An international conference on Shiʿi studies brings together speakers and participants from across the globe, some traveling from as far afield as Australia and Argentina. The conference was hosted at The Islamic College on the 7th and 8th of May in London.
This year’s conference successfully highlighted the diversity of new research within Shiʿi studies. Talks ranged from traditional scholarly subjects such as fiqh and hadith to sociological, anthropological, and epistemological studies. Key contemporary issues involving Shiʿas and Shiʿism, such as feminism and Tafkikis, were also discussed.
This is the second year the Islamic College has hosted the International Conference on Shiʿi Studies Building on last year’s success, this year’s event was held over two days. The conference was organised by the Journal of Shiʿa Islamic Studies, the Islamic Centre of England, and the Institute for Islamic studies in Iran. While last year’s discussions were mostly focussed on the pedagogical study of Shiʿism itself, in this year’s agenda, pedagogical studies was just one topic among a range of diverse themes and subjects.
The proceedings of the conference will be published in the Journal of Shiʿa Islamic Studies, an academic, peer-reviewed journal, focusing on studies of Shiʿism and Shiʿas which is now in its ninth year.
“The conference was an opportunity for researchers from around the world to gather and present their research on different aspects of Shiʿism and the experiences of Shiʿi peoples. I enjoyed the diversity of the subjects as well as the thoughtfulness that they approached their topics with. We are looking forward to printing their papers.”
–Amina Inloes, Managing Editor, Journal of Shiʿa Islamic Studies
One of the speakers at the conference, Professor Ali Paya delivered a talk looking at ‘The Disenchantment of Reason: An Anti-Rational Trend in Modern Shiʿi Thought – The Tafkikis’. He focused mostly on an epistemological point of view of the basic tenants of a powerful anti-intellectual trend in modern Shiʿi thought known as the Tafkiki School.
“While anti-rational and non-rational trends, tendencies, and approaches form a spectrum in which a large variety of positions can be identified, rationality is identified solely by subscribing to valid and sound arguments. It is important to note that even anti-rationalists and non-rationalists, e.g. sophists, make use of arguments but the type of arguments they use are invalid and fallacious. Moreover, for them, the final arbiters in judgements about knowledge claims are things other than critical reason and reality.”
–Professor Ali Paya, The Islamic College, London and University of Westminster, London
The college also held a book stall selling ICAS, MIU, and EWI publications offering all participants and attendees 50% off all books.
“The Conference was absolutely fantastic, and the wide variety of speakers and topics was intellectually stimulating. It was good to see that this conference attracted speakers from around the world.”
–Fatima Muraj – Attendee
This conference aimed to strengthen the field of Shiʿi Studies by bringing together academics to present the outcomes of their latest research and to cultivate an environment for intellectual discussions and interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary collaborations.
With regard to this year’s conference, it seems the consensus of the participants and attendees was that it succeeded in achieving its stated goal by creating a platform for critical examination and scholarly elaboration of new ideas and emerging trends within the sphere of Shiʿi Studies.