At the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion in Toronto, the sessions on Islam were bigger than ever, reports Leslie Scrivener in the Sunday edition of the Toronto Star (Nov. 24).
One of those sessions was devoted to they way the study of Islam has changed in North American universities after 9/11. “Professors found they couldn’t just teach the classical foundations of the faith [but] had to address modern issues.” Student audiences also increased significantly.
It has also had an impact upon Muslim students themselves. In an interview with the newspaper, a former imam who now teaches at the University of Colorado, Liyakat Hakim, explained: “[The students] questioned things in their faith they’d taken for granted, because of what they’d been reading.” Such a period of questioning may actually reflect wider trends in the Islamic world, according to Vincent Cornell (University of Arkansas).
He is convinced that Islam is going through a change equivalent to the Protestant Reformation, involving moving away from a religious elite to greater openness to the grassroots expression of the faith.
— By Jean Francois Mayer