Islam and Liberty Summer University Iran

Islam and Liberty Network (ILN) organized a 5-day long regional resident workshop, Islam and Liberty Summer University 2018 (ILSU), between 16th  and 20th July 2018  at the Mofid University, Qom, near Tehran, which is one of the leading centres of Islamic Economics in Iran. It featured guest speakers giving lectures, workshops, and seminars; this exercise took up critical aspects of the debate on the intellectual foundations of political, religious and economic freedom in Islam.  

The event was joined by 15 participants, including researchers, writers, and young scholars affiliated with universities, research institutes, and others. The participants came from a variety of places including Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, Iran, and Turkey. The faculty included Bican Sahin, Mohamed Machine-Chian, Ali Salman, Mohammad Javad Tavakoli, Hojjat Al Islam Dr. Mohammadreza Yusefi, and Dr. Nasser Elahi.

Islam and Liberty Summer University 2018 provided open and stimulating environment while exposing  participants to the ideas of liberty within Islamic framework.

After an introduction, overview and expectations were given by all of the faculty members, Bican took the floor on the first day and began ILSU with a general discussion on liberty: Positive and Negative Liberty and their relation with religion. A concept pushed forward by thinkers such as Thomas Hobbes, applying it within modern Islamic interpretation. Soon after, Bican continued with What is Political Liberty. The day ended with a discussion hosted by Bican Sahin and Ali Salman. Day two started with Ali’s presentation and general discussion on Islam and Economic Principles. He presented his recent findings on topics such as voluntary exchange, acceptance of inequality as a divine scheme, and sanctity of property rights. After a quick tea break, Ali was joined by Mohamad to hold a discussion on the Economic Freedom of Entrepreneurship in Islam and followed after was a break-out session. Wrapping the day was done by  Mohammad Javad Tavakoli, a guest lecturer from Mofid University as he gave a lecture about Economic Freedom – Views of Baqir Sadr.

On the third day, the faculty brought the students around Qom which included visit to local seminary and historical sites.

The fourth day began with a break-out session, further strengthening the participants’ knowledge. Afterwards, Mohamed Machine-Chian and Seyed Emamian held a discussion about Policies and Prospects of Free and Prosperous Iran. Later, Bican and Ali, laying down the idea of Liberty in the Muslim World. Following a quick tea-break, the day ended with a lecture by Dr. Elahi from Mofid University with the topic: Islam and recent challenges in international economic freedom.

On the fifth and final day, Ali laid out their future agenda. After Mofid University Faculty offers their evaluation, concluding thoughts and comments, the programme closed with Friday prayers.

ILSU feedback form was distributed to all 15 participants. An overwhelming number of participants found the speakers very knowledgeable and engaging; the participants were overall very satisfied with the content provided. However, suggestions came up for a wider array of topics. Many wished that specific and contemporary issues were covered. Some of the suggested topics were about modern problems in society, critical thinking, and current politics. Even with that however, many found that the contents that were presented were relevant to their goals and they showed their intention  to use them in the future. The participants found that the time duration of the ILSU was neither too long nor short, which suggests that the length of the course was perfect. That aside, some of the students found that the topics were a little more on the complicated side. This, however, could be seen as good as content that challenges would promote further thinking and learning. The participants also suggested to increase the frequency of these events.

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