Past Events

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How relevant is the Shari’ah today?

Title: How relevant is the Shari’ah today?

Speakers: Professor Ebrahim Moosa

Date: Friday 29 January 2016

Time: 18:45-20:30

Venue: Abrar House, 45 Crawford Place, London W1H 4LP


Event Details:

"The best among you are those who have the best manners and character"

We are delighted to have renowned academic Dr Ebrahim Moosa from the United States to speak to us about the challenges and relevance of the Shariah today.

The Qur'an and Shari'ah are often confused as interchangeable. However, unlike the Qur'an, which Muslims consider the word of God, the Shari'ah is a man-made construct developed after the death of the Prophet by the early scholars of Islam producing a set of moral and ethical frameworks for their own societies based on their understanding of the Qur'an and the teachings of the Prophet. 

These sets of norms perceived as laws are often not laws at all but moral sensibilities developed within particular historical contexts. Muslim life has fundamentally always been about self-surveillance and ethical conduct. In this event we will question why an understanding of ethics within Islam has become less and less prominent over the last few centuries. Has the importance of our character and conduct been lost despite ethics having being the core of what we call Shari'ah?

Over the centuries the moral code that we today call the Shari'ah has been updated by scholars to address the social context of their own time period and geographical location. In this discussion Dr Moosa will address if we are now at a stage where we are left with some rules and regulations that fit situations which no longer exist in our society and if the challenge we face today is to update our Shari'ah to fit our contemporary social and political life.  He will question whether the bulk of religious authorities dealing with the Shari'ah today are applying sets of rules developed for societies that are no longer alive. And if those societies are dead, why do their rules still apply? Do religious authorities even have the tools to update the Shari'ah? And if not, how should the rest of us treat Shari'ah in the meantime?

In this event we will also explore if a new sort of theology is required? How do we remember the core values of islam - for example fairness, equality and justice as fundamental building blocks of Shari'ah - and preserve these in a modern context?



Professor Ebrahim Moosa (Ph.D. University of Cape Town 1995) is Professor of Islamic Studies in the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies and in Notre Dame’s Department of History. He also co-directs the Contending Modernities program, an interdisciplinary education initiative.

Prior to Notre Dame, Professor Ebrahim taught in the Department of Religious Studies at Duke University 2001-2014 and at the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Cape Town in his native South Africa from 1989-1998. Between 1998-2001 he visited the Department of Religious Studies at Stanford University.

His publications include ‘Ghazali and the Poetics of Imagination’, winner of the American Academy of Religion’s Best First Book in the History of Religions (2006). His latest book ‘What is a Madrasa?’ tells the story of south Asia’s madrasas in different key to the prevalent stereotypes in the Western media.

He contributes regularly to the op-ed pages of the Washington Post, New York Times, Atlanta-Journal Constitution and The Boston Review.


Additional details:

Free entrance. All welcome. Prayer space available. Street parking free from 18:30. Doors open at 18:45 and the talk begins at 19:00. If you have any questions, please contact us: