The 9th Annual Summer Institute for Scholars

Special Lectures by

  • Prof. Sherman Jackson, King Faisal Chair of Islamic Thought and Culture and Professor of Religion and American Studies and Ethnicity, University of Southern California
  • Dr. Salman Sayyid, Reader in Rhetoric School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Leeds, UK
  • Dr. Humeira Iqtidar, Senior Lecturer in Politics and Chair of Graduate Exam Board, King’s College London, UK
  • Prof. Mohammad Fadel, Associate Professor & Canada Research Chair for the Law and Economics of Islamic Law, University of Toronto
  • and others.

The International Institute of Islamic Thought invites abstract submissions for its 9th Annual Summer Institute for Scholars, which will be held from August 8 to 13, 2016, at its premises in Herndon, Virginia. The Summer Institute is an annual meeting dedicated to the study of contemporary approaches in Islamic thought, that brings together senior and emerging scholars in order to present papers and participate in panels and in-depth discussions focused on themes pertinent to the Institute’s mission. This year’s theme is “Islamic Thought and Secular Modernity.”

The Summer Institute for Scholars invites original, previously unpublished submissions – both theoretical and case-studies, covering historical and contemporary settings.

This year, the conference participants are invited to address the following related sets of questions:

  • What is “Islamic” about thought, social sciences, or knowledge at large? Does speaking of “Islamic social sciences,” for instance, parochialize Islam or Islamize social knowledge? How might decolonizing knowledge contribute to the formation of the “Islamic” in modern times?
  • How can secularism, and its substrate, the secular, be theorized from within the Islamic discursive tradition? How can attempts to effect a synthesis between Islam and secularism be evaluated, and relatedly, can the political project of secularism be meaningfully distilled from its social and philosophical aspects?
  • Does Islamic reform, perhaps unwittingly, secularize? In other words, do Islamic activists and reformers, who wish to put Islam into practice in the modern world, contribute to secularizing Muslim thought and practice? How does the Maqasidi discourse (based on maqasid al-Shari‘ah), in particular, contribute to Islamizing or secularizing Muslim life?
  • Both those who wish to seek Islamic forms of governance and oppose secular autocrats in the name of an Islamic democracy, and those who comply with the autocrats, defining Islam as a guide for personal and communal life rather than blueprint for political and economic justice, accuse each other of abetting secularism. Moreover, many avowedly secular commentators characterize self-professed Islamic reformists as unwitting secularizers. How can such conflicting claims be adjudicated?
  • Is the modern state inherently secular and secularizing, as Hallaq, Agrama, Asad, and others have argued? Can modernity be imagined without the secular state?

In addition to the established methods of research in religion, legal studies, humanities, and social sciences, the Summer Institute welcomes contributions from scholars who incorporate faith-based perspectives and integrated epistemologies (‘aql and naql) into their scholarship.

Alongside paper presentations by participants, the Institute has invited several prominent scholars, intellectuals, and policymakers to deliver special lectures and participate in panel discussions.

Deadline for abstracts is March 15, 2016. Abstracts are limited to 500 words. Please email abstract (max. 500 words) and a CV (max. 5 pages) as a single PDF file to Saulat Pervez at

IIIT will cover travel costs (up to $500), hotel accommodation during the Summer Institute, and will pay each scholar a per diem of $100 for participation (up to $800 total in per diem).

Decisions on abstracts will be made by late March, 2016. Final papers are due by July 15, 2016. Funding is contingent upon full paper submission. Final papers should be between 6,000 and 10,000 words.

The Institute will convene on August 8, and conclude on August 13, 2016. Participants should expect to arrive in Herndon, Virginia, on August 7 and depart on August 14. The nearest airport is Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD), only about five miles from the Institute.

IIIT will publish selected papers in an edited volume, within one year after the Seminar. The contributors will be compensated $1,000 for publication.