Department of Religious Studies

Beauty in the Worlds of Islam (conference)

Fri, April 3, 2009 | Thompson Conference Center Room 1.110

"Beauty in the Worlds of Islam" is a two-day K-12 and post-secondary workshop designed to explore the manner in which beauty is created, judged, negotiated, and relayed in Muslim societies from Asia to the Americas. The conference will emphasize the range of ways in which the diverse imaginative spirit of Muslim peoples is manifested in architecture, music, poetry, rhetoric, and calligraphy. It also hopes to draw attention to issues of gender, sexuality, disenfranchisement, and modernity as they shape the ideas of "beauty."

The conference takes on the twofold task of enriching American high school and college pedagogies pertaining to social studies and of enhancing interdisciplinary conversation among scholars of history, culture, language, literature, and religion. If you are interested in participating in this workshop please contact the SAI’s outreach office ( for an application.

Schedule for the Thompson Conference Center Room 1.110:

Friday April 3

Akbar Hyder: Key concepts for K-12 teachers (9:15-10)

Panel 1: Literary Aesthetics and Learning in Muslim Worlds (10-12:30)
• Nargis Virani: Joseph: The Embodiment of 'Half of the Beauty of the Entire Universe'
• Tahera Qutbuddin: The Art of Arabic Oratory: A Classical Sermon on Piety by Imam Ali
• Nerina Rustomji: Perfection of Paradise
• Shafique Virani: Beauty in the Laughter of Children: Muslim Preschools in East Africa

Panel 2: Encountering Difference (2-4:30)
• Fawn Shirazi: Sex Change in the Islamic Republic of Iran
• Cemil Aydin: Cosmopolitan Muslim Empires and Religious Diversity: The Ottoman Experience
• Rupert Snell: Kabir: God's Mystic Witness
• Ali Mir: Muslims and Urdu in the Worlds of Bollywood

5:30-6:30 PM: Keynote Address by Prof. Ayesha Jalal: Striving for Beauty: Poetics and Ethics in Muslim History

8:30: Sufi Music by Ghulam Farid Nizami and Shiv Naimpally

Saturday April 4

Panel 3: Muslim Spaces in America (10:30-12:15)
• Denise Spellberg: Could a Muslim Be President? Islam in America
• Juliane Hammer: Embodying Gender Justice: American Muslim Women and the 2005 Woman-Led Friday Prayer in New York
• Naveeda Khan: Nineteen: A Story

Panel 4: The Poetics and Politics of Art, Architecture, and Law (1:30-3:15)
• Hina Azam: Aesthetic Dimensions in Classical Islamic Law
• Janice Leoshko: Defining Identities: Lessons from Bamiyan and the Taj Mahal
• Houchang Chehabi: Persianate Elements in the Traditional Athletic Cultures of West and South Asia

3:30-5 PM: Roundtable Discussion with the speakers and chairs: Issues in Teaching Islam--K-12 and Beyond

Sponsored by: South Asia Institute, Department of Religious Studies, Department of Asian Studies, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Islamic Studies Program, Hindi-Urdu Flagship Program, and Arabic Flagship Program

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