgh University and SOAS, as well as the Muslim Student Association at University of California San Diego.

Starts 20 November for 5 Fridays – Online Zoom Event – 6pm to 7:30 (UK time) / 10am to 11:30 (San Diego, CA time).

For over two centuries, the Muslim Ummah has been subject to a liberal inquisition. Many have responded in one of two ways, either to absorb elements of liberal thought into their own thinking or by refashioning Islam as a response to liberalism. We maintain both approaches to be erroneous.

Our intention is to place Islam in its rightful position, not a mere afterthought when dealing with the challenges of modernity but as an alternative way of thinking.

This course aims to take an intelligent yet challenging look at the impact of liberalism upon the Muslim mindset. We will consider the ideas of the main liberal thinkers and how the Islamic tradition responds.

Who is the course designed for?

This course is designed for Muslim students that already have confidence in their faith and want to apply thought to the current maladies of our world. Although accessible, we do not recommend this course as a starting point for beginners or those wishing to reconnect with their religious duties.

How will it be delivered?

This free course will be delivered via Zoom and we recommend all participants to do the pre-reading and engage with questions. A Google Classroom will be set up for all participants and for pre and post-course discussions. Handouts will be prepared before each session for you to printout in advance.

A Five Week Course – Every Friday for one and a half hours.

Topics covered:

Week 1 Liberalism & Human Nature – Rights, Freedom, Individualism, Equality. Looking at the Social contract theory of Hobbes and Locke, the revolutions in America and France and how liberalism defines natural rights.

Week 2 – Islam and the human disposition – looking at the Qur’anic concept of fitrah, how Islam views human nature and our ‘starting point’ when developing thought.

Week 3 – Liberalism and Society – Classical liberalism viewed society as a place for individuals and individuality to flourish. Modern liberalism placed a greater emphasis on ‘civil society’ but remained wedded to individualism over community. This has given way to modern atomised and hyper consumerist societies. We consider the implications of this unhealthy model of human community.

Week 4 – The Islamic Society – What exactly is the Islamic society? We often fail to appreciate the different Ahkham Shariyyah and how they interact to project a unique conception of an ‘Islamic society’.

Week 5 – The decaying liberal world order – Since 1945 , America created what became known as the Liberal World Order, built on American power and institutions. Today, this order is crumbling under its own contradictions. We take a look at the faultlines within this order and the rise of an authoritarian China.

The Prophet of Islam (saw) established the groundwork of an Islamic world order. We explore the facets of this order and how the Sahabah expanded its influence through hard and soft power.

If you would like your University ISOC or College MSA to be a part of this event, please get in touch, by emailing us at info@thinkingmuslim.com

About the instructor – Muhammad Jalal is a lecturer in politics and international relations based in London. He also hosts the Thinking Muslim Podcast, available on all podcast platforms. He can be found on twitter @jalalayn, and @thinking_muslim.

All of our events are free and our instructors do not benefit financially from any of our activities.

Feedback from previous courses

“This course was very insightful for me who didn’t have much knowledge on politics, let alone Islamic politics. Sir Jalal also gave links and reading references that complement the main course very nicely. The q&a session was amazing as well, brilliant questions answered patiently with clear explanation. It has made Islamic thinking in the political sense so much easier for me. I really hope there will be more courses like this in the future that explore and contest Islamic values against other principles or ideologies. Thank you so much The Thinking Muslim, jazakallahu khairan.”

“An amazing class for anyone who wants to understand the discourses that drive the current world order, along with a critique of it based on Islamic tradition. The courses are presented in a concise, clear, and interactive manner.”

“Simply Amazing and Enlightening course !!”

“This course was fantastic and unique. I have not come across a course like this before even though this information is extremely crucial. I appreciate your efforts and for making this content free!”

“Bismillah. Brother Jalal was able to simplify some complicated issues (for me) without being over simplifying which makes the sessions to be enjoyable for even people like me who has no political background whatsoever. I am just a curious being of so many things that when I registered for this I feel kind of nervous thinking this would be too much for my brain. Surprisingly, I actually make alarm for every Sunday 8 pm (my time) so I wont miss this. I enjoy the presentation and even the amount of sound that he use and how he always emphasis some words to give a better understanding. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge. May Allah Subhanallahuwata’ala grants you and your family with so many blessings and also health.”

“I have loved the sessions so far as they are very engaging and tackle complex issues! They were really interesting! I definitely learned a lot!”

“Really appreciated the taking of questions during class and exploring discussions further within google classrooms as well as the additional resources provided in terms of reading, podcasts and youtube links. Your speaking style and pace of speaking is also very good ma sha Allah.”

“The content and journey of comparative philosophies was really well split into segments that helped me to understand the various layers in which theories differ. As well, I gained a better understanding of the ways in which the alternative theories are contradictory and I feel better equipped with knowledge of the key players (founding fathers of liberal and social philosophies) and what resources to peruse to consolidate my knowledge.”

“Incredibly interesting content and excellently delivered”

“The sessions were awesome, jazakumAllahu khayr! Brother Muhammad did a fantastic job responding to questions and including all in the discussion.”

“Alhamdulillah. Sessions are engaging and informative. Sources of reference are great. Presenter knows the subject well.”

“I would really like this project become a huge movement into the Islamic community”

“This has been an introduction, for me, into liberalism, socialism and Islam. It’s been a huge awakening. Week on week I’ve learnt an incredible amount and have yet to go through all classroom resources alhamdulillah. I know very little on this and have gained some knowledge having accessed this course. This is a great platform to have these conversations and learn more about the philosophies and world order we all seem to abide by. Jazakallah khayr! We need something like this – initiating intelligent conversations with confused Muslims. As a young Muslim I get confused with liberal/social systems and get muddled with own Islamic convictions (as I don’t fully know what they are.) ”

“I have learnt a lot Alhamdulillah.I really like how there is a book club and reads being recommended so frequently. It provides a sense of comfort knowing that there are many other Muslims working towards the same goal as myself, and are thinking on a political level. I cannot believe this course was free; JazakAllah Khair.”

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