Dr. Mahmoud Abdel Baset 
Islamic Center of Southern California 


Saturday, November 2, 2013 from 9:30 AM to 4:00 PM PST

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Islamic Center of Southern California 
434 S. Vermont Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90020

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Islamic Perspectives on Extremism and Moderation

Saturday, November 2nd, 2013  

9:30 AM - 4:00 PM

Islamic Center of Southern California
434 S. Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90020

The contemporary extreme Islamic ideology can be traced back to the Wahhabi movement in Central Arabia in the mid 18th century.  It aimed to purge Islam from foreign influences and to restore it to its pristine status of the mid 7th century.  This retrospective approach relied on a literal interpretation of the Quran and Sunnah. This movement ignored the unprecedented socioeconomic changes taking place outside Arabia and looked at the world as Muslims and Infidels. It considered Islamic law (Shari’a) as God’s divine and exact mandate, with no room for interpretation (Ijtihad). This puritanical orthodoxy was confined to Saudi Arabia until the mid 20th century.

The onset of colonialism in the mid 18th century devastated the Muslim world, and Muslim thinkers were compelled to deal with modernity and the encroachment of Western values on Islam. While some Muslim reformers like Sheikh Muhammad Abduh (1849-1905), believed that Islam is a  rational faith and is compatible with modernity. Others like Abul A’la Mawdudi (1903-1979), considered the Western and secularist world as infidels and at odds with Islam. Sayyed Qutb (1906-1966) went further to assert that all Muslim and Arab secular governments were non-Islamic (Jahili) and should be brought back to Islam by all possible means including military struggle and he considered Jihad to be an obligation on all Muslims. As a result of the utter failure of national and liberal secular movements in the mid 20th century, particularly in the Middle East after the 1967 Six Day War, such extremism received wide acceptance, sometimes with disastrous influence, throughout the Muslim world.

The ICSC Fourth Annual Conference on Contemporary Islamic Thought will address the roots of extremism and the rise of the so-called political Islam, and will draw a road map to a moderate Islamic way of life that respects human rights and advocates justice and common good for all.