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BRAC University, Building 07, Level 09, 43 Mohakhali C/A Dhaka,1212, Bangladesh

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March 5, 2022 Centre for Peace and Justice

BRAC University’s Centre for Peace and Justice (CPJ), the World Faiths Development Dialogue at Georgetown University (WFDD), and the Madrasa Discourses Program at the University of Notre Dame organised a five-day workshop titled “Islamic Theology and the Challenge of Climate Change: History, Science, and Religion in Modernity”. Under the leadership of Samia Huq, Katherine Marshall, and Ebrahim Moosa, the workshop addressed how educational and religious leaders in the Muslim community might respond to challenges in the modern world, especially in the form of new scientific discoveries, evolving approaches to how to interpret tradition, and most pressingly, the crisis of climate change. The program continues the work of CPJ’s and WFDD’s long-standing partnership that has sought to better understand the role of faith in education in Bangladeshi society and to support educational institutions in promoting social justice. This workshop was the second collaboration between BRAC University, WFDD, and Madrasa Discourses. The first took place in January 2020.

Launched in 2017, the Madrasa Discourses project has been at the forefront of efforts to equip Islamic religious leaders (ulama) with the necessary tools to confidently engage pluralism, modern science, technological advances, and new philosophies. The project, led by Ebrahim Moosa, Primary Investigator and Mirza Family Professor of Islamic Thought and Muslims Societies at the University of Notre Dame, revitalizes Islamic education from within, retrieving resources from the Islamic tradition to prepare future ulama who stand tall for human dignity and peace through a transformative three-year educational experience.In this workshop, participants were exposed to a variety of disciplinary approaches to addressing crises in knowledge, climate change, and gender equity. The first day focused on Science, Islam, and Climate Change. Dr Atiq Rahman, the executive director of the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies, delivered his lecture on climate change and its adverse effects. His talk sparked a deep conversation among the participants.

The second day was dedicated to discussing Islam, Science, and History. Dr Waris Mazhari, assistant professor of Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi delivered his lecture on this topic. Dr Ebrahim Moosa gave a lecture titled “Interpretation, History and Tradition: The Case of Fazlur Rahman” which was the focus of the afternoon session.

Gender and Madrasa education were the focus of day three. Dr Samia Huq, the research fellow at CPJ, Brac University, led the morning discussion. The afternoon session was led by Dr Katherine Marshall, the Executive Director of the World Faith Development Dialogue. She gave a lecture on madrasa education in Bangladesh today.

Dr Sameena Tabish delivered a talk on women and Islam in modernity in the morning session of the fourth day. Dr Tabish is an Assistant Professor at Maulana Azad National Urdu University, New Delhi. The afternoon session was led by Dr Joshua Lupo, Content editor and writer for contending modernities. The title of his talk was “Tradition and History: Constructing the Past for the Present”.

The fifth day was dedicated to getting feedback from the participants and certificate awarding. Questions like what kinds of resources do the Islamic tradition provide for dealing with these challenges? What might other knowledge traditions offer the ulama in addressing these challenges in their local communities and beyond? How can we mobilize those in our communities to act in ways that bring about the betterment of society for all? Were discussed by scholars from India, the United States, and Bangladesh.