Junta Islamica prepares a conference about Islamic banking practices

The Halal Institute, an organization created by the Islamic association Junta Islamica, is organizing an international conference on the Islamic banking system. The aim of this event, according to the organizers, is to promote the Islamic banking system as an alternative to the economic crisis and discuss the experiences of different countries.

The Halal Institute is an entity responsible for Halal Certificate, a privately held brand of halal food sold in Spain. The Halal Institute is an initiative of the Junta Islamica, a Muslim association established in 1989 and composed primarily of Spanish converts to Islam.

Future Muslim leaders take part in UK summer school

Muslim delegates from across the world have been taking part in a two-week project designed to inspire future leaders. Eighty-six people have come together at the Mosaic International Summer School to take part in the project which has been supported by The Prince of Wales who spoke of his delight over the interest the school has created.

Sponsored by HSBC Bank Middle East Limited and developed in association with the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the summer school will take place in various locations around the UK. The delegates will spend the first week in Cambridge taking part in daily sessions covering discussion topics including leadership in life, international community building, cultures and community and a session on environmental sustainability.

In the second week, the delegates will be divided into four groups where they will visit the cities of Birmingham, Bristol, London and Manchester spending time at key cultural and community centres including the British Muslim Heritage Centre in Manchester and the London 2012 Olympic site.

Brussels plays home to conference on religious coexistence

An initiative for an international conference on interfaith dialogue towards global peace approved at Peace Embassy, in Brussels, Belgium. Announcing the formation of a permanent committee for inter-faith cooperation involving NGO’s, religious scholar’s, members of various religious communities, and the media to discuss such topics as extremis, intolerance, conflict resolution, terrorism, justice, and human rights. Two organizations — the Universal Peace Federation (UPF) and the Belgian and European think tank Institute of Peace and Development (INSPAD) jointly affirmed their commitment to cooperatively in launching the conference.

Representing Islam: Comparative Perspectives

’Representing Islam: Comparative Perspectives’ is an international conference organised jointly by the Universities of Manchester and Surrey and supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council of Britain. It has attracted over 100 eminent national and international speakers.

Representations of ’Islam’ have a profound influence on political cultures and national identities, as well as on attitudes to immigration, security and multiculturalism. The complexity of the notion of ’Islam’ and the heterogeneous responses that it elicits are such that there is no uniform approach to its representation and social construction. The conference addresses this complexity by treating the comparative dimension of recent representations of Islam, encompassing different nations, political institutions, media institutions, and cultures. The conference will be primarily concerned with the press, television, radio, film and the internet. However, it will also include other channels of communication, such as translations, speeches or pamphlets, political discourse, and the visual arts.

Anyone interested in more information should contact the Conference Administrator,  Shishir Shahnawaz (shishir.shahnawaz@manchester.ac.uk).

No evidence imams radicalize British Muslims, says research

There is no evidence that imams preaching at mosques are doing anything to radicalise young British Muslims, according to a research conducted by the University of Chester. The findings published on Friday contradict the British government’s controversial claim of blaming mosques as part of its strategy to defeat the threat of terrorism. But the research for BBC, surveying 300 mosques carried out by Chester University in north-west England, suggested some of the imams lack the language and skills to help tackle the threat from extremism. “Imams face competition from groups who wait outside mosques to hand out leaflets and are prepared to talk to young people in English about issues such as discrimination and UK foreign policy in the Middle East,” it said. The findings included that only 6 per cent of imams who preach at mosques speak English as a first language and almost 45 per cent had been in the UK for less than five years. The majority speak Urdu as a first language, with 50 per cent of imams from Pakistan, 20 per cent from Bangladesh and 15 per cent from India. Only 24 of the 300 imams surveyed were born and educated in the UK, which the report said did not reflect the percentage of British- born South Asian Muslims who represent more than half of Britain’s two million community. It also found that at Friday prayers, although 52 per cent of imams gave sermons in Urdu, the use of English was becoming more prevalent and suggested more investigation is required to assess the frequency and quality. The report’s author Professor Ron Geaves said the aim was to look at the ability of imams to adapt to modern Britain and that the study revealed “a deeply conservative body of individuals” qualified in the traditional Islamic curriculum. “Although there are social religious and political reasons that drive a need to transform the imamate to a 21st century British context there is as yet little sign of the mosque imams or their employers being ready to professionalise,” Geaves said. Before stepping down from power last month, Prime Minister Tony Blair unveiled plans to provide significant funding to train imams in Britain and change the teaching of Islam at UK universities. “We need to do to encourage the right intellectual and academic debate,” Blair said at the opening of a two-day international conference on Islam in London on June 4. It came after Attorney General Lord Goldsmith announced that specialist prosecutors were beginning to work with police officers to improve how they target extremist preachers. The government also separately announced the creation Faith and Social Cohesion Unit at the Charity Commission, aimed to strengthen governance in mosques to make them less susceptible to takeover by minority groups.

Christian and Muslim leaders unite in an international conference on religions of peace

The Maison des Services in Paris held on conference on Integration to celebrate May as the month of the Richness of Immigration. Ghaleb Bencheikh and G’rard Leroy head the list of conference participants to debunk the myth of a war of civilizations between Islam and the West. Bencheikh, doctor of theology, science, and physics, is a representative of Islam. Leroy, his counterpart, is a Christian theologian, ministerial counselor, and moral philosophy professor at the Catholic Institute in Paris. They urge Europeans to see diversity as an opportunity to live in harmony, without feeling threatened by difference. National identity, moreover, is not a monolithic entity that draws on one denominational or ethnic identity. Even Rousseau understood that nations were enriched by diversity. They agreed that instead of producing traumatic clashes, Muslims and Christians can and should strive to find areas of common ground.