UM-Flint to host first Iqbal Symposium on Islamic Thought and Civilization

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The University of Michigan-Flint will host the first Muhammad Iqbal Symposium on Islamic Thought and Civilization, a series that aims to explore the impact of Islam on the world.

The inaugural symposium is from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, March 4 via Zoom. The inaugural speaker is Dr. Alan Mikhail, Professor and Chair of the Department of History at Yale University, who will give a talk called "How Islam Shaped the Life of Christopher Columbus."

Members of the Flint Muslim community worked with UM-Flint to nurture a deeper understanding of the rich history and living tradition of Islamic ideas and civilization and its impact on the world. The series aims to explore the Islamic science of art, philosophy, poetry, humanities, social studies, spirituality, and theology; the history of Islam in America and the contributions of American Muslims; foster interfaith dialogue and explore the place of religion in the American context; and explore Islam's intellectual heritage and influence on the world.

Muhammad Iqbal

The symposium is named for Muhammad Iqbal, a poet and philosopher from what is now Pakistan. Widely known as Allama Iqbal, he lived from 1877 to 1938, and he is best known for his articulation of the concept of the self and the reassertion of humanism based in the Islamic tradition.

One of the symposium's founders is Dr. Macksood Aftab, Chairman of Radiology at Ascension Genesys Hospital, a founding editor of the Journal of Islamic Philosophy, and a Flint native. The symposium brings together many of his interests and goals, he said, to support the city of Flint and add to the intellectual vibrancy of UM-Flint.

Aftab wanted to name the symposium after Iqbal because of his analysis and understanding of both Eastern and Western thought, along with his reaffirmation of shared humanity.

"The Muslim community in Flint and Genesee County is very vibrant and thriving. But, the general public does not see that side, as the community tends to be very private and low-key," said Adil Mohammed, the executive director of the American Muslim Community Services. "While respecting those boundaries, it is also important that the different cultures and communities get to know each other to make us a stronger region. The Iqbal Symposium is a small but important step towards achieving that goal. The organizers see this event as an opportunity to strengthen the cultural connections among us, by creating an enriching experience."

The organizing committee of the symposium includes U-M faculty Dr. Mohammed Daasa and Dr. Daniel Birchok, Dr. Hiba Alamah; Dr. David Luke, Director of the Intercultural Center; and student and community representatives. The event is sponsored by the American Muslim Community Services, Muslim Students Association, Flint Islamic Center, and Islamic Medical Association of MidMichigan.

The symposium is free and open to the public. Registration is available here.

Lindsay Knake is the Communications Coordinator for the UM-Flint Division of Student Affairs. Contact her with any questions, comments, or ideas about the DSA newsletter, social media, events, and communications.