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Iqbal and Whitehead: An Islam of Creativity

Saturday, April 1, 2017 - 9:30am to 4:00pm
Claremont School of Theology, Butler 201
Event Description: 

Free & Open to the Public
Watch Livestream 


Many Muslims today are trapped between two realities: a rising tide of Islamophobia on the one hand, and a stagnant, rule-based version of Islam that inhibits freedom of thought and creativity on the other.  The Islam they know and love is not militant Islam nor is it the stagnant, legalistic version too often promulgated by clerics. It is something more dynamic and alive: an ongoing process of living in the world with a respect for each and every human being in a humble way and also living with respect and care for the entire community of life.

It is also an Islam that is future centered. Islam is not reducible to the achievements of the past; instead it arrives in the human imagination as an invitation to creativity: that is, to realize the deepest potentials for fulfillment that are part of the human endowment. Muslims who feel the promise of this humanistic and ecological Islam believe that that they have the Qur’an on their side. The Qur’an itself, when freed from the shackles of sterile interpretation, points toward a liberating view of human potential that is respectful of the dignity of each and every perspective, awed by the beauty of the natural world, and encouraging of an “integral ecology” that lives with respect and care for life.

In support of this vision, and as a result of environments shadowed by fear and suspicion, a growing number of Muslims are turning to the writings of the spiritual father of modern Pakistan, Muhammad Iqbal (1877-1938). He was a philosopher, scholar, jurist, social reformer, educationist and didactic poet who, as it happens, was also an informal student of Alfred North Whitehead, agreeing with Whitehead that the very energy of the universe, found in human life and nature, is creative. For Iqbal as for Whitehead, God works with, not against, this creativity.


Our one-day conference is a conversation with a leading Islamic Iqbalian scholar from Oslo, Norway, Farhan Shah, who has completed his MA from the University of Oslo, Norway, and who is developing a vision of Islam along Quranically inspired Iqbalian lines. Shah’s vision of Islam is deeply process in orientation, thus representing an Islamic voice to a parallel hope being developed by Jewish and Christian process thinkers. The purpose of our one day conference is to explore the vision of Islam that emerges from Muhammad Iqbal and also to offer critical response, from a process and Islamic point of view, to Farhan Shah’s emerging Iqbal-influenced vision.

Farhan Shah has already taken steps in linking his vision of Islam with process thinking. See, for example: Farhan Shah is writing a paper building upon ideas in this essay, and Jay McDaniel is writing a response from a Christian process perspective. The papers will not be read but rather discussed in our two sessions: 9:30-12:00 pm, Farhan Shah and  1:30-4 pm , Jay McDaniel with responses from renowned panelists.

Saturday, April 1:


9:30-10:00am – Farhan Shah, A Process Interpretation of Islam – Twenty Key Ideas (MA, University of Oslo)

Panel Responses:

10:00-10:15am –  Prof. Ruqayya Y. Khan (Claremont Graduate University)

10:15-10:30am – Dr. John B. Cobb (Emeritus Claremont School of Theology)

10:30-10:45am – Prof. Mustafa Ruzgar (California State University, Northridge)

10:45-11:00am – Prof. Aslam Abdullah (Osher Lifelong Learning Center (OLLI) University of Nevada , Las Vegas)

Group Discussion:

11:00-12:00pm – Presenter, Panel, Audience

LUNCH (12:00-1:30pm)


1:30-2:00pm – Prof. Jay McDaniel, Three Springboards for Reflection (Hendrix College & Institute for Postmodern Development of China)

Panel Responses:

2:00-2:15pm –  Prof. Mustafa Ruzgar (California State University, Northridge)

2:15-2:30pm – Prof. Aslam Abdullah (Osher Lifelong Learning Center (OLLI) University of Nevada , Las Vegas)                                                  

2:30-2:45pm – Prof. Ruqayya Y. Khan (Claremont Graduate University)

2:45-3:00pm – Rev. Ignacio Castuera (Center for Process Studies)

Group Discussion:

3:00-4:00pm – Presenter, Panel, Audience