Islam and the Challenges of the 21st century

Islam is what Muslims make of it. It has taken some time for this insight to be accepted in Islamic Studies and beyond. But what exactly do Muslims make of the challenges of modern society as reflected in new media, new technologies, and in new social and political conflicts and concerns? Focusing on the question of religious law in secular societies, on religious authorities in times of globalised media, and on Islamic assessments of scientific theories, the scholars invited to give “Odense Lectures” in the spring of 2011 explore various ways in which prominent Islamic figures and organizations have responded to questions that mark contemporary societies.

The aim of the Odense Lectures is to present the state of the art of recent scholarship on Islam and the Middle East in Denmark.

Prof. Jørgen S. Nielsen (University of Copenhagen)

“European Muslims and Shari'a”

Thursday, 17 February 2011, 4pm
(Room U140)

The question of the Shari'a is central to the ongoing discussions about the future of Islam in Europe. Already in the mid-1970s, a claim to Islamic family law for Muslims in Europe was raised by Muslim organizations in the UK. Closer investigation in the 1980s suggested that there were two main agendas: a desire to implement elements of Islamic law and a desire to get control of relevant institutions. Today, not only in England the claim has developed into practice. This lecture discusses these developments with regard to general questions related to the applicability of religious laws in European societies.


Prof. Jakob Skovgaard-Petersen (University of Copenhagen)

  “Yusuf al-Qaradawi – the Global Mufti”

 Thursday, 31 March 2011, 4pm (Room U140)

 One of the major opponents of the Danish government and Jyllands-Posten five years ago, Yusuf al-Qaradawi has become a well-known name in Western and Danish media, as the emblematic sinister Islamist operator. This is not how he is viewed in the Arab World, not even among his opponents.  This lecture will sum up his career and achievements and discuss why a Muslim cleric with a traditional upbringing could reach such a position of fame and influence, and the consequences of giving a shaykh of his formation a pulpit in al-Jazeera and elsewhere that potentially reaches Arabs and Muslims all over the world.


Prof. Martin Riexinger (Århus University)

“Creationism as an Islamic Response to the Theory of Evolution”

Thursday, 5 May 2011, 4 pm (Room U140)

In the last decade, Islamic creationism has become popular both in many Islamic countries and among Muslims in the diaspora. Although the theory of evolution has met with stiff resistance right from the start in the Islamic world, this ideology is a relatively recent phenomenon that has emerged in Turkey in the 1970s. In this lecture, Martin Riexinger explains the historical background and the media strategies that have contributed to its international success.



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