The event that I will try to get to will be "Cultural Jihad - Making Islam Matter" to be held in The Brunei Gallery at SOAS on 17th November (7 - 9.30pm):
"For Muslims living in the West the future lies not in the tinkering of theology but in the production of culture. But how is this process of cultural relevancy to take place? Is it taking place? What are its discernible forms? What are the challenges that need to be surmounted before a genuine cultural expression takes root? And what and who is to define what is ‘genuine’? To what extent is cultural output in Islamic civilisation a utilitarian exercise? In the global village of specialised economies and shared global tastes where does the process of being consumers stop and that of being producers of culture begin? What needs to be done to convert Western society to associate Islam with the beauty of the Taj Mahal and the Majesty of the Dome of the Rock rather than with the blasted Twin Towers of New York or the shattered Buddhist statues in Afghanistan? Can we develop an agenda of cultural do’s that would harness the energy of our young people – to teach them that singing, creating, beautifying and being joyous are all part of the Islamic agenda?"
This is a very crucial point, which I am always banging on about: the lack of any real engagement with wider society outside the confines of politics and rights. These have their place, but is that all one can define 'Islam' (in its broader sense) by? It's probably the reason why John Humphrys, in his search for faith, asked Rowan Williams about God, spirituality and philosophy, but asked Tariq Ramadan about politics and law. I am glad to see someone of repute like Dr. Abd-Allah, is keen to address this issue.