Narrowing Islam-West cultural gap

The pall of dust forces cars in Riyadh to use their headlights in the forenoon. (AN photo)

By JEDDAH: IBRAHIM NAFFEE ARAB NEWS STAFF

Published: Apr 21, 2012 00:00 Updated: Apr 21, 2012 00:00

The two-day seminar, to be organized by the Ministry of Higher Education in collaboration with the King Abdul Aziz University, is another major step in support of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah’s call to promote interfaith and intercultural dialogues as a means to establish world peace.

The discussions on the first day of the seminar today will focus on Arab and Islamic studies at French and European universities. The topic will cover the extent of Arab and Islamic cultures being taught in the universities and institutes of higher learning. It will also discuss intellectual and historical achievements that led to conflicting viewpoints on understanding Arab and Islamic cultures and the emergence of contemporary concepts that did away with the Orientalist approach to understand the Islamic culture.

Another of the seminar’s major topic of discussion is the role of translation in bringing Islamic and Arab thought to Europe. The topic aims to discuss the role of translation in enabling scientific and intellectual contacts between the West and the Arab Islamic East. The topic will also be discussed from the perspective of exchange of knowledge between civilizations. It will also shed light on the important stages of development of the translation movement down the centuries between the two civilizations on the one hand and the intellectual and scientific motivations that led to vast accomplishments in translation on the other. The session will also explore the role played by translation in bringing about close relations and constructive exchange of ideas between the two civilizations, or, to the contrary, the growth of misunderstanding and the clash between the two civilizations.

The Islamic economy is another major topic of discussion in the seminar. It will view the economy from a moral perspective and Islam’s contribution in creating a link between morality and financial and economic operations and its significance in the light of modern economic challenges. The seminar will discuss the extent of Muslim scholars’ participation in laying down the rules of modern economics that enabled the interaction of the Western laws (French civil and British common) with the Islamic jurisprudence on the one hand and bringing greater attention to the need for close relation between finance and ethics.

The Ministry of Higher Education has adopted — with the approval of the higher authorities — to set up annual forums with the participation of universities and scientific and research institutions in the Kingdom and France. The forums aim to create a joint venue for dialogue and also intensify the push toward global peace and justice with the participation of academics and scientists in both countries.

The annual seminars seek to find the values that preserve the dignity of man and guarantee his rights in line with King Abdullah’s vision for the awakening of the people at all levels. The annual seminars will also seek to strengthen the bases of the dialogues and produce results that could be implemented.

The focus of the studies on the first sitting chaired by Anne Cote, economic professor from Sorbonne University in Paris, will be “Presence of Islamic-Arab ideas in the International Law.” Marcel Andre Bawazard will present the first paper on the topic. Saleh Abdul Rahman Al-Manie will present the second paper titled “Erosion of the Concept of Tolerance in the Contemporary World Order.” Michel Toshirir is scheduled to present a paper entitled “French scientific researches related to the Arabian Peninsula since early 20th century.”

Another paper in the sitting will be on “The Arab Islamic thought in European universities,” prepared by Salwa bint Muhammad Al-Mayman. The last paper today will be presented by Ibrahim Al-Zayd on the topic of “Fear of Berbers… a significant French addition to the dialogue of civilizations.”

Abdullah Al-Khateeb will chair the second session in which Eric Geofrou will present a work paper on projects aimed at establishing a college of Islamic sciences in France. While Abdullah Al-Ghamdi will present a paper on “Studying the culture and sciences of the immigrant Islamic Arab communities and adopting and supporting Arabic language in universities and educational institutions in France and Europe,” Saeed Al-Saeed will discuss “Images of Arabs and Muslims in the German general education curriculum.”

On the same day Abdullah Al-Hamoud will present “Role of scientific studies in formulating a joint international cultural understanding — a critical view of the reality of Arab studies in Europe.” Another paper to be read in the same sitting is by Adrian Litas. The paper is entitled “Who is Al-Ghazali with reference to us in the West.”

Abdullah Al-Tayer will chair the first sitting tomorrow. Donier Gharbal will present the first paper of the day “Translation of works in Arab Islamic thought and its impact on France since the middle of the 20th Century.” Ameerah Kashghri will present the next paper called “Translation between bridging cultural gaps and widening them.” The other papers to be presented on that day are Bandar Al-Otaiby’s “Role of Translation in transferring and indigenizing knowledge,” Fatehiyah Aqab’s “Translation and Arab Islamic thought in Europe,” and Ibrahim Al-Blui’s “Role of translation in cultural contacts: Translating from Arabic and vice versa,” Qadriyah Awad’s paper on “Significance and role of translation in cultural contacts and dialogues,” and Luk Rublosco’s “Literary translation between technological knowledge and humanities.”

Zuhair Al-Damanhouri will preside the events of the fourth session tomorrow. The papers to be read in the session include “Contribution of Islamic jurisprudence in laying down rules of financial transactions,” “Principles of modern economic theories and separation between sciences and morality,” “Interaction of Western laws (French civil and English common) with the Islamic Jurisprudence,” “Some philosophic and economic concepts in Islam pertaining to contemporary financial ethics,” “Theory of economic risk and cultural dialogue,” “influence of Islamic civilization on Western economy in the past and present,” and “Islamic values of financing — positive aspects of a different vision,” and “Contribution of Muslim scholars in laying down the foundations of the economic development theories.”

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