Venue: IAIS Malaysia
Date: 12th September 2012 (Wednesday)
Time: 10:00am - 12:15pm
Speaker: Professor Golam Dastagir
About the speaker
Dr Golam is Professor of Philosophy at Jahangirnagar University, Dhaka, Bangladesh. A Visiting Professor at the University of Toronto over the last five years, Dr Dastagir has been actively involved with interreligious and intercultural dialogue for global peace. He has written extensively on Islamic philosophy, Sufism, and comparative philosophy.
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On 12 September 2012, IAIS Malaysia organized a public lecture on ‘Islam and Multiculturalism in Contemporary Bangladesh’ by Professor Golam Dastagir, a philosophy professor at Jahangirnagar University, Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Professor Dastagir began by noting how cultures cannot be exclusive but grow in society by nourishing the mind. Bangladesh is hardly a cultural vacuum: there were unbroken spiritual traditions even before the coming of Islam. Sufism, also known as ‘Pirism’ in Bangladesh, was introduced as early as mid-10th century by migrant Sufi saints. But some practices of contemporary Sufis (like superstitious and fatalistic beliefs) cast doubt as to their originality, authenticity and fidelity to the original Sufi doctrines: a survey by Dastagir himself shows that many Sufi orders have no written proof or record of their spiritual lineage or history. Little wonder then, many devotees of the khanaqahs were “hapless and illiterate”. In Bangladesh, the people lost their sovereignty quite early when British imperialism took place in the 18th century. While the Hindus have decided to co-opt with the British, Muslims remain resistant and as a result received no share in the power structure, thereby becoming subordinate to both the British and Hindus. Bengali Muslims became conscious of their roots and identity after the partitioning of India to form the state of Pakistan. But Pakistanis generally did not view Bengal Muslims favourably, seeing in them traces of Hindu revivalism. During the Liberation War, Bengalis identified themselves more with secular socialism than with Islamic state. But after 1971, an activist form of Islamization took place though the initiatives have been mostly cosmetic, such as the addition of the basmallah to the Constitution’s Preamble and requiring license to drink alcohol. This was led partly by the Bengali ruling class who initiated a series of measures to improve the ‘Islamicity’ of the state, including the establishment of the Islamic Foundation, renewal of relations with the OIC and the replacement of English with Bengali at education institutions. In 1979, General Zia ul-Rahman countered secular socialism with Islamization initiatives. But in 2009, a secular government came into power which restored secularism and socialism. This active state effort can be seen in education in the state’s support for the ‘aliya’ madrasas, which, compared to the ‘quomi’ (community-based) madrasas, have developed a more integrated approach.
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Tel: 03-79569188 Fax: 03-79562188 or 03-79562966 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org